Hands-On: the Manime La Fidele

It takes a certain courage and determination to start a watch brand. One has to articulate his or her vision into three-dimensional, complex, and mechanical objects. I sometimes struggle to transfer thoughts and ideas about watches to paper, let alone deal with prototypes, source components, and market the final product. In order to get our attention, one must also offer something that is familiar while being different, well-made but not too expensive. If the watch looks too much like something we’ve seen before, we tend to shoot it down. If it comes attached to a price tag orbiting that of fashion watches, we frown at it. So, perhaps we should celebrate the efforts brands put out on an almost daily basis to bring us new watches, as many of us wouldn’t be able to do the same. 

In that spirit, today we’re going to take a look at the second model from a young French brand called Manime. The model in question is La Fidèle (“The Loyal One” in French) which is the founder’s take on the popular genre of sport watches with integrated bracelets. 


Manime was founded in 2020 by Edouard Paris, a countryman based out of Thailand. I say countryman because I was born and raised in France, a country which was put back on the horological map ten years ago thanks to popular brands in the likes of Baltic, Serica, Beaubleu and Yema. I may (obviously) be biased here but I believe that French watches come with a certain aesthetic that leans strongly towards elegance and sobriety. Neither of which precludes them from being robust (as we will see later) and unique. Manime released a first model last year by way of a Kickstarter campaign which, unfortunately, did not get fully funded. However, Edouard was not deterred by this experience which he saw as a challenge to come back a year later with a new—and better—model. 

A Design That Leans Towards Brutalism 

Brutalism is a style of architecture born in post-World War II England which is characterized by showcasing a building’s bare materials and structural elements. To transfer this definition into a watch may be a bit of a stretch, however that’s the first word that came to mind looking at La Fidèle. From the angular and simple case design to the massive brushed fixed bezel and flat bracelet links, La Fidèle oozes utilitarianism and minimalism. While it obviously takes inspiration from Genta’s iconic geometric creations, it arguably offers something different which might already have caught your attention. In particular: how well the bracelet flows with the case, the restrained dial layout, and the lack of ornamental decorations typically found on higher-priced models of that sort. 

The design of the bracelet reminds me of a few 1970s/80s Swiss and Japanese models which came equipped with something similar. In other words, singular, large and flat links that don’t taper except from the lugs to the first links, and which come together to a small double-pusher deployant clasp. The links, which are held together with screws, showcase polished bevels and vertical brushed surfaces on top. The bracelet comes with multiple links that can be removed to size the bracelet—almost perfectly—and which naturally flows into the case. The design of the bracelet and its seamless integration contributes to endowing La Fidèle with the brutalist nature I referred to earlier. 

The case, for its part, has a simple profile, slab-sided flanks, and short lugs that are fully integrated within its structure. For the most part, the case displays alternating horizontal and vertical brushing as well as polished chamfers. The large, fixed bezel is composed of a polished, angled side section and an upper one showing a fine radial brushing. The minimalist aesthetic of La Fidèle can also be found on the small, unsigned crown which is endowed with deep knurling and a polished cap. It screws down, and so does the case-back, giving this watch an impressive 200 meters of water resistance. The (perhaps) silent star of the show is the dial which we’re going to dissect below. 

The Restrained and Legible Dial 

What brands don’t always do well is to perfectly match the design of the dial with that of the case and bracelet. What I mean to say here is this: Edouard dedicated himself to creating a cohesive design throughout. The brutalist and minimalist aspects of the case and bracelet discussed above are echoed on the dial where we find just enough visual elements to make reading the time easy, without ever feeling overpowering. Yes, this is something that contributed to making AP’s Royal Oak and Patek Philippe’s Nautilus popular and iconic. And here we find what I dare to describe as being an equally effective design language which looks different and interesting all the same. 

More specifically, polished pencil-style hands are paired with applied rectangular markers which are also polished. Edouard did not highlight the hour markers at the cardinal points and instead opted to make all of them the same size to create symmetry. The latter is not interrupted by the date aperture located at three o’clock as its beveled frame makes it seamlessly integrate within the dial. The gray dial, showcasing a sun ray finish, creates interesting light plays when holding the watch at different angles. A stylized logo can be found at the 12 and the word “Automatique,” written in script, at the six. There is enough lume on the hands and markers to make reading the time easy in low-lit condition. 

(Note: the photos are of a prototype which didn’t receive an even application of lume.) 

Solid Everyday Specifications 

If you are like me, you might want to know what’s under the hood and how big or small this watch is. Let’s start with the dimensions: 38mm in diameter, 42.20mm lug-to-lug, 11.25mm thick and a lug width of 18mm, though the bracelet starts at 22mm and tapers down to 18mm. La Fidèle fits well on my 6.25”/16cm wrist as you can tell from the photos. As we already know, it has an impressive 200 meters of water resistance which is more than we need for everyday use, despite having a see-through sapphire case-back showing the Miyota 9015 caliber within. Regulated in-house, this movement is part of the premium line of calibers from Miyota and beats at 28,800 BPH (4Hz) and has 42 hours of power reserve. 

The sun ray gray dial can easily be admired through a flat piece of sapphire crystal complete with anti-reflective coating. As you know, sapphire doesn’t scratch easily which, combined with the 200 meters of WR, makes La Fidèle a solid companion for your everyday adventures. This is further made possible by the application of a proprietary hardening compound on the case and bracelet making both virtually unscratchable. Lastly, and despite the fact that I haven’t experienced many butterfly clasps, the one found on La Fidèle feels solid and comes with the added benefit of being short. 

A final point before some final thoughts: La Fidèle comes in five versions. Four dial colors—gray, green, copper and salmon—and a military version called La Fidèle Dirty Dozen which Edouard designed as part of a competition Manime was invited to participate to by Mark D. “Nix” Natale, Major in the British Army and US Advisor to the Ministry of Defense. 

Final Thoughts 

If one cannot afford or doesn’t want to invest thousands of dollars in a Royal Oak, Nautilus, or 222, one can turn to the micro and independent watch market for solid options under $1,000. In addition to its unique design and specs (at least according to me,) the Manime La Fidèle comes with the added bonus of an attractive price tag. The Kickstarter campaign starts September 26, 2023, with a Super Early Bird Price of $438, an Early Bird of $480, and a full retail of $600 thereafter. Production is slated for the end of November of the same year and shipping for March 2024. You can learn more about Manime here and the Kickstarter campaign here

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Vincent is a French native who spent 13 years on the East Coast of the United States. After working in the cultural sector for a decade, he decided to transform his passions for horology and the written word into a full-time career since 2021. Vincent is obsessed with under-the-radar tool watches and the idea of a one-watch collection.