Melbourne Watch Co Avalon — hands-on review by TimeCaptain
The Melbourne Watch Company is, apparently, one of the top micro brands. I had the opportunity to wear and test their Avalon model for more than 2 weeks. It was my first experience with a micro brand and also my first experience with a Miyota movement. Read Adam’s articles for more information on the brand, and read THIS story to see how the Avalon fared on my wrist!
I guess we shouldn’t discuss the look or the style of the watch too much because style and tastes are personal. Also, you can look at the photos! But I would like to mention a few interesting details as well as some impressions. I liked the Avalon as soon as I saw it (I had not even seen photos before). The watch is clearly inspired by famous pilot watches, but it is mostly blacked out — DLC case (but not case back), black strap, black buckle… but with orange hands and minute markers. I instantly loved the hands — they are perfect. I mean, they are just perfect — large and bold with a pointy tip that makes it easy to precisely set the time. The sweeping seconds hand is gorgeous as it moves around the large dial — bright orange against a black dial. The “open heart” on the dial shows some “action” and gives a dynamic living feel to the piece, making it ideal for a first watch for a new collector (more on this theme later). The minute markers are, perhaps, too old-fashioned and give an unbalanced feel to the dial, but I still like it. When I looked at the Avalon, I thought “urban commando.” It is large, but the blacked out style keeps is subdued and low key — great for urban black ops missions. Its size and beefy strap give it a robust and “tool watch” feel, which would make it a good daily wearer. Of course, orange is tricky. It looks cool but is difficult to match. If you are the type of guy who likes to match his watch to his outfit, you will need some different watches in your collection.
My favourite aspect of this watch is, by far, the case. I have worn dozens of watches over the past year and the Avalon case is one of my favourites. At 45mm, this case would be huge for some guys. My wrist measures nearly 7 and a half inches, though, and 45mm is ideal for me. By no means does it look too large on me. But it has plenty of wrist presence. The Avalon has a nice weight to it and the black DLC case is beautifully made. The case back is not DLC coated so you see a bit of a steel vs. black contrast when the watch sits on your wrist and this is quite nice. The case is pretty slim and the lugs are curved a bit, allowing it to sit really nicely on my over-sized wrist. The case reminds me of some classic pilot watches, which is probably why I like it!
Two of my main issues with the watch are the strap and the buckle. For the first few days, the strap was so stiff that I hardly wanted to wear it. It was very uncomfortable. After about 4 days, it started to break in. As I write this, I am wearing the Avalon on the middle hole of the strap and it is good. It is secure on my wrist and loose enough to be comfortable and not bother me. The buckle itself is OK but the tiny wee little pin does not complement the thick strap. The buckle could use a re-think.
How about the Miyota movement? You can view it through the back, but it’s not much to look at. The movement looks tiny and unimpressive in a 45mm case. But it performs well. This Avalon has been gaining an average of 12 seconds per day. This is not bad for a sub-$1000. I have owned far more expensive watches that were 13 or 15 seconds per day too fast or slow. The power reserve is also good — I have gotten well over 36 hours out of the Avalon after letting it sit in my box for a rest. Now, the Avalon does not have a screw-in crown. This is really an advantage because, if you need to wind the automatic movement to get it started, you can wind it quickly with no fussing. This crown cannot give good water resistance, but who cares!? An urban commando doesn’t need to swim under water! Another important feature of the Avalon is the absence of a date window. [Editors note: for more about TimeCaptain’s opinion about date windows, click here] The lack of a date window gives the dial of any watch better symmetry, and it’s way easier to set or adjust the time on a watch with no date. I think omitting a date window was a clever choice by Melbourne Watch Company.
I have been wearing the Avalon with casual clothes as well as business suits. It doesn’t fit well under French cuffs (mainly because of the thick strap), but it fits fine under regular shirt cuffs, and it actually looks quite nice with suits — modern yet low-key. Now that the strap has broken in, it feels like a nice daily companion.
The Avalon is around $750 CAD, which makes it a fairly interesting watch for that price. I think it would be a cool piece for someone who is new to mechanical watches. With the open heart, see-through case back and sweeping seconds hand, the Avalon gives you the feel of wearing something mechanical on your wrist, and it offers a modern style. The Avalon is not sold at your local shopping mall, so it offers you something a bit rarer and different to what your friends have. I can imagine some young guy in the city wanting to experience a proper timepiece while having something different to his co-workers. This guy would enjoy an Avalon. I can also see a seasoned collector adding one to his collection as he tries to find something different and affordable.
Overall, I have enjoyed my time with the Avalon. It has opened my eyes to micro brands and non-Swiss movements. And it’s always nice to find something fairly affordable. Check out Melbourne Watch Company and check out Adam’s blogs about other micro brands, you may find one for you. As always, the fun is in the search.