In the increasingly crowded microbrand watch space, it is difficult to create products that stand out. Often brands without years of history to pull from will create an homage to another brand's watch from the past and use its story to create an identity. Other brands seek to create a new identity, but that comes with its own difficulties. Often customers don't identify with the story, or the watches come off as gimmicky.
NYC brand Brew Watches has created an identity that centers around coffee of all things. While it might sound like another gimmick, its watches have become very popular with the watch community for good reason. Its designs are well thought out, and the visual cues to coffee are extremely subtle. In addition, founder Jonathan Ferrer has ingrained himself as a part of the watch community, and it's obvious that he wants to create great products, and is in it for more than just sales.
I've been interested in owning a Brew watch for a while, but finally seeing them in person at the Windup Watch Fair was what pushed me to get one. The Metric Chronograph Retro Dial spoke to me the most, so a month or so later when they became available again to order, I purchased one.
The Retro Dial's fun use of color is easy to see in photos, and it doesn't disappoint in person. What was harder to notice without seeing it in person was the three-dimensionality if the dial. Raised and polished markers, recessed subdials, and a fully polished bezel that sits under the square(ish) crystal give the watch a lot of fun depth to look at.
Brew obviously put a lot of effort into the case finishing on the Metric. It is mostly brushed, but a polished chamfer down the case side, as well as around the edge of the bezel makes it very interesting to look at.
Normally I find symmetry very attractive in watch design (one of the reasons that I love my other 70s-style chronograph, the Heuer Autavia). The Metric however uses asymmetry in a purposeful way to create an attractive design. Fun offset chronograph dials give the necessary information, as you'd never need more than 60 minutes to time your coffee break. The alternating 10-minute orange sections on said counter tie in well with the 70s-inspired case design.
This brings us to the subtle coffee-related cues on the Metric's dial. By now, you've probably noticed a seemly random yellow section on the teal chapter ring between 25 and 35 seconds. Brew says that this represents the ideal extraction time for an espresso shot. Although I'm not a coffee drinker, I appreciate the fun cue. It will be useful for some people, and it's not something that you're distracted by during everyday use.
A subtle recessed bean logo in black is the only branding on the watch. I love the restraint that Brew took by avoiding any text on the dial.
Adding a date to a chronograph without disturbing the dial is often difficult to achieve. In the case of Brew, an aperture at 4:30 reveals a black date disc. This was the best way to incorporate a date function.
Wearing the Brew Metric
Because of its 36mm wide x 41.5mm tall case dimension, you might expect the metric to look quite small. Square watches always look bigger, however, and the wide, integrated bracelet adds to the look. Although I typically wear watches above 40mm wide, the Metric felt quite comfortable and normal to me. It has the advantage of looking good on a larger wrist, but also not overpowering a small one.
It is also only 10.75mm thick. Quite svelte for a chronograph. The dimensions and bracelet design made for a very comfortable watch to wear.
The Bandoleer-style bracelet included with the Metric works well visually with the case design. It creates a clean, vintage look, and uses polished edges that tie in with the finishing on the rest of the watch.
Its twin-trigger deployant has the Brew bean engraved and features three micro-adjust holes.
I was also excited to wear the Brew on a number of different StrapHabit straps. The variety of fun colors on the dial meant that it would match a number of options. Unfortunately, when I received it, I was not able to install any straps with QR springbars (a.k.a. most of the StrapHabit lineup).
I measured the lug width, and it came in at 19.7mm, rather than the 20mm specified on the Brew website. I contacted Brew, and a representative confirmed that this was by design, and not a defect with my watch. This was a big disappointment for me, but should not affect those who want to wear the watch on the OEM bracelet, or straps with removable spring bars. Brew has since corrected the specification on its website.
I was still excited to see how it would look on an IME Camo Premium Sailcloth strap, so I installed a 19mm for these photos. The strap is too loose to wear, but looks great! I might later snip out the spring bars from a 20mm to wear it securely with Brew's spring bars.
The Metric is powered by the Seiko VK-68 "Meca Quartz" chronograph movement. These movements are commonly used in affordable microbrand watches for a number of reasons. First, they are thin, reliable, and affordable.
Additionally, your typical quartz chronograph uses individual stepper motors to power each of the hands. The result is a soft feeling when using the pushers, and a wait to watch the hands slowly rotate around the dial when the chronograph is reset to zero.
With a Meca Quartz movement, the stop, start and reset mechanisms have the crisp clicks, and the hands have the instant snap back to zero of a traditional mechanical chronograph. The sub-seconds hand still ticks away at one second intervals, but the chronograph hand can measure 1/5 seconds, giving it a smoother sweep.
The result is that you don't get a true mechanical chronograph, but you're part of the experience in something that is thinner, more reliable, and less expensive.
Other micro brands sell Meca-Quartz-powered for lower prices than the Metric, which makes it sound expensive on paper. I don't like this way of thinking, however, as we also buy watches for the way that they look and make us feel. Coming up with attractive and unique designs requires skill and often multiple (and costly) prototype iterations.
Brew has put together a number of products that are attractive to collectors whether they are coffee drinkers or not. The colors originally drew me towards the Metric Retro Dial, but it was the case finishing and details that finally brought me to purchase it (F.O.M.O. didn't hurt either, as I knew they would sell out quickly). If you find yourself attracted to Brew's designs or story, the brand is worth a look.
Name: Brew Metric - Retro Dial
Reference Number: N/A
Lug Width: 20mm / 19.7mm (Measured)
Movement: VK68 Meca-Quartz Chronograph (Seiko)
Water Resistance: 50m
Bracelet: Stainless steel with twin-trigger deployant