Like A Chameleon, It’s The Watch You Want It To Be – Going Hands-On With The Melbourne Watch Company Burnley Auto Green
Editor’s note: This review of the Melbourne Watch Company Burnley Auto Green is part of our ‘W.R.A.T.H’ series, or ‘What’s Really Available Today Here’ watch photo reviews. It is a new series where we go hands-on with watches that can at least at the time of photographing or writing be bought! For our other reviews of latest novelties, please head here. For our in-depth deep dives, please head to our dedicated review section here. Today’s watch is brought with the grateful assistance of the MWC team. This is not a sponsored post and we weren’t gifted or paid anything for this review.
The Watch: Presenting the Melbourne Watch Company Burnley Auto Green that is part of the (new for 2020) Burnley Automatic collection. It sits alongside a number of coloured variants, all priced the same, $850 AUD (~600 USD). The other colours are Blue (sold out at the time of writing), Classic (white) and Black. It is MWC’s take on the integrated bracelet fad and given a stainless steel-integrated bracelet watch with premium finishings and subdued but stellar looks is being offered from a less than eight-year old company, I gotta say it leaves me quite impressed.
Albeit a bit expensive, the built quality is still excellent for its price and the aesthetics are handsome and appreciable.
Available At: The Melbourne Watch Company website with options to pay with Afterpay and the cost includes free domestic or international shipping
Suited For: The Burnley Auto Green is for those who would like a solidly-built watch with a trustworthy beater of a movement, all presented in an elegant yet understated green that marvels under natural light when paired with the integrated bracelet.
It is for those who are willing to look beyond the well established and more famous names realising that there is an entire world of watchmakers that are keen on producing products for both enthusiasts and collectors
Our First Impression: The Melbourne Watch Company Burnley Auto Green is minimalistic yet imposing. I found it as an exceptional Genta-homage that’s willing to do its own thing.
The watch comes inside a branded black box that’s nothing out of this world but still manages to offer a bit of a premium feel to the packaging. The box also includes an internal pocket with warranty card and papers.
As for the timepiece, it’s comforting to know that it comes all wrapped up, pristine and clean.
Once you unwrap it, the first appearance is that it is black. I, in-fact, thought they accidentally sent me the black version instead. But turn the watch slightly and the light graces the dial, unveiling the beautiful dark-green dial.
My first reaction of the timepiece, and one that’s stayed on after wearing the watch for a couple of weeks, is that the Burnley Auto Green has a great chameleon-like quality to it.
Not only does the dial change shades of green depending upon the light, but the watch itself transcends from a dress watch to a sports watch with apt ease like McQueen from Bullitt to Thomas Crown.
The watch is very easy to pair with a pair of shorts or with a suit, but mind you, it’s got a heft to it.
The American actor Bob Saget once said: “I become a chameleon for wherever I am”. This could very well be the Burnley Auto’s tagline.
With the subtle nuances of colour changes on the dial to the versatility that the H-link bracelet brings, the Burnley Auto is a timepiece that can be whatever you want it to be.
My only beef at this stage is that the water-resistance is a minimal 50m. It is good enough for a dress watch, but to turn this into a great everyday watch, especially considering it’s inspired by steel sports watches made popular by Genta, MWC would have to increase the water-resistance.
The lack of at least 100m water-resistance along with a screw-down caseback and crown — given the crown already has crown-guards — are the factors stopping me from staying that it’s a fantastic timepiece. At this point, it’s very good, just not excellent. Improve this, reduce the price by a bit and/or maybe even put in a Sellita SW200-1 or an ETA 2824-2, and voila.
Will You Like It: I reckon it’s time we addressed the elephant in the room, the price of $850 AUD. The Melbourne Watch Company Burnley Auto Green is not cheap by any stretch of imagination. And if you were looking at calling this a bargain piece, well, it’s not. Truth be told, and if you are reading this I am sure you a aware of it as well, the ‘under 1K AUD’ market is extremely crowded and to be honest one can find a Miyota 9015 cradling timepiece for way cheaper.
That said, as a whole, I was impressed by it, no doubt. As a package, it scores big.
It is a much more premium looking timepiece than what I have seen at this price range before, and that’s impressive in itself. It feels solid and quite nicely built, and for lovers of the integrated bracelet look, even when you factor in the cost, it’s an excellent option. And if by chance this came with say the Sellita SW200, I would definitely have no qualms in saying it is a bargain piece as well.
But as it sits, with a Miyota movement, you will be impressed by the overall design aesthetics and the built quality.
Measuring 42mm in diameter and only 10mm in thickness owing to a flat crystal, with a fairly decent 48mm lug-to-lug spacing, it should in theory sit nicely on both slimmer and larger wrists. But it’s more aimed at larger wrists, given the part where the lugs meet the bracket is stiff and without give.
Overall though, it’s got a dress watch vibe masked by a tool watch appeal, and with the inclusion of 316L stainless steel and sapphire crystal, and a workhorse movement, the Burnley Auto Green should find many takers.
Do We Like It: For what it is, it sits well within both luxury and affordable watch markets. That’s again a rare quality, harking back to its chameleon like quality.
Burnley Auto vs Luxury Watches Landscape
When it comes to the luxury market, for instance, Tudor released their Royal Collection last year as well; it has similar designs and specs — ETA 2824-2 movement which is what the Miyota 9015 is trying to compete with — and features the same integrated bracelet as well. The ref. M28500-0005 that comes in a 38mm steel case and a striking blue dial retails for $3’080 AUD. Of-course that watch comes from the house of Rolex and besides the legacy features genuinely amazing features such as a five-year transferable guarantee and 100m water-resistance.
But it is almost 4 times the price of the the Melbourne Watch Company Burnley Auto Green. And I think this is where the Burnley collection scores – it is a nicely finished and premium looking watch for less than a grand.
Talking about Tudor, comparisons with Tudor’s North Flag ref. M91210N-0001 are inevitable. This 40mm diameter cased COSC-certified with Manufacture Calibre MT562 timepiece is also offered on an integrated bracelet. It impressively features a higher 70-hour power reserve, but it retails for a much higher 5’220 AUD as well.
Looking at a different offering, the Frederique Constant Highlife Automatic ref. FC-303N4NH6B in polished stainless steel 3-parts case has a very similar aesthetic to the Tudor Royal (barring the bezel) and MWC Burnley Auto: similar 41mm diameter, display case-back but only 50m water-resistance, similar 38-hour power reserve and 4Hz frequency, and uses the calibre FC-303 which is a modified version of base SW200-1 which is again the Swiss counterpart of Miyota 9015. The Frederique Constant Highlife Automatic is COSC-certified, also comes on a steel bracelet that is not integrated but for all intents and purposes looks like one, and retails for the nearly the same price as the Tudor Royal Day-Date at $3’150 AUD.
Or the Bell & Ross BR 05 Blue Steel ref. BR05A-BLU-ST/SST comes in a 40mm diameter and a 100m water-resistant case, whose calibre BR-CAL.321 movement is derived from the outsourced Sellita SW300-1. The B&R option also features a 38-hour power reserve and the striking blue dial displays the functions of minutes, seconds and date. It comes on an integrated bracelet and retails for a substantially higher $7’300 AUD.
Again, a stunner but like all the others, way more expensive than the Melbourne Watch Company Burnley Auto.
So I guess the point I am trying to drive home is that when you look at the luxury market, the MWC Burnley Auto is a pretty freakin’ good offering.
Burnley Auto vs Affordable Watches Landscape
You might be correct here in interjecting and saying that one can find watches with Miyota 9015 movements for way cheaper. True, and as a matter of fact, one can also find some integrated bracelet watches for cheaper as well.
And I would compare the Burnley Auto with them except for two reasons: one, I don’t like comparing watches unless I have handled the other timepieces personally or unless all the watches we are looking at are extremely high-end and all we have to go by are the specs and images. This keeps the playing field levelled in my opinion.
Two, you have to realise that micro-brands are not like Tudor with excessive brand name backing and legacy and prestige cache. To be fair, in my humble opinion, all micro-brands I suppose have to cut corners somewhere; I mean if all of them had perfectly executed timepieces with no QC issues, all with Swiss COSC-certified movements, the best finishes, with sapphire crystal and the lot, they would theoretically all retail for the same. They might even all cost the price of the entry-level Tudor, which may be 4-5 times the cost of MWC’s Burnley Auto but is still 4-5 times less (at retail) than say the high-end integrated bracelet watches from Patek, Audemars Piguet, Chopard and IWC.
I will still include some names of other micro/affordable brands here that use the same movement and are priced conservatively so as to give you an accurate picture.
The Orient Eclipse Open Heart Automatic for instance is way cheaper than the MWC Burnley Auto and comes with a sapphire crystal and integrated bracelet. Brands like Archimede, Laco, Zelos use the same Miyota 9105 movement and offer timepieces at competitive prices. More expensive but still not high-end would be the Maurice Lacroix Aikon timepieces.
Being an overcrowded market, there are of-course other players as well.
- The D1 Milano Atlas is one such offering that offers direct competition to the Burnley Auto.
It features the Japanese counterpart of the Citizen movement found in Burnley, the Seiko SII NH35A along with the same sapphire crystal and a similar octagonal case along with a stainless steel bracelet. It also measures in at similar dimensions of 41.5 diameter and 11mm thick case and retails for a lower price.
Even though there is 1mm thickness difference between the two, I would have to give the advantage to MWC Burnley Auto here simply because on the wrist that 10mm thickness looks far more refined. In terms of water-resistance, they both feature the same 50m rating but the D1 Milano Atlas does have a screw-down crown. The Atlas is also lighter — ~150g compared to ~190g — for those who like to have less heft to their watches, but given I haven’t handled it, and solely based on pictures online, I would say that the Burnley definitely feels more premium – it is just so well built, something I wasn’t expecting at this price point.
- The Nine Four Watches Successor Automatic is another offering that is relatively very cheap and features similar aesthetics and design language, and features the NH35A movement
- The Schaffen S65 Sport Watch also very closely competes with this and is encased inside a 316L steel case with a 39.5mm diameter. This is where the MWC Burnley Auto potentially takes a dive.
The dial of the S65 has horizontal finishing instead of vertical, but has the same design DNA with a circular brushed top bezel and a polished octagonal lower bezel. You can also pay extra and add a custom rotor design and signature on the dial. Then it comes with a Sellita SW200-1 (Élaboré grade) movement as well.
All this and the custom design cost without rotor mod is only $549 USD, so roughly $800AUD.
Now I haven’t again handled the Schaffen S65 Sport Watch before, so cannot say about the build quality, but given it’s got a Swiss-made movement and basically the same aesthetic as the Burnley, it’s definitely a strong competition.
The one difference I do note on paper at least, is the case diameter. The S65 appears to be more suited for people with smaller wrists such as myself whereas the Burnley for people with larger wrists.
Though all said and done, one look at the green dial when sunlight hits it, and damn, you forget all about how much it costs or anything else; it is sheer poetry under natural light. The dial is stunning to the point of mesmerisation.
Last but not the least the one brand that I have experience with and would compare this to is Christopher Ward.
Now CW off the bat offers a 5-year warranty compared to the MWC’s 2-years, offers returns up-to 60-days compared to 30-days, and CW watches are Swiss-made, a tag which comes with a certain elevated cache. Their mainstay would be dive watches though, and one of my favourites, the C65 Trident Automatic retails for $1’145 AUD. On the other hand, their field watch the C65 Cranwell retails for $1’300 AUD. Both excellent, but again cost higher than the Burnley Auto.
Also they don’t really offer many dress watch options and when they do, they are usually above the 2K AUD mark. They definitely don’t have an integrated bracelet option as well.
So if you look at all the offerings and then compare the prices, the $850 AUD maybe a little steep but doesn’t seem all that harsh. Since I have handled a fair amount of CW watches and am personally happy to pay for their product, I am also happy with the Burnley Auto.
I wouldn’t know about the rest of the MWC offerings, but this is premium enough for an affordable, entry-level watch. And like I said, if MWC could go the Swiss-made / movement way, and maintain relatively similar pricing, they would be a formidable force in this price segment.
Long story short, I do like the MWC Burnley Auto Green for what it is.
Suggestions: Besides the increase in water-resistance and perhaps swapping out the movement for a Swiss one based on the timepiece’s price, I have a couple of other suggestions.
- While the facetted (semi-Dauphine) hour and minute hands look wonderful, I don’t how I feel about the counterweight on the second’s hand. Personally I always like counterweights but I feel that here it should match the logo at 12’o clock. This way it also matches the embossed logo on the crown
- Only the indices for 12, 3, 6, and 9 feature lume, and even that is not exceptional, being pretty weak and fades fast as well. Also, if you zoom in, on a macro level, you can see that the lume application is kind of patchy
The Movement: Inside the Melbourne Watch Company Burnley Auto chugs along the trustworthy Miyota 9015 — precisely the calibre Miyota 9015-20A calibre, the calendar variation with a white date wheel if I am not wrong — movement. It is a premium 3-hands automatic movement from Citizen.
The 11 1/2’’’ (ligne) diameter (or 25.6mm) and 3.90mm thick movement beats at the standard frequency of 4Hz (28’800 A/h), comprises of 24 jewels, boasts of an okay 42-hour power reserve, and has a stated accuracy of -10～＋30 sec per day.
Where does it score: There are a fair few aspects that shine in the MWC Burnley Auto.
- The lightly textured, vertically brushed green dial with subtle use of burgundy accents is a scene stealer. Most of the time the dial is dark green to black. But as light touches it, it awakens the green beauty and one simply marvels at it. As a matter of fact, when it comes to purely being mesmerised by the dial, the cost of this watch appears to be underpriced; the dial in direct sunlight is that good
- Legibility is king and no matter the lighting, direct or indirect, indoor or outdoor, the applied and polished indices and facetted hands are always at you beck and call. And not only the hands and the indices, the date window is nicely finished and framed as well
- The only 10 (and 0.3)mm thick case is slim and finished exceptionally, and allows the watch to sit low. Goes without saying it can easily slid under the cuff. The angular case features a round dial, but the bezel is very Genta-esque and octagonal
- The bezel is in two levels – the top is round and brushed, and from a distance makes the watch look completely circular adding a more dressy tone to it. Up close, one sees the steeped down but polished rounded octagonal bezel that features a more sports watch Genta aesthetic to it. Again, that chameleon effect I was referring to
- The next thing one notes is the heft and the quality of the bracelet. It is again nicely finished with vertical brushing with the links rounded off, and features a secure and easy to use butterfly deployant clasp
- Even though it’s not an extraordinarily decorated movement, to give credit where due, I appreciate that the Melbourne Watch Company has gone through the effort to include some added details: the rotor is custom made to include their logo and the date wheel has also been customised with their font
The Verdict: Being Australian, nothing pleases me more in the watch world than when I come across a local Aussie brand. From their Flinders Automatic that was brought about thanks to crowd funding to the latest Burnley Automatic, it appears that the Melbourne Watch Company has something for everyone.
Stellar looks, albeit at a premium, define the MWC Burnley Auto. If you really like how it looks, we see no reason for you not to get it.
There is a West African proverb that goes: “The chameleon changes colour to match the earth; the earth doesn’t change colour to match the chameleon”.
The different occasions in life, the varying outfits, like the earth won’t change to match your timepieces. But with the Melbourne Watch Company Burnley Auto Green, you have a watch that changes its aesthetics to match the context it’s being worn in.
To find out more about the Melbourne Watch Company, please head to their website here or visit their boutique at 6/458 Swanston St, Carlton, Melbourne (03 8598 1220). All images unless otherwise stated are ©WatchYaGonnaDoAboutIt.