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Movas Military Chronograph II Watch Review

Movas Military Chronograph II Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

On a somewhat regular basis, MoVas founder Sean Wai and I engage in conversations about the watch industry at large. Sean isn’t always sure what his role in the watch industry is and whether he is a brand, a hobbyist, or someone who simply engages in a particular type of art form that is celebrated by some, and misunderstood by others. Today, I am going to review a watch that I’ve had on and off my wrist for quite some time – and it is the MoVas Military Chronograph II.

Movas Military Chronograph II Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Movas Military Chronograph II Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

My first foray into MoVas watches was in reviewing their GMT watch here, back in 2010. MoVas isn’t new to the game, nor are they indiscreet about what they do, which is produce watches with “movements of Asia.” To remind you, that is what “MoVas” actually stands for. When talking about reviewing the MoVas Military Chronograph II, Wai’s initial concern was that “people are going to blast me on the price.” At just over $1,000 for a watch richly inspired by popular sport watches such as Panerai with a Chinese-made clone of a Swiss movement, I can understand why people often approach MoVas with such critique. With that said, the brand is about artistically changing established designs and experimenting with novel executions more so than trying to offer something totally original. In fact, Wai isn’t convinced most watch consumers actually want something original – but rather want a new take on established and already successful themes.

MoVas is based in Singapore – a very healthy watch market with buying tastes that are on average a lot more “Western” than one might assume given that Singapore is a hub of Asian finance and trade. Large, avant-garde watches are popular in Singapore and Panerai has a particularly healthy fan base there. I have yet to experience the Singapore watch market myself, but I find some of the intense diversity in buying tastes there interesting. I think for MoVas, the biggest question is how much of a market there is for a unique niche product like this outside of Singapore, where the brand is seen as a much lower-priced “artistic” alternative to other vintage-style, large sport watches.

Movas Military Chronograph II Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Movas Military Chronograph II Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The MoVas Military Chronograph II is a rather large and heavy steel watch in a 45mm-wide square/cushion case that is also about 17mm thick. MoVas offers both sapphire crystal and Plexiglas crystal options, which is really about offering the unique warmth a Plexiglas crystal offers – but of course, not all buyers want to deal with the fact that it scratches a lot compared to sapphire. The case is also water resistant to 100 meters – without a screw-down crown or screw-down pushers – and feels reasonably well-made even if the European and Japanese brands in many ways have MoVas beat. With that said, this feels a lot more like a highly refined “project” watch as opposed to something that comes out of factory, which is more or less what MoVas watches are.

Movas Military Chronograph II Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Movas Military Chronograph II Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

MoVas offers both a rubber and leather strap option with the MoVas Military Chronograph II. It is nice that there are added items like this, but the leather strap comes on some belt-buckle style clasp that frankly didn’t fit for my strap and case. The rubber strap is on the tougher side, meaning it’s not as flexible when bent, but works a lot better than the well-intentioned but not workable leather strap and clasp option. As of now, the MoVas site has five distinct strap options for the Military II, and given the rapid pace of development at a small brand such as this, I am pretty sure that in the year-plus since I’ve received the watch, my particular strap issue is moot.

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Movas Military Chronograph II Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Movas Military Chronograph II Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Probably my favorite part of the MoVas Military Chronograph II watch is the dial design. MoVas goes with a Panerai-style “lume-sandwich” dial, but offers its own take on how such a dial should look. Hands are all the right length and legibility is very good. Lume is pretty good, but I think that this is something which could have been even better given the style of the dial. I would say that if there is anything I like most about MoVas, is it Sean’s dial designs. The interesting cases are familiar at first glance, but also original.

Movas Military Chronograph II Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Movas Military Chronograph II Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Inside the MoVas Military Chronograph II watch is a Chinese movement known as the Shanghai Watch Co. Ltd caliber 3LZF1. This is more or less a copy of a Swiss ETA Valjoux 7750 automatic chronograph – a popular movement to be “homaged” in Asia. The movement hasn’t broken on me yet and performs reasonably well, even though I wouldn’t claim it has Chronometric performance. Operating at 4Hz (28,800bph), it has about 45 hours of power reserve.

Movas Military Chronograph II Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Movas Military Chronograph II Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

From a distance, this 3LZF1 movement looks like a 7750, but upon closer inspection, you an see how the metals and finishes aren’t nearly as good as those from Switzerland. Parts are not cleaned and finished properly, and bare brass parts like the automatic rotor show signs of oxidation and aging. There is no “clone” of a Swiss movement that can be produced for too much less than than those which come out of Switzerland. You can copy the parts, for sure, but at the end of the day, the combination of cleanliness, finishing, material quality, and testing in Switzerland (and the better Japanese stuff) easily trumps the Chinese stuff which only wins when it comes to price. With that said, for the right price, don’t worry about getting a Chinese movement so long as you understand their inherent limitations. Most customers wouldn’t know the difference, actually, as people who buy watches like this wear them in rotation with other timepieces and are resetting the time regularly as it is.

Movas Military Chronograph II Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Movas Military Chronograph II Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

And then there is the matter of all the options. For an extra $50 here, you can get an upgraded sapphire crystal. For an extra $20 there, you get the chronograph hands painted a different color. Buying a MoVas is for the type of watch collector who understands what they want and also enjoys the process of selecting something specifically for them. Brands like MoVas know that the second you start offering difficult-to-choose options, most mainstream consumers walk away. That is OK because, despite what seem like higher-than-normal prices for Chinese watches and the relatively subtle nature of their business practices, MoVas is doing well with a core group of consumers that like the home-grown Singaporean designer watch brand that uses “local ingredients” for a wearing experience unlike most of what else is out there. The MoVas Military Chronograph II has a base price of $1,170 USD. movaswatches.com

Necessary Data
>Brand: MoVas
>Model: Military Chronograph II
>Price: $1,170
>Size: 45mm wide
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Sometimes.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Open-minded large sport watch lover with a soft spot for independent designers and craft-style timepieces made in small batches.
>Best characteristic of watch: Original design mixed with familiar elements coming from popular watches such Panerai. Good looking dial which is rather legible.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Expensive despite boutique nature of brand and decent construction. A bit rough around the edges, but for some people that is part of the charm.

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Comments

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  • Chaz

    BVLGARNAUTIOAK Museum Watch

    • Boogur T. Wang

      PANIBVLGARNAUTIOAK…“Will Doctor Frankunsteen please pick-up the white courtesy phone…paging Doctur Frankunsteen”

    • John Effing Zoidberg

      Not Mystery enough to be Museum Quality.

  • BrJean

    That movement… My eyes are bleeding.

  • Bill W

    Good Lord. Military? I doubt even the military of Timor-Leste would wear this.

    • spiceballs

      Industrial (not Military) is the word that came to my mind – – ?

  • Why lume on the register/sub-dial markers but not on their hands? I want to like this watch, but I’m having real trouble doing so.

    • Chaz

      You want to like it? Why, pray tell? Some kids just aren’t meant to be liked!

      • ‘Cause I’m always rooting for the small indy brand who does not make simple “homage” watches. And some of the ideas on this watch have promise, but they just don’t seem to come together or get executed well on this piece.

        • Boogur T. Wang

          Little to no QC follow through.

        • John Effing Zoidberg

          Let us know when your BVLGARI frankenwatch is ready.

          • No, I’m passing on this one friend of Frye.

  • Jerricho

    Wow.

    It’s like an Bvlgari Octo and an Invicta got drunk one night and this turned up 9 months later…….

    • Bill W

      I think this is more of a preemie than a full-termer.

  • Bill W

    Another commenter once said that something had “more vees than the Lilith Fair”. I thought that was funny and it applies to this watch’s strap.

  • Greg Williams

    This is amazing!

    • BNABOD

      Yes amazingly crappy

  • Greg Dutton

    Is the movement rotor supposed to look like it came out of a garbage disposal?

    At $1170 there’s a ton of competition – grey market 7750s from Longines and Hamilton, for instance.

    • Raymond Wilkie

      It does look a bit drab and rusty.

    • Shinytoys

      A preowned Longines would stomp all over this. Such an underrated product.

  • Raymond Wilkie

    Is it square, hexagonal, round ?. Wish it would make up it’s mind. That aside it’s a lovely piece. For a chronograph its very easy to read with enough lume on it to turn you into the hulk. ( Why they lit the chrono edges is beyond me ) The strap is rubbish. Solidly build with a nice wee movement to look at. Good for the price,……….i’ll have it ( would change the strap ).

  • laup nomis

    I like the dial. Its deep sandwich construction, and squared of sub-dials look really good.
    BUT, “The movement hasn’t broken on me yet….” written by Ariel Adams, isn’t encouraging. Square, wears really big, and it really doesn’t want an exhibition case back.
    Its trying to fight in the same sandpit as, for example, Damasko or Steinhart, but I don’t think its priced properly.

  • Wilson

    Some cheap replicas around Bangkok looks better made and finished :/

  • Ulysses31

    Looks like a f%^ked up Bulgari, with an even less likeable appearance.

  • word-merchant

    Sean isn’t always sure what his role in the watch industry is
    To which I can only offer my complete agreement.

  • BNABOD

    Whoa the movement looks like it was finished w a chainsaw. frankly I would rather wait for a great deal on a watch w a true 7750 that can be had at times for less than a 1000 bucks

  • SuperStrapper

    The watch borrows too much personality traits from other brands and doesnt contain enough of it’s own. It’s a miss at 1/3 this cost.

  • Shinytoys

    I like it as a prototype that is about 75% of the way there. If the movement is put on display and you’re already aware it’s not going to show well new or when it ages, I think it would be a good idea to change up your engines. If you can’t find a satisfactory motor in China, and in my opinion they do exist, then look to the Japanese. Countless examples of quality movements exist there

    • I agree that Miyota and Seiko movements are quality items. But for the most part they are not much to look at and are rarely finished to a level that makes you want to see them. On the other hand (and this applies to all mechanical watches – even low end ones like the reviewed one), people want to see the mechanical guts no matter the level of finishing – it is a simple market satisfying thing for a brand to do.

      • Shinytoys

        I went and re-read Ariel’s description of the movement, as well as looking at the photos, this is not a movement I would put under glass, no matter what might be a standard way of thinking for a consumer. As a manufacturer, and no one knows better than you Mark, why would you place something as unfinished, tarnished, only the future making this worse, under glass. I’m looking at two open back Sturhlings with Chinese movements that look far superior to the offering in this review. What does that also say about the movements longevity? How is it going to perform in a few years down the road. The other Japanese offerings may not be prettier, but they certainly present better, last for years, and that is what the average customer wants.

        • Thing of it as a rust inspection port in this case, ha ha.

          • Shinytoys

            Excellent point

  • TheBigOldDog

    If he enlarged it to about a 47mm and cut the price to under $300 he’d sell a million of them with the right distribution behind him. Somebody who’ll honor the warranty, etc. Needless to say, most of the people wouldn’t be the target market (and no matter what he does, by my reading of the commentators, never will be anyway).

    • John Effing Zoidberg

      You can’t even get a sapphire crystal, mechanical Victorinox for $300.

      • TheBigOldDog
        • John Effing Zoidberg

          Like that, but the less ugly ones that are not being liquidated as overstock.

          • TheBigOldDog

            that’s not unusual. prices like that are common for just about every brand. I could have posted dozens of Swiss made Automatics for $299 and below, The only thing that keeps watch prices high is retail price maintenance by the manufacturers and that gets harder and harder every day except for a few brands. Even they give in to the pricing pressure on the sly. As fewer people wear watches and more people manufacture quality models at lower and lower cost, the pressure to lower prices is enormous. Modern CNC/automated manufacturing has taken a lot of the cost out. If there was ever a case for reverse snobbery, its watches. Yet brands have invested billions convincing consumers the more they overpaid the better they should feel about themselves.

  • Robert McKean

    Well, now we have had a 900K watch that is not worth the money, and a 1K watch that is not worth the money. Could we have some value please?

  • cg

    “Military”? Not even close. What military would even consider this watch? Now if we’re talking military “style”… we’re still not close. There is nothing wrong with calling it “Fashion Sport” Chronograph 2.

    • John Effing Zoidberg

      Agricultural?

  • Larry Holmack

    That’s maybe a $150 watch….if that!!! They have a long way to go before they can convince anyone to drop over a grand on this thing they call a watch!!!

  • johnwithanh

    Philosophically they are in the right place. Unfortunately on price and execution they aren’t there.

  • Juan-Antonio Garcia

    Maybe a couple of more “V” here and there, will give it an edge?
    No like.

  • Michael Kinney

    You must be a genuinely nice guy, Ariel. You really bent over backwards to say nice things about that ugly, overpriced piece of junk.

    • John Effing Zoidberg

      You forgot to accuse him of being a paid shill for whatever.

      • Nope – Ariel is not a paid shill for any watch brand. A lot of watch media can’t say that either.

  • Shawn Lavigne

    i don’t see value there at all.

  • TechUser2011

    Great looking watch with a masculine, tool-watch feel. Much better looking than the recent Omega monstrosities.

  • otaking241

    I love how they even copy the 7750 rotor shape. If only they were as detail-oriented with the fit and finish…

    I’m supportive of these micro-brands as a way to get genuinely attractive or innovative designs to market without going through some massive corporation. Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder but I can’t help but think you’d have to be blind to love this watch, and it’s certainly not innovative. Why waste time covering something like this?

    And seriously, if you’re going to use a crappy Chinese movement why highlight it with a display window? Up your diver cred with a solid case back.

    • As a rule, 200 (not 100) meters of W/R is the minimum for a true dive watch. As I mentioned below, customers want exhibition backs so brands are just responding to what sells. If Rolex started putting sapphire backs on Submariners then everyone would soon accept that that’s the way its done on a luxury sports watch and anyone who did not have an exhibition back would take gas about it. Once your watch is on your wrist the open vs exhibition argument ceases to be about functionality as your chances of whacking the bottom crystal are nill. Cheers.

      • John Effing Zoidberg

        So it’s just Omega then?

        • Omega Seamasters generally have 300 meters of W/R or better (many with 600 m and Ploprofs with 1200 m). the AquaTerra line seems to start at 150 meters but that not being marketed as a full on dive watch. Or is there some other Omega you have in mind that lacks W/R?

          • John Effing Zoidberg

            Exhibition backs on watches with large depth ratings. Planet Oceans are 600m with exhibition back and He valve, for example.

      • otaking241

        I wouldn’t argue that this is trying to “be” a diver’s watch as it is trying to “appear to be” a diver’s watch. In that sense I think a solid caseback makes more sense and would serve the double purpose of hiding the ugly movement. It would also (I assume) decrease the cost which is another sticking point.

        I’ll have to yield to your expertise regarding customer preference but I’m not sure that that outweighs the other factors here.

  • Boogur T. Wang

    In this realm, looks are more than just ‘skin deep.’
    IMO, a poorly made and waaaay overpriced knock-off..
    This is nothing more than a contract job (not tha there’s anything wrong with that) that has used cheap off-the-shelf parts to assemble someones good idea.
    Unfortunately, the end result is just terrible.

    No QC, poor choice of movements, and lack of specific direction all contribute to this “swing and a miss” (baseball term) piece.

    China can pout out some very well-done pieces – this is not representative of what can be made and had.

    **edit added* –
    Maybe that rust is merely an attempt at “faux patina” ?

  • Whoisi

    The rubber band feel so uncomfortable. The overall is not so bad. Heavy discount the price, I might buy one.

    • Chaz

      Really? That’s funny…I wouldn’t want it even if it was one of the giveaways here on ABTW.

      So this watch truly appeals to you or you’d get it (I somehow doubt) only if they, say, discount it 60%?? Or is that not “heavy discount” enough?

  • spiceballs

    Millennials may aspire to this watch but the price might be stretch, even for them?

  • John Effing Zoidberg

    I want to know more about the movement. How much does it suck? How it the QC? Do they all suck, or just like 10% of them are lemons maybe?

    • In China, at best 10% of the people understand QC of any sort (yes some companies produce good stuff but they are in the minority). So your question may be inverted: are 90% of them lemons?

      • Marc

        What do you know about China?

        • I went to the Hong Kong Watch Fair with Ariel back in 2013. Some nice stuff but mostly vendors who were more concerned with “give you good price” than “give you good quality”. Cheers.

  • Cesar Castro

    This is the back of my Sinn 556 I, a watch that retails at around the same price than this Movas. No contest

  • Ian john horwood

    A lemon alright with no quality control and movement quality sucks there this is how your fakes are made too

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