It’s always exciting to find a deal on a watch, and I think we’ve struck upon a particularly good one. You’ve likely never heard of Maranez watches before, neither had we until a week or so ago, but we quickly realized that this was a brand worth taking a closer look at. Their website is sparse, and doesn’t reveal a whole lot about the brand. Just pictures of the watches they sell and some basic relevant details. Initially, it might not garner much trust, but one glance at the watches and you’ll likely think “those are pretty nice looking”…and then you’ll see the prices and say “holy #$!*@”. Well, Maranez was kind enough to send over a couple of models for us to play with and see if they were worth the low prices they set, or perhaps much more.
Maranez is based in Thailand and seems to be a very small operation, as these boutique brands tend to be. The watches are manufactured in China, and though I can’t confirm it, I suspect they are made in the same facilities as Benarus, Armida and Helson, given certain details and collateral the watches are shipped with. Currently they offer two watches, the Racha, which is a limited edition of 100, and the Layan, which is limited to 50 per variation. Both sport cushion case designs, sapphire crystal, Miyota automatic movements and deceivingly low price tags. The Racha, which is their higher end 1000m model, is $550 ($600 after February) and the Layan, their brass case model, is a mere $250. We plan on reviewing the Racha in the next few weeks, but right now I’d like to take a closer look at the Layan.
Movement: Miyota 8215
Strap: 1 x Leather, 2 x Rubber
Water Res.: 300m
Dimensions: 43 x 53mm
Thickness: 14 mm
Lug Width: 24 mm
Crown: 8 x 6 mm screw down
Warranty: 1 year
*editor’s note: we originally believed theses watches were bronze, but they are in fact brass…the post has been updated to reflect this. We apologize for any confusion
I love the look of a bronze watch. The warm tone is reminiscent of gold, while the ever-oxidizing surface has a rugged appeal. They look like watches that you want to scratch up and bang around, watches that you wear every day so that their surface will tell your story. They are also a very versatile alternative to steel for a casual watch, going well with blues and browns and having a hint of something more refined. So, I was very excited to see Maranez offering a very affordable brass option that still packed respectable components. Yes, brass not bronze… Brass is similar to bronze in look and will patina as well, though it is not the typical watch case material. That being said, it is still completely functional… Is it the most original watch on Earth? No, it’s clearly a watch made of stock parts, but those parts come together to make a very nice watch.
The Layan, which is the name of beach in Thailand, is available in 6 varieties, comprised of two dials and three colors. You have your choice of California or numerical dial in black, brown or green. California dials are a bit strange, very interesting and not all too common. Defined by their mix of Roman numerals for 10 – 2 and Arabic numerals for 4 – 8, with symbols for 12, 3, 6 and 9, they are quite distinct. The history of them dates back to Rolex Bubble Backs from the 30’s and 40’s, but they seem to be more often associated these days with Panerais. Regardless, it is a unique look that gives a watch a distinctly early 20th century appeal. We received the Cali dial in green for the sample unit, and it immediately impressed.
The execution is very clean and crisp. All of the hour markers are in C3 Super Luminova, which stands out against the drab green dial. Along the perimeter of the dial is a brown, subtly metallic ladder index that gives you a reference point for minutes as well as softens the transition from the dial to the case. In the same color, just below twelve is the brand logo, which is not obtrusive to the dial at all. In fact, in most lighting, the logo is barely visible. The drab green is also a great color for a brass watch, having a somewhat aged feeling itself. The watch features only minute and hour hands, which are plated as well and filled with lume. If you are familiar with the Magrette Regattare Bronze, then you’ve seen these hands before…as well as the case. In fact, these brass cases might be the cases that were returned by Magrette when they discovered that their “bronze” cases were in fact “brass”… read more here
The case of the Layan is a typical cushion shape that is used by many brands. It measures a 43 x 53 x 14mm, making it large but not oversized. In fact, on my 7” wrist, it is quite comfortable and does not feel too large, though I would normally avoid a watch with those dimensions. The 24mm lug width is quite wide though, making it a strap heavy design. That being said, the dial of the watch measures only 35mm in diameter, which balances out the wide strap and the bulk of the case. Obviously, the most important feature here is not the design but the material, and the brass does not let down. It genuinely is very appealing and works well with this case design. Matched with the green Cali dial, plated hands and faded leather strap, and you have a subtle and easy to wear watch.
There is one thing I will gripe about, however, and that is the crown. The quality is good, it’s just very large. Measuring 8 x 6mm, it does push against one’s wrist during daily wear. Since the watch is automatic, one doesn’t need to use the crown all too often, so making it so large seems unnecessary. Yes, it is very easy to grasp for setting the time and makes it easy to unscrew, but it could have been a couple of millimeters shorter.
Nevertheless, for $250, this watch is quite something. Aside from the well-executed dial and case, the watch also has a domed sapphire crystal, a Miyota 8215 automatic movement and a claimed 300m water resistance. It also comes packed in a decently made 5-watch roll with 3 straps: one nicely made leather strap and 2 extra rubber straps. Though the watch is not the most original, it is well made and simply a pleasure to wear. The aesthetic of the brass clicks with the California dial, and I’ve found myself drawn to wearing the watch quite a bit. Ultimately, the Layan is a great entry-level watch. That is to say, if you like the look of bronze but don’t want to shell out the $500+, and don’t mind brass instead, this is a great deal. Regardless, for $250 it’s a good value for a mechanical with a sapphire crystal. Now, they are limited, so get one while they last. I’m looking forward to seeing how the patina will develop on the sample we received, so look for updates on our instagram, @wornandwound.
By Zach Weiss