The American watch boom is here in force with brands from every corner of the nation churning quality timepieces in a staggering array of designs. One such brand is Mercer Watch Co. our of Princeton, New Jersey. Named for a Revolutionary War hero, Mercer has produced some impressive pieces so far. One of their more recent additions, the Lexington, is the brand’s most impressive yet. It’s a classically styled, manual-wind chronograph coming in a just a little over $500. Let’s dive right in.
Review: Mercer Lexington Chronograph
The case design of the Mercer Lexington immediately sets the tone. This isn’t a watch that’s all about filigree (at least not on the outside—more on that later), but respectable presentation of time-honored elements. From the top, the shape is dominated by long, slender lugs tapering smoothly from case to tip. The bezel is narrow, polished, and it slopes outwards, helping the dial feel larger while also adding some geometry to the case of the Lexington.
The only real embellishment to speak of is a continuous, chamfered edge running along the top of the case and the lugs. This chamfer is a subtle thing; since the entire case of the Mercer Lexington is mirror polished with no brushing to be found, it can be easy for a character line like this to go unnoticed. In the right light, however, it lends a welcome highlight to the simple lines of this case.
Ordinarily, I’m against all-polished case treatments like this. They generally come off cheap and low effort, but on the Lexington the effect is pleasingly old school. Plenty of ’60s chronographs were fully polished, and as the Mercer emulates that style the decision just works. One thing that is decidedly un-mid-century, however, is the case thickness—13.5mm is a sizable height on the wrist, even if part of that comes courtesy of a domed crystal. Heck, 13.5mm is approaching what you would see from a 7750-based chronograph, and the watch here doesn’t have to contend with a rotor. All in all, however, the thickness isn’t a cardinal sin. The case still wears well on the wrist, and it looks far from ungainly.Moving our attention to the dial, the Mercer Lexington is similarly classic in its approach. Everything here feels like its pulling from early Heuer Carrera, but with enough flash to give the watch its own personal character. On our tester, the outer tachymeter is finished in a contrasting silver, which helps to compress the dial. Inside this are pointed and faceted rectangular indices glittering like daggers in the changing light.
The final element of flash comes courtesy of the sub-dials at three and nine. Finished in a snailed, high-polish silver, these offer a brilliant sunburst from any angle and are a compelling alternative to a traditional panda dial. Dial text is sparse but balanced, with relatively equal weights for the Mercer emblem at 12 and the “Lexington Bi-Compax” script at six. One last point to note with the Lexington’s dial is the handset, a pair of wide batons that feature a very generous lume fill. While the lume pips for the hour markers may leave a bit to be desired, the hands themselves give off a strong, lasting glow. One small point worth noting, however, was the central chronograph hand resetting slightly to right of zero. Likely an issue of the hand not being set right and a simple fix to be sure, but it is something we noticed during our time with the watch.
Inside the Mercer Watch Co. Lexington is the Chinese-made Sea-Gull ST1901 mechanical chronograph. Chinese-made movements have long been the stuff of horror stories in the watch world, but the Chinese industry and Sea-Gull in particular have made impressive strides. This particular movement, the Sea-Gull ST1901, is one of the best of the bunch, and it’s really the only option out there for an aggressively-priced mechanical chronograph movement.
Featuring a column wheel and at least some light Côtes de Genève on the balance and chronograph bridges along with blued screw throughout, it’s certainly a handsome piece for the price and features a far more impressive pedigree than most Chinese movements. Essentially the ST1901 is a near-exact reproduction of the old Swiss Venus 175, right down to the manufacturing tooling.
That tooling, however, did make itself known through the display back of our tester courtesy of a few visible marks, which we’ve seen in other examples of this caliber. While the components may be manufactured in China, each ST1901 in the Lexington line is assembled, tested, and regulated here in New Jersey.Mercer offers the Lexington on either a brown or black leather perforated rally strap, depending on dial color. The leather is excellent here, plushly padded and natural lined. Contrast stitching ups the sport factor and plays well with the white of the dial. A rather aggressive 20-to-16mm taper sheds a sizable amount of visual weight as well, keeping the focus on the dial and case. While there’s not a world of choice from the factory, it’s easy to imagine a classic design like the Lexington working on almost any leather, or even a nylon strap for a more laid- back vibe. Whatever the strap may be, the Lexington wears exceedingly well. At an appropriately vintage 39 millimeter diameter, it feels compact and manageable on even my 6.75 inch wrist, while the long lugs and 13.5 millimeter thickness ensures bold wrist presence.
Overall, the impression the Mercer Watch Co. Lexington gives is enthusiasm. The people at Mercer clearly love what they do, and that passion shines through in the final product. Not only is the Lexington a handsome, classical design in its own right, the fact that this company manages to produce a decorated, manually wound chronograph for just over $500 is beyond impressive. If you’re looking to expand into hand-crankers, this is a great place to start. Mercer Watch Co.