Hands-On with the Bleau Modest Collection

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One of the most consistently interesting things I’ve observed following the ever-burgeoning micro-brand segment of the watch world has been the democratization of materials and processes once exclusive to the high-end. It’s changed how I understand the loaded notion of luxury, and it’s certainly redefined how I perceive value. With that, let’s talk about Bleau.

Bleau is an up-and-coming watch brand out of Australia right on the cusp of ending a successful Kickstarter campaign for their first line of timepieces. The Modest collection consists of three watches—watches that, I should say, at first glance belie their complexity and in-person charm. So, why did I begin this review musing about micro-brands and value? It’s because of what’s in each watch. Founder Daniel Trajanovski really packs it in here. From the dial (there’s an enamel option) and custom hands (there’s a heat-blued set) down to the alligator band, there’s a lot of bang-for-the-buck here. But I’ll save the price for the end of the review. First, let us take a closer look at each watch.

The Modest trio from Bleau.

(Editor’s note: the watches shown here are prototypes. You’ll notice some imperfections, primarily tooling marks on the indices and some inconsistencies on the dials. I have addressed these issue with Mr. Trajanovski, who in turn assured me that these problems will be remedied on the final production run.)

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$484

Hands-On with the Bleau Modest Collection

Case
Stainless steel
Movement
Sellita SW-260-1
Dial
Blue, Grey, and Cream (enamel)
Lume
N/A
Lens
Sapphire
Strap
Genuine alligator
Water Resistance
3 atm
Dimensions
39mm x 43.7mm
Thickness
11.1mm
Lug Width
20mm
Crown
push/pull
Warranty
1 year
Price
$484

The case of the Modest series measures 39mm wide, 11.1mm thick, 43.7mm lug-to-lug, and 20mm between the lugs. On the wrist, the dimensions alone should make for a well-wearing and balanced watch, but there’s a bit more to note here than just the numbers.

The case consists of three pieces: the bezel, mid-case, and case back—all finished in a high polish. From the top down, there’s not too much visible metal given the relatively narrow bezel and slender, curving lugs.

From the side, however, the case design really shines. Naturally, there’s a clear distinction between the bezel and mid-case due to the case construction, but there’s also an interesting design trick happening on the mid-case that further breaks up the case. The top-half of the mid-case is polished flat, which creates a clear, reflective surface. Right below that, however, the lugs curve down and the mid-case curves in, giving it a bowl-shape. This does two things: first, it makes the case more interesting visually by keeping it from being slab-sided, and second, it makes for a very comfortable watch on the wrist. The lugs wrap around the curvature of the wrist, firmly planting the watch down. It’s a really nice design.

No slab sides.
A flat sapphire here.
A simple push/pull signed crown.

There are three dials within the Modest series: Blue, Grey and Cream. The names don’t do the dials justice. Yes, the Blue and Grey are, in fact, blue and grey, but that says nothing of their dynamic finish. Both dials are metallic and ever-so-slightly vertically brushed, not so much that you see each striation, but enough that—in the case of the Blue, for example—the dial changes from a deep navy to a vibrant, saturated blue as it catches the light. It’s a lovely effect, and it feels very high-end.

The sub-dials above six feature two different finishes: a matte outer ring surrounds an inner section that’s glossy and adorned with concentric circles. The sub-dials are also a slightly different color from the rest of the dials, which creates a small bit of contrast.

The Grey and Blue catching some sun.

The hour markers are represented via polished, rectangular indices (doubled at 12). The lance hands are elongated at their base, and while lance hands are classic, their inclusion here feels rather fresh as they are relatively uncommon today. My one point of criticism here is that the hands get a little lost on the Grey (not an issue on the Blue).

The Cream dial is my favorite of the three, and it’s also the most inappropriately labeled. The Cream is, in fact, true enamel, and it presents as more white than cream. Replacing the applied indices of the Grey and Blue models, the Cream opts instead for black printed Roman numerals. Here were have a set of heat-blued lance hands, which absolutely pop against the dial. Of the three, this is the one that I would personally go for, with the blue dial coming in a close second.

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The Cream (enamel) is the most classic looking of the three.
I love the way heat-blued hands look when they catch the light.

Powering the collection is the Sellita SW260-1, a 31-jeweled Swiss caliber with 38 hours of power reserve and a beat rate of 28,800. Features include hours, minutes, and a small seconds function at six. There’s no decoration here, and frankly I’d have been okay with a solid case back, but if you like seeing the movement you have that here. The watches come paired with genuine alligator bands: brown on Cream, grey on Grey, and blue on Blue. The straps are actually quite nice. They feature a 4mm taper, which creates an attractive line on the wrist. I can’t say how quickly these break in since I have no idea how much wear these have gotten before I got my hands on them, but they’re very comfortable. I wouldn’t be in a hurry to swap these out if I purchased the watch.

On a 7-inch wrist.

Now, on to the price. The Blue and Grey, for Super Early-Bird pre-order on Kickstarter, are about $484 each. The Cream is a bit more at around $576. Those are great price points for what you’re getting here, especially if what you want is the Cream with its enamel dial and heat-blued hands. And with that on top of the excellent case and solid Swiss power plant within, you’ve got a great watch. Frankly, I don’t know of anything that is comparably priced with the same specs.

Based on my initial impressions of this freshman effort, I am sincerely looking forward to seeing this brand grow. I hope to see the case utilized again, perhaps paired with some new dials down the line. Maybe something with Arabic numerals in place of the applied indices and Roman numerals? Just a thought.

If you’re interested in picking one up or simply learning more about the watches and brand, go check it out sooner rather than later. The Kickstarter campaign ends in a few days.

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Ilya is Worn & Wound's Managing Editor and Video Producer. He believes that when it comes to watches, quality, simplicity and functionality are king. This may very well explain his love for German and military-inspired watches. In addition to watches, Ilya brings an encyclopedic knowledge of leather, denim and all things related to menswear.
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