Seems like, in the last few years, not only have watches gotten more popular, but so have leather and beaded bracelets. Often, when browsing #wornandwound over on instagram, I see guys wearing interesting braided leather, leather strip, wrapped leather, wooden bead, etc… bracelets right along side of their watches. Next to a watch, they sort of accessorize the accessory, acting as a backdrop. On a bare wrist, they have an understated style and charm that makes them a logical piece of jewelry for men (and women too).
One of the top names in bracelets is Miansai, out of Miami, FL. Founder and Creative Director Michael Saiger’s designs play off of nautical motif’s, with a focus on clean looks and interesting hardware. You’ll find fishing hooks, anchors, brummel hooks and other rugged-but-stylized joinery acting as both closure and ornament on various materials. While I don’t personally wear anything but a watch, I do find the aesthetics of these very alluring. They are both elegant and masculine, playing off of heritage aesthetics.
But…I’m not here to write about their bracelets (anymore). As Miansai has grown in popularity, so have they grown in the breadth of what they offer, now including watches. Actually…they’ve had watches for a little while, but their NEW watches, the M12 and M24’s really caught my eye. A bit of a departure from their previous watches, the brands signature stylized minimalism is very present in the new models. Both quartz, the M12 is a Swiss-made 2-hander starting at $465 while the M24 is an Asia-made one-hander starting at $185.
Thanks to our friends over at East Dane, I’ve spent the last couple of weeks trying out the M24 white dial on leather, $215. It’s a nicely sized watch, coming in at 38 x 45 x 7.7mm. This makes it on the smaller side, though I think 38mm is just about perfect for my 7″ wrist. It covers just the right amount of area to have presence, but not seem out of scale. The watch is also very thin and flat, adding to the comfort.
The case itself has a pretty plain style. It’s a two-piece design with the bezel, central case and lugs being one part, and the case back being the other. The lugs taper slightly and come to a blunt edge. The whole thing is matte blasted, for an even grey tone. Off the right side, just before 4 is the crown and two crown guards. Definitely the most interesting element of the case, the crown is unlike any other I’ve seen.
Rather than being a typical cylinder, it’s a flat flange with a hole in it, coming off a cylindrical platform. The holes suggests one could tie something on, and the whole thing speaks to Miansai’s focus on hardware. While it’s not the easiest thing to grasp, since this is a quartz, you’ll likely only set it once in a while. Visually, it’s different and interesting, adding character to the watch.
That said, the dial is the star of the show, though it’s perhaps the most restrained dial I’ve even seen. Though called white, it’s really a putty grey, with a slight khaki undertone. This immediately makes it understated and almost drab, but ultimately soothing. The primary index consists of thin grey lines and tiny grey numerals indicating the hours. Between 12 and 1, in blue, are finer lines, showing 5 minute increments within the hour. Typically, on a one-hand watch, such an index would run around the whole dial, making telling the time (somewhat) easier. Here, it’s just on this first hour, acting as a reference. The pop of blue is very nice, making that index stand out a bit.
In the center, off of 9 and 3 it reads “miansai” and “M24”. The rest of the dial is open space, for a very sparse overall appearance. In order to balance this out, the single hour/minute hand is proportionally large and thick, with a wide dot over the central axis. This gives it the hand more weight and acts as a visual centerpiece for the dial. The whole thing is appealing in a less-is-more kind of way, though telling exact time with it is very difficult. You more guesstimate within 15 minute increments.
This version of the M24 came mounted on an 18mm tan leather strap. It’s a thin, but rigid piece of leather with a straight cut, stitching only around the lugs and buckle and painted edges. Oddly, the tip of the strap has been cut at angle, giving it a sort of katana edge look. The color is a beautiful, bright tan with strong orange and red undertones that contrast with the monochromatic case and dial, making everything come alive, and opening up the watch for pairing with clothing.
Once again, the coolest thing about the strap is the hardware. The buckle has a unique multi-bar design, that looks as though it could be used to tighten a pass-through strap, or like it was repurposed. While the design does not add function to the watch, it adds an industrial ornamentation that speaks to the overall watch design and the brand’s style.
One-handed watches always feel like watches that are for people who use them to tell time second to other devices… a phone, a computer, etc… As that, they are quite nice. Indicating the passage of time in a more calm, imperceivable fashion. The watch then becomes more about styling and is worn more as an accessory. In the context of this brand, that makes total sense. The M24 costs only a bit more than some of their bracelets, so it’s really part of their general wrist-wear.
Coming in at $215 on leather, the Miansai M24 is an interesting and affordable piece for those looking for something off the beaten path. Aesthetically, I think it works very well for both men and women. It’s understated, but intriguing, and can easily be worn with a variety of clothes from casual to business. That said, one-handed watches take some getting used to and aren’t for everyone. But, if you like them, or find the minimal/modern style appealing, this is one that is worth checking out.