Over the course of the Virtual Windup Watch Fair, there were a handful of new watch releases that came across our desks that we earmarked to discuss once the fair was no longer overtaking the site. This new watch from Merci, made in collaboration with Hodinkee, was right at the top of our lists. The LMM-H01 Limited Edition is a simple, time-only watch with a lot of style, and priced at $500 it’s incredibly appealing. Being limited to 1500 examples, we knew that by the time we got a chance to write about it there was a risk that it would be sold out. And, indeed, it’s no longer available in the Hodinkee Shop. It is, however, still available directly from Merci at the time of this writing, so if you’re just learning about the LMM-H01 right now and decide you absolutely must have it, be sure to head over there and get your order in right away (or get that WatchRecon alert set up). If you’re undecided, here’s a quick primer on what the LMM-H01 is all about.
Merci is a retailer, based in Paris, that has been around since 2009. But it’s not just a store – it’s a very different kind of model for a retail environment. Their flagship location is staged to look like a home, and of course the decor and much of what you interact with while strolling through the space is for sale. Merci presents their products in a way that shows how they can actually be lived with, which is a very different experience than walking the aisles at a department store. Everything is curated and thought through, and it’s with this highly specific staging that consumers are asked to imagine how these products will look in their own space. Watches are a relatively new venture for the brand, but they’ve gained the respect of many in the community in a short amount of time for their simple, minimalist designs and the value they bring to the table.
The LMM-H01 is based on Merci’s first watch release, the LMM-01, a design based on vintage military watches. In this Hodinkee collaboration we have the same slender 37.5mm case, with a simple brushed finish, and utilitarian drilled lugs. The case is mated to a gray dial (a new design for this edition) with applied Arabic numerals in a stark white, with bold blue hands to read the hours and minutes. If those Arabic numerals look familiar, it might be because you recognize Hoefler and Co.’s “Decimal” typeface, which has now been used in two Hodinkee limited editions, and really does a nice job of evoking a particular period in watch dial design, coming alive nicely in three-dimensional, applied format.
The key details of this watch, and in my opinion what really makes it work, are in the branding. Instead of having “MERCI” written in bold text somewhere on the dial, we get the model number, which of course resembles a military issue designation. On the 6:00 edge of the dial we do see Merci and Hodinkee signatures, along with their respective cities, and this detail adds a touch of old-school charm to the whole package, giving the watch the character of a boutique item, and not something that has been mass produced.
Running inside the LMM-H01 is the ETA 2801-2, a simple but robust hand wound movement that makes total sense in a watch like this. The mineral crystal is domed and designed to evoke classic dress watches, and there’s no lume on the dial, which is a smart move in my opinion, and avoids the issue of “faux-tina” entirely. The watch ships on a simple nylon strap, but the user is invited to experiment with different strap options by way of the drilled lugs. With a gray dial that screams “neutral,” there are surely a lot of great strap combinations to be discovered with the LMM-H01.