[VIDEO] Hands-On: the Raymond Weil Millesime Collection

Sometimes the little moments inform our collecting more than the big ones. A big moment might be the first time Dad trusted you to wear his watch. While formative, there’d be a lot more two-tone bracelets on Instagram if those moments drove purchasing decisions. My “big moment” came on my seventh birthday. After weeks of begging for a digital watch, I opened a package to be greeted by black resin and the coolest digital screen I’d ever laid eyes on. The subsequent victory lap through the kitchen resulted in a trip to urgent care. Though I still have the scar to remember the watch that unleashed the horological nerd within me, my watchbox is currently void of a single digital watch. On the contrary, little moments are constantly influencing how I think about and consume watches. These are often as simple as offhand remarks I hear at a meetup or a comment I read on Reddit.

One of these little moments came while I was listening to Rico’s Watches Podcast a couple years ago. A RedBar chapter head was the week’s guest, and he made some brief, unflattering remarks about Raymond Weil. Sharing a story of buyer’s remorse, he cited a lack of demand on the secondary market and a design language that was an amalgamation of other brands rather than something original. These quick quips stuck with me. As a newer collector, I’d already discerned that anything with “mall watch” vibes might not receive the nod of approval from my enthusiast peers. And, having personally noticed the less-than-subtle Cartier influence on some of the impressively low priced Raymond Weil offerings available at Jomashop and Costco, his comments resonated.

A Fresh Start

A typical review starts with an overview of specs and design, touches on a bit of history, and then concludes by sharing if and why you should consider purchasing the watch in question. I’ll get to that review stuff shortly, but I’m going to start with the conclusion because the Millesime collection represents something more than simply a few watches worth discussing- they represent a fresh start for the brand. Forget everything you think you know about Raymond Weil. Set aside any of those little moments that left a sour taste in your mouth. Those moments are tied to the Raymond Weil prior to 2023, before the Millesime small seconds was crowned the GPHG 2023 challenge prize (designated for watches under CHF 2,000) winner.


Unlike previous Raymond Weil offerings that were designed for everyone, the small seconds felt like a watch built for those of us that spend our free time reading watch blogs- those that care about things like perfect hand length, varied and well executed case finishing, if a dial is capable of evoking emotion, and how cool (not necessarily practical) its complications are. The small seconds catered to that enthusiast wish list with brushed hands that matched an expertly brushed bezel, a goldilocks sized case (slim and just under 40mm) that featured polished bevels, and a fan-favorite sector dial. Knowing enthusiasts need at least one thing to critique, it even used two different fonts including a prominently displayed “Automatic” to keep our collective groans active. Most importantly, the aptly named Millesime (millésime translates to “vintage”) offers a luxury experience that pays homage to elegant watches of the past at a sub $2000 price point where wow factors are elusive. 

Once a brand has cracked the code to develop a design DNA capable of meeting those enthusiast demands, they can start deviating and adding a bit of secret sauce. The expanded Millesime collection unveiled at Watches and Wonders 2024 is nothing short of saucy. Nothing says “Do you see me now?” better than the diamond set lugs found on the 35mm bedazzled variant. Which, by the way, fit my 7.25 inch wrist great, and is truly a watch anyone could pull off. Bling aside, one new Millesime in particular proved to capture the new enthusiast-catering direction with unmatched charm: the 39.5mm moonphase.

A Happy Complication

Moon phases, despite their popularity, are an inherently silly complication for an average person to wear in 2024. Most complications, even if we don’t use them for their intended purpose, have some level of practical daily application. A dive watch can be used for timing any activity and doubles nicely as a fidget spinner. A GMT can tell you what time it is in Switzerland. Even if you aren’t embarking on international travels, you can at least celebrate when the Swiss business day starts and hope someone is finally making that Daytona you were waitlisted for in 2020.

Unlike their useful complication counterparts, moonphases don’t have a substitute purpose. I would argue the primary purpose of a moonphase is to add aesthetic value to a watch, with providing astronomical data being a (very) distant second. Yet, despite their lack of serious need, moonphases tend to take themselves… well, seriously. Moonphases from coveted collections including the Patek Phillipe Nautilus and the Cartier Drive feature rather boring moons, offering no details to spice up their perfectly plain, round and dull celestial rocks.

As if they weren’t challenging enough perceptions, Raymond Weil decided to challenge the idea of the serious moonphase by adding smiling human features. The happy moon adds a welcome bit of humor, striking a pleasing tone that is substantially less cheeky than Kermit or Snoopy could ever hope to be. Not missing an opportunity to add a playful touch, the moon even glows with lume matching the hands and indices. With a comfortably slim profile of only 10.05mm and water resistant to a completely acceptable 50 meters (more than the Christopher Ward C1, which is fine because extreme water resistance isn’t the point of this inherently dressy complication) it makes a great contender for a daily wearer.

Like the rest of the collection, this charming moon can be found under a boxed sapphire crystal and is tucked into the sector dial that is vital to the Millesime aesthetic. Powered by the Sellita based RW4280 operating at 4hz, this little happy moon will continue its orbit for 38 hours once removed from your wrist.

Final Thoughts

Am I overreacting to the significance of the expanded Millesime collection and making assumptions about the future of a brand that has historically hung their hat on department store watches? I really don’t think so. Our immediate thoughts after seeing the expanded collection at Watches and Wonders in April was simple: if Raymond Weil wasn’t on your radar before, it should be now. After a few months to digest the new releases and additional hands-on time with the vintage inspired entry level luxury collection, this sentiment has only grown. At the end of the day, the measures by which watch enthusiasts determine if a watch is “good” are relatively objective, no matter the name on the dial. Claiming Raymond Weil hit the reset button feels more like a statement of fact than a hot take.

Time will tell if the enthusiast community embraces Raymond Weil just as we have with other brands that attempt the balancing act of catering to enthusiasts and the general market alike. Just as we vote with our wallets by scooping up Citizen Promasters and Bulova Oceanographers without being deterred by the oversized and sometimes gaudy offerings of those enthusiast-embraced brands, I predict the Millesime has the power to do the same for Raymond Weil.

There is a lot of watch content out there, and chances are this isn’t the only watch review you’ll read today. As you get your daily watch fix, my hope is this review might be one of those little moments that stick with at least a handful of readers. Raymond Weil is making enthusiast driven efforts to create a fresh start in their nearly 50 year history, and the happy little moon on my wrist is telling me we should pay attention. 

The Raymond Weil Millesime Moonphase will be available in September. Raymond Weil

Images from this post:
Related Reviews
Nathan Schultz is a New Hampshire based writer, equally obsessed with watches and outdoor gear. He specializes in dad jokes, breaking NH35s while modifying watches, and testing the limits of recreational equipment. Micro brands hold a special place in his heart, and he aspires to stop buying and selling so many darn watches.