Hello everyone, and welcome to another Singaporean review! On this shiok Saturday, I’m reviewing the new Ranomo chronograph (prototype) from homegrown microbrand, Monsieur.

The Monsieur Ranomo mechanical chronograph, priced at $369 USD/~S$500.

The Ranomo is Monsieur’s sophomore model, and is currently live on Kickstarter here. It comes in two variants – panda (pictured above) and reverse panda – with the option of either a mecha-quartz ($199 USD) or a mechanical movement ($369 USD).

Without further ado, let’s dive into the review!

Monsieur – the Brand

Monsieur is a Singaporean watch microbrand, founded in 2017 by the duo of Calvin and Seamus. According to the brand, Monsieur was founded with the idea that “quality can come with a low price tag”, committed to offering watches that would “stand the test of time”.

The Monsieur Ranomo on my wrist.

Stylistically, Monsieur (as the name suggest) is French inspired. Monsieur states that the brand “captures the essence of bold living with an eclectic taste for adventure”. Their first watch, the Alliage, was a funky looking quartz watch that definitely leaned on the bolder side of design. Their maiden effort was well-received on Kickstarter, with over 70 backers pledging their support. This time around, the Ranomo (pictured above) is much more vintage inspired, designed as the ideal companion to the modern gentleman.

Let see if it’s any good!

Monsieur Ranomo – Build Quality

For the price (S$500), the Ranomo packs some strong specifications.

Domed K1 sapphire coated crystal to protect the watch face.

Firstly, the Monsieur Ranomo utilises a domed K1 sapphire coated crystal. It’s not as scratch resistant as usual sapphire, but it’s definitely much more so than the usual mineral glass/acrylic crystal. Nevertheless, I would definitely have preferred to see a boxed or domed sapphire crystal for greater durability. Elsewhere, the WR rating for the Ranomo is 50M, which is adequate for everyday use – just don’t bring it to the pool!

A Seagull ST1901 powers the Ranomo.

The most compelling aspect of the Ranomo – in my opinion – is its full-fledged mechanical Seagull ST1901 chronograph movement. Some specifications: it’s hand-wound column wheel chronograph with 23 jewels, beats at 21,600 bph, and boasts 40 hours of power reserve. It’s decently finished as well, with the decorations visible through the Ranomo’s exhibition caseback. I think it’s amazing that one can get a mechanical column wheel chronograph for S$500 – that amount of money would mostly only yield mecha-quartz chronographs from most microbrands. When you compare the Ranomo to other vintage/racing inspired chronographs such as the Nezumi Loews, the value proposition of the Monsieur Ranomo is undeniable.

The strap isn’t very good.

Unfortunately, the default rally strap which the Ranomo came with isn’t very good – it’s genuine leather, has a cheap cardboard-like lining, and didn’t even come with a signed buckle. This would definitely be one which I rely on a third-party strap solution. However, Monsieur did inform me that they are looking to improve and introduce a better strap with the production model of the Ranomo.

Overall, the Ranomo is a specs beast for its $369 USD/~S$500 price. It’s a column wheel chronograph for S$500! The Ranomo is probably the most affordable mechanical chronograph in the market today. They had to cut some corners in the sub-par strap and the omission of a sapphire crystal, but it brought the price down to a very accessible amount.

Monsieur Ranomo – Design

You can’t go wrong with a classic panda dial, but I have to say the Monsieur Ranomo is pretty well executed!

Love the vintage charm of the Ramono.

I love how Monsieur was able to take inspiration of vintage automotive watch designs of yesteryear, yet developing a design that still feels fresh and original. There are plenty of panda dial chronographs by various microbrands in the market, yet some fall into the trap of making Paul Newman/Autavia/Brietling homages. The dial of the Ranomo feels familiar, but not as a blatant copy of more famous icons. It’s a tough nuance to pull off, but I think Monsieur navigated it brilliantly.

Details are pretty crisp.

Affordable (sub-S$500) watches often show their imperfections under a macro lens, but not the Ranomo. Firstly, the painted indices on the dial is crisply painted. The cut-off numerals (to accommodate the sub-dials) will not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I’m personally fine with it – the symmetry of the dial is still retained. Secondly, I love the slight sunburst texture of the sub-dials, making the sub-dials a nice juxtaposition to the main dial not just in terms of colour, but also texture. In addition, I like the slim syringe hands used here too. There’s a nice retro vibe to it, and when I first saw the hands it instantly reminded me of the Patek Philippe 5320G – not a bad thing to be reminded of!

Would have loved for an inner tachymeter scale instead.

However, I do have a few knocks with the dial. For example, I would have loved for the black outer minute pad to be a tachymeter scale instead. The Ranomo is billed as a vintage, racing inspired chronograph after all – in the same vein as a Paul Newman or a Heuer Autavia – and a inner tachymeter scale would definitely have heightened the automotive and retro charm of the watch. I also would have preferred the “chronograph” text at 6 o’clock to be omitted. I think it’s a tad silly as it is stating the obvious – a panda dial screams chronograph much more than some fancy cursive text. That being said, Monsieur has informed me that they are considering replacing the “chronograph” text with the model name “Ranomo” instead, which in my opinion would be infinitely better.

Case is brushed, with a stepped bezel.

The case of the Ranomo is fairly simply brushed throughout. There’s not really much to shout about in terms of case finishing, but given that this is a column wheel chronograph at S$500, I can’t really complain much. However, a detail I appreciated is the stepped bezel, which helps create a better perception of depth.

Signed crown.

Moving on to the sides, we get a signed crown as well as two chronograph pushers. The crown is appropriately sized, and it made hand-winding the mechanical chronograph movement a breeze. However, there are some play to the chronograph pushers – they don’t feel anywhere as sturdy as say, a Hamilton Intra-matic chronograph. Again, this is probably nit-picking considering the watch’s affordable price tag, but there’s definitely still a discernible difference in build quality between the Monsieur Ranomo and its more established (but also more expensive) counterparts.

Caseback is a stunner.

Aside from the dial, the most beautiful aspect of the Ranomo is probably the aforementioned decorated Seagull ST1901 movement, visible through the exhibition caseback. My dream grail is an A. Lange & Sohne Datograph – a big reason why is the beautiful movement that one can stare in awe at from the back. The Ranomo is no Datograph, but it does provide one the opportunity to admire the intricacies of a hand-wound chronograph movement for a literal fraction of the price.

Perfect size.

On the wrist, the Monsieur Ranomo is an absolute banger – I simply loved its dimensions. In keeping with its vintage inspiration, Monsieur elected to make the Ranomo smaller in diameter, with the watch coming in at 38mm wide. I think it’s an incredibly versatile size, and it just looks and feel perfect on my 7 inch wrist. It’s also svelte at just 10mm thick, making the watch slip easily under a shirt cuff a well.

All in all, I really like the looks of the Ranomo. It really pays homage to the vintage racing chronographs of old, yet remains original and distinctive in its own right. I love the stunning panda dial, the beautiful chronograph movement that is visible through the exhibition caseback, as well as the smaller proportions. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty damn close in my opinion!

Shootout – Monsieur Ranomo vs EMG DL63

If you’re on the hunt for an mechanical panda dial chronograph, the main affordable alternative to the Monsieur Ranomo would be the EMG DL63.

The EMG DL63, priced at $400 USD/ ~S$544.

In terms of specifications, the EMG DL63 edges out the Monsieur Ranomo. Both watches uses the same Seagull ST1901 chronograph movement, but the EMG DL63 now utilises sapphire crystal to protect the dial. In contrast, the Monsieur Ranomo uses a domed K1 crystal with sapphire coating, which as aforementioned is not as durable as sapphire.

For comparison, the Monsieur Ranomo, priced at $369 USD/ ~S$500.

From an aesthetics perspective, the fight is again close. I like the applied indices and the inner tachymeter scale of the DL63, whilst I preferred the retro syringe hands, sunburst sub-dials, and most importantly the smaller 38mm case size of the Ranomo (the DL63 is a bulky 42mm wide). Which design is better for you probably boils down to individual preference, but if I had to choose, I would probably still pick the Ranomo over the DL63 for one chief reason – the DL63 resembles the Hamilton Intra-matic chronograph too closely, in my opinion. In contrast, the dial of the Ranomo comes across as more original and fresh.

Price-wise, the Monsieur Ranomo is slightly cheaper than the EMG DL63. I personally think both are great watches for the asking price, and you can’t go wrong with both. However, the lower price tag – coupled with its smaller case size and more original dial design – of the Ranomo makes it a slightly more compelling pick for me!

Conclusion – so the Monsieur Ranomo “shiok” or not?

It’s a great value proposition. As mentioned above, the Monsieur Ranomo is probably the most affordable mechanical chronograph to be offered by any watch microbrand. In fact, to my knowledge Seagull’s own Zi Zuan watch is the only mechanical chronograph that can be had for less. If you have always thought that owning a mechanical chronograph was a costly, 4 figure affair, you can now own one (a panda/reverse panda dial no less!) at a very affordable price. There’s certain areas that I think Monsieur can improve on during the production phase, but as it is I think it’s already bang-for-buck.

Before we go, one last wrist shot.

For those interested, the Monsieur Ranomo is now live on Kickstarter here. As of the point of publication, the project is about 70% funded – let’s get them over the line!

Specifications:

  • Case Diameter: 38 mm Case 
  •  Thickness: 10 mm 
  •  Band Material: Genuine Italian Leather Band  
  •  Band Width: 20 mm 
  •  Total Weight: 40 g (Miyota 0S21)/ 46.5 g (Seagull ST1901) 
  •  Case Material: 316L 
  •  Back Plate: Engraved Steel/ Sapphire Crystal Exhibition Back
  •  Buckle: Standard Brushed Buckle 
  •  Buckle Material: Stainless Steel 
  •  Dial Window Material: K1 Domed Sapphire Coated 
  •  Display: Chronograph 
  •  Movement: Japanese Miyota 0S21/ Seagull ST1901 Hand-Wound
  •  Date Function: Yes (*Only For Miyota 0S21)
  •  Seconds Function: Yes 
  •  Water Resistant: 5 ATM / 50 Meters

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