The WMB came out in 2019 as an unusual and strong contender from the newly formed French microbrand Serica, through an idea from the only American on the team, author of A Man & His Watch, Matt Hranek. Inspired by the iconic Wrist Watch Waterproof of the armed forces, a tough-looking everyday tool watch with optional dial colours and hands, it hit a perfect note within the horological community. Covered in Nick Kenyon’s story here, where Nick went as far as calling it the revival of the good, affordable watch. Well, I think he might have been right, and here is the new and sharpened second version, the Serica 4512.
This time the military field watch monochromatic charm is still ever-present, but distilled – and with a superb vintage bracelet as standard. The feel is one of a small, bulletproof tool, but with a certain je ne sais quoi (indefinable, ed.) that makes it fit for everything from rambling through the woods to brushed off and elegant under a sharp shirt cuff.
Unlike many microbrands that naturally enough haven’t got 40 staff on research and design, Serica hit the nail on the head with the all-important proportions first time out.
The case is a thoroughly balanced milled piece of 316L, classic curvature on the broad-shouldered lugs, defining its purpose as a tool watch. The no-frills chunky vertical brushed side excudes strength, the case top brushed lengthwise, accentuating the vintage curve down towards the bracelet.
My favourite piece on the case is the clean muscular bezel, where Jérôme, Matt and the team set themselves a mighty challenge. With a design that is as simple as it is complex to get right, the broad, flat bezel is brushed lengthwise, with a wide polished bevel reminiscent of two of the grails of any watch fanatic: the Nautilus and the Royal Oak. Instead of the usual thin brushed or polished affair, this makes the shape of the 4512 even stronger.
The size is, for many, perfect at 37.7mm — and an acquired and very European taste for size reduction is another detail that underlines the focus on historical proportions and wearability. The vibe is of vintage inspiration, not homage, and the design language is strong enough to breed new references within the same size. What they have changed with the 4512, is discontinued the least popular option of an off-white dial, and the more delicate alpha hands in exchange for keeping the broad arrow and sword. More skindiver than military, but perfect for the broad-shouldered look of the tough case. The dials come in three versions of monochrome delight, based on a lacquered black dial with Super-LumiNova and sharp white print, eschewing fauxtina for legibility. The classic WWW design from the first edition is here, joined by a cleaner Commando version, and a super-charming California dial we know from vintage Panerais.
There is a thick, double-domed sapphire that will give you some intriguing distortions for what is a damn photogenic design, and ensures the 200m depth rating. The crown is just right: large, broad and imposing, and is a doddle to use even with gloves on. The main news here, save for the distilled sharpness of the dials and tough nugget of a case, is the Bonklip bracelet. This is a remake of a classic, thin and soft steel bracelet, designed in the UK in the 1920s, in the same vein as the famed Forstner band for the Speedy. At 20mm width and straight, it’s a looped design, put on by threading your hand through and fastening a clip between two links. Soft as leather, yet tough, and once again it shows the team focus at Serica to bring something unique — familiar, yet with quite a few twists that ensures the strong identity of the brand.
The calibre in the new 4512 is also changed from the previous ETA, to a hand-wound decorated Swiss STP1-11 with a 45-hour power reserve, which also means a sweet spot of less than 11.5mm in height, and an increased accuracy to +/-6 secs a day. In a tough year for smaller brands, we applaud Serica for their integrity and strong focus, with a classic 37.7mm design for a tough everyday tool, the choice of three sharply legible dials and a unique bracelet. The French Serica design team has a final trick up their sleeve, and that is the brilliant choice of having the big crown either at 3 or 9 o’clock, perfect for lefties or the tool-minded wanting the crown out of the way. Merveilleuse is my final word and, yes, at €690 it is right up there on the bang-for-buck scale.
Serica 4512 price and availability:
The Serica 4512 is €690 and is now available on pre-order for delivery from November. For more details, visit Serica right here.