Just right before Christmas, I got contacted by Straits Foundry, a relatively new watch brand. Straits Foundry is an independent, micro watch brand that’s dedicated to building watches that you can rely on. I took a look at their web page and really liked their pieces. What I learned from reading the info at their website was that they make limited edition pieces (limited to 500) in this dressy look. Also, this is almost the only one microbrand company in reasonable prices that didn’t use any crowdfunding platforms to get attention and launch their brand. That’s rare these days, so a big thumbs up for that! So after talking to the Straits Foundry founder Mitch, I got a watch in for a review. But that will wait, I also talked with him about the brand, future ideas etc. So here is the interview:
- First, how did you get into watches and what was your first watch?
“My first watch was a very simple blue nike digital. This was kind of the entry point for me. I bounced around with a few Fossils and Bulova’s before I started to think about making watches myself. I’m an engineer by trade, and created my first piece about 4 years before starting Straits Foundry.”
- What started the idea to create the Straits Foundry watch brand?
“To carry on from my previous answer, I had created a few watches as side projects- mostly person. I wanted to see how difficult it would be to launch a commercial product with total ownership of the design.”
- What is Strait Foundry trying to do in watch world?
“Straits Foundry is trying to provide unique, high quality products, at a reasonable price. We want to inspire people to chase their dreams and explore the unknown, whether that be personally or professionally is up to you. This is reflected in our products. The Maiden Voyage is more sophisticated, and certainly built with the office in mind. The Expedition is seemingly more rugged and rough around the edges. We built this model with the outdoors in mind.”
- What watches are in your personal collection?
“Watches come and go. Right now I’ve got a Tudor Pelagos, Seiko Tuna, a ’67 Bulova, a few pieces that I’ve created over the years.”
- Do you have any new models coming anytime soon? How do you see future for your brand?
“Right now, I’m working on a few diver prototypes. It’s still unclear when that might come about, but I hope to be wearing a prototype this summer. Moving forward, Straits Foundry will focus on more striking and distinctive designs. We’ve launched our first products and have learned a lot along the way. Things will only get more technical from here.”
- Any advice to people/business trying to make it in this industry?
“Customers are your biggest asset. Make them happy.”
So, that’s done, let’s take a look at the watch. So today we are looking at Maiden Voyage. It’s an elegant looking timepiece. I Picked this one because it looked very interesting. This piece is limited to only 500 pieces, and the number we got here is 64. And actually, I really like this number. By the way, I think that if you ask, you can get the number you like.
The packaging of the watch is elegant, a box within a box gives the new owner of any Straits Foundry a sense of mystery before getting to the timepiece itself. The inner rosewood piano-polished box with Straits Foundry logo on it looks amazing! It is solidly built, with a push button to release the catch of the lock. The box gives this watch a luxury feel. I even got the feeling that the box costs more than the watch itself at some moment while unboxing.
When opened, the Maiden Voyage reveals itself. The watch is placed in the middle, silently looking at the owner. You lift the inner box where the watch sits and under there you will find a manual, warranty, certificate of authenticity, polishing cloth and nylon nato strap another two quick release spring bars. So you get a lot of watch for the price.
Taking the watch out of the box you immediately notice that it is no joke for such low price. It feels luxury, starting from such details as strap and finishing with the case and dial. The case has an interesting shape, looks kind of like those old pocket watches, in general, the whole watch has that kind of a feel.
The watch case is made from stainless steel. The case diameter is 40mm, the thickness is 12.5mm and lug width is 20mm. The case is finished in a mirror finish. The finishing is top notch. The best finishing in this price range. The watch has 10ATM (100m) water resistance, which is very good for this style of watch. The watch also has signed screw down crown, so you can easily go swimming with it, just put on the nato strap they provided and go exploring. Crystal is slightly domed sapphire glass. Watch has exhibition case back, and it is held on with small screws. The glass on exhibition case back I think is sapphire too, and on that is has frosted Strait Foundry logo. This is probably one of few microbrand logos I like. Many brands have an awful logo or font for the brand name, but this one is pretty good. Overall the case has that minimal, Bauhaus style to it, also has some pocket watch/vintage styling too.
The dial is what I really was surprised about. The dial is ceramic. I haven’t seen this in many watches for this price range. Bright ceramic coated dial creates soft edges thanks to a 0.1mm debossment just inside of the hour track, while a cutout at 7 o’clock exposes the heart of the Miyota 82S5 movement. Also, a concentric grain is applied around the sweeping second hand at 5 o’clock to give more depth to this subdial. I really like those hands they chose. I’m not a fan of that blue colour in the watch world, but this one looks good. And I like the small red second’s hand on that subdial. It gives it a good contrast.
Movement is Miyota 82S5. It’s an automatic, can be hand wound, but doesn’t have a hacking function. This is widely used movement because it is reliable and is made with quality. From what I tested I got 40+ hour reserve. I really like how they made the opening on the dial where you can see the heart of the watch.
The strap is a genuine crocodile. The strap feels nice to touch, it is soft and you really can feel that this isn’t cheap strap from China. At first, the strap felt a bit stiff, but after some wear time, it get’s softer and wraps your hand nicely. The strap has stainless steel butterfly clasp with push-buttons. At first, the buckle had some problems, it didn’t want to snap in place without pushing the buttons. But after some time it worked fine, I guess it needed some break in time, as this is new. On the buckle you also have Straits Foundry logo etched on it. Watch also comes with a second strap, which is nato (TGV would approve :D). Nato is also made with the same attention to details, starting from the buckle to material used in the strap. And I really like that this watch also comes with quick release spring bars, that really makes the process of changing straps much easier and faster.
Overall the watch is great. I like the attention to details, the presentation, ceramic dial, blue hands. You really get a lot of watch for the price. You get a limited edition piece, automatic movement, ceramic dial, sapphire crystal and that all for $345.00. That is a great deal, I even could say AMAZING!
- Case diameter: 40mm
- Case thickness: 12.5mm
- Lug width: 20mm
- Case material: Stainless
- Case finish: Mirror and black (limited)
- Movement: Miyota 82S5
- Dial: White ceramic
- Hands: Blue, (red sweeping second)
- Crown: Screw type
- Front crystal: Double-domed sapphire
- Back crystal: Sapphire
- Water resistance: 10ATM (100m)
- Strap: Crocodile, lambskin inner lining
- Clasp: Deployant style
- Warranty: 2 years