In 2019, I saw The MW&Co Asset 2.1 watch for the very first time. It was the debut year for the brand, which had a small booth at Baselworld. What an irony that the first year of the French brand would be the last year of the Baselworld watch trade show. I never got a chance to put the watch on, but I recall thinking to myself, “That’s pretty cool.” Now, in 2021, I finally get a chance to review the MW&Co Asset series — and I’m certainly impressed. Let’s take a close look together at this highly original autosports-inspired modern-day sports watch.
In this review, I’ll look at two MW&Co Asset models, the MW&Co Asset 2.2 and a unique piece that is similar to the Asset 2.3. (The watches are functionally the same but differ in their color tones.) What I love about the Asset watch is how original everything is. Designers who are artists at heart truly hate for their work to look like anything that has come before it. MW&Co made sure pretty much everything is original when it comes to the case, strap, dial, etc. The movement is from a supplier, but it isn’t a mechanical module you’ll find very often. More on that later.
MW&Co claims that 77 pieces are used for the case itself, which is a love affair between titanium and the world of modern automotive component design. The brand points out that it needs to rely on no less than 17 suppliers to get all the parts for each Asset watch and that the final assembly and decoration is all done in-house at its manufacture in France. 11 of the suppliers are in France, and this is among the cool but still uncommon watches that proudly indicate “Made in France” on the case (even though the movement is from Switzerland).
The two most distinctive features of the case are the “muffler-style” barrel ring around the round case, as well as the dampener-style (similar to a shock absorber) front lugs that are, indeed, spring-loaded). Despite the extremely original look of the watch, it not only wears comfortably but is a breeze to read as well as use. The case is 46mm-wide, about 16mm-thick, and is about 55mm lug-to-lug. The case is water-resistant to 50 meters and has an AR-coated sapphire crystal over the dial, as well as another one for the movement exhibition window on the back of the case.
Look over the case carefully, and your eyes will be delighted with a wide variety of colors, textures, and interesting design elements to look at. The titanium bezel, for example, is a mixture of sandblasted surfaces along with polished lines at various edges. Titanium also helps save a lot of weight since this is not a small watch, but it certainly doesn’t feel too heavy.
The structure of the spring-loaded “shock” lugs is very cool — not only in the detailing and operation but also in all the parts. MW&Co claims that each of the dampener lugs requires 14 parts, and that includes the ceramic lacquer-painted springs along with the sapphire crystal tubes, which offer a visual clue as to what is going on inside. There is also a system of o-rings to ensure that dust and water do not enter the damper-system lugs. Tug on the strap a bit and you can feel the spring in action. I think the goal here is less about shock absorption and more about functioning as a comfort system, allowing the strap to have a bit of “give,” which can help improve comfort as you move your wrist around or when it expands and contracts over the course of the day.
The movement inside the watch is something you don’t see very often but is a really cool caliber nonetheless. It is the Swiss Made Eterna Caliber 3916A automatic flyback chronograph movement. The first thing to mention about the chronograph is that, even though the dial only has two subdials, it is a full 12-hour chronograph because the right subdial has a hand to count both the elapsed minutes and the elapsed hours. The left subdial is the running seconds for the main time. The 3916A movement operates at 4Hz with a power reserve of 60 hours. It has a custom MW&Co automatic rotor that is produced in-house by the brand.
Rounding off the otherwise very cool and original package is a fitting strap. The handmade straps are produced from alligator and elegantly taper on the wrist. The strap ends are “Y-cut” so that they attach to the protruding lugs, without the traditional spring bar. This is just one more way that the Asset watch seeks to set itself apart from other timepieces. And this is a good time to point out that even the case screws have an original design and needed to be custom-made for MW&Co.
MW&Co does a lot of bespoke watches as part of its business. That means customers order unique versions of the Asset watch in materials and colors that they choose. I recommend this route for serious enthusiasts, if only because there is so much fun to be had playing with all the color options and the rich variety of parts that can be played with. Otherwise the “core” collection Asset watches are right now all limited edition pieces. For example, the Asset 2.2 is a limited edition of just 20 watches.
Depending on the version of the MW&Co Asset watch, the titanium case components or dial pieces are colored differently. The Asset 2.2 is mostly natural gray titanium with a PVD black-coated middle ring and some orange accenting on the dial. The other Asset watch has an entirely orange rehaut ring around the dial, which is accented with more orange in areas such as the lug springs. MW&Co designed the dials to be extremely complex, but in a good way, because legibility is the most important feature of the dial. The easy-to-spot hands are joined with raised hour markers, and everything from the date display (located at the 6 o’clock position on the dial) to the subdial hands is extremely legible.
The face of the watch is also cut with slightly wavy horizontal lines that offer a taste of skeletonization without being distracting. I really admire the level of refinement that went into making the dial feel original, interesting, proportionate, and again, legible. It’s great to see a tool watch underneath all the design fun that is central to the Asset series watch presentation.
Given all the original parts and detailing, I actually feel the pricing for much of the MW&Co Asset collection is fair. The now sold-out Asset 2.1 (similar to the 2.2, but with a green versus orange accent color theme) limited edition of 20 pieces was priced at only 6,600 Euros. The Asset 2.2 limited edition of 20 pieces has a retail price of 8,800 Euros. The Asset 2.3 (which has more black-coated parts) limited edition of 50 watches is 9,200 Euros. Other unique or smaller production MW&Co Asset watches mostly range in price from about 12,100-13,475 Euros. These are rather exciting watches, and I hope enough hobbyists get a chance to at least try one on. Learn more at the MW&Co website here.
>Model: Asset (Mainly Asset 2.2 and reviewed)
>Price: 8,800 Euros (for the Asset 2.2 as tested)
>Size: 46mm-wide, ~16mm-thick, with a ~55mm lug-to-lug distance.
>When reviewer would personally wear it: As a spirited and original sporty chronograph for lifestyle and social events.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Detail and design-oriented modern watch lover who wants something original and hard to come by.
>Best characteristic of watch: Entirely original design that still manages to be a good tool watch with a lot of fun details and refinements. Spring-loaded lug concept is well done. Highly legible dial with effective movement.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Larger size not suited to all wrists. Won’t be affordable for all budgets.