With the Ultramatic tourbillion watch being Manufaktur Waldhoff’s jewel in the crown, the Capital flies largely under the radar. That’s unfortunate, as I personally think the Capital is a great value proposition!
Manufaktur Waldhoff – the Brand
Manufaktur Waldhoff was founded in 2015 by a team of 4 Swiss and German watch designers and watchmakers whom describes themselves as having “a passion for quality engineering”. Unlike most microbrands, Manufaktur Waldhoff individually assembles and calibrate (by hand) all their watches in-house in their Pforzheim, Germany workshop.
Personally, I’m impressed by the dedication of the Manufaktur Waldhoff team. They uphold a high level of QC in their workshop, regulating and checking the accuracy of each and every timepiece before it ships to the customer. They state that they are “product people and want [their] products to speak for themselves”, choosing to focus on the quality of their watches and not catchy marketing campaigns. This probably explains the resounding success of their previous Kickstarter campaign – which introduced the Captial – with over 300 backers pledging their support!
Without further ado, let’s see if the Manufaktur Waldhoff Capital is any good.
Manufaktur Waldhoff Capital – Build Quality
I’m honestly staggered by the build quality of the Capital – it is definitely one of the best I’ve encountered thus far at under S$500.
Firstly, the Manufaktur Waldhoff Capital 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! Elsewhere, the WR rating for the Capital is 30M, which means that you should probably keep it out of contact with water whenever possible. That being said, given that the Capital is a dress watch, the paltry WR rating isn’t that much for an issue to me.
The most unusual aspect of the Capital is the Hangzhou 7500 automatic movement that powers it. Some specifications: it has an astounding 80 hours of power reserve, beats at a high 28,800 bph, has 21 jewels, hacks and hand-winds. That’s some pretty impressive specifications! In particular, I was wowed by the huge power reserve, which means that I could take the watch off on Friday and still find it running when I pick it up again before setting out on Monday. Given the watch’s ~S$400 price tag, that’s very impressive. However, the Hangzhou 7500 is a relatively obscure movement (I personally am not aware of another microbrand that uses it), which might give potential buyers pause for thought given its lack of a reliable track record. Nevertheless, in my month or so that I’ve been testing the Capital, I found the watch to be fairly accurate. This is in part due to Manufaktur Waldhoff regulating each watch before shipment as aforementioned, which should assuage the accuracy fears that often plagues Chinese movements. Personally, I really like this Hangzhou 7500 movement – it’s accurate (on my Capital at least), its high beat rate results in a smooth sweep of the seconds hand, and the whopping 80 hours of power reserve really comes in handy!
The quality of the default strap is rather average – it’s nicely stitched and features stitched strap loops, but the inner lining feels cheap and cardboard-like to the touch. In addition, the leather quality is simply “Genuine Leather”, which is the lowest quality tier in leather. For the uninitiated, leather generally comes in three quality tiers – genuine leather, top-grain leather, and full-grain leather, in ascending order of quality. Unlike top-grain and full-grain leather, genuine leather will not patina with age. That being said, the embossing on the strap is done quite nicely, with the blue of the strap being roughly the same shade as the blue skeletonised movement. Also, the strap comes with quick-release pins for added convenience! Nevertheless, I’ll probably be swapping out the default strap for a handcrafted strap that does better justice to the beauty of the dial (more on that later!).
The Capital also comes with lume, with Swiss Tritec lume being deployed on the hands and indices of the watch. The lume isn’t very bright, and doesn’t last very long, but it’s there if you need it. To be honest, I’m not quite sure why Manufaktur Waldhoff decided to include lume on what is described as their “classic” dress watch. I certainly have never had the need to tell the time on it in total darkness!
Overall, the specifications of the Capital is simply incredible for its ~S$400 price. It utilises sapphire crystal (with AR coating), an astoundingly specced movement, and even has lume! The main let-down is the average strap quality, but that’s easily solved by an aftermarket option.
Manufaktur Waldhoff Capital – Design
While the specifications of the Capital is great, the design is no slouch either!
What captivated me at first sight was the blue skeletonised movement. The baseplate of the movement is skeletonised and finished in a blue tone for an incredibly striking look. It’s not heat-blued, so it lacks the nuances and complexity true heat-blued finishing possesses, but come on – this is a ~S$400 watch! In addition, the diamond cut hands are well defined, and adds an edge to the dial. I also like the usage of the MW brand logo as the counterweight for the seconds hand – that’s smart! Lastly, the positioning and framing of the balance wheel at 6 o’clock is well done too, instantly drawing one to the mesmerising rotations of the movement’s beating heart. It may not have the same visual effect as the co-axial tourbillion does on the Ultramatic, but it is nice to look at nonetheless.
Put the Capital under a loupe (or a macro lens, in this case), and the watch looks even better! That’s rarely the case with affordable watches, and I’m really pleasantly surprised by the attention to detail present in the Capital. Firstly, the brushed blue baseplate juxtaposes nicely with the polished gold plated gears and balance spring. Secondly, there’s these little raised square beads that line both sides of the minute track, and adds a dose of elegance visually to the watch. Thirdly, I like the concentric patterning of the minute track itself, as well as the usage of the applied blue roman indices. The text on the dial is nice and crisp too! Overall, I could really tell that the Manufaktur Waldhoff team really paid attention to the little details in the dial of the Capital. The result is a dial that is full of depth and texture, yet remains classy and elegant at the same time. Magnifique.
To illustrate the attention to detail even further, I wanted to show you guys a macro shot of the top half of the dial. The large silver mainspring delights the eyes, but what really impressed me was the beveling finishing found on the plate upon which the brand name is inscribed. Lastly, I also want to draw attention to how the lume pips align perfectly with the applied indices. Incredible stuff!
Moving on from the gorgeous dial, the bezel of the Capital is stepped which further increases the depth of the watch. Elsewhere, the lugs of the watch are short, which helps the Capital wear smaller than its 44mm diameter might suggest. If I were to nitpick, I wished the lugs were finished better – some chamfering on the lugs would have been the icing on the cake. Still, I can’t fault it much given its ~S$400 price tag!
The Capital features polished case sides, as well as a signed crown. The crown is nicely signed and grooved too, making hand-winding the watch an ease.
The caseback of the Capital is brushed, with some relevant information inscribed. However, the main attraction has to be the exhibition caseback, in which the blue plated movement can be seen in its full glory. In particular, that rotor design is stunning! Definitely one of the more striking rotor design that I’ve come across till date. However, I do wish Manufaktur Waldhoff had engraved their brand name on the rotor – they should put their stamp on something as beautiful as that!
The Capital wears nicely on my 7 inch wrist. While I would probably have preferred the Capital to be slightly smaller in diameter (42mm would have been perfect), the aforementioned short lugs of the Capital makes the watch wear smaller than its 44mm dimensions suggests.
Lastly, the Capital comes in at a svelte 11.8mm, which allows it to comfortably slide under the cuff of a dress shirt.
All in all, I’m really impressed by the attention to detail that is present on the Capital. The finishing of the dial is simply one of the most, if not the most, detailed that I’ve handled under S$500. Usually, dress watches can be seen as boring but that’s definitely not the case here with the Manufaktur Waldhoff Capital!
Shootout – Manufaktur Waldhoff Capital vs Thomas Earnshaw Westminster
When discussing affordable, skeletonised dress watches, the brand Thomas Earnshaw instantly comes to my mind. In particular, the Westminster model bears the closest resemblance to the Capital, and shall thus be the comparison in today’s shootout!
From a build quality standpoint, the Manufaktur Waldhoff Capital trumps the Thomas Earnshaw Westminster. Firstly, the Capital uses sapphire crystal, as opposed to the mineral glass found on the Westminster. Secondly, the Capital is powered by a Hangzhou 7500 movement that beats at a high 28,800 bph, possesses 80 hours of power reserve, and is regulated in-house by the brand. In contrast, while the Westminster uses a Chinese movement too, Thomas Earnshaw does not list the specific brand/model of the movement the watch is powered by. To my knowledge, it is likely to be a PTS movement, and these movements can be quite inconsistent in terms of build quality. In addition, I highly doubt Thomas Earnshaw regulate their watches for accuracy before shipping them out, unlike Manufaktur Waldhoff!
In terms of design, the Manufaktur Waldhoff Capital has the Thomas Earnshaw Westminster beat by a long shot. Everything on the Capital is done better. Firstly, the skeletonisation is better done to highlight the mechanical movement. Secondly, the mechanical movement itself is better finished, plated in a lustrous blue and finished in varying textures. The diamond cut hands are better defined on the Capital as well, a complete contrast to the cheap looking painted hands on the Westminster. There’s much more texture on the dial of the Capital too, with concentric patterns, beveled edges, etc all packed in the dial. Ultimately, the Capital simply possesses a ton more depth and texture than the Westminster.
Given that the Capital also happens to be over S$100 cheaper than the Westminster, I have to declare it the winner of this shootout!
Conclusion – so the Manufaktur Waldhoff Capital “shiok” or not?
Without a shadow of a doubt, heck yes! I honestly believe that the Manufaktur Waldhoff Capital is one of the best watches you can get under S$500, and probably the best dress watch you can get in this price range. The dial is full of detail and texture, and that blue skeletonised movement is really to die for. If you’re shopping for an affordable, skeletonised dress watch, put the Manufaktur Waldhoff Capital at the top of your list.
For those interested, the promo code “WAHSOSHIOK” will grant you a whooping 30% discount off all watches from Manufaktur Waldhoff! After the discount, the Capital can be had for just $307 USD/ ~S$422, which is an utter steal. In addition, this also means that the Ultramatic Tourbillion can be had for just $909 USD/ ~S$1230, which makes it one of the cheapest co-axial tourbillions one can find on the market. Both watches are great value propositions – you can’t go wrong with either!
View Manufaktur Waldhoff’s full range of products here.
- Case: 316L stainless steel
- Size: 44mm diameter
- Dial: Metallic with hydraulic compression and applied index
- Hands: Diamond cut hands with Swiss TriTec luminous
- Thickness: 11.8mm
- Crystal: Sapphire with Anti Reflective coating
- Caseback: Exposition caseback
- Movement: Hangzhou 7500 with automatic winding, 21 Jewels
- Frequency: 28,800 bph
- Power Reserve: 80 hours
- Functions: Hour, minutes, seconds
- Strap: Quick-release spring bar (easily interchangeable)
- Strap width: 22mm measured at the lugs
- Strap material: Genuine calf leather
- Buckle: Solid steel with pin
P.S Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wahsoshiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned!