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For quite some time, horology on the Arabian Peninsula has been largely consumption-oriented. With petro-bucks fueling watch buying at feverish levels, little oxygen remained for actual watchmaking. Rare pieces became rarer still, scooped up by voracious collectors whose wrists glittered with everything from rainbow Daytonas to platinum Pateks. Watch design in the region — such as it was — was restricted to dials stamped with official ministry and military insignia. Recent days, however, have opened a new chapter for Middle Eastern watches, with new brands appearing more regularly, each testing the waters of watchmaking. One such entrant, and one of the only to hail from the United Arab Emirates, is MEDINI WATCH COMPANY.

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With just two releases to date, MEDINI is an inspiring brand right out of the gate. Choosing to eschew the “more is more” mentality that so quickly dooms many new watch brands, MEDINI’s Celeritas chronograph has wide appeal thanks to a simple recipe: Take what is tried and true, engineer it for wearability, then add details — but not too many so as to be distracting. The result? A meca-quartz chronograph that checks the boxes of readability, functionality (including repairability), and timelessness.

Latin for “speed,” the Celeritas name is an apt moniker given the watch’s beating heart, the SII Caliber VK64 meca-quartz. This hybrid movement is a legend in its own time, serving as a standby for brands big and small that seek to maximize a watch’s functionality without maximizing price. Relying on battery power to drive the main three-hand functions, VK64 powered timepieces like the Celeritas also benefit from the satisfying mechanical chronograph operation beloved by watch geeks. And the success and spread of the VK64 have another benefit — easy, affordable maintenance and repair. Robust by design, the VK64 won’t need much babying, but repair is easy since the caliber is so widespread.

With this reliable movement in place, MEDINI has exercised careful design of the Celeritas’ remaining elements, particularly the case and dial. With regard to the latter, the housing is a mere 38mm in diameter with a 45mm lug-to-lug measurement. This makes it a fitting partner for masculine and feminine wrists alike. Of the three watch-head styles, one is gold-tone steel while the others are a typical gray and with no moving bezel and no rehaut, the Celeritas takes on a dressy look, reducing distractions between the case and dial to zero. Separated only by the AR-treated, domed, scratch-resistant crystal, the case and dial feel like a natural pairing.

Peering down to the dial, the heritage-style design language becomes apparent, with cursive script spelling out the model name and metallic subdials offering a textured offset to the dial’s beautifully rough main portion. It’s this last bit that elevates the Celeritas, giving it a character that many dress watches miss. The tachymeter scale running the dial’s circumference confirms the Celeritas’ origins as a tool/dress watch crossover and functions well with the tactile pushers on the case’s right side.

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Functionally, the VK64 provides smooth operation with the elegant bi-compax dial layout serving as a canvas for the baton hands. Details like small geometries on the subdial hands touch up the vintage styling without overpowering. Overall, accuracy reigns, as would be expected from the meca-quartz movement.

MEDINI’s launch has (wisely) elected to provide a wide range of options for customization. In addition to the aforementioned three watch-head styles (gold, tuxedo, and black), strap options galore spoil the wearer for choice. Six styles of leather and three grooved rubber straps are each available with either gold-tone or silver hardware for a total of eighteen different strap variants. Having nailed down these picks using MEDINI’s very slick web-based customizer, the only question remaining is which color of cover you want. Crafted in fine leatherette material and enclosed by a solid brass zipper, the cover comes in eight different color variations, including the traditional dark brown and tan shades all the way to more flamboyant ones like tomato red and pink.

Where the Celeritas shines is in its simplicity. It’s stylistically versatile, supremely functional, and not overburdened with flash. It’s an auspicious start for MEDINI, Dubai’s newest watch brand. Price is AED 1,284.50 (USD $350). Learn more at the brand’s website.

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Model: Celeritas
Dimensions: 38mm diameter, 45mm lug-to-lug
Water Resistance: 50 meters
Case Material: 316L Stainless Steel
Crystal/Lens: Domed scratch-resistant sapphire crystal with internal anti-reflective treatment
Movement: Seiko Instruments (SII) caliber VK64
Functions: Hours, minutes, central chronograph seconds, 1/5 seconds, 60-minute counter at 9 o’clock, 24-hour indicator at 3 o’clock
Strap/Bracelet: 6 styles alligator leather quick-release, 3 styles grooved rubber quick-release.
Price & Availability: AED 1,284.50 (USD $350) on MEDINI website

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