Editor’s note: We were recently sent a loaner watch by the Melbourne Watch Company to conduct a hands-on review. We liked it so much that we ended up buying it. Here’s our honest — not a sponsored post — review of the new Melbourne Watch Company Burnley Chelsea Blue. At the time of writing, it is available at a discounted introductory price of only 595 AUD until the end of the month, after which it will revert to its RRP of 795 Aussie dollars.
At the beginning of this year, I posted a rather personal review of 2020’s smash horological hit, the Tudor Black BayFifty-Eight Navy Blue. It was titled ‘Ten Lessons Learnt From My Time With The Watch I Wore The Most In 2020’.
One of the deciding factors behind its purchase was that it was supposed to be a gift from my wife. Her reasoning was simple: in Tudor BB58 Blue she felt there was actually a watch that she could foresee me wearing a lot; here was an opportunity for her to buy me a nice beater watch.
Now almost one year after buying that watch, I have ended up reciprocating the gesture (and also have saved a tonne of cash along the way).
Here’s our hands-on review and 7 reasons why I bought my wife the new Melbourne Watch Company (MWC) Chelsea Blue.
Reason 1: A Complete Package (& It’s Aussie)
In a sea of dive watches, yet another dives into the congested waters. It not only manages to stay afloat but also swims against the tide, providing exceptional value for money.
Recently launched this month is the new Melbourne Watch Company Chelsea dive watch collection that extends the brand’s dive watches family. The Fitzroy was the only diver in Melbourne Watch Company’s arsenal until now (with a 12-hour bezel).
The Fitzroy features a rather nice textured dial, it comes in four dial colour options: green, blue, black and white. It is, however, a 44m diameter watch that is catered towards those with larger wrists. It also has a lower 100m water resistance.
The new Melbourne Watch Company Chelsea Blue is its successor of sorts but is a full-fledged purpose-built diver featuring a higher 200m water resistance and a more wide-variety-of-wrist-sizes friendly diameter of 40mm. I appreciate that an Australian brand is pushing the boundaries, releasing watches that cater to a wide range of enthusiasts, and this new MWC Chelsea expands the Aussie brand’s portfolio.
The MWC Chelsea also comes in the same four colour segues as the Fitzroy, but instead of a textured dial, features a more subdued grained dial.
With vintage undertones, the Chelsea Blue in particular features the namesake coloured dial that under changing light conditions goes from a bright blue to a glittering blue to a darker blue shade, all the while ensuring high legibility with contrasting white and appliqué hour markers.
Inside the new Melbourne Watch Company Chelsea Blue chugs along the trustworthy Miyota 9015 — precisely the calibre Miyota 9015-20A calibre, the calendar variation with a white date wheel — 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), has 24 jewels, boasts of an okay 42-hour power reserve, and has a stated accuracy of -10～＋30 sec per day.
One of the deciding factors behind this purchase was the fact that this Japanese Miyota Cal. 9015 is a reliable and workhorse movement that is easily sourced, cheap to service, and more accurate than the likes of Miyota 8-series or Seiko NH35A.
The watch is available at the Melbourne Watch Company website with easy options to pay with Afterpay and the cost includes free domestic or international shipping, a 30-day returns policy subject to terms & conditions, and a 2-year warranty.
The MWC Chelsea Blue is perfectly suited for anyone who wants a sturdy, handsome diver which looks as good as its Swiss counterparts but without spending a fortune.
This ideology of gifting a daily wearable watch that looks stellar but costs nothing that will burn-a-hole-through-a-wallet is what made me gift it to my wife.
Also, she happens to love the shade of blue, the case design language, and the sweet sound of the bezel action.
Reason 2: Design Is King
The combination of Blancpain’s iconic Fifty Fathoms Barakuda and the Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight Navy Blue for a fraction of a price never looked so enticing.
But it’s not a copy of those watches. It’s got its own character to it, with the combination of a textured dial with a shimmering grained effect and the Swiss NewLite lume in-filled indices and hands making for a stellar and incredibly legible timepiece way south of the 1k mark.
The almost car paint metallic grained texture actually reminds me of the Spinnaker Tesei Titanium Forest Green dial we went hands-on with last year, only better executed. With no detectable Quality Control issues, the MWC Chelsea possesses a certain rugged charm, that when combined with its vintage-inspired elements, elevates the appeal.
In terms of design cues and symmetry, I appreciate that the dial is very minimalistic, has a no-nonsense tool vibe to it, and the white of the peripheral minute track complements the white of the date wheel and the branding at 12 and 6. There is also minimal text on the dial compared to say the Tudor BB58.
I also like that the second’s hand is red-tipped featuring a lumed pip. This red colour is matched in the 200m rating marking at 6’o clock, bringing in a sense of coherency and a sudden burst of colour.
Almost like a moustache, the lugs are rather extremely bent, moving along the curve of the wrist, and ensuring that ergonomically the timepiece is a great fit.
The only 46mm lug-to-lug spacing makes this a great timepiece for those with slimmer wrists such as myself, and on my almost 16cm wrist, the watch wears exceptionally well. But not just mine, but also on my wife’s 15cm wrist it doesn’t look out of place.
One of the reasons why Jacqui is so attracted to the new Melbourne Watch Company Chelsea is courtesy of the wrist presence. It’s bold and beautiful.
There are certain watches that are simple, yet due to excellent proportions manage to turn the watch into a must-have option. Last year’s Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight ‘Navy Blue’ is an excellent example of this. And the new Melbourne Watch Company Chelsea Blue follows suit.
Reason 3: Ticks The Right Boxes
I reckon for those Aussies looking at a daily driver that can not only stand the test of water sports but also manages to stand out, this is a definite winner.
With its very legible dial, understated yet bold looks, scratch-resistant and anti-reflective sapphire crystal, 200m water-resistance, versatile 20mm lug interhorn spacing, a decently comfortable steel bracelet, a screw-down crown, and a trustworthy Miyota movement, it is a bargain especially at its introductory price of only 595 AUD.
The 120-click uni-directional sapphire bezel doesn’t really have any unwanted lag or resistance. Its sapphire insert is definitely interesting and given we don’t own any watches with a sapphire bezel, it is sure fun to now have one in the collection.
I have to mention the legibility again. The Swiss NewLite lume is in-filled in not only the indices and hands but also the bezel markings, making this a highly legible watch even at night.
Reason 4: Doesn’t Scream Money. Whispers A Thunder
My wife has been wanting a daily beater for a while. For a long time, she was fixated on a Seiko Presage Cocktail watch but the lack of a bezel and sapphire crystal held her back. In the new MWC Chelsea, she gets everything she likes in a watch: blue colour to match her wardrobe, scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, a bezel to time daily moments, and most importantly, a watch that is Australian.
It also doesn’t scream money. The thing is, she doesn’t like wearing bling or jewellery at work. She also doesn’t like the idea of wearing any of the other Swiss & German branded watches she owns. She likes the idea of flying under the radar, yet having a distinctive enough piece that can start a conversation should she meet another watch nerd. The MWC Chelsea is like a thunder whispering – it’s got a great wrist presence but doesn’t draw any unwanted attention.
But its lack of premium pricing doesn’t mean that the brand has cheap-ed out. The watch itself is exceptionally built, in fact, I have no qualms in saying that I didn’t expect a 795 dollar watch to look and feel so premium. I have handled certain Seiko and Undone watches amongst other entry-level brands, and this feels solid and handsome.
Reason 5: Perfectly Complements My Tudor BB 58 Navy Blue
Coming back to my Tudor BB58, the new MWC Chelsea Blue pretty much looks like a younger, more energetic, less subdued and no-hassle version of my Tudor. In regards to dimensions, they both surprisingly measure very close.
The Tudor BB58 measures 39mm diameter sans the crown and 42.5mm with the crown. The MWC Chelsea measures in at 40mm diameter sans the crown and 43mm with the crown. They are both 12mm thick.
But lug-to-lug, the Tudor BB 58 measures at a larger 47.6mm while the other one is only 46mm lug-to-lug. Even in terms of the actual dial size, the MWC Chelsea is smaller at 29mm as compared to the BB 58’s 30mm. The main dial of the MWC Chelsea is also offset by a 1mm ring around it. This is followed by a 5mm wide (and 3mm thick) bezel.
The Tudor is slightly lighter though, weighing 64g without any strap while the Chelsea comes in at 69g (and 169g with the bracelet).
The interesting thing is, that dimensions wise both are 40mm or below, but wear rather differently. There is a place for both of these within the same collection. I like this aspect given I wouldn’t mind ‘stealing’ this from my wife once in a while.
Reason 6: The Bits & Bobs That Add Value
The new Melbourne Watch Company Chelsea Blue comes in the same black box as the Burnley Auto. It is 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 a warranty card and papers.
Looking at the watch closely, I like the thickness of the sapphire bezel, and how it contrasts with that of the aluminium bezel insert of the Tudor BB 58.
The bezel itself is steel with a sapphire insert, but the ‘bezel teeth’ are very prominent. In fact, from a distance, these lend the watch a defining character, one that really sets it apart from the very fine and slim aluminium bezel of my Tudor BB58. The domed and curved — lending a more three-dimensional effect to the watch — sapphire bezel lending a distinctive vintage character to the bakelite bezels from back in the day.
On a macro level, I also like the raised and appliqué indices, the logo on the crown that complements the second’s hand counter-weight, and the presence of fine brushing on all the hands (and the second’s hand counterweight).
Flip the watch and the oscillating weight features minor personalisation on the part of the brand which I admire, and the blue-purple colouring is a nice touch reminiscent of the blue Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Duoface ref. 3988482.
The rotor also has a subtle detail with a silver metallic sparkly glittering periphery. This nicely ties the case-back with the dial. Small detail but goes a long way.
As much as I like this different coloured rotor on this version, I reckon it was kind of a missed opportunity by the brand to include a subtle design element in this range by not featuring the oscillating weights in the respective colours of the dials.
The case is essentially brushed which should work better for day to day wear-tear, with a little bit of polishing on the sides. The lugs feature a brushed top and sides, but polished bevelling adds a welcome nuance to the design.
The bracelet is finely brushed as well and features micro-adjustment. The 20mm lug interhorn means enthusiasts and my wife can swap out straps as frequently as they want.
Deciding Reason: The Trump Card
Especially for 595 AUD, but even for 795 AUD, I reckon the new Melbourne Watch Company Chelsea Blue is the damndest value-for-money watch short of getting it for free.
Bruce Lee in the movie “Enter The Dragon” famously quips: “Boards don’t hit back”.
In the same vein, while the MWC Chelsea Blue looks good as a standalone item, objective opinion aside, subjectively, we of course need to pit it against some other watches I know of to really see where this sits and how it fares.
Aquascaphe vs Chelsea
The main watch that comes to mind when looking at the competitive landscape is the handsome Baltic Aquascaphe Blue Gilt that retails for ~913 AUD. This sits pricier than the MWC Chelsea while also featuring a Miyota movement. The movement in the Baltic version is the Miyota 9039, which essentially is the same movement as MWC Chelsea’s Miyota 9015, but sans the date.
The above statement is actually not entirely true. The Miyota 9019 is the real counterpart movement of the 9015 but features lower hands clearance to provide a thinner movement, while the Miyota 9039 is essentially the no-date version of the 9019. The no-date version of the MWC Chelsea Miyota 9039 would be the 90S5.
But pound-for-pound, essentially, they are all the same movements.
Anyway, back to Aquascaphe vs Chelsea.
Given my wife prefers a diver with a date, the MWC Chelsea works better for her. The Baltic Aquascaphe features a smaller 39mm diameter case but a slightly bigger lug-to-lug of 47mm. Both watches have the same thickness of about 12mm.
The smaller 46mm lug-to-lug of the MWC Chelsea means that it sits better on slimmer wrists, such as my wife’s. But the larger 40mm diameter of the MWC Chelsea also ensures that its wrist presence is felt and appreciated. You kind of get the best of both worlds, especially if you have slimmer wrists.
Both these watches may be different in aesthetics — Baltic is more inspired by the Blancpain ref. MC4 while the MWC Chelsea by Blancpain’s Fifty-Fathoms Barakuda with the same 40mm diameter case — but on the whole, feature similar movements, sapphire bezels, dimensions, 200m water-resistance, the handy 20mm lug interhorn spacing, luminous coatings, sapphire crystal, and 24-month warranty.
The MWC Chelsea just happens to be ~118 AUD cheaper at retail or a whopping ~318 AUD cheaper during the promotional period of May. Even at pre-order back in 2019, the Baltic watch was announced at ~$550 USD (or 710 AUD).
The added gilt touch on the Aquascaphe is very handsome though and you can’t go wrong with either, but given MWC is an Australian brand, you can understand our preference.
Bonaire vs Chelsea
Then there is the Méraud Watch Co. Bonaire “Marine Blue” with similar specifications — Miyota’s Swiss counterpart automatic STP 1-11 movement — and is “Manufactured in Switzerland & Hong Kong”, but retails for a much higher €849 (or ~1’350 AUD). It has got a very clean, no-nonsense tool watch aesthetic and a bold ’12’ marker which I personally admire, but the lack of a date is a negative for my wife’s horological needs.
The Bonaire is ever so slightly 0.5mm thicker than the Chelsea, but more importantly, for Jacqui with her only 15cm wrist size, the lug-to-lug is way bigger at 48.5mm.
Neptune Series III vs Chelsea
The Lorier Neptune Series III is another watch with a lot of character and nice added subtle vintage vibes that challenges the MWC Chelsea with its colours, materials used, and specifications. Just like the Bonaire, it is thicker and bigger with a depth of 12.7mm and lug-to-lug of 47mm respectively. It also uses a no-date 90S5 movement.
Most notably, it features hesalite crystal compared to sapphire, and my wife prefers the latter for daily wear-and-tear. It retails for 499 USD (~650 AUD) and as such is a good value for money option though Aussies will have to pay extra for shipping (and any import duties).
Basecamp vs Chelsea
Undone offers some great entry-level watches, that can also be customised. I personally own their Basecamp Cali — detailed review here — and the base model without customisation costs only 315 USD (~410 AUD).
It’s a distinctively looking timepiece, but in terms of differences, features the Seiko NH35A movement, is sans a sapphire crystal, is much thicker at 15mm, promises a lower 100m water resistance, and features a without-clicking-sound bi-directional bezel that’s not really serious dive trustworthy. Very good watch but with certain compromises.
Nemo vs Chelsea
The only watch I feel really challenges the new Melbourne Watch Company (MWC) Chelsea Blue in pricing is the EMG Watches Nemo Diver that features similar specifications but retails for a lower 325 USD (~ 420 AUD + any import fees).
It again features the Miyota no-date 90S5 movement and the case is thicker at 13.5mm and the lug-to-lug is 47mm.
In terms of aesthetics, it superbly nails the 60s/70s vibe. This is some serious offering for the price, but given I have never handled an EMG watch, I can not vouch for its quality. It also comes with a reduced one-year warranty.
Cahill vs Chelsea
Another bargain offering is the Spinnaker Cahill Admiral Blue that retails for only 350 USD (~450 AUD) and is another elegant dress-diver like the MWC Chelsea. As Spinnaker calls it, and I agree, it is indeed a “complete, ruggedly luxurious” looking watch.
It’s got the same 40mm diameter but is thicker at 13mm and larger with a 47.5mm lug-to-lug distance.
Where it differs is that it features a bezel with a glass insert instead and a previous generation Miyota movement. The Miyota 9015 of the MWC Chelsea is a newer-generation version of the Miyota 8215, is thinner, has a higher frequency of 4Hz, has more jewels — 24 vs 21 — and features ‘hacking seconds’. One can think of this as ETA 2824 vs ETA 2892 (the latter representing Miyota 9015).
Also most importantly, there is the difference in timekeeping accuracy. Miyota’s website states the accuracy for 8215 to be -20～＋40 sec per day, while that of the 9015 to be a much improved -10～＋30 sec per day.
1926 vs Chelsea
Talking about this movement, the Denmark-based brand About Vintage’s model 1926 features the Miyota 8-series movement calibre 8215 (no-date), and features a lower 100m water-resistance than the Chelsea and is also thicker at 13mm. I like its leaf-shaped hands and a very minimalistic vibe.
It retails for 599 USD (~775 AUD + any import fees).
Fairwind vs Chelsea
There is also the Halios Fairwind that retails for USD 775 + USD 65 shipping (and any import costs), working to be around the 1’100 AUD mark. I like the use of big markers, bold orange on the second’s hand, and the breaking-up of the dial with an inner ring.
It features similar aesthetics including a sapphire bezel but is powered by the Swiss Sellita SW200-1 movement. It does offer a lower power reserve though. It is also larger with 48mm lug-to-lug spacing and has a 60-click bezel, while my wife prefers the action of the 120-click bezel.
Navygraf vs Chelsea
There is one other offering that’s impressive, the Yema Navygraf Marine Nationale that retails for 790 USD (~1020 AUD). It is much more expensive than the new Melbourne Watch Company Chelsea Blue.
It does compete with all dive watches in this price segment in general. Its main calling card consists of two impressive features: one, being the Official Watch of the Marine Nationale (French Navy); and two, it features an in-house movement Caliber YEMA2000 that is a much-improved version of the Miyota 9015 or the Sellita SW200-1, featuring more jewels (29), a 2nd time zone option, it’s adjusted in 4 positions, and most importantly, its daily accuracy rate is -/+ 10 s/d. It is also designed, developed and assembled in France and is available exclusively to the brand.
It features the same power-reserve of 42-hours as that of the new MWC Chelsea, but again despite being only 39mm in diameter, it features a slightly larger 47mm lug-to-lug spacing and the rather annoying 19mm lug inter-horn spacing. The 39mm diameter is sans the 6.5mm diameter crown and crown guards, which will add to the sizing, making it wear a bit bigger on the wrist as well.
Aesthetically, it’s a bit different as well. If the Chelsea is more like the Tudor Black Bay, then the Navygraf is like the Rolex Submariner. Handsome watch though.
Christopher Ward catalogue vs Chelsea
Last but not the least; I usually end up comparing a lot of entry-level mechanical watches to Christopher Ward watches as I have great respect for what the brand offers.
The cheapest automatic watch Christopher Ward features is the new C63 Sealander Automatic — review here — that retails for 950 AUD. That is the only watch below 1k in their catalogue. CW’s cheapest dive watch is the C65 Trident Automatic (detailed hands-on review here).
To be honest, ever since I have handled the C65 Trident in person, I have been amazed by the brand’s build quality and the overall aesthetics. But it retails for 1’195 AUD. That’s 400 dollars more when the new Melbourne Watch Company Chelsea is at full price. With its current promotional rate of only 595 AUD, buying the MWC Chelsea is a no-brainer.
True the CW has a Swiss Sellita SW200-1 movement, but that’s the ‘Western’ version of the Citizen Group’s Miyota 9015 ‘Eastern’ movement, and technically the latter adds about 4-hours of extra power reserve.
I am not trying to belittle any movement here, but simply put, for an entry-level daily wear timepiece that’s going to be taken through your life’s daily ups and downs, the new Melbourne Watch Company Chelsea is half the price of the CW option and for any of those who don’t wish to play the ‘Swiss vs Japanese’ game, it is a very solid, pocket-friendly offering.
Long Story Short
There are of course cheaper Seiko watches that one can buy, but there it boils down to personal aesthetic tastes.
Another Aussie brand called Bausele also offers a professional dive watch in their catalogue, the OceanMoon. It is a nice looking ‘Swiss Made’ timepiece and features an inner bi-directional bezel instead. At RRP, it is 1’200 AUD, though currently it’s discounted to 960 AUD.
There are also other mainstream brands such as Tissot. The Tissot Seastar 1000 Powermatic 80 ref. T120.407.11.041.00 in blue for instance retails for 1’200 AUD. It has an increased power reserve and water resistance but comes inside a much larger 43mm diameter case.
At the end of the day, all these watches are great value for money and look/work great in their own ways. If I had an unlimited budget, I would actually end up with a lot of the watches on this list as they each bring something unique to the table. But the new Melbourne Watch Company Chelsea Blue is a stellar looking timepiece for a pittance of a price. It really scores high there. And it fits my wife’s wrist rather snug and beautiful.
That’s All Folks!
So there you have it. 7 reasons why I bought my wife the new Melbourne Watch Company (MWC) Chelsea Blue.
As a watch reviewer who comes across a larger number of watches, as an enthusiast who is always looking beyond the usual suspects, and as a collector who (somewhat) knows when he sees a good deal, I simply couldn’t fault the MWC Chelsea. The case is nicely finished, nothing really whispers that it’s a micro-brand offering. The dial is ultra-legible, the watch good-looking.
Whether as an Aussie you wish to rule the local beaches or enthuse some novelty in your office meetings, the new Melbourne Watch Company Chelsea Blue is a sure shot winner.
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.