Actually, we received two pieces of the same model, equipped with two greatly different dials, as illustrated on our collage above. Basically, the one seen to the left has almost no visible texture to it as its surface appears similar to bead blasted surfaces; while the one on the right has a very harshly and deeply textured dial. Ultimately, this seemingly negligible difference results in greatly altered looks. I spent a lot of time looking at both side by side, but was never able to pick one that I could prefer to the other. In other words, the restrained design of the dial – which was in fact inspired by the dashboard of the original Mini – works well with either end of the spectrum.
REC Watches sends out all models with two straps, one Nato strap and a brown or black leather strap. The color and pattern of the Nato strap depends on the model in question, but for the sake of the review, we received nearly all different variations. The nylon straps remained very comfortable even through extended periods of wear and complemented the dial’s design nicely. One thing to note is that the longer piece is actually not as long as on other Nato straps, meaning that if you have a larger wrist (and hence are using one of the looser settings), the remaining part of the strap will not be long enough to create the “double fold” where you fold the extending part back under the hardware, as seen on the gray strap to the far right on the image above.
As for the leather straps, both the brown and black versions are equipped with spring bars which allow the wearer to remove the straps without the use of a dedicated tool. As pictured on the image just above, the straps have a small opening that expose a tiny slider which can be pulled aside by hand, hence making the removal and installation of the straps much quicker and easier compared to traditional alternatives. While this design is by no means unique to REC Watches, it is a most welcome tweak and one that is omitted even on the majority of much more expensive watches. One remark with regards to the leather straps is that they were rather stiff out of the box and took quite a bit of time to break in. Once that was out of the way, both black and brown versions were okay, but could not come close to the wearing comfort of the nylon pieces. I learned that the guys at REC Watches are aware of this and are already working on getting softer leather straps supplied.
By now, we know that the REC Watches Mark I succeeds at standing out from the majority of similarly priced offerings and that it wears great on the nato and fine on the leather straps. Two things that took getting used to however were related to legibility: first and foremost, the hands have mediocre lume and fall rather short in length of what one would prefer, especially with the hour hand being disproportionately tiny compared to the minute hand. Second, while the font has been tastefully selected for the date wheel (and also for all other indications on the dial), the rounded aperture cut into the dial is quite small, making the reading of double-digit dates difficult even under good lighting conditions. And while these are by no means major issues, they must be noted.
With all that said, the Mark I is among the first two lines of REC Watches, a fresh brand established and ran by two young Danish entrepreneurs; and with that and the competitive pricing taken into consideration the REC Watches Mark I remains a very impressive offering that could be recommended to anyone looking for a diverse piece for everyday wear, or just a fun “talking piece” to add to an established collection. Price on the REC Watches Mark I M2 Chronograph is $465. recwatches.com
>Brand: Rec Watches
>Model: Mark I M2 Chronograph
>Size: 44.3 mm
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: A friend looking for a cool new watch that is more unique than the average fashion watch, and yet does not cost more
>Best characteristic of watch: The “recover, recycle, reclaim” motto does not only sound good but is nicely implemented in practice, with the Mini-car idea being a cool and solid start for the brand
>Worst characteristic of watch: The hour and minute hands are quite short and are treated with mediocre lume