MICRO MONDAYS: Second Hour’s Mandala Burst offers a fresh take on the everyday watchTime+Tide
Owing to the likes of the Rolex Explorer and Omega Aqua Terra, robust everyday watches have become their own thing. Because what we need is a watch we can wear everyday, not necessarily one that has a unique use case and the specifications to match. Everyday watches are the most common in brand catalogues and perhaps the hardest to redesign, recreate, and to make interesting. For the most part, these watches have a time and date complication. That’s it. A fresh interpretation requires focusing on the design and offering something never seen before.
Today we’re taking a look at an everyday watch from a brand you may not be familiar with. Heralding from Australia, Second Hour has been making a little space for itself on the independent watch market by offering fresh takes on the traditional genre of watches. From divers to field watches and of course, everyday timepieces. The brand’s latest release comprises two new colours and an updated design of their core collection called the Mandala. The name comes from the Buddhist and Hindu circular shape used in the practice of meditation, among other things. On the watch, the term refers to the guilloché dial and its dégradé finish that have made this collection stand out.
What makes a watch an everyday timepiece is the fact that it is wearable, comfortable and legible. The wearability and comfort factors come from its dimensions, and those of the Mandala Burst in Burnt Orange and Green are set to suit a multitude of wrists. The hardened stainless-steel case measures 40mm in diameter, 46mm lug-to-lug, 10.5mm thick (including the crystal) with a 20mm lug width. Looking straight down at the Mandala, the watch seems to be all dial and bezel. The thin lugs disappear, making space for the high-polish fixed bezel. The lugs, furthermore, turn down towards the wrist, and a polished chamfer runs all the way to each equally thin crown guard.
The signed screw-down crown comes with fine, but abundant, knurling that makes it easy to grab and operate. It is also endowed with a colour-matched ring at its centre, something that has become one of Second Hour’s design trademarks apart from the dials. The brand opted for a see-through case-back made of a flat piece of sapphire crystal. Given its case-back construction and thin profile, the Mandala comes with 100 metres of water resistance, which seems to be standard for this sporty type of everyday timepiece.
The dial is the star of the show here. Its guilloché and dégradé design looks outstanding. The pattern reaches all the way to the minute track printed on the sloped rehaut, making its way beyond the applied markers. Surprisingly, the dial colour doesn’t change much in different lighting conditions or when holding the watch at different angles. This is something that is neither good or bad, just a detail one couldn’t necessarily expect. The minute track is fully graduated and highlights each five minute increment with Arabic numerals. The date at the 6 is framed and it’s the numerals that are colour-matched to the dial, rather than the more commonplace date wheel.
There is a white line that runs all around the dial and around each hour marker, further emphasising the circular shape of the Mandala. This detail also aids in balancing the dial design and making it more legible. The line accentuates the contours of the markers improving legibility when looking at the watch from an angle, where the polished surrounds of the indices reflect light. This line, which we seem to be dedicating an entire paragraph to, echoes the white printing on the rehaut and indicates where the latter starts – or where the dial ends. Lastly, the white line matches the printed logo at the 12 and the word “Mandala” printed with a bespoke font below the pinion.
Second Hour has also made a habit of highlighting the hour markers at the 4, 8 and 12 positions by making them larger and recessing them into the rehaut. This creates an unusual balance in that they form a triangle (or target) that points towards the centre of the dial, where the Burnt Orange and Green colours are the most prominent. The applied and bevelled hour markers stand proud on the dial and come with generous applications of BGW9 lume. The polished hands have a simple design, however they come with a cut-out tip that is pleasing to look at although not always noticeable.
The Mandala Burst in Burnt Orange and Green is supplied on a nine-link steel bracelet that displays an alternation of brushed and polished surfaces. Each link is thin and has rounded edges which makes the bracelet comfortable to wear. Given the fact that the links are held together with screws, adjusting the bracelet is an easy process. The screws are some of the best I’ve seen from a microbrand – the circular head is thick so that pulling them out is easier than normal. The double-pusher clasp is signed with the brand logo and comes with four holes of micro-adjustments. The Mandala Burst also comes with a grey soft and stretchy fabric strap with colour-matched pinstripe.
Powering the Mandala Burst is the premium Japanese-made Miyota 9015 caliber, a reliable and thin movement that beats at 28,800 BPH (4Hz) and comes with 42 hours of power reserve. Second Hour regulates the movements so that they run at +/- 9 seconds per day at most. The units I got to try ran much better than that. Putting this particular caliber in the Mandala Burst also contributes to making it a great everyday watch, as this movement is reliable, precise, and can easily be serviced by any decent watchmaker.
Second Hour Mandala Burst pricing and availability:
The Mandala Burst in Burnt Orange and Green will be available on the brand’s website on June 16, 2023. Price: A$850, US$575
|Case Dimensions||40 x 46 x 10.5mm|
|Case Material||Stainless Steel|
|Dial||Burnt Orange or Green|
|Strap||9-link stainless steel bracelet and gray stretch fabric strap|
|Power Reserve||42 hours|
|Availability||Available on brand’s website|