Review: Serica W.W.W. “WMB” Edition

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Vintage military watches have a vast enthusiast base within the broader collector community, and it’s no surprise that there are numerous brands on the market today that pull inspiration from these beloved, purposeful watches. Of course, being true vintage pieces, many of these classic mil-spec tool watches are now over a half-century old. As a result, they aren’t as bulletproof as they once were, so it makes a whole lot of sense for contemporary brands to produce watches that follow that design language, but then execute them to a modern standard. The latest brand to do that is Serica with their W.W.W. (for Wrist. Watch. Waterproof) “WMB” Edition, a collaborative project between the folks behind the French watch blog Les Rhabilleurs and The WM Brown Project, the latter founded by Matthew Hranek (who joined us on the podcast here to discuss his book, A Man & His Watch).

On a surface level, the four watches making up this initial W.W.W. “WMB” Edition evoke the famed “Dirty Dozen” watches produced around the time of the Second World War. They’re not direct copies, but a hint of the flavor is certainly there, and the result, to my eye anyway, is quite nice. That said, these watches play in a crowded space, so the question remains: are they worthy of consideration? Let’s take a closer look. 

(Editor’s note: the watches shown here are prototypes, and the final production models will feature a handful of changes that I will note below.)

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$540

Review: Serica W.W.W. “WMB” Edition

Case
Stainless steel
Movement
ETA 2801-2 or the equivalent Sellita SW210-1
Dial
Lacquer white or black
Lume
Vintage Super-LumiNova
Lens
Domed mineral
Strap
2X – Leather and nylon one-piece
Water Resistance
100 meters
Dimensions
37.7mm x 46.5mm
Thickness
11.8mm
Lug Width
20mm
Crown
Screw down
Warranty
Yes
Price
$540

Measuring around 37.7mm wide with a lug-to-lug length of about 46.5mm, these watches hit a bit of a personal sweet spot for me and what I like size-wise when it comes to these types of vintage-inspired pieces. They wear roughly like 38mm watches, though with a touch more presence due to the more rugged case and wider-set 20mm lugs. The thicker bezel does temper the dial a bit, but also serves to keep this one looking more sporty.

 

The stainless steel case features a pleasing mix of finishes. The lugs are vertically brushed, as are the case sides and the top of the bezel. The bezel then features a mirror-polished bevel, which helps keep the case from looking too muted. Purists might argue this is unnecessary bling, but this isn’t a purist’s watch. In fact, I may even prefer a bit more polishing, particularly along the case sides for extra contrast.

The large, unsigned crown is perfect for hand-winding — a good thing because this is a hand-cranker powered by either a ETA 2801-2 or the equivalent Sellita SW210-1. The crown here screws down, and on the prototype it doesn’t decouple (a big no-no in my book), but it will on the production model.

The larger crown allows for a good grip when winding.
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Up top is a domed mineral crystal that does distort the dial at an angle, which contributes to the vintage vibe of the watch. Some don’t like this, and others welcome it. I fall in the latter camp. For my money, however, I’d have gone with an acrylic crystal. Sure, it scratches easier, but those scratches are relatively easy to buff out, and the warmth offered by an old-school acyclic can’t be beat. Regardless, this isn’t really a sticking point, just a personal preference.

The full collection.

The foundational design is the same across all four models: a railroad minutes track framing a 1-12-hour track, which in turn frames an additional 13-24-hour track. There’s vintage-toned Super-LumiNova at every 5-minute interval on the railroad track, and a “Swiss Made” stamp below the “6” marker. And yeah, there’s no logo here, either. This configuration is rendered in two colors — lacquered black and white — and with two hand-sets — alpha and broad arrow.

Black dial with broad arrow hands — my favorite configuration.

Before receiving the watches, I was sure my favorite setup would be the white dial with alpha hands. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Turns out, the one for me is the complete opposite —  black dial with broad arrow hands. While I appreciate the look of the white dial, the richness of the lacquered black dial coupled with the wide, brushed broad arrow hands results in a very vibrant and legible watch on the wrist. While we’re on the hands, I want to note that the polished seconds hand shown here across all four watches with be brushed on the final production model.

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One issue I have with these samples is the lume. It’s okay on the hands, but really weak on the dial. I spoke to the Serica folks who assured me that this will be fixed on the final production units. The dials will feature a heavier, more even application of Super-LumiNova, as will the hands.

Expect better lume on the final production watches.

The watch wears really well. It’s relatively slim at 11.8mm thick, and it fits really close to the wrist. The black dialed variant is especially fun to wear. The way the light plays with all the elements — the gloss black dial, brushed hands, and multi-finish case — makes this a fun watch to look at throughout the day.

The leather one-piece strap here is one of the straps the comes with the watch; the other is a nylon mil-strap. The other tapered two-piece straps showcased in the photos are from Joseph Bonnie (the team behind Serica and Les Rhabilleurs own JB), but they don’t come standard with the watch. Too bad, because they look really good, and I’d recommend picking one or two to go with the watch. All in all, these is a solid first outing from Serica. Are there issues with the prototypes I had on-hand? Yes, but if these issues are addressed as was indicated to me, then these will be solid timekeepers definitely worthy of consideration. Of course, there’s the question of price. At $540, I think these are well-positioned in the market, with the direct competition being the Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical and, more top of mind, the Vaer “Dirty Dozen” we wrote about here. But despite the on-the-surface similarities between all of these watches, the devil’s in the details, and they each offer something different in their own way.

Pre-orders are being taken now, with delivery of the first 500 pieces expected around September 2019. Serica

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Ilya is Worn & Wound's Managing Editor and Video Producer. He believes that when it comes to watches, quality, simplicity and functionality are king. This may very well explain his love for German and military-inspired watches. In addition to watches, Ilya brings an encyclopedic knowledge of leather, denim and all things related to menswear.
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