Sharply dressed, the guys behind the newer MARCH LA.B watch brand are interested in how their designs fit in to the overall horological universe. The thing about watches is that it does not take a ton of training to get into the business. Build a car for example and you can’t just whip up a design in your garage. There are rules and such.
With watches it only takes a dream. Though being a good designer and understanding the technical and supplier issues will likely make or break you. I’ve met a lot of designers who at some point in their career decide they need to apply their skills to making a single watch, or an entire watch brand. Timepieces are some silly type of magnet.
What attracted me to MARCH LA.B when I first wrote about them (here) was the interesting polished designs and the quality the watches had even though it was their first collection. I have an eye, for an eye for detail. What is going on with the watches as the brand grows up a bit is that sizes will increase. Retro-minded, the brand wanted to see men strap on watches under 40mm wide. Fat chance for that. They are now focusing on 40mm watches and up for the dudes. You ladies can rest assured they have you covered with other options.
Today I present you with their JC1 Shadowplay watch. A less than silent homage to the song of the same name. I easily see MARCH LA.B’s designer wearing a green velvet jacket listening to Joy Division’s 1978 song while drawing out the watch. Though that doesn’t totally explain the galuchat (stingray) strap. The steel case is 40mm wide and very elegant. The curves are fluid but there are angles where necessary. The pieces of the case and sapphire crystal fit together and result in a series of seamless lines and angles. The result is impressive.
Little textures display themselves in features such as the crowns, while color plays in on the back of the strap where you’ll find a hunter green tone. The dial is easy to read thanks to large sculpted hour indicators and hands. There are thin strips of lume, but this isn’t exactly a sport watch when it comes to darkness viewing. Hello designer timepiece for designer dude. The date window and adjacent applied MARCH LA.B logos are nice touches. There are other versions of the JC1 such as the Banker that have black dials and different straps.
As I mentioned in the video, the JC1 watch has a single weakness, and that is the alarm. Inside the watch is a Swiss ETA 804.129 movement that has the time, date, and alarm. There is a central disc on the dial that is an alarm hand. Its addition is actually quite attractive on the dial – and not at all intrusive, which is the case with many alarm hands. The issue comes with the sound of the alarm. The movement natively emits a series of electronic beeps, though in this instance they are almost entirely muffled by the case. To be honest, I blame ETA more than MARCH LA.B. Who designs an alarm watch movement that gets muffled by a watch case? Perhaps I am missing something in this picture but that is what seems to be the case. If you absolutely must have an alarm that you can hear all the time, check wit your mobile phone – otherwise you can likely live with it.
Allow me to remind you that MARCH LA.B design ethos seems to be a combo of muscle car era masculinity and the intersection of LA and Biarritz, France. This is where the look and feel of their watches come from – and knowing that helps explain what they are trying to do for me. The JC1 Shadowplay is a uniquely design timepiece for fans of this niche genre. It is a well-done watch that isn’t trying to satisfy everyone, and certainly excels at offering something unique. Price is $1,095 and it comes in a pretty cool case.Thanks to MARCH LA.B for the review unit. Opinions are 100% independent.