April 20, 2009
by Ariel Adams
To a large degree, being a watch lover involves a lot of discovery. You spend a lot of time exploring brands sifting through designs and watch makers. Once in a while you find something that you didn’t previously know about – and on rare occasion you find a really new watch brand that is innovative and appealing (that most others simply haven’t discovered yet). On those occasions you can be like a pioneer with something previously unknown, but with lots of appeal and potential.
This is not only the case with Magrette watches, but is also coincidentally part of the story behind the Kupe’s Voyage — that tells a story of the mythical discovery of what would eventually be known as New Zealand. I previously wrote about this specific watch some time ago when I first learned about it. At that time I was only vaguely familiar with the watch, but was certainly intrigued. Now owning the watch myself, I have some thoughts and comments on Magrette watches, and this specific Regattare Kupe’s Voyage Limited Edition watch that has quite impressed me.
I’ve been wearing this watch for a few day’s straight and have some definite opinions. First and foremost is the fact that wearing this watch makes me feel great and I smile each time I look at it. That is an easy statement to posit, but I will tell you why that is. It starts with the shape and design of the case. Similar to the look that people love in a classic Panerai, the case is masculine and instrument focused, but with a symmetrical combination of curves and angles that work well. The case is actually bigger than it needs to be, which makes for a nice bubble-ish shape that seems to work well. The metal used on the case holds a great mirror polish that enhances the feeling of value, and the curved sapphire crystal helps continue to gentle roundness of the case. These facts alone would be good enough, but the major appeal for me is the decoration, and is what makes the Kupe’s Voyage a very special watch in my collection.
The first thing that I or anyone else notices about the watch is the bezel. A friend of mine who knows nothing about watches optimistically said it looked “really intricate.” This was him communicating a point of being impressed and intrigued. Looking closer at the bezel you notice that the engravings are actually a cohesive design that is based on traditional New Zealand Maori art. The engravings are all done by hand by local New Zealand engraver Andrew Biggs. You can see the work taking place in the images. It is quite a labor intensive process and the initial design must be thoughtfully considered. The bezel itself is engraved along with cursive text on the rear of the watch that adds a craft like feel to the timepiece. This again is part of the New Zealand character that each Magrette watch holds – as the country is home to an incredibly large population of craft’s people.
The actual images are very fun and uplifting in nature. From faces to waves, and clouds with gusts of wind — if you know what you are looking at the bezel tells you the story of Kupe’s Voyage. Personally I am not familiar with the mythology, but I can certainly appreciate the warm tones behind the concepts. For me, the engraved bezel totally makes the watch — that is to say it is really the key element that makes this watch like no other. The dial of the watch is cleverly modeled after Italian Anonimo watches, while other aspects are unique to Magrette’s own designs. A matte black dial enjoys easy to read applied two digit numeral and hour indexes with a splash of red around the ring, and well crafted sharp polished baton hands with applied lume. The seconds hand features an orb of lume that makes it easy to read and pleasing to watch as it sweeps around the dial. For a country not known for making watches, Magrette gives their first attempt great marks and worthy of ownership by existing watch lovers and newly fascinated people alike.
Inside the watch is a Swiss ETA 2824-2 automatic movement hat is seen through a caseback window. You can tell then and there that the case is large enough to fit larger movements, which it may someday. The movement is not decorated, but at the very reasonable price for this watch, it does not have to be. On the case case around the window is the cursive engravings that I talked about, and are unlike anything I have seen before. You get the number of the watch – out of a possible 10 for this limited edition, plus information about the engraver, them watch model, and the country of origin. These are prized pieces of information to any collector.
The case itself is 44mm wide and water resistant to 100 meters. The same case is used on the basic Regattare watch from Magrette which has everything else but the hand engravings of the Kupe’s Voyage. The large crown screws down and is also engraved (always a good thing). Attached to the case is your choice of two 24mm wide straps that come with the watch – a dark brown leather strap with a reptile texture, and a black strap. Each has a different buckle, with the black one having a Panerai-esque buckle that makes for a nice shape. The watch sits comfortably on my relatively small wrists even though it is a bigger sized watch – but that is the way I like it. It is funny how often times non watch fanatics like me comment on how my watches are “pretty big.” I usually respond by telling them that 44mm is considered large, but not HUGE. They just need to wear the watch for a while and figure it out for themselves.
Overall the watch has an excellent demeanor to it. It is casually sporty, while at the same time sincere enough to be formal. Then there is the tropical element to it. No one would consider New Zealand to be a tropical place, but parts of it are. There is certainly a lot of beaches on the large island, and the engravings on the Kupe’s Voyage are just too good a fit with the beach theme to be taken too far from the shore. Which of course ties into the maritime theme that Magrette wants you to consider when you enjoy the watch as well. I could easily see myself being happy with this watch telling me the time on a boat slowly watching the seconds hands and the coulds overhead sweep by. There are a couple of little items that could be improved with the watch, but nothing major. The hands have applied luminant, but the dial itself does not. Ideally they would both have luminant. Then there is the tricky screw that holds the strap in place – which is a bit more time consuming to remove and refit than a spring bar when switching the strap, but is stronger than a spring bar. Magrette actually provides you with an extra set of screw bars.
Going back to an idea I presented in an earlier post about Magrette, I wanted to end on a note discussing the presentation genius of the man behind the company, Dion McAsey. This gentleman knows how to create packaging like no other. The entire package is presented in a handmade (and individually numbered) Kauri wood only found in New Zealand. On the top of the box is an inlay of paua shell (similar to mother of pearl) with the Magrette logo on top of it carved from wood. Inside the box, in addition to the papers, is a cloth pouch, inside of which is a New Zealand leather roll case inside of it. Untie the pouch string, unfold it, and there is your Magrette watch, and extra strap. The unboxing ceremony is a delight with this Magrette watch that really goes the extra mile to make you feel special about your limited edition timepiece.
I’m going to keep coming back to Magrette because I am pretty convinced that they know what they are doing and will continue to develop each of these themes I am now fond of. How this beautiful limited edition watch with a hand engraved bezel and caseback, and with the superb presentation is just $1,585 beats me. But it is, and shipping is just $30 anywhere in the world. There is something too cool about getting a shipment from New Zealand Air Mail. People either think you’ve just bought some wool or authentic Lord of the Rings memorabilia. Just tell them what it really is.
Learn more about the Magrette Kupe’s Voyage Limited Edition Watch here.