Hello everyone, and welcome to another Singaporean review! On this shiok Saturday, I’m reviewing the new Dali watch from American microbrand, Egard watches.
Egard is a brand I’ve been following closely for quite some time now, ever since their advertisement (in response to Gillette) went viral. You don’t see watch companies – especially microbrands – taking a stand in social issues everyday, so to say that Egard piqued my attention would be to put it mildly! After noticing that they had recently launched a new watch design, the Dali, I contacted the brand and they kindly sent me a piece for review.
Egard Watches – the Brand
Egard Watches was founded in 2012 by Ilan as a tribute to his father, Peter. 7 years ago, Ilan designed his first wristwatch to present as a gift to his dad. He poured his heart and soul, his entire love for his dad, into that first wristwatch. Needless to say, his father was overjoyed when he received the watch, and seeing that look of exuberance on his face led Ilan to start Egard Watches to bring that joy to the masses.
Today, Egard prides themselves in delivering watches that look unconventional, yet well made. Due to Ilan’s acting career, several of Egard watches has wound up on the wrists of Hollywood actors, and even on the silver screen! Nevertheless, Egard has managed to keep prices of their watches relatively affordable (their most expensive watch is currently $550 USD), and does this by doing away with retailer margins.
Without further ado, let’s see how the Egard Dali fares!
Egard Dali – Build Quality
Despite its low price point, the Egard Dali is surprisingly well built.
Firstly, the Egard Dali utilises a flat sapphire crystal. As aforementioned numerous times in my previous reviews, I’m a huge advocate of sapphire crystal due to their inherent scratch-resisting properties. Personally, I always look for sapphire crystal in my modern watches as it adds greatly to the durability of the watch. Furthermore, there’s also an internal AR coating on the underside of the sapphire crystal to prevent the bulk of nasty reflections! I should also state that it is rare to find uniquely curved sapphire crystal, and it likely cost Egard a bomb to manufacture sapphire in that unconventional shape. Elsewhere, the WR rating for the Dali is stated at 30M, which is unsurprisingly considering that it is billed as a dress watch – keep it away from water!
The Seiko NH35A movement serves as the beating heart of the Egard Dali. Some quick specs: the movement beats at 21600 vibrations per hour, has 42 hours of power reserve, contains 24 jewels, and is hacking. I’m a fan of the Seiko NH35A movement, and greatly prefer it to the Miyota 8 series movement (which is the alternative movement commonly seen at this price point). This is due to the fact that unlike the NH35A, the Miyota 8 series movements are non-hacking, suffer from a stuttering second hand (some models), and in my own experience with the Miyota movements, are also more prone to accuracy problems. Last but not least, the usage of the Seiko NH35A movement helps keep the price of the Dali down to a very affordable $220 USD (after promo code below)!
The strap of the Egard Dali is average. It’s genuine leather, which means that it won’t patina in the way top grain or full grain leather would. In addition, the buckle is a generic one and not signed. However, the lining is smooth and comfortable, and the embossing is done quite decently. It’s not a strap that blows you away, but it’s a perfectly serviceable one.
Overall, I think the Egard Dali packs some pretty neat specifications for the price! Despite costing less than the MSRP of a Daniel Wellington, it manages to include sapphire crystal and an automatic Seiko movement – features the aforementioned Daniel Wellington lack.
Egard Dali – Design
The main draw of the Dali is undoubtedly its unique case shape.
The case design of the Dali is actually inspired by the melting watches from Dali’s iconic painting, the Persistence of Memory. I happen to have a personal connection to the painting – it’s one of my favourite pieces of art. One of the aspects I loved about the painting is its surrealist nature, which I feel the Egard Dali successfully captures. It’s a whimsical shape, a shape that is not pegged into any of the traditional watch holes (round, square, tank, tonneau, etc). It’s strikingly unique, and is a case design that I don’t think any other microbrand, or watch brand, possess. That’s a hefty compliment, given the lack of real design innovation when it comes to affordable watches!
The dial of the Egard Dali is clean and simple. On this variant – in my opinion, the most versatile colourway – the dial is jet black, and complimented by silver hands and silver applied indices. It’s minimalist and legible, and should appeal to millennials, many of whom are enamored by the clean design of Daniel Wellington/MVMT watches. I think it’s an appropriate choice, and will no doubt make the Egard Dali appeal to the mass market, but personally I wish they had went for Arabic numerals instead. The original melting watches in the Dali painting featured Arabic numerals with spade hands, and personally to see a re-creation of that would have been dope. It probably wouldn’t have sold as well, but that’s just my personal opinion!
Aside from the case, the claw shaped lugs of the Egard Dali are also quite prominent, and rather striking on the wrist. Combined with the unique case shape of the Dali, the case profile of the watch is definitely on the bolder side. It’s polished to a shine too, giving the watch a dressy vibe.
Nevertheless, there are areas where the Egard Dali’s low price tag reveals itself. Firstly, the crown on the Dali is unsigned. It’s proportionately sized so that hand-winding won’t be a chore, but it’s unsigned. Secondly, the case finishing is simple, and lack the nuances (bevelled edges, contrasting finishing) present on pricier watches.
The caseback is also unadorned, lacking of any inscription whatsoever – not even the usual specifications one usually find inscribed on the back. There is a nice exhibition window for one to view the mechanical movement within, but the Seiko NH35 is bare bones and undecorated, with the noticeable lack of a custom rotor.
On the wrist, the 40mm Egard Dali wears well on my 7 inch wrist. It does wear larger than its 40mm diameter might indicate due to its unique case shape and pronounced lugs, but it’s definitely still very wearable. Egard doesn’t state the thickness of the Dali, but I measured it and it comes in at about 12mm, which is still acceptable for a dress watch.
All in all, the calling card of the Egard Dali is undoubtedly its unique case size. It’s strikingly different, and its Dali painting inspiration will definitely be a conversation starter. The minimalist dial complements the intriguing case nicely, serving as the platform on which the case design shines. There are areas whereby the Dali could have been more refined – differing finishing on the case, a signed crown, a custom rotor and decorated movement, etc – but given the low price tag of the watch, I find those aspects mostly forgivable.
Shootout – Egard Dali vs MVMT Arc Automatic
I recently read a review of the MVMT Arc Automatic on Hodinkee – it caused quite a stir amongst the watch community when it was published, with many claiming that Hodinkee has “sold out”. That’s a conversation for another day, but it is clear that the MVMT Arc Automatic and the Egard Dali are gunning for the same slice of the market – millennials (who love minimalist designs) that are on the hunt for their first automatic watch. As such, I decided to compare the Egard Dali with the MVMT Arc Automatic for today!
In terms of build quality, the Egard Dali trumps the MVMT Arc Automatic. The Arc Automatic uses a domed mineral crystal, which is nowhere near as scratch resistant as the sapphire crystal on the Egard Dali. Furthermore, the Arc Automatic utilises a Miyota 8 series movement, which in my opinion is less reliable than the Seiko NH35 found in the Egard Dali due to reasons mentioned earlier.
From an aesthetics point of view, I would probably call it a tie. I think the Egard Dali has the more intriguing design, especially due to that unique case shape. In comparison, while the MVMT Arc Automatic share similar clean aesthetics, it looks similar to other “minimalist” watches from brands like Timex, Orient, etc. However, I do think that the Arc Automatic is better finished than the Dali. For example, the crown on the Arc Automatic is signed, and the movement features simple perlage decoration as well as a custom rotor.
Where the Egard Dali has the edge is in its price. At $220 USD, it’s $80 USD (or nearly 30%) cheaper than the MVMT Arc Automatic. That may not seem like a lot, but it’s plenty to the millennial consumer both brands are marketing to. As such, due to the Egard Dali’s ability to pack better specifications at a lower price as well as its unique case design, the Dali triumphs over the Arc Automatic in this shootout.
Conclusion – so the Egard Dali “shiok” or not?
I think the Egard Dali makes for a great “first” mechanical watch. This is a market that has been growing in recent years, as recent releases such as the Swatch Sistem 51 Ivory and the aforementioned MVMT Arc Automatic exemplify. I think the Dali is a good option for those looking to transition from cheap fashion watches, yet still not ready to take the plunge for a watch by one of the entry level Swatch Group brands (Tissot, Hamilton, Mido, etc). Overall, I think the Dali is a strong value proposition – it has sapphire crystal, a workhorse Seiko automatic movement, an unique conversation-starting case design, and yet also the “minimalist” aesthetics that millennials love.
For those interested, you can use the promo code “WAHSOSHIOK15” to enjoy 15% off all Egard watches site-wide! After the discount, the Egard Dali can be had for just $220 USD/ ~S$305. That’s less than the MSRP of a Daniel Wellington, but a lot more watch. If you’re someone looking for their first “real” watch, but don’t want a hole in your pocket, do check out the Egard Dali!
View Egard’s full range of watches here.
Case size: 40mm
Case Material: 316L Stainless Steel
Strap Width: 22mm
Movement: NH35 Automatic Movement (winds off the movement of your wrist) 40 hour power reserve
Glass: Uniquely curved sapphire crystal
Water Resistant: 3ATM | 30 Meters
Strap: 100 percent genuine leather
P.S Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wahsoshiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned!
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