Hello everyone, and welcome to another Singaporean watch review. Hope you guys enjoyed the Chinese New Year holidays, and gotten lots of Ang Bao money! 🙂 This week, we’re looking at the Iconik 4 by Manchester Watch Works. It’s currently live (and as of time of writing, already successfully funded) on Kickstarter, with a pricing of $342 USD (~$450 SGD).
The Iconik 4 is the final watch in Manchester Watch Works (MWW for short) Iconik series. As the name suggests, the Iconik series pays homage to iconic timepieces such as the Panerai Luminor (Iconik 1), Rolex Explorer (Iconik 2), and the Tornek Rayville TR-900 (Iconik 3). This time however, the design isn’t inspired by a particular watch, but by a watch designer instead – the legendary Gerald Genta.
Does the watch succeed in paying tribute to possibly the most revered watch designer in the watchmaking world? Let’s find out.
Manchester Watch Works – the Brand
Manchester Watch Works is an American brand, started by Douglas Kim in 2013. Douglas is an avid watch collector who collected watches of varying complications and prices all across the spectrum. He realised that some of his favourite pieces were the most affordable ones, and deduced that an inexpensive watch doesn’t need to equate to shoddy workmanship, if made correctly and passionately. Thereafter, MWW was founded “with the cornerstone belief that high quality luxury watches with timeless designs can be exclusive and attainable too”. According to MWW, all their timepieces are designed in house and the components (with the exception of the movement) are custom-made. That’s rather impressive at their price point!
Personally, I find MWW quite interesting as a brand. They offer a wide variety of models – serious divers, vintage inspired pieces, and this rather intriguing “homage” line. All their watches are limited edition and will never be reproduced after being sold out. They are also big on Kickstarter. It took MWW 3 tries to get successfully funded, but since then they have launched a staggering 7 Kickstarter campaigns in just 3 short years. I believe that speaks to Douglas’ passion, perseverance, and hard work. Furthermore, MWW also pay heed to corporate social responsibilities. Not only do they strive to use eco-friendly packaging, they also donate 1% of all gross sales to St. Jude’s Children Hospital and/or the Make-A-Wish Foundation. As probably evident, I like the brand – I feel that MWW is a brand with personality and soul. If you would like to know more about the brand and Douglas, our friends at MicrobrandWatchWorld published an interview with him some time ago, which you can read here.
While I like MWW as a brand, let’s now see how well the swansong to their Iconik series is built!
MWW Iconik 4 – Build Quality
MWW states that their watches have a “high build quality” (quoted from their about page). I have to say that for the most part, I concur!
Sapphire crystal and 316L stainless steel should, in my opinion, be instant pre-requisites for a well-built watch. I personally wouldn’t purchase a watch without sapphire crystal (of course, there are very specific exceptions, such as Hesalite Speedys). This is because sapphire crystals are virtually scratch-resistant, which significantly increases the longevity of a watch. AR coating is applied as well, which helps reduces nasty reflections and makes the Iconik 4 Instagram-ready. More importantly, it also increases legibility so that you can view the beautiful radial dial (more on that later) in its full glory. The 316L stainless steel is nice too as it’s corrosion resistant, but to be honest it’s becoming pretty much the norm nowadays so it isn’t really a hallmark of quality anymore.
The Miyota 9015 is probably one of my favourite “budget” movements out there. It’s generally seen as a more affordable alternative to the ETA 2824. It has a high beat rate of 4Hz (same as the ETA 2824), 42 hours of hour reserve, 24 Jewels, and features hacking seconds. That said, the real brilliance of the movement is in its thinness – at only 3.9mm, it is the movement of choice for watchmakers seeking to create a slim watch. In fact, the Iconik 4 is only 10mm in height, a fact made possible by the slimness of the movement. It’s also quite accurate, with the range deviation being indicated as -10 to +30 seconds per day. If you would like to know more about the movement, A Blog to Watch did an in-depth article about the Miyota 9000 series here. Through the tinted caseback, one can see that the movement is rather nicely finished as well, though I would still have liked a signed rotor here. It’s a personal thing – with signed rotors, I feel that the watch company puts their own mark on the movement (even though it’s just aesthetic), making it feel less…mass produced. In addition, the caseback (as seen from the photo above) is screwed-on, contributing to the above average water resistance (dress watch standards) of the watch at 100M.
From an aesthetic standpoint, I really like that they adorned the bracelet clasp – it’s a detail that most watch companies don’t pay attention to. However, I was unable to get a good fit with the stock bracelet due to the lack of half-links. This meant that the watch always felt a bit loose on my wrist, which was a shame. Being more of a leather than a bracelet guy, I also wished that they offered leather strap options as well. If I were to wear this watch out personally, I would probably swap the stock bracelet out. Thankfully, unlike most Genta watches (APRO, Patek Nautilus, Omega Constellation, etc) the bracelet isn’t integrated.
The Iconik 4 also comes with BGW9 lume on the hands and indices, which actually shines rather brightly in the dark. Seeing as this is predominately a dress watch, I’m quite impressed with the brightness of the lume here. Similar to the Jubileon Superellipse, the inner ring is reflective, thus giving the illusion of lumed indices. A nice touch.
Overall, I do think that the Iconik 4 is a rather well-built watch. Let’s move on to the design.
MWW Iconik 4 – Design
The first watch that springs into your mind when you look at the MWW Iconik 4 is probably the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak (APRO). However, I do think that it would be a disservice to the watch to merely dismiss it as an APRO homage. I think that it does some things differently enough to be its own thing, and I genuinely believe that it’s better off seen as a Genta homage instead.
Yes, the Iconik 4 borrows heavily from the case and bezel of the APRO. The iconic octagonal bezel and faceted edges of the APRO is present here. However, I feel that MWW were smart not to opt for screws in the bezel. That would have made the Iconik 4 look too much like the APRO, and most likely would have resulted in the watch being dismissed as a rip-off. I like the no-screws look – it’s cleaner, sleeker, and in my opinion, dressier. To me, the bezel and case feels like a fusion between the APRO and the Patek Phillipe Nautilus – two of Genta’s most popular designs. Due to the slim bezel, the watch doesn’t look plain even without the screws.
MWW attempted to put a different spin (literally) on Genta’s iconic Tapisserie dial by making it radial instead. In the Iconik 4, you have concentric tiles radiating out from the middle. I love the symmetry of the dial (especially in the no date option). It’s something new – I’ve not seen a concentric guilloche dial in this fashion before (That is, until SIHH 2018 where Audemars Piguet announced their new radial Tapisserie dials). More importantly, it differentiates the Iconik 4 from the APRO and watches like the Girard-Perregeax Laureato. There’s also a slight sunburst effect on the dial, though it’s something that’s probably more obvious on the blue version of the dial. I like the applied MWW logo here as well. MWW is situated in Vermont – their logo not only depicts the letters ‘M’ and ‘W’ for their name, but also the Vermont Green Mountains (top triangles) and their reflections on a glassy lake (bottom triangles). Furthermore, I like that the logo and seconds hand are polished. Together, they serve as a visual contrast to the brushed bezel and case.
Speaking of which. I must say that I really like the contrast in finishing that’s present in the Iconik 4. The beveled edges are polished, both for the bezel and the case itself, while the rest of the surfaces are brushed. I specifically like the slim, polished line running through the top of the case – it’s a small detail that really adds to the sleek look of the Iconik 4. The bracelet is nicely brushed too. Yes, it’s a finishing that’s similar to the APRO. Yet, it is important to note that this isn’t exactly an unique feature to the APRO – it’s actually present on other iconic Genta designs as well, such as the Patek Phillipe Nautilus. For me, I like the play of shapes, symmetry and contrast involved in the Iconik 4. It really shows that MWW have paid great attention to the details of the watch.
Lastly, we get an embossed crown as well. Unfortunately, I encountered some difficulties in pulling the crown out – I had to use my fingernails to do so. I hope that MWW would be able to make the crown easier to pull out in the production models.
All in all, I do think that MWW have fulfilled their mission for the Iconik 4 to be a worthy tribute to Gerald Genta. They married elements off the APRO and the Nautilus for the bezel and case, put their own spin on the iconic AP/Genta Tapisserie dial, and paid attention to the finishing details throughout. In my eyes, the Iconik 4 is a tasteful homage to the design cues of the legendary Genta.
Shootout: MWW Iconik 4 vs Fulton & Inglewood Zeitlos
The Fulton & Inglewood Zeitlos is also a Kickstarter watch project, and is too described as a “homage to the great Gerald Genta”, making them the natural competition in today’s shootout.
Specs-wise, the F&I Zeitlos is similar to the Iconik 4, with the exception of the movement. The Zeitlos utilizes an elabore grade ETA 2824 with custom upper and lower bridges, rotor and screws. Therefore, in the build quality department the Zeitlos undoubtedly trumps the Iconik 4. The Zeitlos doesn’t come with lume though.
In terms of design, the Zeitlos looks like a case of Omega Constellation meets AP Royal Oak. There is the iconic octagonal bezel and screws of the APRO, with the bracelet of the Constellation. While the case and bracelet look Genta-like, the dial does not. I find the dial rather plain – and Genta’s dials are never boring. I really don’t like the big F&I engraving on the dial. I’m not a big fan of the date window either. Overall, I just find the dial of the Zeitlos a tad uninspired. Therefore, the Iconik 4 triumphs in the design department for me.
Where the Iconik 4 clearly prevails in is in its value. At $450 SGD, it’s less than half the price of the F&I Zeitlos. Would I pay twice the price for an ETA 2824 Elabore grade upgrade? Not likely, as the Miyota 9015 is already a great movement in its own right. As aforementioned, I personally find the looks of the Iconik 4 more contemporary and interesting. The big FI on the dial really kills the Zeitlos for me. As such, the MWW Iconik 4 is my winner of this shootout.
Conclusion: So is the MWW Iconik 4 “shiok” or not?
MWW set out to pay homage to probably the greatest watch designer of all time in the Iconik 4. For the most part, I believe they succeeded. A lot about the watch speaks to Genta for me – the contrasting brushed and polished finishing, the symmetry of the Tapisserie dial, the sharp lines and beveled edges. MWW even kept the case size to 38mm, in keeping with the smaller wristwatches of Genta’s era. Yet, they also managed to put their own spin on the watch, doing just enough to distinguish themselves from just creating another luxury watch homage. Is it the most original of designs? No – but that wasn’t the point of the Iconik series anyway.
I genuinely like MWW’s reinterpretation of Genta’s design. I imagine this might be how the Girard-Perregeax Laureato might have turned out if Genta had approached them instead. If you’re looking for a Genta-inspired design there aren’t many options in the sub-$500 bracket. Believe me, I’ve searched a long time for one to compare the Iconik 4 with in the shootout, but couldn’t. For a mere $450, you get sapphire crystal, a Miyota 9015 movement, steel bracelet, and a tasteful Genta-influenced design. If you would like to pick one up for yourself, the MWW Iconik 4 is already live on Kickstarter here. For the price, it doesn’t get much better than that.
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- Case Dimensions: 38mm (width) x 46mm (length) x 10mm (height)
- Case: 316L surgical grade corrosion resistant stainless steel
- Movement: Japan made Citizen Miyota 9015 (date function) or 90S5 (no date function) automatic with 24 jewels, 28,800 bph and 42 hour power reserve
- Crystal: Front – Sapphire; Back – Tinted sapphire
- Strap: Stainless steel with fitted solid endlinks; 22mm at lugs to 18mm at clasp
- Water Resistance: 100m
- Dial: Brass with engraved pattern, sunbrust finish and Swiss BGW9 lume filled applied indices
- Hands: Polished steel with Swiss BGW9 lume
- Crown: Push/pull engraved steel and recessed for comfort
Nigel Gomes, @the_lone_cadre
Manchester Watch Works
Fulton & Inglewood Kickstarter