Hands-On with the Laco Navy Philadelphia

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Laco has a rich history of producing high-quality, purposed watches. They were one of the five original manufacturers of “B-Uhren” Fliegers, and they also began producing marine watches in the 1940s. The Laco Philadelphia forms part of the Navy line that continues that tradition.

With a 36mm diameter, it’s a watch that’s suitable both for women and for men who prefer smaller-sized wristwear. Laco offers several other models in the Navy line with a 42mm diameter, but the all-dial design of a marine watch can sometimes cause it to wear larger than its stated dimensions. With that in mind, I thought that this particular model, with its diminutive size, might make for an interesting review, as our readers often ask for more modestly-sized pieces. At around $948 to the US and €990 to Europe, let’s see how this one stacks up.


To learn more about this storied German firm, read Laco Watch Company – A Brand Highlight with a Family Perspective.


A marine-styled watch in a smaller case? I’m down.

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$948

Hands-On with the Laco Navy Philadelphia

Case
Stainless steel
Movement
Laco 24 (ETA 2824)
Dial
Blue sunburst
Lume
N/A
Lens
Sapphire with internal AR
Strap
Milanese mesh
Water Resistance
50m
Dimensions
36mm x 43mm
Thickness
11.5mm
Lug Width
18mm
Crown
Push/pull
Warranty
2 years
Price
$948

The case of the Philadelphia is comprised of a circular-brushed bezel sitting atop a polished mid-case and lugs. Consistent with the smaller diameter, the lug-to-lug distance comes in at 43mm. The polished lower part of the case is curved for the full length from one lug to the other, and the downward curve becomes quite steep at either end.

Some great swooping lines on the case.

The lines on this part of the case are very soft, creating an elegant flow right around the lugs. The brushed bezel provides quite a sharp contrast between itself and the polished surface below, straddling the line between dressy and casual. Looking at the watch from the side, the polished curve of the case from lug to lug is most noticeable, but when viewed face-on, the bezel and dial are the focal point giving off a slightly less formal appearance.

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It’s the details that matter, like this finely-brushed bezel.

The polished crown is signed with the Laco “L” and is very much in keeping with the profile of the watch. The crown does not screw down and the watch is water-resistant to 50 meters. As this isn’t designed to be a sport watch, that is an adequate rating.

The deep blue sunburst color of the dial does a good job of invoking a nautical theme, even if the high legibility offered by a typical white-dialed marine watch isn’t on display here. The blue of the dial can look deep and murky at times, or quite bright when the light catches it revealing the sunburst effect. I found that I really appreciated the tidiness of the dial not being broken up by the inclusion of a date window, even though the movement offers that functionality. The lack of a date will certainly be seen as a negative by some, especially those wanting to use this as an everyday watch, but the small dial would surely be heavily impacted by a date window and potentially the subsequent loss of a numeral.

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Arabic numerals with a minute track are requisite of marine watches such as this, and here the numerals are applied and highly polished. The same finish is given to the leaf-style hour and minute hands. Although the hands and indices offer no lume and can appear in photographs to get a little lost against the dial, in reality the surfaces glint as they catch the light making it very easy to read with the slightest movement of the wrist under normal wear.

The polished hands look great against the deep blue sunburst.

An anti-reflective coating is applied to the inside of the slightly domed sapphire crystal, which is raised just above the bezel. The slight lip here helps to create distinction between the bezel and crystal and ties it back to the polished case beneath.

The Laco 24 movement inside is essentially an ETA 2824-2 with a custom engraved rotor, which can be seen through the sapphire exhibition case back. Laco had previously used a standard-grade of the same ETA movement and tweaked the performance to their requirements, but now solely use elabore-grade calibers.

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One benefit of a smaller case is that the movement fits the case much better when viewed from behind.

The Laco Philadelphia is delivered on a milanese mesh bracelet and it suits the watch very well, playing off that middle ground between dressy and casual. The bracelet supplied with the watch is on the short side as the watch is more commonly sold to women rather than men, but a longer mesh bracelet can be requested from Laco at the time of order. The bracelet itself is of good quality and very comfortable, with a push-button butterfly clasp and several removable links on either side. These removable links are each small enough that a good fit should be easily attainable.

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If the appearance of the polished milanese bracelet isn’t your thing, I expect that a rich brown leather strap would play very well against the polished stainless steel case and deep blue dial.

At 36mm, the watch does wear quite small on a 7-inch wrist, but certainly it wouldn’t look out of place as a gent’s watch if your wrist is 6.75 inches or smaller. Its fairly slim profile makes it a good everyday option to be worn under shirt cuffs, but with some versatility beyond formal attire given by the more casual details, such as the case brushing and blue dial. The additional weight from the mesh bracelet also means that the watch doesn’t feel like an overly small and dainty thing on the wrist.Although the Philadelphia may attract a larger proportion of female customers, it remains suitable for men and shouldn’t be discounted. There’s a lot to like about this watch. The combination of dressy and casual, while keeping to the nautical marine theme, is very well done. The size may put off a lot of people, but if you find yourself veering towards sub-40mm watches, it’s worth taking a closer look at this one. Laco

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Images from this post:
Brad stumbled into the watch world in 2011 and has been falling down the rabbit hole ever since. Based in London, Brad's interests lie in anything that ticks, sweeps or hums and is slightly off the beaten track.
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