Today we are gonna take a look at a watch company that I wanted to look in for some time, basically since they appeared on the Kickstarter. I also wanted to make this review because I don’t see any reviews of these watches, and that’s why I wanted to share my opinion about them and give a deeper look into this brand and the Vintage Style Chronograph.
William L. 1985 was founded by Guillaume Laidet, a young timepieces aficionado who used to work in the Swiss watch industry. After several years at the service of some of the most prestigious watchmaking companies, he decided to start his own brand, aiming at offering meaningful collections inspired by a 50s vintage chronograph that he inherited from his grand-grand-uncle. So he made a crowd funding campaign on Kickstarter in 2015.09.30. and successfully got 1,156 backers who pledged whopping €191,961. The goal was only €39,600. So they were very successful. Now they are making more designs, but still staying in that 50s vintage style.
So I contacted them and they sent me a sample for review. The watch came in this small white cardboard box, but inside you will find a leather pouch/wallet which is also in this vintage looking pastel colour. The pouch has also some storage for you extra straps. Inside you will find the watch, warranty and instructions. In advance, I must say that I changed the mesh strap for a Clockwork Synergy rally strap that I think suits the watch much better and gives it almost Heuer look. The first impressions of the watch are good. The quality is good, it is solid and the design is well executed. Only thing is that I don’t like mesh bracelets as they pull hairs out of my hand. I’m a pretty hairy guy you know 😀
So the case of the watch is made from 316L stainless steel with polished and brushed finishing. The case has classic round shape. The case diameter is 40mm. The watch has a nice size in my opinion. Many brands make their chronographs 42mm and the vintage ones usually are 36-38mm and this is just perfect in the middle. The watch sits perfectly on my wrist. The only thing that I wouldn’t like is the thickness. Maybe make it a bit thinner, in that way the proportions could be perfect. The case back is a screw on with specifications on logo etched on it. I usually don’t understand why they make the case back’s polished rather than brushed. In that way, they would be more scratch resistant. I just personally think that brushed case back is more practical, because what do you do when you come after job, you put the watch with the case back down on the table, in that way if it is polished, it scratches more easily and can be seen. On the right side of the watch, you will find a signed crown and two pushers. On top of the dial sits an “ultra-resistant”(…yes ultra resistant, you read it right) domed mineral crystal with anti-reflective coating. The crystal is ok, but I would rather see sapphire glass, as many other brands with these prices are using them. Water resistance is only 50m or 5ATM, but that is enough for a dressy chronograph. You can easily wash hands without taking it off or even wash dishes or go through the rain with it. But I would not recommend swimming with it.
The dial is in black sunray colour. I will apologize in advance if it is hard to see the dial on the photos because of the reflections, it was really hard to do photography on this watch, the dial and crystal are very reflective. So the dial has a function like a chronograph with tachymeter scale, telemeter, date, small second and 60 minutes counter. The telemeter/tachymeter goes around the dial in white colour. Then there is red rind which counts seconds. The hour numbers are applied and are in silver colour. Very stylish and Navitimer like. The hands are dauphine shape in silver polished colour with some luminova treatment. The lume is a decent one but isn’t the best. Lasts about 3 hours. The two sub dials are basic looking one. But the one on right the hand has arrow end. And in the middle at 12 o’clock is a William L. 1985 logo and on 6 o’clock there is water resistance writing. Overall the dial is very well designed and has nice proportions. The layout is good, very easy to read time.
The movement inside is Quartz Miyota 6S21, which is quite reliable mecha-quartz chronograph movement. I have it in two watches and the movement works great. The battery lifetime is around 3 years. Of course, I would love to see a mechanical chrono version of this watch with maybe Seiko chrono movement. The mesh bracelet is made as every watch brand in this price range makes it. The quality is as always good. It also has the quick release spring bars which makes strap changing a 20-second job also easy to remove if you want to clean the watch case.
Overall I like the watch. I like vintage chronographs from the 50s, but I’m afraid that they aren’t water resistant and that it is hard to find parts for some specific ones. And if you have only max 200-300$ to spend, then the William L. 1985 Vintage Style Chronograph is the way to go. The watch features the classic vintage 50s style in decent modern size and movement that will be reliable no matter what and I like that it has some water resistance too. So I would highly suggest you try one.