The Merveilleux is Millésime’s entry-level dress watch. Inspired by vintage styling cues – especially of the Art Deco era – the Millésime Merveilleux is billed by the brand to fuse vintage charm with modern durability. Let’s see if it’s any good!
Millésime – the Brand
Millésime was founded by Singaporean Benjamin Chee, who also founded the microbrand Maison Celadon. For those interested, I reviewed the Maison Celadon Yuefei here, as well as the Imperial here. However, whilst Maison Celadon’s watches are heavily influenced by Chinese culture, Millésime’s watches are in contrast inspired by the vintage watches of bygone eras.
According to the brand, Benjamin “sought to create a watch that had the distinguished style without the fragility, lack of water-resistance and irreplaceability of a real vintage watch.” To do so, he drew inspiration from two of his favourite eras in watch design – the Art Deco era, as well as the 1950s. The result is the Millésime Merveileux, a watch encapsulates Benjamin’s vision of bringing back “a renaissance of horological chic”.
Without further ado, let’s delve into this review!
Millésime Merveileux – Build Quality
The specifications of the Merveileux are decent for its price.
Firstly, the Millésime Merveileux utilises a double domed 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 AR coating on the underside of the sapphire crystal to prevent the bulk of nasty reflections! Elsewhere, the WR rating for the Millésime Merveileux is stated at 100M, which is actually quite high considering that this is a dress watch. I spoke to Benjamin about this, and he relayed that the (relatively) high WR rating is in line with his vision of creating sturdy watches. “Just because (the Millésime Merveileux) is a dress watch, doesn’t mean it has to be fragile”, he said. I definitely find that commendable!
The venerable ETA 2824 movement – in gold – acts as the beating heart of the Merveileux. The movement is one that is familiar to all watch enthusiasts – it’s one that is found in watches from established maisons such as Longines, Omega, Tudor, and more. Some specifications: The ETA 2824 has 38 hours of power reserve, hacking feature, 4 Hz operating frequency, 25 Jewels and an ETACHRON regulator system. It is one of the most iconic movements in the watchmaking industry, so getting it serviced should be of no problem (aside from the cost). In addition, the relatively high beat rate of the movement translates to a smooth sweep of the watch’s second hand. While it’s not exactly uncommon to find an ETA 2824 movement in microbrand watches of this price range, it is worth noting that come 2020, ETA will likely no longer deliver to non-Swatch group brands. The Merveileux may be one of the last non-Swatch group watches to use the ETA 2824 movement, so there’s certainly a strong case of snapping up the watch for that sole reason alone.
The strap that comes default on the Millésime Merveileux is actually pretty good! It’s a genuine chocolate calf leather strap with signed burgundy lining that just looks superb, and pairs elegantly with the watch. The lining feels premium and comfortable to the touch – much better than the one found in the Maison Celadon Imperial I reviewed previously. It also features quick-release spring bars for increased convenience, and a butterfly clasp for added elegance! My only criticism would be that I wish it was fashioned from full grain leather, which would have allowed the strap to patina beautifully over time. Nevertheless, it’s a very serviceable strap.
Overall, the specifications of the Millésime Merveileux are pretty decent – this is probably the most robust dress watch I’ve reviewed till date!
Millésime Merveileux – Design
I absolutely love the dressy elegance of the Millésime Merveileux.
First off, I adore the burgundy dial variant of the Millésime Merveileux. There are other colourways, but the burgundy dial simply steals the show for me. Its velvety red reminds me of Pinot noir – one of my favourite wines. It’s an uncommon colourway as well – I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen a modern dress watch with a burgundy dial. Secondly, the dial also features double-faceted hour and minute dauphine hands in gold, and a heat-blued seconds hand for a pop of contrast. Heat-bluing is an artisanal process as well, whereby the metal hands are heated over open flame until they turn blue. As a result, it possesses a depth that cheaper painted/plated blue hands simply do not have. I also love the railway minute pad that surrounds the dial – it’s certainly a design aesthetic that harkens back to a bygone era.
Furthermore, I like the juxtaposition in contrast that the Merveileux’s dial possesses. There’s a brushed sunburst inner portion, which contrasts nicely with the matte outer portion. In addition, there’s a raised polished sector index in gold! It reminds me of the sun, for some reason. All together, the differing textures of brushed, sunburst, matte and polished contributes towards a clearly refined dial. Lastly, I also appreciate the cursive font of the brand name, which is incorporated seamlessly into the dial.
Another aspect of the Millésime Merveileux that I simply adore – the teardrop lugs. Immediately evocative of vintage timepieces, and rarely seen in modern day watches, the teardrop lugs just possess an unadulterated charm. They are incredibly difficult to weld onto the main case – kudos to Millésime for pulling this off!
The Millésime Merveileux features a slender signed crown. Despite its svelte proportions, the watch is still relatively easy to hand-wind. Elsewhere, the case of the watch is mainly polished. This is an aspect where I thought Millésime could have done better – I wasn’t really wowed by the case finishing. Given the intricate nature of the dial, I would have loved for that attention to detail to have trickled down to the case too, in the form of bevelled edges, contrasting finishes, etc.
Interestingly, there’s also “Millésime Merveilleux” elegantly engraved in cursive text on the side of the case. I like it – it adds a dose of intrigue to the otherwise relatively ordinary case.
The caseback is minimalist – there’s not even the specifications that one often find inscribed on the back! Instead, the focus is on the sapphire exhibition window, through which the ETA 2824 movement can be viewed. In gold, the ETA 2824 movement is certainly a beauty to look at, though in my personal opinion I would have loved for it to be finished to a higher degree – perlaging, Geneva stripes, the works.
It is also worth noting that on production models, the ETA movement will feature a custom signed rotor, as shown above. My piece is a review piece, and I guess certain bells and whistles were omitted – but they will certainly be present on the production pieces!
On my 7 inch wrist, the Millésime Merveileux wears beautifully. It’s not exactly true vintage sizing (that would be 34-36mm), but by modern day standards it’s 39mm diameter is certainly on the smaller side. However, due to the watch’s elongated teardrop lugs, the Merveileux actually wears slightly larger than its 39mm case size might suggest. The watch is also rather thin at 11.8mm thick, which means that it should slide under a shirt cuff without much issues.
Overall, I love the dressy Art Deco look of the Millésime Merveileux. The subtleties of its burgundy dial is mesmerizing, and those tear drop lugs are to die for.
Shootout – Millésime Merveileux vs Ophion OPH 786 Vélos
When I first saw the Millésime Merveileux, the first watch it reminded me of was the Ophion OPH 786 Vélos. Both watches share several similar aesthetics touches, and pretty much possess the same vibe. As such, the Ophion OPH 786 Vélos will be the competition to the Millésime Merveileux in this shootout!
In terms of specifications, the Ophion OPH 786 Vélos edges out the Millésime Merveileux. Whilst both watches uses sapphire crystal, the movement of the Ophion OPH 786 Vélos undoubtedly trumps that of the Millésime Merveileux. While the Millésime Merveileux uses a standard ETA 2824 movement, the Ophion OPH 786 Vélos features a double barrel movement and “proprietary design in the main bridges and balance wheel bridge” that Ophion states is produced in collaboration with MHVJ (Manufacture Horlogère Vallée de Joux) and Soprod. If you’re into haute horology, the Ophion definitely takes the win in the watchmaking department!
From an aesthetics point of view, it’s a much closer fight. Both watches share obvious design traits, such as the teardrop lugs, as well as a inner/outer dial configuration. Both watches features the railway minute pad too, which is unsurprising given that both brands state the Art Deco era as their design inspiration. I really can’t pick a winner for this one – whilst the radial brushing of the Ophion OPH 786 Vélos looks stunning, I also love the differing textures in the burgundy dial of the Millésime Merveilleux. I’ll let you guys decide for yourselves – beauty is in the eye of the beholder, after all – for this one!
What the Millésime Merveilleux undoubtedly takes the win in is its value. At S$1576, it’s less than half the price of the Ophion OPH 786 Vélos, which costs S$3910. Ultimately, the Millésime Merveilleux offers a lot of the same Art Deco elegance that the Ophion OPH 786 Vélos possesses, but at less than the price. Whilst the Ophion OPH 786 Vélos does feature a fantastic movement, I’m not sure that the S$2000+ price difference is justified. As such, the Millésime Merveilleux is my winner in this shootout!
Conclusion – so the Millésime Merveilleux “shiok” or not?
Definitely. It’s genuinely one of my favourite microbrand dress watches, alongside the Arcturus LC-1 and the Maison Celadon Imperial. I love its Art Deco styling, the subtleties of that lovely burgundy dial, and those voluptuous teardrop lugs. I don’t have much critique against it, except for its price. With an MSRP of $1290 USD, it’s not exactly a bargain. The watch would definitely be a no-brainer at $999 USD. Nevertheless, if you have the funds, and want a vintage-inspired dress watch that stands out from the crowd, the Millésime Merveilleux sure makes for a great companion at a cocktail party!
For those interested, you can use the promo code “WAHSOSHIOK” for 10% off select purchases from Millésime’s online store! After the discount, the Millésime Merveilleux can be had for $1161 USD/ ~S$1576, making the price tag a tad more palatable. If you’re on the hunt for an elegant dress watch that harkens back to a bygone era, do check out the Millésime Merveilleux!
UPDATE: Millésime has just announced the Merveileux II! As compared to the first version, the Merveileux II uses a Soprod M100 R4 (the highest grade) movement, as well as overall improvements in dial and case finishing. The Soprod M100 is a rare, but definitely intriguing movement that can be found in watches of brands such as Sinn. Predictably, the Merveileux II costs slightly more than the first version – S$1872/~ $1341 USD (after the promo code below). It’s about S$300 more than the first variant, but personally I do think it’s worth it. The Soprod M100, as compared to the ETA 2824, is better finished, and undoubtedly possesses the better horological chops. In today’s industry where a steel bracelet already costs more than S$300, I think the price difference is justified – it’s a significant movement upgrade, after all!
View Millésime’s full range of watches here.
- available in 6 colours – burgundy, racing green, navy, salmon, chocolate and ivory
- 2 year global warranty
- ETA 2824 in Gold with signed rotor
- automatic movement
- height 4.6mm
- diameter 25.6mm
- 28,800 vph
- approx 38 hour power reserve
Dial and Hands –
- brushed sunburst dial
- raised polished sector index
- sandblasted central ring
- double-faceted hour and minute dauphine hands in gold
- heat-blued seconds hand
- 316L stainless steel
- voluptuous teardrop lugs case
- extremely slender signed crown
- elegantly engraved “Millésime Merveilleux” signature at case side
- screwed down caseback
- 100m water resistant
- 39mm case diameter
- 11.8mm thin
- 18mm strap width at lugs
- double domed front sapphire crystal with AR coating
- rear sapphire crystal
- signed deployant buckle
- genuine chocolate calf leather strap with signed burgundy lining (for burgundy, racing green and navy dials)
- genuine navy calf leather strap with signed burgundy lining (for salmon, chocolate and ivory dials)
P.S Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wahsoshiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned!