Debuting in 2018 with a little help from Kickstarter, Méraud is a Belgian brand specialising in budget-friendly watches with heavy retro flavour. They started with a minimalist dive watch, but has stepped up its game with the Antigua, which receives upgrades that include a chronograph complication and a new-old-stock movement straight out of the 1960s. The Antigua is offered in either a black or silver dial, both of which feature eye-catching pops of light blue and orange.
Like earlier Méraud designs, the Antigua is not a remake of any specific reference, but rather a combination of retro classics. By combining relevant elements from various eras, the Antigua excels in many ways, including design, construction, and most importantly price.
The dial, for instance, features a “big-eye” layout and colourful scheme reminiscent of vintage racing or pilot chronographs. Meanwhile, the bezel evokes the design of vintage dive watches. And the size is just right, neither too big for a vintage watch nor too small for a modern timepiece. It measures 39mm wide, and an additional millimetre with the wide rotating bezel included.
Though the design is inspired by vintage watches, the movement inside is genuinely vintage. According to the brand, the founder was able to gather the right movement after a two-year search in Switzerland, in this case the Landeron 248. A classic hand-wind chronograph with a lateral clutch, the Landeron movement has a unique setup that will surprise collectors: the stop button is located at 4 o’clock instead of the usual 2 o’clock, and its operation can be viewed through the sapphire back.
Vintage-inspired watches are so common that, broadly speaking, they have lost their novelty, but the Antigua has several details that make it noteworthy.
From a design point of view, the highlight is the sapphire bezel that’s glossy and deep, evoking bakelite, while most of its peers opt for an aluminium bezel. And it is an extremely practical tool as the numerals underneath are painted in luminescent material, and the rotation is restricted to a single direction, doubling up the watch as a dive watch with a water resistance of 100 m. And the rest of the design, including the funky hands and colours, are attractive despite being not novel.
From a design perspective, the highlight is the sapphire bezel that is glossy and deep, reminiscent of bakelite. Unlike most of its peers, which have aluminium bezels, the sapphire bezel is a practical tool with the numerals painted in luminescent material. As the bezel is restricted to rotate in only one direction, it doubles the watch as a dive watch with a water resistance of 100 metres.
What truly sets the Antigua apart, however, is its movement. Few vintage-inspired watches have period-correct movements, especially at a price point of around USD 1,800. Although the Landeron movement may have been basic in the past, it stands out from modern counterparts with its lateral-clutch construction that spreads out the levers for a clear view, and importantly without the obstruction of a rotor. Notably, the movement is cleanly finished with brushing or graining on the top of the bridges or levers, and even has minor details such as anglage and countersinks.
Movement: Landeron 248; manual wind; power reserve 41 hours
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, and chronograph
Case: 40 mm; steel; water resistant to 100 m
Strap: Leather strap and additional rubber strap; steel bracelet is available separately
Price: € 1,750