Mona is a young Bordeaux brand founded in 2012 and yet, we are already talking about rebirth. After the first stage of its life which allowed it to experience a certain success, particularly in the United States (Worn&Wound devoted an article to it in 2013) through a collection of quartz watches, the brand subsequently experienced pause. The very good news is that Mona returns in 2023 with a more ambitious watchmaking proposition. The team that now presides over its destiny is made up of enthusiasts who wanted to go much further in the process initiated more than ten years earlier. The renaissance collection, since that is how it should be described, takes up certain aesthetic elements of the initial watches in order to maintain a common thread and an identity. On the other hand, almost everything opposes the two generations. The new collection, which will be the subject of a Kickstarter campaign starting November 9, is now equipped with an automatic movement and, moreover, the dials are decorated by hand in the Bordeaux workshop. In other words, the watchmaking content is progressing significantly and local roots are reaffirmed. These are the reasons why I wanted to meet Nicolas and Mavrik during a recent stay in the land of chocolatines and cannelés in order to discover a preview of the pieces from this new collection just before the start of the campaign. I was able to see and manipulate several models.
We might as well kill any suspense at this stage: the “Original” collection (for that is its real name) made up of new automatic models does not revolutionize watchmaking. The design is classic and there are no extravagant details. On the other hand, I could see that the approach of Mona’s new team was well thought out.
First of all because she didn’t start from scratch. I think it’s an excellent idea to have retained reminders of previous models such as the cigarette hands or the characteristic cross knurling on the case middle. This establishes Mona’s trajectory over time and strengthens the brand’s identity. An identity is created when a brand is recognizable even in the absence of a logo on the dial. And despite the classicism of the whole, the Mona style is completely identifiable. Regarding the logo, it is also positive that it is kept as originally because I find it very successful with its two crossing flags.
Then the approach is coherent. Mona doesn’t want to be something she’s not, especially considering what the offer was ten years ago. The proposal is intended to be reasonable both from the point of view of style and the initial price which will be set at 599 euros when the campaign starts. The steel case has a diameter of 39mm, the thickness is 10.3mm which makes the proportions harmonious. The watches are neither thin nor thick and can fit both male and female wrists. Despite this reasonable size, the water resistance is 100 meters which is a very good point. The movement is also without any real surprise, being a Sellita caliber which has a power reserve of 42 hours for a frequency of 4hz.
The textured effect of the dial:
Finally, the approach still offers some surprises. The first comes precisely from the caliber. It is certainly a Sellita movement but contrary to what we might have thought with a watch with a diameter of 39mm, its reference is not an SW200 but an SW100. But why does Mona use such a movement, usually dedicated to small or feminine watches (the casing diameter is slightly greater than 17mm)? Quite simply because it is the method of attaching the bracelet that requires it. By turning the case over, we then understand the second surprise. From an aesthetic point of view, when the watch is worn on the wrist, the bracelet appears to be single-stranded and passes under the case. But no: the bracelet is indeed composed of two strands whose fixings are located under the case, which requires a reduction in the diameter of the caliber. I like this method because it reduces the overall thickness of the watch and makes the whole thing more elegant compared to a single strand which passes entirely under the case. The third surprise comes from the dial. The “Original” collection offers different dials made by hand pad printing in Mona’s Bordeaux workshop. More specifically, it is the decoration stages (painting and pad printing) which are carried out in Bordeaux.
You will note the bracelet attachment system:
Beyond the local dimension that this creation generates, I must admit that I appreciated these dials and in particular two of them: the white “Billie” dial and the green “Vesper” dial. The white dial increases the perceived size of the watch and is attractive with its contrast with the hands and the touches of orange at the level of the second hand and the tip of the cigarette hour hand. I really liked the green dial thanks to its more pronounced textured rendering (the blue dial offers a similar rendering) and its color is particular, very close to black. A joy of success. I was less attracted by the two-tone black and white dial.
Generally speaking, the quality of the workmanship is satisfactory and consistent with the price range that Mona wants to charge. The case back is solid which is an excellent decision considering the small size of the movement. The decoration of the caseband is interesting from an aesthetic point of view and also protects the case in a certain way. The flexibility of the bracelet ensures good support on the wrist. Finally, the crown is decorated with a dot which takes up the dominant color of the dial which is a welcome detail.
The cross knurling of the caseband:
So I have a very positive feeling about the automatic watches offered by Mona. They are well done, well thought out and they manage to offer some unique details which prevent them from being too consensual. Given their classic style, their water resistance of 100 meters and the price offered during the Kickstarter campaign, they constitute a very good way to enter the world of mechanical watchmaking. Finally, fans of the first generation of Mona watches will not be confused because they will be able to find similarities with the pieces they know. The price will obviously be higher but the qualitative difference justifies it. I wish the Mona team every success for the Kickstarter campaign which begins in a few days. She deserves it because the approach is endearing. It also pleases me to see watchmaking projects developing in France and not only in the traditional regions of the sector. Mona, like other brands, symbolizes this French vitality in watchmaking thanks to the talents and ideas of its actors.
Finally, note that Mona’s Kickstarter campaign will also include a limited edition Movember watch and that the brand will donate 5% of the entire financing campaign, all models combined, to the charitable structure.