Hands-On With The Melbourne Watch Co. Collins Auto

We often argue about the real-world practicality of complications around here. What do you actually use that chronograph for? The HEV? Let’s not even go there. Ironically, the most controversial complication is objectively the most useful, that being the date. There’s another one that often falls on the list of superfluous complications, though, and that’s the vaunted moonphase. Just how useful is it? I’m not quite sure, but there’s no denying its appeal, and we rarely see them appear in mechanical form in the sub $1,000 category. The Collins Automatic from Melbourne Watch Co. is just such an exception.

Melbourne Watch Company has been operating out of, well, Melbourne since 2013 offering a mix of formal and sport watches, a few of which we’ve covered in years past. The Collins is a straightforward take on business casual, with a sterile design that offers a moonphase as well as day of the week and date complications using a Rhonda quartz movement. New for this year, Melbourne Watch Co. is offering the Collins in moonphase form with an automatic Sellita movement. 

The Collins Auto captures a distinct look and feel thanks in large part to the blue dial. While it’s also offered in white, the blue brings a depth to the otherwise simple dial that elevates the watch just enough to make things interesting. There is not much in the way of texture, appearing matte blue at a glance, but when paired with the domed sapphire crystal can appear anywhere between glossy black, and light blue/grey. The polished hands and hour plots make legibility dependent on the light and viewing angle, and pop between dark and light with frustrating ease.

Speaking of controversial date windows, the Collins Auto places a date aperture at 3 o’clock and the white disc with black numerals stands in contrast to the dark navy dial color. Despite its usefulness, it does feel out of place on this otherwise clean dial, robbing attention from the moonphase at 6 o’clock. Thankfully, the moonphase is quite handsome, if a bit traditional compared to something like the Moonglow we saw from Christopher Ward (which is nearly $2,000 btw). On the bright side, the Collins Auto lists for under $800. 

The moonphase itself is unique with respect to its depiction of the stars around the moon itself. Given the location (and name) of Melbourne Watch Co, the southern sky is represented, including the Southern Cross (Crux) star constellation in large, yellow stars. The constellation is easily visible in the southern hemisphere for most of the year, though can be observed near the horizon in tropical latitudes as well. The Southern Cross holds cultural significance in many nations within the southern hemisphere, even appearing on the national flags of Brazil, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, and yes, Australia. 

The moonphase complication is the clear focal point here, and while the execution of the finer details leaves quite a bit to be desired, the price point makes the watch a reasonable value proposition.

On the wrist, the Collins is easily manageable at 40mm in diameter and 47mm from lug to lug. Case thickness is a pleasant 12mm in total. The watch reads as dress oriented thanks to the polishing applied to the entirety of the case, including the even links within the 5 link bracelet. There’s no particular character to be found in the case, giving off a rather generic vibe at a glance and indeed even on the wrist, but there’s also nothing offensive about it. It’s perfectly whelming. 

The Collins Auto is a mere $797, representing an attractive value for this complication. The Sellita SW-280 at use here is not a high-accuracy execution of the moonphase, and will require adjustment every few years, but it’s a moonphase for under $800, so we’d chalk that one up as a win. Melbourne Watch Co.

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Blake is a Wisconsin native who’s spent his professional life covering the people, products, and brands that make the watch world a little more interesting. Blake enjoys the practical elements that watches bring to everyday life, from modern Seiko to vintage Rolex. He is an avid writer and photographer with a penchant for cars, non-fiction literature, and home-built mechanical keyboards.