It’s been an intense 10 days with the Marvin M104, folks. Lively too, as I wore the little chap on my wrist every single day and insisted on culling as many opinions as I could from those who might be susceptible to actually buying a watch in this price range.
You see, it’s been years since we actually looked at watches in the lowest of four figures. Many, many years, in fact. So, it was both somewhat strange and refreshing to walk through the streets of the real world, as opposed to kneeling at the altar of our vintage Rolex shrine up in the Swiss Alps.
Turns out enormous strides have been made in both the manufacturing and packaging of real world watches. Weighing in at an honest €1,300 retail, the Marvin M104 really is beautifully finished, from the dial through the case to the buckle and leather strap. And the presentation case it came in only reinforces the care and attention being paid by these charming folk up in the Marvin Castle.
After a few days with the 41mm M104 on my wrist, and with a raft of opinions collected, a few issues did start to surface. Firstly, you need to have a larger than normal wrist to properly wear the piece. Ladies and larger gents (like The Prodigal Fool) won’t have any issues here, but my slender wrist can only take a 40mm watch at the most; anything more starts to look ungainly. Nonetheless, the M104 was exceedingly comfortable to wear in both hot and cold weather.
While the chamfered sapphire crystal was a delight to look at – catching all sorts of fascinating light angles – it was less satisfying viewed head-on, when it reflected the minute markings, making a busy outer dial even, well, busier. This is notable because the dial itself is a source of both interest and heated discussion. In essence, the M104 dial is modern and classic possessing a lovely little colour corner in which you find the power reserve and the Marvin red at 8 o’clock. But the very large 3-9-12 hour markers and the distended inner dial threw the balance out somewhat. The same neat power reserve indicator is the source of the protuberant inner dial, with the minuscule date aperture not helping matters. The effect causes your eye to be pulled toward the Marvin red which may have been done on purpose, but it jarred in my eyes and those who gave their input.
Other sources of consternation were the two bizarre protrusions from the strap that exited in between each lug – almost touching the case. We’re not sure why they’re needed, so perhaps Marvin would like to explain. Finally, a number of Prodigal friends remarked on the large size of the watch case when compared to the fine and quite elegantly designed lugs. This too contributed to an occasional sense of imbalance I remarked upon in the dial design. But let’s put this in context, here: for every beautiful watch we come across – let alone true classic designs – you’ll find 50 aesthetic monstrosities. The Marvin M104 is definitely in the good guys camp, perhaps needing a little more fine-tuning before it makes to real hombre status.
This is good work, folks, really good work. And for a brand we’d never even heard of until a few weeks ago, well, we’re impressed. Not just by the watches, but by the whole ethos and approach of a brand that wants to do it differently, while avoiding the mistakes of so many other utterly indifferent and pompous Swiss watch brands. But the hardest obstacle for Marvin to overcome may not be brand prejudice at all.
You see, The Prodigal Fool and I have often argued about whether spending money on new mid-range watches (€500 – €2,000) is tantamount to chucking it in the bin. The thinking goes something like this: under €500 you can have a whole lotta fun (Swatch) with some solid quality thrown in for good effect (Hamilton), should you so choose. But you’re never really going that crazy; you can buy and sell and lose and get pieces stolen and not really give a shit.
But from the moment you move towards the €1,000 mark, well, you’re getting very close to being able to get your mitts on both the quality and (re)assurance of a known brand. Yes, perhaps that may be at a serious discount or even second-hand but the point is you’re so close you might just wait another couple of months and save the extra you need and never look back. At least that’s how watch lovers look at it.
Turns out most normal folk don’t see the upper echelon at all. They’re just looking for a watch that ticks all the boxes and does it with flair and – why not? – fun. If this means you, then Marvin more than deserves the opportunity to buy you a drink, whisper in your ear, nibble your lobe and sashay you through their mood palette.
Updated 8 May 2010: This short video featuring some of Marvin’s best sellers covers bracelet changes (M014 is the example), setting date and time functions, using chronographs (M103).
Can a buddy become a true friend? Judgement day for the Marvin M104
Following a rather in-depth preview of the exuberant Marvin M104 last week, Straight-Six delves deeper and delivers his final verdict… It’s been an intense 10 days with the Marvin M104, folks. Lively too, as I wore the little chap on my wrist every single day and insisted on culling as many opinions as I could [...]
Eric (AKA Straight-Six) had a proper job as a journalist for Dow Jones before lowering himself gently into the warm, forgiving waters of The Guide. He’s our resident fanatic: he relished detailing his BMW M3 for two full days at a time before crashing it at Eau Rouge in the wet; he spends insane amounts on his home-cinema system and has thrown tens of thousands of euros at vintage Rolex sports watches. The little fool simply does not understand the concept of restraint or the meaning of excess. He also – following a legendary "heavy" lunch – once nibbled (yes, like little dogs do) a dear lady friend of ours.
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