Aussie Night In Shining Armour – Going Hands-On With The New Melbourne Watch Company Collins Auto Navy
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. Today’s watch is brought with the grateful assistance of the MWC team and this is not a sponsored review.
In a nutshell: “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass”, said the famed Russian playwright Anton Chekhov. In other words, “Show, not tell”. The MWC Collins Auto doesn’t do a song and dance about the moonphase complication on the dial; it subtly incorporates it in such a manner that everything on the dial around it, the pointed indices, the blue dial, the hands, all give the moonphase breathing room to quietly charm.
The new Melbourne Watch Company Collins Auto Navy with its exceptionally competitive pricing and special Aussie execution of the moonphase on a dark blue dial is the glimpse of night enclosed inside a shining 40mm steel case armour.
Intrigued? Let’s find out more…
The Watch: Launching this week is the new Melbourne Watch Company Collins Auto collection that is a part of the existing quartz movement bearing Collins family. Unlike the quartz versions that come in four different avatars and offer the day, date and a lunar moonphase calendar complications, the Auto collection will be available only in two colour segues of navy blue and white. Priced at $985 AUD, and based on my knowledge is, the Auto collection is an amazingly priced option for what it delivers
Available At: The Melbourne Watch Company website with options to pay with Afterpay and the cost includes free domestic or international shipping
Suited For: Definitely for those who would love to have a moonphase complication in their collection. Given its sombre notes and understated looks, I would say it’s also for a somewhat matured gentleman, who would love to sport an elegant timepiece that doesn’t draw attention but still sports a delightful quirk or two
Our First Impression: The Melbourne Watch Company Collins Auto Navy comes in a different packaging compared to the Burnley Auto. The latter came inside a branded black box that was pretty generic, but this new one comes inside what feels like a nice, more premium, wooden box, reminiscent of some glossy Patek boxes. It definitely helps increase the dress watch appeal of the new Collins Auto.
The main aspect that strikes from the get go is the simplistic and elegant aesthetic of the timepiece. No, it’s not as bright and unique in its moonphase execution as say the Christopher Ward C1 Moonglow given the lack of lume, but the customised Australian sky and the coolness of the dark blue dial that offsets the white moon at 6’o clock is impressive and memorable.
It’s a dress watch no doubt, but one that speaks of a laid-back attitude as well; the only aspect that’s a bit jarring design wise is the italicised Collins text underneath the moonphase. Personally I would have preferred it to be at 9’o clock, mirroring and geometrically balancing out the date window at 3. But that’s my take, as an architect, and of course different strokes for different folks.
Another feature I note and commend is the use of a Swiss movement. I remember while reviewing the Burnley Auto I critiqued that MWC should have gone for either a Sellita or an ETA movement. The use of the Sellita SW280 here is very welcome indeed.
Will You Like It: If dress watches are your game and moonphase complications your weakness, you would definitely appreciate the new Melbourne Watch Company Collins Auto Navy.
The moonphase may be very simple in its execution but don’t just brush off a relatively standard looking moonphase on the dial of the Collins Auto; gaze at it long enough and you find ourself immersed in the delightful use of the Australian Southern Cross Constellation and the quirky blue dial that colour-shifts to purple at the slight turn of the wrist.
For the price of ~750 USD, you get a fair bang for your buck. The mix of incorporating a Swiss Sellita SW280 automatic movement, finely finished product, slightly customised rotor and not really decorated but decent-to-look-at movement for this price range, seemingly no Quality Control issues — which is a big plus at this price point — and the use of the anti-reflective sapphire crystal presents watch enthusiasts with one hell of an offering
Do We Like It: We recently reviewed the MWC Burnley Auto Green and while I found it to be a pretty good take on the stainless steel integrated bracelet fad with premium finishings and stellar looks, it can be argued that price wise it faced a storm of competition.
But the MWC Collins Auto collection can breathe easy; it’s not being choked by competition as such. It’s a solid offering that punches well above its price point and I am comfortable saying that yes, I do genuinely like the watch.
The dimensions of 40mm x 12mm with only 46mm lug-to-lug width offer this timepiece exceptional flexibility in terms of who can wear it, and when. It’s a versatile albeit dressy timepiece, that worked well on both my 16 and a bit cm wrist and my wife’s slimmer wrist.
The case is nicely finished, nothing really whispers that it’s a micro-brand offering. The all polished case complements the raging beauty of the dial, and the mixture of polished and brushed surfaces of the bracelet bring about a welcome sense of nuance.
“It is a beautiful and delightful sight to behold the body of the Moon,” said the astronomer Galileo Galilei. And the new MBC Collins Auto with its Aussie focused moonphase and beautiful blue-purple dial is a sight to behold.
It is a premium offering and works well in this category within the market.
The Movement: Inside the new Melbourne Watch Company Collins Auto is nestled the Sellita SW280-1 automatic movement. This is part of the SW200 family, one that is used very commonly by brands and rest assured, is a trustworthy and reliable movement. The SW280 has been in existence since 2018/2019 and allows for the complications of date, moonphase, quick date correction and stop second device.
The 11 1/2’’’ (ligne) diameter (or 25.6mm) — same as the Burnley Auto’s Japanese Miyota 9015 movement — and 5.40mm thick movement beats at the standard frequency of 4Hz (28’800 A/h), comprises of 26 jewels, and boasts of a 38-hour power reserve. In terms of accuracy, I am guessing the movement version used here is the standard movement, and should in that case have a stated accuracy of -12～＋30 sec per day.
Suggestions: The few things I wouldn’t mind seeing altered or introduced are:
- Introduction of some lume on the dial
- Increase the water-resistance to a 100m and then the pairing with a steel bracelet makes more sense and also will aide the sporty appeal of the watch overall
- A complementing alligator leather strap should add more of the dressy charm while at the same time a calf-leather strap will add a nice causal flair to the timepiece. Given the lug-interhorn spacing is also a universally welcome 20mm, personally straps seem the way to go
Where does it score: There are two distinctive aspects where the new Melbourne Watch Company Collins Auto Navy scores, and scores big: the dial, and the competitive pricing considering the overall execution of the timepiece.
The Competition (or rather the absence of it)
Let’s start with the pricing first and paint the landscape it exists in. We have pitted this against a dozen watches, and all the watches below are great in their own rights, with their own distinctive moonphase executions and dial detailing, and some are backed by stellar looks, while some by brand heritage. But purely based on basic specifications and cost, in my humble opinion, the MWC Collins Auto leaves any competition behind, especially if you are constrained by budget.
- Given I have experience with and like Christopher Ward watches, I would like to compare this to their offerings first, though it is worthwhile to be noted that CW watches feature Swiss movements and are Swiss-made as well, whereas as far as I know, the Collins Auto features a Swiss movement but is not Swiss-made. My CW favourite is the C1 Moonglow, but not only does it retail for a much higher $2’695 AUD, it’s also very different in its execution of the complication. In regards to the other moonphase options, CW does offer the C1 Moonphase that comes in either blue or white dial options, with the choice of blue or black cordovan leather straps or Milanese bracelets. These retails for $2’150 AUD (on leather)
- The Indiegogo and Kickstarter funded Krons Stone Original S timepiece features the same Sellita movement, water-resistance, sapphire crystal, and a similar 41mm diameter when compared to the MWC Collins Auto. In regards to its aesthetics, it’s a bit different but on paper in regards to the specs, it’s very similar. In its initial discounted stage it is going for ~1’350 AUD, and the original price is meant to be even higher
- The Glycine Combat 6 Classic Moonphase on the other hand is similar to the MWC Collins Auto in its design language with the similar moonphase and date window execution unlike the above Krons Stone piece. The Glycine version features a 40mm diameter and 12.2mm thick steel case, almost identical to the MWC option. Both the features of domed sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating and limited 50m water-resistance are also present here. Where it does score and differ is the inclusion of lume in the form of Super-LumiNova inserts. But what I prefer in the MWC version is the more adaptable 20mm lug interhorn spacing compared to Glycine’s 22mm, and the cheaper pricing given at retail the Glycine costs about 1’200 CHF. A listing on Chrono24 marks the ref. GL0113 for 1’568 AU. Though when it comes to brands like Glycine, ‘real-world’ pricing can vary vastly, and at the time of writing this we found the same above reference listed — but out of stock — on Jomashop for only $349 USD
True, in the above list, Glycine has a longer brand history to back it up, but then the MWC has a customised Southern Cross moonphase that’s just so rare and impressive. Also the Glycine Combat 6 Classic Moonphase is more of a field watch whereas the Collins Auto is a dressier option.
- There is another micro brand that I honestly don’t have any experience with, but they also have a very similar timepiece with the same movement, the Zeppelin LZ120 Rome ref. 7108-4. On this website, it is listed for 1’699.15 AU
- Another brand offering similar watches is Baumgartner, with their ‘MOOD’ collection. It has couple of variants, both again with the same movement but a better water-resistance of 100m and a higher price tag of 1’690 CHF for the smaller diameter version, the ref. RB-1901-BL. The other ref. RB-1804-BL has a beautiful blue sunray guilloche dial but comes in a bigger 44mm diameter and an even higher price of 1’830 CHF
Again, price wise and for what you get for it, the new Melbourne Watch Company Collins Auto Navy is a damn good option.
- The limited edition offering from the Detroit Watch Company, the 42mm Pontchartrain Louis XIV Moonphase Exhibition timepiece features the same movement and retails for 1’295 USD. More expensive than the Collins Auto but the execution of Roman numerals surely elevates the class a fair bit. Also the exclusivity of limited numbers of only 150-pieces works in its favour too
- Then there are the Raymond Weil Maestro 2239 Series Moon Phase watches, with the blue version ref. 2239-STC-00509 being an absolute stunner. Coming in the same 40mm diameter but with a substantially thinner 9.8mm steel case and featuring the same (but modified) Sellita movement and water-resistance, it retails for 2’250 AUD
The Oris Artelier Moonphase (circa 2017, ~2’450 USD), BALL Trainmaster Moonphase (~$2’300 USD), Longines Master Collection Moonphase ref. L2.909.4.92.0 ($3’425 AUD), Frederique Constant Slimline Moonphase Manufacture ref. FC-705N4S6 (5’295 AUD), and Baume et Mercier Clifton Baumatic ref. 10549 (~5’500 AUD) are some of the other watches with similar specs and design.
Long story short, the pricing of the Collins Auto is pretty damn good and should you also like how it looks, I don’t see any reason for not buying it.
This brings us to the second aspect where the new Melbourne Watch Company Collins Auto Navy scores.
At first glance, the dial appears to be a muted blue, simply acting as a backdrop and letting the moonphase have its moment under the sky. But then light falls on it, the muted blue turns into a brighter dark blue that further at certain angles turns into a mesmerising purple.
It is here, in this transformation where you almost forget about the moonphase and are left enchanted by the purple, that the Collins Auto impresses me most.
When light catches the dial, magic occurs, something similar to what I found with the Burnley Auto. I am beginning to get the feeling that the MWC watches look pretty plain just resting, but when allowed to roam free on wrists, they come alive.
On this beautiful dial the glistening pointed, applied and raised indices against the dark blue dial induce sufficient amount of legibility, and make the Collins Auto to be a wonderful wrist companion.
The Verdict: It’s good to see from the local watch scene perspective that the brand is innovating with time to appeal to the horological trends of the day and cater to the Australian market with a customised moonphase.
I can foresee the new Melbourne Watch Company Collins Auto being for those who simply would like to have one of the few options — if at all — out there that focus on the Australian skies.
Personally, one of the most fascinating features about this release is that the MWC chooses the new Collins Auto to pay tribute to the Australian night sky by displaying a customised lunar moonphase calendar featuring the Southern Cross star constellation.
Throw into the mix the stunning dial and the cost, and what you have here ladies and gentlemen is a micro-brand subtly but surely finding its way into the hearts of watch enthusiasts and collectors, one excellent offering at a time.
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.