The amazing thing about microbrands is that they don’t have to play by any rules. They can do what they want, or what their customers want, in small quantities, quickly and deftly. This has allowed for trends to spawn in the microbrand market, eventually moving to mass market, and for brands to simply take some crazy risks. Mercer Watch is one of these small, flexible brands. Helmed by Scott Vuocolo and based in New Jersey, for the past five years Mercer has produced a wide array of watches in seemingly different styles. What ties them together is that they are born of an enthusiast’s desire to create cool, fun, affordable watches that will appeal to a wide variety of collectors. But for their fifth anniversary, Mercer has gone and made a watch that truly embodies the kind of watch that only a microbrand can make, and the Windup Watch Shop is very excited to be partnering with them on its launch.
The Mercer Madison takes its inspirations from the trench watches of WWI. Classically designed, these early 20th timepieces were typically converted pocket watches with bold numerals and clean designs. The Madison takes queues from these watches, such as the red twelve marker but puts them into a far more palatable 40 x 46.8 x 11.5mm case. The dial consists of an hour track with Roman numerals surrounded by a minutes track of dashes are triangles. It’s simple, understated and effective, but what makes the Madison so special isn’t the aesthetics, though well executed - it’s the use of two quite exotic features.
First, the dials of the Madison are made from real glass enamel. A feature very rarely found in general, let alone off affordable watches, this traditional dial material is baked on in a kiln and has a clarity and depth of color not found in other materials. The Madison is available in either pristine white or deep black, both of which look incredible. Contrasting the surface colors are sub-dials at six, cut through the enamel in an appealing neutral gray. The white model also features heat-blued hands, another uncommon feature on an affordable timepiece.
Enamel would be more than enough to set the Madison apart, but Mercer decided to go further and equip the Madison with vintage NOS movements by France Ebauche. Formed in 1965 as a conglomerate of various French movement and component makers, France Ebauche, or FE, was later absorbed, in part, into Glashütte Original and Technotime (now part of Soprod). Inside of the Madison is a manual-wound caliber called the 233.,68. Featuring 15-jewels, 40hr power reserve and a frequency of 21,600 bph, the 233.,68 was a workhorse in its time.
Utilizing NOS movements is an interesting and unconventional approach. Sourcing NOS movements is complicated as finding them in good condition and in good quantities is rare. Then they need to be properly inspected, making sure they are viable for a new watch, a process that can be very time consuming and expensive. The result though is very cool, as it automatically limits the watch to what movements were available, and adds a layer to the watch’s story.
In making the Madison with a NOS movement, Mercer has made something very special - a modern watch with a vintage heart. Throw in the enamel dial, heat-blue hands, great finishing, and the watch really shines as something special. Completing the package is a domed sapphire crystal and ostrich leather straps. As alluded to, despite the remarkable components, the Mercer Madison is still quite affordable. Priced at $545, the Madison is a great value and a watch unlike any other currently available. Limited to just 300 units, it’s also sure to go quick.
The Mercer Madison is available for preorder now, shipping in approximately 3 months
In addition to launching the Madison, we are excited to welcome Mercer to the Windup Watch Shop, and will also be featuring their Lexington chronographs in the store. This 60’s inspired line of racing chronographs features Sea-Gull ST1901 manually-wound calibers and 39mm cases for an authentic look and feel. Available in three colors, the bi-compax design has contrasting sub-dials and tachymeter chapter for subtle panda style. For fans of vintage chronographs, the Mercer Lexingtons are a steal at $529 and they are available now.