Techne Instruments Merlin 296 GB (Review)

Today we are gonna take a look at a very affordable, yet cool watch from Techne Instruments. This is a company I’ve been familiar for some time now and just now I got a review sample from them that I can test! The company is based in Sweden and was founded in 2007. Techne‘s creative manager Francis Jacquerye has an unusual background: born in the Greater Congo from a Belgian surgeon and a historian, he grew up between Belgium, Canada and Great Britain before successively working as an industrial designer in Italy, Switzerland and Sweden. A 2002 mountain climb helped to crystallise his determination and adaptiveness, and Francis went on to successfully launch his first watch design patent on the market, complete an apprenticeship in goldsmithing, become a skipper and train as a watch assembly operator in Geneva. In 2007 he registered the trademark Techné, based on the Ancient Greek word for “technique”. By 2009 Francis released a series of 100 watches that were inspired by his personal life journey and that were meant to celebrate boldness, self-reliance and adventure.

To this day, more than 15,000 Techné watches have been put into production and the brand is sold on four continents in more than 85 stores near cities such as Melbourne, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago, Nashville, Philadelphia, New York, Newcastle UK, London UK, Brussels, Luxembourg city, Lausanne, Oslo, Hong Kong, Seoul, Tokyo, Hokkaido, Osaka and many more.

The watch that Techne sent me is called Merlin 296 GB. A really cool 39mm vintage looking calendar watch with a nice military look! The watch came in this very nice cardboard clam-shell style box. I like how they did all the paperwork, in that vintage styling. Inside the box sits only the watch. My first impressions are that it looks actually small than 39mm. I actually chose this watch because of the mono-pusher look and great that I chose it, as it looks pretty cool.

The case of the Merlin is made of solid AISI 316L stainless steel which is high-quality stainless steel and is resistant to corrosion. The case is very well machined with very nice lines and you can definitely see the military style in the case design. What I found interesting is that the whole case except the case back is one piece (case, bezel, lugs) and you don’t find that in many pieces, at least in not the ones I have reviews as usually, the case isn’t a one piece. The watch has very nice proportions with a case diameter of 39,5mm, the thickness is 12mm (with crystal) and the lug to lug distance is 47mm. I really like when companies do smaller sized pieces like these and it definitely makes it a good daily wearer as it isn’t that bulky or heavy and over the course of the day you won’t even notice that it is on your wrist. Of course, the influence of that small size is also the military aesthetic that the whole brand has and most of their pieces are smaller sized ones. The one thing I wish they did to make this a perfect watch would probably be the drilled lugs which would make the strap change very fast.

At 3 o’clock we have a push-pull crown which has this small onion shape. The crown is small but very easy to grip and to change time. At 4 o’clock you will find a mono-pusher that controls the AM/PM subdial. I really like this feature as you can put a second time-zone when travelling and it is very easy to do with just a push of that pusher. At 2 o’clock we have a small button that controls the date subdial and at 10 o’clock we have also a small button that controls the day subdial. Everything is placed so that it is very straight forward and easy to use. The solid screw in case back is very nicely signed with Techne logo and the name of the watch. Also has the “Ars Longa Vita Brevis” which is a Latin translation of an aphorism coming originally from Greek. The Latin quote is often rendered in English as “Art is long, life is short”. At the top of the watch we have a double domed mineral crystal which is really good, it has no distortion at all from the side angle and works super great! It would be great of course if it had a sapphire crystal, but sadly it would increase the price by a lot! The water resistance is only 5ATM (50M), but it is enough for a daily encounter with water like handwashing, rain etc.

The dial is really busy on this watch, but Techne designed it so well that it doesn’t look like someone just slapped a ton of details on there just for looks, everything on this watch in for pure function! The dial itself is matte black. All the printing is done in white colour. Around the dial we have a minute track, which is pretty legible and very easy to read. At 12 o’clock we have a big twelve which looks pretty good. The subdial and 9 o’clock is for days, the subdial at 3 o’clock is for date and the one at 6 o’clock is a 24h subdial for am/pm. Everything is pretty easy to read and understand, I really like this layout and the watch has a lot of functions too. The Squalette style hour and minute hands look very good on this watch. The stick-shaped second’s hand is pretty simple and easy to read. The dial is also lumed, but it isn’t very good so I wouldn’t recommend this watch if that is very important for you, but overall it is really good looking one though and I doubt that so many people are using the lume anyways.

The movement inside this little beast is a Swiss made quartz ISA 9238/1970 movement. I haven’t had a watch with ISA movements in any of them, but from what I learned from the internet and reading about them, they are pretty good. I just don’t see what could go wrong in a quartz movement other than the battery being low. They are really good, robust and precise movements. The battery life is around 30 months.

The supplied olive green nato strap seems to be pretty good. I like that it has a rougher weave. Don’t get me wrong I love the seatbelt weave nato straps, but for this watch, it needs to be a bit rougher. The hardware is stainless steel and feels pretty good. The only thing that maybe isn’t so good is the length. I have a middle size wrist and it was really hard to loop the strap back due to lack of the length. By adding at least 4-5cm would help a lot as it would fit more wrists thus make more people buy it as it would fit everyone. But on the other hand, we have so much good nato strap companies that you can easily order one and put it on the watch.

Overall the watch is really nice and looks good. I really like that vintage vibe it has. They have many other models in the same style and I’m surprised that not so many people know them. And the price is really good for the package you get as it is hard finding a small sized watch with vintage-inspired military design. If you have some spare bucks laying around, better buy this than a Seiko quartz or something else as this is the one you need! I’m not writing this because I got a free watch or got paid, this is truly a great watch to have and enjoy!

Price: 219.99€ @

  • Diameter 39.5 mm
  • Thickness 11.5 mm
  • Strap width 20.0 mm
  • Calibre ISA 9238/1970
  • Time base quartz crystal
  • Smallest time fraction displayed 1 Hz
  • Jewel count zero
  • Autonomy (in months) 32
  • Working temperature range -5 C° < +50 C°
  • Accuracy (in minutes per year) 4
  • Water-resistance 5 bar
  • Anti-shock Yes
  • Anti-magnetism 1,500 A/m

2 thoughts on “Techne Instruments Merlin 296 GB (Review)

  1. I have been very disappointed with this model which was purchased in June 2018. It worked well until January when for no reason the glass crazed. I was informed there were only two or three instances of this but it took two months [with pressure] to get it repaired. It had to be sent to Sweden and I was told the watch itself had been replaced. I’m really not too sure about this. However, two days ago it stopped working and a local jeweller whom I have known for years and who does not now sell watches, told me the battery was fine and it would cost around £80 to repair the mechanism. He didn’t think it was worth the trouble. Sadly, I don’t think I’ll bother.


  2. Further to the above, I have been offered a replacement watch which I have been very pleased to accept. At the end of the day, I agree it is a very attractive item and I am grateful for the positive response to my complaint.


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