There was a time, maybe 50-70 years ago, when watch companies seemed to be having a lot of fun with cases. Think of the Hamilton Ventura, one of the few remaining relics of the age. Or the original Vacheron Constantin 1972 Prestige. These watches and their contemporaries were elegant dress watches that embraced an avant-garde design ethos that seems to have disappeared in the ensuing decades. So obsessed were people for the last 20 years with oversized dive watches — which almost necessitate a round case — that, along with the dress watch that once dominated the market, fun and inventive case design also seemed to disappear. While it’s not quite as daring as those looks, the Möels & Co. 528 gets back to that mid-century era of atypically-cased dress watches with an extra-wide design that’s full of charm.

When approaching a watch like the Moëls 528, I think the appeal of the design is tempered by wearability concerns. It’s 45mm across, and you’re getting every bit of that as there’s no roundness or curvature to mitigate the visual effect. The 33mm lug-to-lug only makes the width more evident. But the wrist presence is manageable: This isn’t a large watch, like a big chrono or some ultra-complicated luxury piece. At 11mm thick, it sits easily, and the width combined with the offset hands allow for at a glance reading even when the watch is partially under the cuff.

Advertising Message

The 528 surprises with a screw-down crown and 100m water resistance, not things I expected on a watch of this style, but certainly welcome. The watch has 22mm lugs (spot-on given the shape) and a Hirsch leather strap with the Hirsch bracelet (a custom buckle that mirrors the case would be a nice touch). While the silhouette of the case was charming, I did find the finishing to be somewhat wanting: Corners and edges are soft, and transitions are almost mushy. The case avoids hard angles by design, but there’s a fineness that’s lacking here, and while I didn’t find it hampering my enjoyment on the wrist, I hope it can be resolved on future iterations.

While the case may be what’s going to catch your eye first, it’s the dial that will keep you gazing at the Möels & Co. 528. Released in 15 different variations, including a split black and white dial, the layout is as unique as the case. The sleek skeleton hands are offset, which provides both a stylistic and practical benefit: the dial becomes its own differentiator from other watches, and the time is also readable even when the watch is resting under a cuff (depending on the cuff, of course, though even with a larger dress shirt, the effort to move the watch out from the cuff is reduced). On this “Metallic Fir” dial color, you get a deep gray main dial, rhodium-plated hands and applied numerals, and silver dial text. Smartly, all of those silver accents are polished, providing contrast against the base dial and increasing legibility.

Everything about the dial seems geared toward emphasizing the rectangular case (or you could argue that the case is geared toward emphasizing the wide dial). The horizontal brushing is one (beautiful) thing, but the font for the numerals and the brand is also wide, showing some excellent attention to detail by brand owner and designer Betina Menescal. The reticle emanating from the pinion is the final touch, centering the eye on the time while also underscoring the dimensions of the case.

Advertising Message

There’s something about the way the caseback is done that I enjoy. Yes, it’s a standard sapphire caseback crystal showing off the movement, but all that extra real estate — high-polished like the rest of the case — adds more canvas. Small brands always seem to lose the fight against the temptation to use the back to be “creative” [read: tacky with caseback art], and I’m glad Menescal was stronger than that, giving us just the movement display and a big ‘528’ model designation. The watch is powered by a Swiss automatic Sellita SW200-1 b (meaning it has no date function), and the brand has opted for the extra flash of a gold-tone rotor. As you likely already know, this reliable movement beats at 28,800 vph with an average power reserve of 41 hours.

Oozing charm and filled with retro appeal, the Möels & Co. 528 delivered an enjoyable wear for me while I had it. This is a great watch to add a bit of diversity to a collection that’s populated by more traditional watches, without the frustration and worry that comes with hunting down a vintage watch. The Möels & Co. 528 is priced starting at £820 GBP, with the Metallic Fir model shown here priced at £946 GBP. For more information, please visit the brand’s website

Advertising Message

Subscribe to our Newsletter