Martenero Automatic Watches: The Ace – $485.00
It’s hard not to really like a lot of things about this new, small, New York based watch brand. They’re assembled in the U.S. They use a dependable, automatic, Miyota movement. They’re awfully easy on the eyes, and you even get to pick and choose certain elements of the design. Even the cut of their internet-jib… the website, ordering process… etc… all fantastic.
But that price.
Most watch fans are going to pick one of these up, be impressed, but will have a hard time paying almost half a grand for one. Many may just not feel like it’s a $500 (or, $485) watch. Y’know how a pair of To Boot New York shoes feel nice, but not as nice as a pair of Allen Edmonds? And those TBNY shoes are usually just as expensive if not more so? There’s a bit of that going on here.
The aviation inspired Martenero “Ace”
The guts of a Martenero is a basic self winding automatic from the dependable (and affordable) Miyota. It doesn’t hack (meaning: when you pull the crown out, the second hand keeps moving) but you can hand wind it at the crown.
The 42 mm case (on both models) will hit the sweet spot for plenty. Power reserve is in the 40+ hour range. Water resistance is a respectable 100m thanks in part to a screw down crown. Both the crystal on top and at the exhibition window on the backside are sapphire.
But $450 for a Miyota movement, even if it is under Sapphire, is going to be viewed as on the high side for most. So what do you get for all that extra cash? They’re not 100% “made” in the USA (the heart of the thing, the Miyota engine, is Japanese for starters…) but they are hand assembled in Brooklyn. And they’re a small, based in the US brand. So if that plucks at your Red White & Blue heart strings (sorry Canada), so be it. But most who give Martenero a shot will probably do so thanks to the ability to customize their watch:
You get to pick one of three dial colors, one of four second hands, the leather strap, and an extra NATO strap. They’ll even ask which strap you’d like to have the watch delivered on. Play around with the virtual watch builder and you’re bound to put together a combo that’d be hard to find anywhere else. Each watch is individually numbered. Word is, once they hit 1000 sold of a certain model, they retire it.
Sapphire crystals, automatic, but not a lot of frills.
Lots of looks, for sure, and the wood box it arrives in is impressive, but the watch is pretty basic. No day or date window. No rotating bezel. Some will like the clean look, some won’t. And that logo on the Ace, while some will like how the angles contrast with the curves of the Arabic numerals at 3, 6, and 9, others will give it one look and get a sudden urge to go car camping. The leather strap is nice, but doesn’t feel super-luxurious on the wrist. The Ace looks like a tank on the website. In person, it’s certainly well made, but doesn’t have quite the beef some would expect for almost $500.
Shipping does take a bit (took 2.5 weeks for the above grey dial to arrive), but, they say they hand assemble each one. Ships and returns free.
$485 is staring to get into Tissot & Hamilton range. High end Orient too. The ability to pick your dial, second hand, leather & nato straps is going to be applauded by some. But almost $500 worth of applause? Maybe for a few, but the entire watch-loving crowd might not be leaping out of their seats to give a standing ovation.