Trying to define what a “statement watch” really is can be a difficult task. Of course, big, bold, complicated, or otherwise outlandish designs can make a visual statement, but sometimes smaller, less ostentatious watches can carry just as much of a visual punch. Young French brand March LA.B has built a cult following among enthusiasts by following this principle, creating a lineup of subtle yet charismatic, ‘70s-inspired timepieces that draw from the character of both France and Los Angeles. The Mansart collection sits at the heart of this design philosophy, with a funky octagonal spirit, dressy appointments, and a handsomely muted color palette. Sitting at the top of the series, the March LA.B Mansart Automatic manages to be a statement watch without ostentation, offering wearers a distinctive look with impressive quality that attracts rather than demands attention.

At 34mm-wide and 11mm-thick, the March LA.B Mansart Automatic is not a big watch by any measure, but its stainless steel case stands out on the wrist through a clever mix of form and finishing. The octagonal case shape is the first major factor in this – the Mansart nameplate is a tribute to Jules Hardouin-Mansart, architect of the famously octagonal Place Vendôme in Paris, and the sharply faceted case closely echoes the outline of that classic city square. A smooth polished bezel juts upward vertically from the main case body and firmly establishes the octagonal motif on the wrist. From there, the upper case surfaces are sloped and broadly faceted, with polished surfaces that catch the light gemstone style from nearly any angle. The slender brushed mid-case works to break up these polished surfaces effectively, and also creates the illusion of a slimmer case profile. March LA.B clearly takes the overall cohesion of this case design seriously, and the sculptural, oblong octagonal crown at 4 o’clock is proof of this dedication. While it may be slightly clumsy to operate due to its shape, this crown deftly echoes the overall geometry of the case far better than a basic cylindrical crown would. Around back, March LA.B fits the watch with a sapphire display caseback, vibrantly tinted in the brand’s signature green. Although the Mansart Automatic is not a particularly sporty design, some enthusiasts may take umbrage with the watch’s somewhat low 50-meter water resistance rating.

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The March LA.B Mansart Automatic’s minimalist dial may prove to be its most divisive component. The polished stick hands and matching applied indices are elementally simple, and without minutes scales or an abundance of dial text, the dial surface itself is left to do much of the visual heavy lifting. The matte forest green dial is attractive enough on its own, but a sense of texture (a sunburst finish, for example) would likely elevate the entire package. Likewise, the 3 o’clock date is likely to divide community opinions. While it is nicely framed, the date wheel itself is rendered in black rather than dial-matching green.

March LA.B powers the Mansart Automatic with the La Joux-Perret-based G100 automatic movement. This is a thoroughly modern, impressively appointed powerplant, with a hefty 68-hour power reserve and a smooth 28,800 bph beat rate. March LA.B claims an accuracy of -4/+6 seconds per day with this movement, although independently testing this claim is tricky due to the lack of a running seconds hands. Visually, the G100 is strikingly well-decorated for its price point. The movement features a unique slotted rotor design with two contrasting directionally brushed segments for an added sense of visual depth. To complete the look, the three-quarter plate and balance cock both sport crisp, richly detailed Côtes de Genève.

With such a strongly geometric design, finding a suitable strap pairing to echo the March LA.B Mansart Automatic’s case is no easy task, but its seven-link stainless steel bracelet largely succeeds on this front. This tapering bracelet is impressively lightweight and flexible, with each individual link articulated for greater mobility. That same level of material quality also extends to the finishing, as each link contrasts its smoothly brushed upper surface with chamfered edges. A polished chamfer along the outer links gives this combination a dynamic highlight around the wrist, while visually tying it into the broad polished facets of the case. The jewelry-style clasp takes some acclimatization, however, and can be difficult to close at times.

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Although it may not be complex, large, or brightly colored, the March LA.B Mansart Automatic works as its own, subtler form of “statement watch.” Through its retro refinement, muted color, and faceted gem-like form, this is a watch that quietly invites attention on the wrist, rather than loudly demanding it. The March LA.B Mansart Automatic is available now through the brand’s e-commerce platform. MSRP for this watch stands at $1,778 USD as of press time. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.

Necessary Data
>Brand: March LA.B
>Model: Mansart Automatic
>Price$1,778 USD
>Size: 34mm-wide, 11mm-thick, 39mm lug-to-lug
>When reviewer would personally wear it: As a stylish night-out wear, or a bolder choice for formal occasions.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Fashion-forward enthusiasts searching for a compact statement watch, or Francophiles looking to explore a new nameplate.
>Best characteristic of watch: Attractive finishing; unique-but-wearable form; solid movement.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Dial surface would greatly benefit from a sunburst finish; fiddly bracelet clasp.

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