Singapore-based brand Mitch Mason Watches says that its aim is “to bring timeless and enduring timepieces to your wrist through vintage-inspired designs refreshed with contemporary purpose.” The first result of that pursuit can be seen in the Chronicle watch, which it says is inspired by military field watches of World War II. Some of that vintage field watch DNA is present, but the use of colors, lume, and case finishing is more contemporary, making it not instantly recognizable as the field watches you are probably used to seeing.
One thing that is vintage-inspired about the Chronicle is its size. At 36.5mm-wide, it occupies a size range that is more difficult to find in the modern watch landscape, especially from affordable microbrands. People who prefer vintage sizing and want a mechanical movement are often stuck shopping for actual vintage watches, so this will be a breath of fresh air for them. I prefer bigger watches than this, myself, but I felt more comfortable wearing the Chronicle than I typically do with watches under 38mm. This can be attributed to the thick, squared-off lugs, and the fact that a 20mm-wide strap width is used (watches around this size often have 18mm lug widths). The case itself features an attractive mix of hand-polished and vertically brushed surfaces. A flat, rather than the typical curved, surface between the lugs fills any gap to the strap and also adds to the visual heft of the watch.
At 13.5mm-thick with the crystal, the Chronicle is visually a bit thick when compared to its smaller diameter. Because of the shape of the lugs, it never felt top-heavy on my wrist but is something to be aware of if you prefer watches with a thin profile.
A thin, polished bezel has a brushed steel rehaut that slopes inward to meet the large-for-its-case-size dial. Available in four dial color options, I chose the “Steel Blue” model for this review. In addition to unique blocks of Super-LumiNova “Old Radium” lume at the 3, 6, 9, and 12-hour markers seen on all variants, blue and black dial versions have sandwich dials with recessed numerals adjacent. The deep blue dial of this model features an attractive vertical graining and a color that shifts from nearly black to bright blue in different lighting. The orange model name matches the bright seconds hand (the color combo makes me think of my favorite Empire State baseball team). The hour and minute hands also receive a generous application of lume. The hour hand shape is said to be inspired by a knot and helps to visually differentiate it from the minute hand.
The signed screw-down crown features the recently trendy helical groove pattern which also makes it easier to grip. It, combined with an artistically engraved screw-down caseback, provides 200 meters of water resistance.
The brand describes the Chronicle as the ideal “daily beater” watch. In keeping with that idea, it uses a sapphire crystal that has AR coating applied to the inside, but not the outer surface, as those coatings tend to scratch easily. Many watch collectors prefer this arrangement, but the drawback is that a highly domed crystal like the one on the Chronicle tends to reflect a lot of light. I’m not sure if it is by luck or design, but the polished hands also reflect a lot of light in these cases, meaning that it is still easy to read the time. I didn’t find it to be a deal-breaker, but it must have bothered enough customers that Mitch Mason now offers a flat crystal option that can be purchased and installed by your local watchmaker. During the day, the creamy lume also provides a contrast to the dial, and the lume is very bright in the dark, making the watch quite legible at all times.
The Steel Blue version of the Chronicle includes a quick-release full-grain vegetable-tanned Italian leather strap that is hand-stitched and matches well with the dial color and lume. It is attractive and a taper down to 16mm makes it quite comfortable. I expect that its top surface will survive abuse better than the suede straps applied to some of the other versions of the watch.
If wear is a big concern, though, Mitch Mason also offers a bracelet option for an additional $89. I always recommend buying a watch with its original bracelet, and the Chronicle is no exception. Its H-link pattern gives lots of articulation and, like the strap, it also tapers down to 16mm at the buckle. As with the watch case, it has a mix of polished sides and brushed top surfaces. The bracelet’s spec list has all of the bells and whistles, including solid end links, chamfered edges, screwed links, and a milled clasp with a flip-lock and dual push-button releases. It’s nice to see a bracelet offered in the microbrand space, especially one that is this nice. Many affordable watches from microbrands are only available on straps.
Mitch Mason also sent me one of its EPDM rubber straps to try with the Chronicle. Typically, I’d expect a “Tropic Style” strap such as this to be seen on a dive watch, but it provides a good option for summer wear.
The Chronicle is equipped with the Miyota 9039 automatic movement, which is the non-date version of the popular 9015 (no phantom crown position here!). The 9000 series is a nice upgrade from the 8000 series and features hacking, hand-winding, 24 jewels, and a higher beat rate of 28,800 vph. The accuracy is rated at +30 to – 10 seconds per day, and the power reserve is 42 hours. It is an appropriate movement for the price and should offer years of reliable service. Since the automatic rotor only winds in one direction, you’ll also get to experience the “Miyota wobble” (love it or hate it).
Mitch Mason Watches says the Chronicle is “the perfect tool for every situation.” While the polished surfaces make it something that I would hesitate to use as a beater, it is a watch that can be worn in a wide variety of situations from outdoor activity to business events, or even with a suit, in a pinch. The brand has pulled off the difficult task of making a field watch look unique, with a unique case shape and use of color and finishing. It should especially be of interest to anyone who prefers smaller watches, but even if you often wear bigger, you might still find it comfortable. The Mitch Mason Chronicle retails at $499 USD plus $89 for the bracelet. To find out more, visit the brand’s website (you might even spot a hint of its upcoming dive watch).
>Brand: Mitch Mason
>Model: Chronicle (Steel Blue)
>Price: $499 (+$89 for the bracelet add-on)
>Size: 36.5mm-wide, 13.5mm-thick, and 43.5mm lug-to-lug distance.
>When reviewer would personally wear it: In everyday situations, with occasional business-casual wear.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Someone with a smaller wrist who likes the field watch style but wants something more colorful and finely finished than the typical field watch.
>Best characteristic of watch: The blue-grained sandwich dial.
>Worst characteristic of watch: I would prefer a case diameter of 38-39mm.