Introducing Martenero Watches

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Today we’re excited to introduce to you all to Martenero. About 2 years ago Matthew O’Dowd and John Tarantino, the founders of Martenero, approached me regarding their idea for a new watch brand. They wanted to take a somewhat different approach to making affordable watches, and their ideas were quite exciting. They brought me on as a freelance designer on the project (designer by trade), working under their creative direction. Over the next several months we worked together to iterate numerous dial and case concepts in 2D and 3D. They then undertook the arduous task of manufacturing their watches; sampling, prototyping, sourcing, adjusting, pondering, etc… As well as constructing a beautiful and highly functional website. And now, all is said and done, and the Martenero watches are officially available.

As this story indicates, yes, I did “work” for this brand, so naturally I have an emotional investment in their success, but neither I or worn&wound has continuing financial ties to the brand, so this is not a sponsored post or anything of the like.

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Martenero’s goal is simple, to create affordable mechanical watches for the modern, style conscious individual. As we all know, watches are one of the few items a guy has to accessorize their look with. As also the most complex internally, and often the most expensive, the decision of what watch to wear is important and personal. Martenero’s response to this dilemma was to create classically inspired sport watches that can be customized per order to the individual’s taste. Like the “configurators” seen on many a shoe brand’s website, martenero.com gives customers the ability to personalize their selection. With a few dial colors, hand options, US made leather strap and nylon NATO varieties, one can take the model they like, and skew it to their taste. The final watch is then assembled in Brooklyn, NY. There are pre-designed packages available as well, either option costs a respectable $485.

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For their first series of watches, they are launching two limited edition (1,000/per) styles; the Ace and the Founder. Both are powered my Miyota 821A automatic movements and feature the same vintage inspired, but modern proportioned 42 x 50 x 12.5 mm case. With twisted lugs and a mix of brushing and polished finishes, the goal with the case design was to be classic and masculine, a touch aggressive, but acceptable in any workplace. The flowing curve of the polished bevel, which rides from lug-to-lug, is emphasized by well executed finishing, and sharp edges. At 3 is a 6 x 3.5mm screw down crown which aids in creating a 100m water resistance. Both the front crystal and display back window are sapphire, so no scratches allowed.

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Where the models differ, fairly significantly, is in their dial designs. The Ace is inspired by aviator and pilot watches, with a bold and highly legible marker vocabulary. At 3, 6 and 9 are the “aviator” defining oversized numerals, alternating with strong, tapered rectangles. At 12 is a play on the large triangles normally found on pilot’s watches, taking on a large X/chevron form for an even more aggressive and bold look, giving easy, at-a-glance orientation of the watch. On the outside of each large numeral is a small triangle, pointing out from the dial, which emphasizes the horizontal/vertical symmetry.

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Towards the center of the dial is a secondary 24-hour index, referring to navigator watches, which depending on the dial background color, is either a discrete reference or a bold secondary track. The Ace comes in either black with white markers and grey 24-hr index, white with black markers or ash grey with white markers. All feature broad roman sword hands and your choice of black, red, green or orange seconds. My personal favorite combo is the ash grey dial, green seconds hand, brown leather strap and green nylon NATO.

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The Founder takes its inspirations from sport watches of the 60’s and 70’s that mixed function and elegance. The primary index consists of applied matte steel markers for the odd hours and small rectangles for the even. At 12 is a large “V” shape to quickly indicate the top of the dial. On the perimeter of the dial is a seconds/minutes track with small dots every 5, which emote tritium dots of mid-century watches, and lines in between.

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The most distinctive feature is a thick “warning track” which encircles the inner dial. This segmented circle is black for the first 45 minutes/seconds, then in steps of 5 minutes/seconds, lightens incrementally. The idea here is to give a very quick visual alert that the end of the hour/minute is approaching even if the exact amount is not known. The Founder is available with either a white dial with black markers, or black with white markers. Both feature simple straight index hands, with your choice or black, red, green or orange minutes hand. My personal favorite combo would be the white dial with orange hand, black leather strap and grey NATO.

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And there you have it, Martenero Watches. I know from working with these guys that they are the real deal and care deeply about their product and their service. One look at their website should give you a quick sense that they are dedicated to a great shopping experience as well as a quality product. For my part, I’m just really excited to see these watches become real. It was a fun process working with them, and the final products turned out really well. The cases in particular really shine at this price point, as the edges are so crisp, and the dials are successfully classic, but distinct. So, with my biased opinion out of the way, I hope you all are into what Martenero has to offer. Let us know what you think below.

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Zach is the Co-Founder and Executive Editor of Worn & Wound. Before diving headfirst into the world of watches, he spent his days as a product and graphic designer. Zach views watches as the perfect synergy of 2D and 3D design: the place where form, function, fashion and mechanical wonderment come together.
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