[Editors note: As with our last Memorigin review this is one of those watches that is probably bit of a stretch to call it a microbrand. But again, when you get the opportunity to review something like this you go for it, it’s not the sort of watch that comes along every day. If it’s not your thing, cool! No-one is forcing you to buy it, Enjoy it as an oddity. If it is your thing, well, read on and enjoy!]
The majority of the luxury watch industry has been, until recently, concentrated in Switzerland and Germany. The Japanese, primarily Seiko, are also in this market and now the Chinese are as well. What they are bringing to the table is relatively affordable watches that never existed before. In this particular review, I have a flying tourbillon, the Memorigin Navigator MO1006. It is a perfect example of this type of watch, offered in both silver or black pvd/rose gold.
The tourbillon was invented by Breguet in 1795 and he patented it on June 26, 1801. This type of movement was developed to counter the effects of gravity, by mounting the escapement and balance wheel in a rotating cage. In this way, errors of watch position are averaged out and accuracy is improved. With current advancements in technology and materials, mechanical, quartz, solar and automatic movements are now able to achieve far greater accuracy than any timepiece from 200 years ago. Incidentally, the first production tourbillon was made by Breguet for Napoleon in a carriage clock that weighed almost 200 lbs!
Today the tourbillon is a high end type of watch movement, typically manufactured and sold by the Swiss and usually available at prices in the five to six figures. They are now available in different types including double axis, triple axis and quadruple axis, which are all developments of the 21st century. Personally, my limited knowledge of watch movements would really require 3D digital animation to understand how they all work. From a visual perspective in a proper exhibition type of watch case these types of movements are a mechanical treat. I can’t see any reason to offer a tourbillon watch that isn’t fully on display.
The Navigator is powered by a flying tourbillon, which was originally developed in Germany in 1920. Flying refers to the movement being cantilevered and supported on one side only. Accuracy of this movement, from current testing in Japan by Watch Repair Master, has shown this movement to be accurate to a remarkable /- 5 seconds per day.
The movement is hand wound with an 80 hour reserve, 28,800 bph and has 27 jewels with a water resistance rating of 5 atm. The watch has two slightly north of face center blue hour and minute sword lumed hands, with the tourbillon filling up half of the lower portion of the face. The 3 o’clock area is filled with a beautifully detailed gold on blue sun and moon am/pm indicator while the 9 o’clock area shows the power reserve indicator. When the substantial polished and blue jeweled onion crown is wound, the power reserve indicator moves clockwise until it is fully wound at the 3 o’clock position.
The rest of the face side of the movement is beautifully engraved with twelve beveled and polished indices perfectly proportioned to not interfere with the view through it’s slightly domed and beveled sapphire crystal. The delicately engraved Memorigin name rotates once per minute on the tourbillon itself. The name with logo also appears on the center support of the sun and moon window. The exhibition rear sapphire crystal is surrounded by a tastefully engraved polished stainless steel screw down back, which maximizes the view of the beautiful movement.
The watch itself measures a substantial 42 mm in diameter by 13.5 mm thick with a completely polished curved profile stainless steel case. The well sculpted lugs curve down from the lower tier of the case and are attached to the genuine alligator black strap about half way down the lugs. The lugs could be shorter, but the proportions of the case would be compromised, in my opinion. The bezel and case back make up about half the case thickness. Incidentally, the folding polished solid stainless steel clasp is tastefully engraved and allows the wearer to put on or take off the watch quickly without putting any wear on the strap adjustment holes. If a leather strap watch is expected to be worn frequently, this is the type of clasp I would want on my watch. Overall, I find this watch to be very well made, solid and with excellent attention to detail.
The components of this watch and initial inspection are done in-house at the Memorigin factory. Final assembling and testing is done in Hong Kong. Changes in the world watch market may mean another quartz like crisis for the Swiss, but this time it could be in tourbillon watches. Currently many Chinese manufactured incomplete and unassembled tourbillon movements are being put into Swiss watches while receiving the designation of “Swiss Made“. That is not the mindset of Memorigin. I am very impressed with their high value tourbillon pieces. $5,399. Available online at memorigin-us.com
Bert Kanne is a freelance contributor to MBWW with a love for well made dive watches and chronographs. All photos by Bert Kanne unless otherwise noted.