First and foremost, I would like to thank the hard-working staff at aBlogtoWatch.com and the generous team at Martenero for making this giveaway possible. I am extremely grateful to them both and still find it hard to believe that I was fortunate enough to win such a significant gift. The customer service at Martenero was exceptional during the entire process and should be considered as a notable advantage to buying from an aspiring American company. I have been encouraged by the number of upstart watch brands that have come out of the US in the recent years, and NYC-based Martenero is surely one to keep an eye on.
As most aBlogtoWatch readers know, each month Ariel and his staff ask giveaway contestants to respond to a topic, and typically the watch that is up for grabs dictates this prompt to a certain extent. In this case, they wanted reader feedback regarding whether or not we liked the idea of being able to custom order our own watch by selecting from a palette of brand-provided options. I responded by saying that I felt it was a unique and valuable concept, and I was naturally thrilled when I got the opportunity to personalize my very own Martenero Founder watch.
At the time of this giveaway I was able to select from four dial colors, five minute hand colors, five leather straps and 11 nylon NATO straps. I opted for the blue dial and blue minute hand, paired with cognac leather and navy/red/sky nylon straps. Several different color possibilities have been added since Martenero’s initial offerings, and I think that continuing to expand the available choices for each component can only bring more value to the line. I am extremely happy with the choices I made, and I feel that customizing the watch to my taste has made it that much more special to me. It also allowed me to fill several color voids that I had in my collection. Over the years, I have tried to expand on my small assortment of watches by searching for pieces that have a unique look, feel, and color from anything else that I own. The service that Martenero offers is a great way to tailor a watch to your own wants and needs.
The watch was presented inside of a sturdy wooden box with laser-etched Martenero branding on top. The inside of the box has a slot for the watch as well as an extra slot for the included NATO strap. Martenero was even generous enough to include a tool for changing straps as a part of the package. Providing both strap options with the watch speaks to just how versatile the design of the Martenero Founder is; changing between the two varieties really transforms the feel of the watch.
The leather strap included with the watch is handmade in the USA and extremely supple; it is easily the most comfortable leather strap I own. David Bredan’s review of the Martenero Ace mentioned how the softness and “suede-like” feel of the strap’s under lining may lead to a shorter lifespan, but it appears that Martenero has addressed this issue since then. My leather strap seemed to have a more durable lining that couldn’t be described as having a suede-like texture.
Both leather and nylon straps have polished buckles engraved with Martenero branding, and the leather strap has an interesting combination of a stationary stainless steel keeper and a floating leather keeper. After wearing the watch with both straps and in a number of different social settings, I have come to love how it blends sporty touches with an overall elegant look, making it a go-to piece for any occasion depending on the setup.
Helping contribute to this blend of styles is the Martenero Founder’s dial, which I find myself admiring every time I wear the watch. While it certainly could not be considered minimalistic, it does not feel cluttered or over-done at all. The 5-minute segments in the inner-most portion of the dial progress into three multi-color “warning track” blocks signaling the end of each hour, which I find to be a fun and distinctive design aspect. I really liked the idea of matching the minute hand to this portion of the dial and I think it created a nice color harmony on the watch I built. I also find the raised, silver minute indicators spaced around the dial in 10-minute increments to be a nice feature that helps add depth to a relatively flat watch face.
The Martenero “V” symbol adorns the inner end of the arrow-shaped seconds hand and is also repeated at the 12-o’clock position on the dial. Superluminova accents have been applied to most of the indices around the dial and on parts of all three hands, making for an easy viewing experience in the dark. I will say that the despite the website displaying the dial as a dark navy blue, the actual saturation of the dial color is slightly more subdued in natural light. I didn’t mind this at all and actually found the color to be very pleasing – my wife immediately commented that she liked the color a lot.
The crown jewel of Martenero’s watches has to be the beautiful 42mm 316L stainless steel case used for both the Ace and Founder models. The machining is superb, and the contrast between the polished “twisted” lug sections sandwiched in the middle of the case’s lightly brushed sides and rounded bezel makes it hard to keep your eyes (and hands) from following the watch’s flawless lines. David’s review of the Ace reported that cases of this quality usually aren’t found at this price point, and while this just became the most expensive watch I own, I have to believe his statement has a lot of truth to it. Adding to this exceptional case are the front and rear sapphire crystals, allowing the wearer to see the partially-decorated Miyota 821A Automatic movement.
While this movement doesn’t have the accuracy or potential reliability of its Swiss counterparts, I don’t think it detracts much from the overall package, considering the price point and all the other positive aspects of the watch. The anti-reflective coating on the front crystal could be improved a bit, but it didn’t bother me during daily wear and it has never been a large concern of mine when purchasing a watch. Rounding out the case is an appealing screw-down crown engraved with an “M” in the middle (perfect for guys named Mark), allowing the watch to achieve a useful water resistance rating of 100 meters.
The Martenero Founder continues to be an absolute joy to have on my wrist. It encapsulates the spirit of New York City by seamlessly marrying classical appeal with a modern, sporty style that is as comfortable in the board room as it is at a ball game. I love that even if someone I came across had purchased the same watch, it would be highly unlikely that they would have selected the same combination of options.
The opportunity to express your individuality is really what makes the whole experience of owning a Martenero so much more personal and in turn meaningful. The versatility of the Martenero Founder combined with all of its interesting and well-executed details makes this a commendable purchase for anyone who is considering creating their very own Martenero.
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Someone looking for a highly versatile daily wearer with a fun and unique style that can be personalized to their own preferences.
>Best characteristic of watch: A well-machined and elegant case and an attractive dial that melds formal and sporty details.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Japanese movement may not impress higher-end watch collectors.
Special thanks go to Michael Atkins Photography for the beautiful photos.