The Mondaine watch is a replica of the Swiss design famous for its minimalist movement and dial. Although these are not entirely new creations, they have become popular among many people who find them elegant and appealing in their simplicity. The craftsmanship that goes into making this type of watch certainly reflects this fact.
The Mondaine Watch Company opened its doors in 1985 under the leadership of Urs Küng, who is credited with rescuing the original company from bankruptcy and then reinventing it as he had always wanted to see it – as an affordable luxury line that could be appreciated by everyone irrespective of age or income bracket.
One main contributor to the brand’s success was undoubtedly the designer Daniel Jenni, who had designed several models for companies such as Omega and Seiko.
The Mondaine watch is a registered trademark, and the movements of these watches are entirely manufactured in Switzerland. The designs themselves are innovative yet simple, with their minimalist dials and clean lines.
This brand has managed to capture an aesthetic that has remained popular even after several decades. They became widely accessible when they were released at affordable prices, which was peculiar for branded watches at that time (1985) because most brands such as Omega or Rolex used to be restricted to only those who could afford them.
This caused Mondaine watches to become so popular that many negatives comments were made by other Swiss watch manufacturers regarding the fact that they took away the exclusivity of Swiss products being available only at higher price levels which would have kept the luxury image intact.
A lot of negative comments were targeted at the fact that these watches did not really convey a long history and heritage as would be expected from a Swiss watch. With this criticism in mind, it may not come as a surprise that the brand later changed hands several times before finally settling down with its current owners.
The Mondaine Watch Company was taken over by Groupe Horloger Tissot S.A., which is itself a subsidiary of the mega-conglomerate Citizen Watch Co Ltd from Japan – all this happened around 2005.
Even after all these changes, people are still buying Mondaines by the millions each year because there is something about them that appeals to ordinary customers rather than snobbish individuals who only want to flaunt a high-priced watch just to show off.
Their appeal is universal because they combine both functionality and aesthetics – there are not many brands that actually manage to cover both aspects equally well.
The dials of these watches have remained essentially the same through the years, and that is one of their best selling points; in other words, they have managed to maintain a consistent identity throughout all these years while still remaining current and with it.
The designers were able to strike a balance between simplicity and elegance so that it suits just about anyone even though its appeal was somehow limited to older people at first (first 15 or 20 years).
That changed when new models emerged with trendy features such as black faces instead of the usual white ones and a quick-release date feature that makes the watch stop when it is taken off.
This intuitive mechanism only takes 30 seconds to reset, and it can be done with just one hand – certainly more efficient than other watches that require winding up or setting pressed buttons in order to ‘reset’ them.
This brand also has several unique models such as:
– The Metro model is named after the legendary city rail transportation system. It features two lines indicating hours and minutes, with an additional line for seconds on the sub-dial at the 6 o’clock position.
It comes in both quartz and automatic versions, where the former offers Swiss quality for much lower price levels while the latter requires batteries and also has a tendency to gain or lose time over long periods of time.
The automatic version costs more, but then again, it delivers a lot more functionality as well – namely, the fact that you do not have to reset it every day or so.
– The Visodate is a special edition inspired by the first analog quartz watch from 1958, which was created by Hamilton Watch Company in America.
It uses the concept of very large digits so that the whole dial looks like one big second hand with its sweeping movement and classic design derived from earlier watches dating back to the 1900s (it also features two lines for hours and minutes).
These are just some examples of what Mondaine has to offer. There are many other models such as Café Racer model, the Black Forest model, or Monza Gran Turismo Red Edition (the image above), which is a limited edition, primarily aimed at collectors.
The company also decided to venture into other fields, such as designing and producing watches for others under its own name (Mondaine Watch Co), thus creating even more awareness about its brand and products. It produced 6000 watches in 2006 but the number has grown linearly each year reaching almost 700000 units in 2012.
The sole reason behind this massive growth is that the Mondaine’s are simply good value-for-money plus they have an extremely strong following – sort of like a Rolex. They might not be the absolute best choice out there, nevertheless, most people would agree that they offer some of the best quality for what you pay – especially when it comes to automatic models. In fact, they are not only cheap but also very accurate and reliable.
Today, Mondaine is the most important representative of analog watches in Switzerland – indeed a company that has stood the test of time while other competitors have gradually disappeared. The reason why it managed to survive for nearly 100 years while others had faded away was simply that it offers great value-for-money combined with various modern features, all within reasonable price ranges.
So what is so special about these watches then? Is there any difference at all between a regular watch and a Mondaine one? Indeed there is! These watches feature numerous details such as oversized numbers on their dials (which makes them easily readable), a quick-release date mechanism that can be reset with just one hand, special patented quick release pins on the strap screw-in crown, and more.
Their distinctive design is based on Swiss heritage from the 1930s in order to keep up with tradition. The case has clean lines, large numeral dials, and long hands that indicate hours while the date can be found in an aperture at the 6 o’clock position.