It has been a few years since I’ve reviewed any watches from France/California-based March LA.B. I’ve always liked the brand’s visual aesthetic, and in a lot of ways, the company was ahead of the curve on the trend of smaller watches being popular for men. Not all of its men’s watches are small, but it certainly isn’t a company that makes mega-sized men’s timepieces. This 41mm wide “Bonzer” is about as large as March LA.B watches get, and it’s a very handsome sports watch with a designer twist. This particular collection is a limited edition of 99 pieces produced in collaboration with the French online watch retailer Ocarat, making this timepiece the March LA.B Bonzer Edition Ocarat watch.

March LA.B positions the Bonzer as part of its “surfers” collection of diver-style watches, which is more swimming and beach lifestyle-themed than purely utilitarian. The “Montre de Surf” collection from March LA.B currently includes two watches that, at a glance, are quite similar. They include the March LA.B Belza (in automatic and quartz versions), as well as the March LA.B Bonzer (also in automatic and quartz versions). The prices for each are very similar, as is the styling. What appears to separate the two surfing watches from the brand is that the Belza is slightly more tool-watch in its design approach, whereas the Bonzer is more of a hybrid between a swimming watch and a fashionable timepiece for socializing. A good example is that the 40mm wide Belza has 200 meters of water resistance and a more classic dial with full luminant, and the 41mm wide Bonzer has 100 meters of water resistance with a most decorated and artistic dial (that only has some luminant on the hour and minute hands).

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What is special about the limited-edition Bonzer done in collaboration with Ocarat? First, the dial comes with a special texture not found in other Bozer watches and in an indigo color. The date indicator text is white (versus green) on a black-colored disc, and the dial is surrounded by a uni-directional rotating bezel with a polished black ceramic insert. A slightly raised, faceted sapphire crystal gives the Bonzer a slight retro feel, as well. Otherwise, the Ocarat Edition of the Bonzer is similar to the other automatic movement-based versions of the watch (of which March LA.B only produces two other versions at the moment).

The Bonzer’s case is steel and 41mm wide, 12.5mm thick, with a 47mm long lug-to-lug distance. The case is water resistant to 100 meters with a screw-down crown. The crown — typically large and ornate as per March LA.B brand tradition — is placed at the 4 o’clock position on the case in order to prevent it from digging into your wrist. Asymmetric crown positions are a popular visual part of the March LA.B aesthetic. The crown also happens to be very easy to grip and operate; you may never want to go back to small crowns again. The overall case design is very effective, and wearing it is extremely comfortable. The visual design plays with classic utilitarian elements but is through-and-through a “designer” item with beauty and poise at the top of the list of priorities.

Whereas the March LA.B Belza has a slightly more straightforward and traditional dial, the Bonzer offers a face that is a compromise between utility and style. The interesting forked hands and corrugated hour markers are attractive, but of course they lack much (or any) luminant. Therefore, the Bonzer is a timepiece with the overall profile and performance of a light-duty sports watch, but is really trying to be a style piece (and there is nothing wrong with that). More luminant might be one of my only small quips about this watch. Another small recommendation is to move to a different quick-release system for the strap and bracelet. Depending on how tightly you wear the case, the small knobs connected to the spring bars, which are depressed to release the bracelet, can poke into your skin a bit, though this really isn’t a big deal, and, for the most part, this is an incredibly ergonomic timepiece.

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I also like the non-slip texture on the underside of the steel bracelet. This should, in theory, keep the bracelet a bit more snug during wet sports activities. March LA.B designed the bracelet with semi-faceted links that play nicely with the light. The bracelet is simple in its overall construction and operation, but it fits well on the case and is convenient to live with. The included black silicone strap option is a good alternative for more active wearing duty, but since it is silicone, it attracts a lot of dust (which can be rinsed off easily enough), which I tend to find a bit annoying. I do think that, at this price point, March LA.B could have supplied a natural rubber strap. The Bonzer case is designed to work with 20mm wide straps.

Inside the watch is a Swiss Made La Joux-Perret caliber G100 automatic movement. You can view the movement through the slightly blue-tinted crystal on the rear of the case. The G100 movement is popping up all over the place as an alternative to ETA, Sellita, and other Swiss mechanical movements. Based on a Miyota 9000 series architecture (Japan’s Citizen which owns Miyota, also owns La Joux-Perret), the G100 is an attempt at combining a solid mechanical platform with some upgraded features and decoration, along with a Swiss Made label. The LJP G100 automatic movement operates at 4Hz with 68 hours of power reserve. March LA.B refers to it as a “Franco-Swiss” movement, which may be because the personalized automatic rotor is produced for March LA.B by a supplier in France. Otherwise, I am not entirely sure what the French connection is with the movement.

The best things to say about the March LA.B Bonzer Ocarat Edition watch is that it is handsome, doesn’t look like anything else on the market, is comfortable to wear, and is not overly priced. More so, as a limited edition of just 99 pieces, it is also rather uncommon. Price for the March LA.B Bonzer Ocarat Edition “surfer’s watch” is $1,688 USD (excluding taxes). Learn more at the March LA.B website.

Necessary Data
>Brand: March LA.B
>Model: Bonzer Ocarat Edition
>Price: $1,688 USD
>Size: 41mm-wide, 12.5mm-thick, and ~47mm lug-to-lug distance.
>When reviewer would personally wear it: As a hip beach or ocean-themed watch for social playtime.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Someone with an interest in French luxury brands who enjoys a refined aesthetic. The competition in this price and product category is fierce, so it is the Bonzer’s design and branding that will pull the most attention.
>Best characteristic of watch: The Bonzer succeeds in looking very impressive and wearing very comfortably. Not too high-priced.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Decorative elements on the dial remove a bit from the Bonzer’s ability to be a purist’s utility watch. Sometimes a little play with the rotating bezel. Silicone strap attracts dust.

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