Méraud is a new microbrand from Ghent, Belgium founded by Stijn Busschaert, a real watch enthusiast. His three main goals as a watch brand are affordability, an exceptional product combined with vintage inspiration. Many new watch brands come and go without really achieving their intended mission statement. In the case of Méraud, the brand is totally on top of its game with its first model, the Bonaire. The watch is named after one of the world’s best locations for scuba diving and snorkeling. Bonaire is a Caribbean island that is currently considered a Dutch municipality within the country of the Netherlands. Naming your first dive watch after this island is a wonderful idea, in my opinion.
The Bonaire is not a Submariner homage, but instead it represents a mix of various models of the Omega Seamaster 300 and the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms. It is a relatively small and thin dive watch, at 39mm in diameter, 48mm lug to lug and about 12.5mm thick. With a fairly low profile 7mm crown and straps and bracelets that taper from 20mm to 16mm, I cannot imagine a more comfortable dive watch. The 316L case is completely brushed except for the polished chamfers on the nicely downturned lugs. The 12-sided, screw down, engraved and etched stainless steel case back perfectly complements this watch design. The crown may lack a wide grip area but it’s design really wins me over. The Bonaire comes with a solid 200-meter water resistance rating, which is perfect for almost any and all activities one should encounter.
The best design detail of this watch has to be its 3mm wide curved sapphire dive bezel insert, used with a flawlessly finished, brushed and polished, coin edged, 120 click, unidirectional bezel. The bezel has a small amount of back play, which I have been told will not be in the production pieces. The curvature of the sapphire bezel insert gives its indices and numbers a really interesting if slightly distorted look. This bezel is almost flush with the very slightly domed sapphire crystal. The bezel and the watch face are offered in three rich and deep matching colors; onyx black, marine blue and graphite gray. The blue and gray models use C3 Superluminova while the black model uses an added pigment in its lume to give it more of an antique patina. The mix of the optimum sized eight round indices, three triangular indices and the 12 index at the top of the dial is perfect, in my opinion. All indices are raised with polished silver edges and lumed inserts, as are the long baton hour and minute hands as well as the arrow on the polished cathedral second hand.
60 white identical second or minute indices are printed perfectly around the watch face. “Méraud” is printed in thin, white block lettering on the upper portion of the dial in it’s very attractive tapered font. “Bonaire” is also printed in thin, white block lettering on the lower portion of the dial. Straps for this 20mm lug width watch are available in either Chinese rubber or stainless steel as well as seven different colors of French or German leather. It should be noted that the wonderful polished, signed and engraved stainless steel buckles on the leather and rubber straps are discreetly marked on the reverse side “ACIER INOX”, French for steel stainless. The completely solid three link, brushed, stainless steel bracelet has polished outer edges. The bracelet’s non removable links use real rivets on the outer edges. Tudor and Oris do not use real rivets, just a rivet design. The folding portion of the clasp on my example is stamped and polished, which may be changed to a milled clasp later on. It’s refreshing to see a signed clasp with a generous five micro adjustments.
Powering their Bonaire is the well-respected Swiss made, Swiss Technology Production automatic movement, the STP1-11. It has been modified for this application with no date and all date parts have been removed from the movement. It is a 28,800 vibrations per hour movement with a 44-hour power reserve, 26 jewels and is hacking and hand winding. My limited use of this movement indicates to me it is likely as good as an ETA. The movement is finished, but since the watch is made with a beautifully engraved case back, the movement is not visible.
The end result is designed in Belgium, powered by quality Swiss automatic movements and uses Asian manufacturing. Combined with Belgium quality control, packing and shipping, this is an excellent business model. The end result is a very easy to live with high quality dive watch that does not miss a single detail. This watch is a value as well; 849 Euro or about $955 USD. meraud-watches.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.