Mitch Mason Chronicle Prototype (Review) – Best Automatic Field watch of 2021?

As a watch reviewer you not only have a chance to review watches in their final production form, but you can get a chance to look at prototypes too, and today we have an exciting one in for a review. I have actually followed this brand for some time and it is called Mitch Mason. They were founded by Benedict Ong in 2019, and is based in Singapore. He aims to propel Mitch Mason to become a microbrand watch company that empowers vintage design with contemporary purpose, bringing timeless and enduring timepieces to your wrist.

Mitch (mɪtʃ): one who plays truant

Mason (ˈmeɪs(ə)n/): a skilled builder

The first watch that they actually released through Kickstarter and that we are looking at today is called “Chronicle” which is a vintage inspired field watch. It was quite a success actually as it raised S$ 164,100 with help of 236 backers and it was quite popular within facebook watch groups and instagram as well. And I have followed them sinc ethe first photos of the watch appeared on Instagram and was pretty impressed by the looks and specs. My favourite is probably the size of 36,5mm and it is a men’s/unisex watch, not a watch for ladies. As smaller sizes are getting more popular we usually get 38-39mm cases, but rarely do we get a watch with 36,5 diameter case, and that was one of the things that made me want to review this watch even more. I just wanted to see how a company can do a modern interpretation of a 36mm watch and can be worn daily on bigger wrist, as for example mine which is 18cm.

So the Chronicle came in a pretty nice cardboard outer box signed with Mitch Mason logo and inside you will find a really nice leather watch roll. The watch of course also would come with warranty card and instructions. Inside the leather watch roll you will find the watch and mine example also comes with a stainless steel bracelet which is extra 89$. I actually really wanted to see it on a bracelet as I think this way it will wear a bit bigger + bracelets on watches are always welcome on this blog. The watch roll as I said is really well made and feels quite expensive, it can fit up to 3 watches and can fit up to 45mm case diameter without a problem (tested it). Also you have a small zipper pocket where you can maybe a spring bar too, spare springbars and maybe a strap or two. It could be pretty handy on trips actually. The first impressions of the watch were “It’s so small”, but in a good way, but I surely wasn’t expecting it to be so small.

The case of the Chronicle is made of 316L stainless steel. The case is very well manufactured in my opinion, but the finishing is a bit lower quality, but Mitch Mason assured me that the quality of the case finishing and tolerances of all the lines and everything will be like on the bracelet (which has far more better satin brushed finishing that probably competes with some high end watch). The watch has that 70s look to the case shape and everything and these cases are kind of getting back in style. The top of the case and bottom has a brushed finishing, but the sides of the case and bezel has a high polished finishing. The case diameter is 36,5mm, from lug tip to lug tip it measures at 43,5mm, the thickness is 12mm. At 3 o’clock we have a signed screw down crown which is really nicely done, but my I only problem on this prototype was to screw back in the crown, it just lacks the grip and size for my fingers, but Mitch Mason said that they will improve the grip on the final production sample too. The solid screw in caseback is really cool in my opinion and Mitch Mason went all out with this one as they decorated it with some really nice engraving of a crest. Around the case back we have some specifications of the watch. On top of the case sits a slightly domes sapphire crystal which in the final production will have 5 AR layer on the underside which is really nice as all the high end companies usually do it and this is another thing that we rarely see on smaller brands. I just hope the AR coating will be well appllied as most of the smaller brands have issue applying the coating evenly. The water resistance of the watch is 200m which is really nice as it features a screw down crown so swimming will be more than ok, to do so.

Available in four dial color options, I chose the “Steel Blue” model for this review. In addition to unique blocks of Super-LumiNova “Old Radium” lume at the 3, 6, 9, and 12-hour markers seen on all variants, blue and black dial versions have sandwich dials with recessed numerals adjacent. The deep blue dial of this model features an attractive vertical graining and a color that shifts from nearly black to bright blue in different lighting. The hour and minute handa are really unique and very bold so it is very easy to read time. The hour hand shape is said to be inspired by a knot and helps to visually differentiate it from the minute hand. I also like the small pop of orange it has, it really contrasts well with the blue colour of the dial. The hour and minute hands also receive a generous application of lume. The lume is pretty good and lasts about 2-3 hours when fully charged. I quite like that Mitch Mason didn’t include the date complication. I like when watches are just time only when it comes to tool watches, the date window, atleast for me who has more than 20 watches in personal collection is a big problem as I try to wear 1-2 watches a day and constantly adjusting date is quite annoying.

The prototype has the Sellita SW200 inside, but the production one will feature a Miyota 9039 which is a premium movement from Miyota. And I’m glad that they chose the Miyota instead of Sellita as it is much better than Sellita in every way (quality of the manufacturing, finishing, precision and reliability). Sellitas have tendencies to break a lot. As I work at a full service watch center I see a lot of broken Sellitas with warranty issues and If you have to choose between Miyota movement and Sellita, I would choose Miyota any day, they just make far more better movements. Of course it would be cool to see an ETA inside, but that would almost double the price of the watch and I think it isn’t worth to go that way money wise or just for a sake of having an ETA. Miyota will do the job just as good as ETA anyways. The 9039 is a really great movement as it comes from Miyotas premium line of movements and has 24 jewels, 42 hour power reserve and it beats at 28800 per hour. If Mitch Mason has a great QC at the factory where they are put together, they could easily achieve this movement to run at +5 to +10 seconds a day without a problem.

The watch originally comes on a blue leather strap which quite good. I know that this sample has been on a tour to many countries and reviewers, but the strap feels like it was supple even when it was new. The top of the strap has this dark blue leather which almost feels like a horween strap, the underlining is black leather and it is signed with Mitch Mason logo. The strap features as nice contrasting cream colour stitching. It has a single loop where to put the end of teh strap when on wrist and it is also signed with Mitch Mason logo. The strap has a nice taper from 20mm at the lugs to to 17mm at the buckle. The tang style buckle is made of 316L stainless steel and features a brushed and polished finishings. The top is signed with Mitch Mason logo. And did I say it comes with built in quick release spring bars?

The Chronicle also has a stainless steel bracelet available for extra 89$ which you can order from their website. The bracelet has the finishing the watch will have in it’s production form. The bracelet is really well made. Its H-link pattern gives lots of articulation and, like the strap, it also has a nice taper from 20mm at the lugs to 16mm at the buckle. As with the watch case, it has a mix of polished sides and brushed top surfaces. The bracelet’s spec list has all of the bells and whistles, including solid end links, chamfered edges, screwed links, and a milled clasp with a flip-lock and dual push-button releases. It’s nice to see a bracelet offered in the microbrand space, especially one that is this nice. Many affordable watches from microbrands are only available on straps.

Overall the watch is really cool! I like the smaller size they offer, it may not be to everybody (large wrist people), but for the general public and vintage watch enthusiasts who like smaller watches it is a great watch to buy. The watch without the optional stainless steel bracelet (+89$) is 499$ which is quite a lot for some people as at this range there are a million of watches to choose from. But here you pay for that original design, quality, premium Miyota movement, sapphire and all that. And it is good to see an original design that isn’t just another submariner homage or a dive watch in general. A lot of microbrand companies, probably 80% of them are just doing dive watches, and let’s be honest, we are tired of this as there are other watches too, like dress watches with moonphase complications, annual calendars, power reserves and also field watches that aren’t that much in the microbrand world. Is this watch worth it? Well, I think absolutely yes!

Price: 499$ @ mitchmason.com

Water resistance: 200m
Caseback: Screw-down with engraved artwork
Case material: 316L stainless steel
Crystal: Sapphire with Super-AR on underside
Crown: Screw-down
Lume: Swiss Super-LumiNova®
Strap material: Full grain vegetable-tanned Italian leather/ Top grade suede leather with calf leather lining
Strap stitching: By hand
Buckle/ spring bars: Signed/ Quick-release
Movement: Miyota 9039 high-beat automatic

Diameter: 36.5mm
Lug to lug: 43.5mm
Thickness: 12mm (excluding crystal +1.5mm)
Lug width: 20mm

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