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Can a buddy become a true friend? Judgement day for the Marvin M104

By on 7 May 2010 in Watches

Can a buddy become a true friend? Judgement day for the Marvin M104
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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 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.

For more information, visit Marvin Watches’ website

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).

[vodpod id=Groupvideo.5589288&w=425&h=350&fv=%26rel%3D0%26border%3D0%26]

Article

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 […]

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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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  • http://www.marvinwatches.com Jerome Pineau

    Hey Str8-6 thanks for giving our M104 a good whirl! I’m not sure I got the “the two bizarre protrusions from the strap that exited in between each lug ” – would love to pursue that with you. You’re not talking about the strap pins I’m sure so…

    Thanks again for taking the time to do such a detailed review! Love it man :)
    J.

    • Marc

      I think “two bizarre protrusions” are indeed the quick release pins…
      They wierded me out aswell originally. They are a bit stiff to operate – a good thing since you don’t want your strap to open on it own – so the first time you try to move them and nothing happens, you end up wondering what they are…

  • http://www.marvinwatches.com Jerome Pineau

    Ahh! ok I see what you mean. Part of the problem is we’re missing the instructional video :) Which I plan on releasing soon actually – this is part of the work we did to support the eShop but given the comments here (and the article) I think it makes sense to put it out earlier than later :)
    They do come in handy when quick-flipping bracelets. Now, for me, the question is – how many people actually feel compelled to switch bracelets anyway? I don’t have that answer and would love to get feedback on that – I do believe it’s rare to have people order multiple bracelets (either at purchase time of subsequently) and in my opinion, it might not be a necessary feature on all models but, bottom line, let the market speak :)

    Great feedback – thanks!

    • http://www.TheProdigalGuide.com The Prodigal Fool

      Jerome – For what it’s worth, I think having easy to change straps is potentially a killer differentiator for you guys. We all know how a change of strap can totally change the look of a watch. My hunch is that Marvins are going to be bought by young watch fans who know that too.

      Why not ship your watches with two straps (like Panerai always ships a second, rubber strap with its watches) and a strap-changing tool to help drill home the message?

    • Straight-Six

      Aha! Now I get it and couldn’t agree more with The Prodigal Fool: copy Panerai.

  • http://www.TheProdigalGuide.com The Prodigal Fool

    Funny that you should end by mentioning the ‘new, mid-range’ dilemma. As I was reading your review, first I thought how appealing the Marvin was then – very quickly – I started thinking about the mid-range issue.

    You’ve summed it up well – and it’s something I really struggle to get over – I just can’t help thinking that I’d rather save my money and put it towards something more likely to retain its value and be more collectable in thirty years’ time.

    Then again, every brand has to start somewhere…. Maybe it’s worth taking a punt on a Marvin.

  • http://www.marvinwatches.com Jerome Pineau

    But there is an active Marvin collector community already as can be expected with a 160 year old brand. TZ-UK, eBay, several other sites and auction outfits (namely antiquorum) have been trading and enjoying vintage Marvins for decades. So I don’t think that’s likely to end – we also have an interesting FB collector page on http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Marvin-Watch-Collectors/300030378016.

    Point being, yes there are new owners but the brand will live on, as it has for 160 years, through ups and downs, trials, tribulations and successes and this is, IMHO, part of what makes owning a Marvin so compelling. It just lasts.

    Just my 2 cents :)

    • Straight-Six

      Jerome, it was intriguing to look through that fan page – the Hermetic model caught my eye! It makes a difference that you have such heritage and history behind you and that this can be pulled into your current line-up is only an advatage.

      Now, I’m ready for the Malton 160 Coussin…:))

  • http://www.marvinwatches.com Jerome Pineau

    @TPF: “Why not ship your watches with two straps (like Panerai always ships a second, rubber strap with its watches) and a strap-changing tool to help drill home the message?” – That’s a great concept actually – or at least offer it as an option – of course you don’t need a tool per say in our case, which is part of the “flipping feature” but yea, I could see that being popular with numerous buyers (I know I’d go for it!).

    @Str8-6: I get vintage Marvin requests all the time – that’s been one of my great surprises (and pleasures) – the amount of people who own these watches as far back as the early 1900s – it’s really amazing. And they come from the world over. In virtually ALL cases, these watches are still functioning! You know, Marvin used to make their own movements and at one time sold to Rolex – so the expertize was there. They supplied WWI forces and were very popular among the officers for timing battle activity (when they still made pocket watches and not wrist ones). You’d be amazed at the richness and diversity that I’ve seen – but the resilience and quality of these pieces is what baffles my mind every time. Specifically I noticed in the UK there is a very large very active collector community (not just Marvin but overall) and they know Marvins over there inside-out. There’s stories I could tell you about this brand you’d look at me and go – no way, you’ve gotta be kidding me. Case in point: Marilyn Monroe owned 2 of them! :) Guess who she got em from? :)

  • http://www.marvinwatches.com Jerome Pineau

    FYI folks, the instructional video (including strap flipping) is now live online at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Of6QVL7TMe8

    Enjoy! :)

    • http://www.TheProdigalGuide.com The Prodigal Fool

      Better still: I just embedded it in our original post.

  • http://favipayoff.blogspot.com Ruben Coe

    If I had a penny for every time I came here! Great article!

    • http://www.TheProdigalGuide.com The Prodigal Fool

      If we had a penny more like…LOL!

      Thanks for the compliment. It’s great to hear that people enjoy the site.

  • Straight-Six

    Thanks, Ruben. We’re taking donations, if you’re feeling generous. Just send it to SWC, they have our asses already…

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