Posted on October 03 2023
As each new watch passes across my desk I have the job of digging into the brand's back story. With the smaller brands that usually means taking a quick look at the founder.
It's fascinating to uncover the way each entrepreneur has approached the design and production of their watch and the varied backgrounds that led them into the world of horology.
One thing is pretty consistent.
The company name is usually self-explanatory or simple to understand. Despite the unusual layout of its watches, the name for Mr Jones Watches is very straightforward. There's a real Mr Jones behind the brand. Enoksen watches are similar, they're designed by Hans Enoksen. The same naming convention applies to MHD watches and others.
And the same goes for the names that explain the concept behind the brand. I understand why Nodus use the Greek word for two paths crossing, and Avi-8 is a no-brainer when you see its aviation-inspired models.
So, it's logical to ask if there is a Mr Machia behind the V5 Chronograph. I assumed that there was.
I guess there is in a way.
But it's not who I thought it was. It's Niccolo Machiavelli - the legendary Italian diplomat, author and philosopher.
Machia V5 Chronograph
Machia V5 Chronograph Watch Review
It's best that we start with that bombshell.
Machia Watches takes its name from a man often described as deceitful and evil, a man whose name is used to define duplicitous behaviour. This brand identity intrigued me. Why has the brand's German founder built his brand around the name of a sixteenth-century Italian writer?
It's probably best to let Robert Greene, author of The 48 Laws of Power, explain. As he says, Machiavelli was "a brilliant thinker, an insightful writer, a historian, a statesman, and a poet."
That's what Machia's founder Magnus Beele is referencing with his brand identity - and remember, this is a young company. He conceived his watch company as a statement against the mainstream and like Machiavelli, aims to be hard to pin down.
In a word, Machia Watches is inspired by Machiavelli's attitude not the specifics of his writings.
I'm always a sucker for contrarian brands, and it's within that context that I got my hands on Machia's debut watch. Beele is keen to point out that he's self-taught and has forged his own path in the watch industry and Machia is out to challenge the status quo.
In an interview I read, when asked which year he'd like to travel back to Beele said 1969 - the year of the moon landings, the Beatles White album and Led Zepplin's debut. (On a side note, Led Zeppelin made their UK debut at a club in my home town, which we still remember around here. But less rock history and more watch talk....)
It's clear from reading about Beele that he wants to create an edgy brand and the V5 chronograph is his first step. The watch is the result of an ambitious newcomer's desire to build something noticeable and fresh.
And the V5 name?
This is the fifth iteration of the design and the name acknowledges the work - behind the scenes - to get from an idea to a finished product. The V5 moniker symbolises perseverance.
The finished watch is a distinctive angular piece with a style that manages to look both unique and reassuringly familiar. It's a quartz chronograph that is powered by a reliable Japanese movement and the version I have has a popular panda-style colour scheme.
Let's dig into the details.
The Machia V5 Watch in Detail
I think we can all agree that angular watches with integrated bracelets are on trend. Tissot's PRX is increasingly popular and I've recently had my hands on Northgate's Club40, a watch that grabs your attention with it's straight lines and colourful dial.
The V5 from Machia plays with angles in a similar way, although it's a more complex watch than either the Tissot or Northgate. Although this is clearly a versatile watch, my first impression is that the V5 is a handsome sports watch with touches of elegance.
On the wrist it feels reasonably chunky and wears like a watch built to be durable. The case has a masculine and industrial look and is paired with a utilitarian black silicone strap. These functional features are in turn matched with an obviously sporty dial, reminiscent of popular big-name racing chronographs.
I have to say, I like both the aesthetic and the feel of the watch. It wears comfortably and the asymmetrical appearance is eye-catching. Judged against the brands ethos of creating hard to pin down and unusual designs, the Machia V5 ticks the boxes it should. It's a watch that won't go unnoticed.
For me, the star of the show is the case.
Forged from stainless steel, and with a bead blasted finish, it's the watch's most distinctive feature. The bezel is twelve-sided - a dodecagon - and I can't help drawing comparisons with the iconic Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. I would add that the V5 doesn't have the same uniform bezel segments as AP's legend, so there's no concern about wearing a homage model.
The case is a quirky part of the design that really grew on me. The bezel features four different sized edges and each one is sloped outwards. This bezel then sits on a case with equally strong lines and a pronounced edge for the chronograph pushers and crown.
The pushers are like blocks and even the octagonal crown has its own angles. The case measures 40mm at the bezel, but 43mm with the crown. The lug-to lug is 51mm. I like the short angled lugs that mean the V5 wears well and doesn't feel overly large.
The bead blasted finish reinforces the functional aspects of the watch and helps maintain the tool watch aesthetic. The dial - with a tri-compax layout - is pure motor racing chic, a look popular in Beele's beloved 1960s.
This variant has the highly legible contrast of a white dial with bold black sub-dials. Each sub-dial features a vinyl record finish which adds a touch of style to the dial and catches the light well. The applied indices are straightforward and functional and there's a date window discreetly tucked away between 4 and 5 o'clock.
Although there's quite a bit going on with the dial, the simple colour scheme and plain hands and markers mean the watch retains its functional look.
The dial is protected by a sapphire crystal, and to aid legibility, it has an anti-reflective coating.
I was pleasantly surprised to see the smooth sweep of the central hand and this is due to the engine powering the V5. It's equipped with a reliable Japanese Miyota 6S20 quartz movement.
Turning the watch over, there's a relatively plain case back with only the necessary engraving. Again, I like the utilitarian feel of the case back. The beauty of the watch is in the angular design rather than the colour scheme or an extravagant motif on the case back. Like the dial, the text here is functional and kept to a minimum.
With the complex case, the chronograph pushers and the matching chronograph dial, I'd argue that Machia couldn't afford to add anything extra. Instead, they've hit the sweet spot and created a watch that looks rugged and offers practical stop watch features. But they've stopped short of creating an ornate watch, with all four variants boasting a simple colour palette.
In keeping with the sporty vibe, the V5 is finished off with a versatile silicone strap. Given the substantial feel of the case, the lightweight strap is a good choice that keeps the weight down.
The packaging is also impressive for this price-point and unsurprisingly, is a simple black, without either colour or decoration (aside from the logo).
Setting out on his own, German watch enthusiast Magnus Beele has designed and created a distinctive sports chronograph. By rejecting the crowd-funding route and working through four previous designs, he has came up with the Machia V5, a quartz chronograph with a distinctive angular design.
It works for me.
It's a very attractive and affordable watch that offers practicality and originality.
I also like the ethos behind the brand too. Machia aims to be original and uncompromising and, like Niccolò Machiavelli, to have an attitude. The V5 is the first step on what looks to be a fun journey.