Several months ago, Mark gave us his hands-on opinions of the REC Mark 1, a curious watch by a new Denmark-based brand. The design was immediately appealing, with a sort of retro racing-chrono design, but what made it interesting and standout was that the dial was made of sheet metal reclaimed (hence the brand name) from vintage Morris Minis / Mini Coopers. Each resulting dial has a dynamic surface of scratches, striations and color variations making each watch unique and beautiful.
Just in time for a last minute gift, REC just released a new watch called simply The Minimalist. The final part of their Mini series (the Mark 1 and Cooper being the other parts) the Minimalist also uses reclaimed material in the dial, but rather than having a design that draws on the Mini itself, is more Danish-design in nature. And as the name indicates, the new design is clean, sparse and modern, veering towards dress territory.
Perhaps even more than the other REC watches, the Minimalist acts as a showcase for the abraded dial. The watch features a simple and refined 40mm case in either polished steel or PVD, that has a thin bezel, straight lugs and slab sides. The dial then comes in two flavors, either lacking markers or indexes entirely as seen on the L2 and L3 versions, or with simple applied batons per hour as on the L1. On its own, the case might be a bit bland, but when accompanied by the dial, it makes sense.
It’s still a very spartan watch, but it allows the rough texture of the material to come through. I’m always a fan of metal on metal watches, though they might not always be the most legible, and the Minimalist scratches that itch. Though I’m running out of thesaurus entires for rough, the raw, eroded and scored material (like that?) has a different effect and feel from a factory fresh metal-tone. It’s a similar appeal that bronze patina has, but it’s fixed and has a story. Though I’m no Mini die-hard, I love that the material here is salvaged. It had a life once and is now reborn… and though the source is collectible, it’s not something so rare or historically significant that having a piece drives up the price unnecessarily.
The Minimalists come on seemingly nice 2-piece, stitch free straps that dress the watch up, yet do not detract from the dial. In particular, the L3 is matched with a “beige” strap, which is a light tan that looks great against the grey of the dial. Powering the Minimalists is a 2-hand Swiss-made Ronda 762 4-jewel quartz movement, which has a remarkable 10-year battery life. While I tend to prefer mechanicals over quartz, in a 2-hand configuration it’s more tolerable (none of that jarring tick) and the choice of a long-life caliber adds purpose and value. Coming in around $250 (that’s minus the VAT and approximate) the Minimalist is an interesting affordable option for those looking for something simple, but with personality.