I must admit that before their collaboration with Hodinkee, I was not familiar with the French brand Merci's watches. Heck, until I started writing this article, I didn't know that they are also known for making purposeful and clever lifestyle products. Having been into watches for a number of years, I was, however, very familiar with the watch blog website (and now online retailer) Hodinkee.
Usually, with co-branded watches, the brand that manufactured the watch is the most important name on the dial, at least for hardcore watch nerds like me. In the case of the Merci LMM-H01 Limited Edition for Hodinkee though, the name written in tiny letters at the bottom of the dial is likely the one to attract more attention from WIS readers.
Typically, when Hodinkee adds their name to a limited edition watch, they sell out in minutes. Before they have even shipped, you'll find them listed on eBay for significantly higher than original prices (check out this affiliate link to see for yourself). Luckily for fans of the site, occasionally they produce less expensive watches in higher quantities, such as this 1,500 unit collaboration with Merci.
As they typically do, Hodinkee started with a watch that already had a strong appeal to enthusiasts. They then worked with the brand to add a dial with attractive colors and a few other nice upgrades. In the case of the LMM-H01, this means a pleasing gray color with raised white numerals and dark blue hands (a white seconds hand helps improve legibility by making it easier to differentiate).
Like the field watch that it's based on, this limited edition's dial is sparse. There is no date window and minimal text. The subtle Hodinkee H logo inside of a circle is (they say) a nod to historical British field watches which had a T to denote the use of tritium lume. Surprisingly for a field watch, this watch is actually devoid of any lume. That does allow for the very clean hands and small raised white numerals but makes the watch slightly less functional.
Another interesting choice is the use of a double-domed mineral crystal. I'm sure that it was selected to reduce cost, but for roughly the same price, Hamilton's Khaki Field Mechanical offers sapphire. The Hamilton also packs a Swiss manual wind movement, albeit with a longer power reserve. Domed acrylic would have been an interesting alternative that would have kept costs down and made the watch more appealing to vintage watch lovers. My guess is that mineral was chosen as a middle ground to be more shatter resistant than sapphire, but more scratch resistant than plastic.
The dimensions of the LMM-H01 are squarely in vintage field watch territory. The case is 37.5mm in diameter, and 11mm thick. Small for some, but it makes the watch subtle and comfortable to wear. I tend to prefer watches 38.5mm and up, but this watch felt like the perfect size for a field watch on my wrist. The stepped bezel and case give it a pleasing shape, and it feels quite thin even with the strap under the case. I found it pleasing to wear and the cool combinations of colors made me feel stylish with it on my wrist.
Unfortunately for many, the lug width is 19mm, meaning that finding replacement straps will be more difficult. At least the lugs are drilled, and the spring bars are quick-release type. The watch comes with a black nylon military-style strap that looks appropriate for the watch, but lots of fun looks are possible with other types of straps. Interestingly, the included strap is 20mm wide, meaning that it is a bit pinched between the lugs. One of our 20mm Elastic Watch Straps would be a perfect option to change up the look.
Other than the polished bezel, the entire case is finished in utilitarian brushed steel. This includes the screw-down case-back with its custom Hodinkee insignia. Water-resistance is 50m.
By now this might be sounding like I think this is just another one of many field watches out there. At first consideration, it might seem that way. In the metal though, it's obvious that two brands that are known for attention to detail collaborated on this piece. The selection of colors and fonts make it very pleasing to look at, and the raised white numerals create attractive shadows off the light gray dial. I'm not aware of another mechanical watch that fits this comfortably, and has such a unique look.
As I mentioned earlier, the Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical is probably the closest competitor to the LMM-H01. The ETA 2801-2 in the Meri does have a shorter power reserve at 42 hours vs. 80 in Hamilton's modified version of the same movement. The Merci does have a higher beat rate, and thus a smoother sweep of the seconds hand. Additionally, some might prefer the cleaner look of its dial, and the exclusivity of having a limited edition with the name of a popular brand on its dial.
What are your thoughts on the Merci LMM-H01 Limited Edition for Hodinkee? We'd love to hear from you in the comments!
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Name: Merci LMM-H01 Limited Edition for Hodinkee
Reference Number: LMM-H01
Dimensions: 37.5mm diameter, 47mm lug-to-lug, 11mm thick, 19mm lug width
Movement: Manually wound ETA 2801-2
Water Resistance: 50m
Crystal: Double domed mineral glass
Bezel: Fixed, stainless steel
Strap/Bracelet: Black nylon