MICRO MONDAYS: Julian Michaels’ new releases show the value of breathing space and balanceFergus Nash
It’s getting harder and harder to stand out as a microbrand as dozens seem to pop up every week, but the most distinctive examples are always something special. Julian Michaels are the latest brand to forge an individual identity, but they do so without the need for any gimmicks or garish novelties. Instead, Julian Michaels have found a way to keep things fresh while maintaining an elegant simplicity through their Black Moon and Infinity One collections.
The story behind the brand is quite a touching one, originating with their founder Yang Michaels losing his father and spurring him on to seize the day with a watch brand of his own. Julian Michaels is named after Yang’s own son, and its existence is a reminder to spend as much time as possible with your loved ones. The thematic motif which runs throughout all of their watches is the “Wings of Infinity” — a conceptual twisting pattern that represents the ability to live without fear or regret, chasing your dreams with all you have. This can be seen on the gorgeous hands that look almost like Tolkien-esque elven swords, as well as the pattern printed on the underside of the sapphire crystal. This projects a shadow onto the dial below, adding an interactive depth.
The Julian Michaels Infinity One collection is a bunch of modest yet captivating watches, with strong colour choices each creating their own mood when viewed. The deep red dial feels brave and traditional, with a pleasing matte texture. The white dial feels more summery and lighthearted, carrying a classic refinement that’s truly versatile. The blue dial is a dark but saturated navy, effortlessly spanning that gap between sporty and formal that could make it a perfect daily wearer. Each of these watches comes on a solid steel bracelet with a butterfly deployant clasp, with the centre links polished for an extra touch of sophistication, and a small chapter ring that can be seen for using the minutes track.
The Black Moon is a much more brooding version of the Julian Michaels formula, with a black enamel dial that really brings out the polished lustre of the hands and applied markers. The black tones also lend themselves to a grander sense of mystique, one that is also amplified by the lack of minute markers forcing you to concentrate on the artistic merit rather than the exact time. The Julian Michaels brand was always intended to be a more sculptural and experimental exercise, with time-telling just an added bonus. Keeping the shadow-play created by the Wings of Infinity printed on the crystal is a sector of colour along the outskirts of the dial, adding a subtle flavour to the overall appearance and prevent it from being too dark. The colours available are a stern grey, a vibrant red, and a delicate purple. Matching the nightlife approach of the Black Moon is a black calfskin leather strap, dressing up the watch far more than the bracelet could have achieved.
All of the Julian Michaels watches share the same case design too, with a bubble profile given moderate-length lugs that don’t distract from the dial. The polish of the bezel and lug surfaces also imbue a sense of great quality to these watches, defying their price point by some margin. The diameter of 41mm may sound quite large for a watch with this much negative space on the dial, but the 46mm lug-to-lug length ensures a comfortable fit and the overall harmony of the dial is quite pleasant from all angles. The case is 11.6mm tall, meaning it can easily slide under cuffs if that’s your thing, and the 20mm lug width lends itself to all kinds of experimentation with third party straps.
Although it feels like Julian Michaels could use a Sellita movement and charge well over a thousand dollars for a watch this pretty, they have elected to keep costs low with a Seiko NH35. This calibre shouldn’t disappoint anybody though, as it has constantly proven itself to be the most reliable and well-performing budget automatic movement on the market. With a beat rate of 21,600vph and a 41 hour power reserve, they’re also quite simple to regulate at home or with a watchmaker if you find that the timekeeping performance isn’t up to your standards.
The Julian Michaels Infinity One and Black Moon pricing and availability:
The Infinity One and Black Moon have not yet had their retail prices confirmed, however their Kickstarter campaigns will launch in October with at least 25% off the final retail price. Click here for more information