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Meccaniche Veneziane Italian Watches - Are They Good?

Posted on December 18 2020

Meccaniche Veneziane Italian Watches

 

Meccaniche Veneziane is an Italian watch brand that was founded in 2017. Two brothers, Alberto and Alessandro Morelli, launched a number of Kickstarter campaigns including 2018s record-breaking funder. The brand has proven to be both successful and controversial. It continues to design attractive mechanical watches inspired by Venice.

I’d like to take you through the brand’s short history and then highlight the best watches from their recent collections. I don’t want to get too bogged down in the controversy, but I don’t want to ignore it either. I’ll give you the basics and let you do your own research.

 

Meccaniche Veneziane Watches

The History of Meccaniche Veneziane


In 2017, Alberto and Alessandro Morelli launched two campaigns on Kickstarter. The unique selling point for the brand was their Venetian inspiration. Their logo, for example, takes its design cues from the cross at the top of Saint Mark's Clocktower.

As Alessandro states “Not only is the Clock Tower regarded as one of the most enthralling cradles of time, but it also symbolizes the beginning of our adventure, the place that made us realize the charm of a field in which Venice used to excel”.

The debut model was called the Nereide and was built in tribute to the Venetian submarine of the same name. The campaign was a great success and closed with total funding of nearly 170K (Euros). To give you an idea of how well the campaign performed - it was fully funded in 22mins.

Following that up was the Arsenale, another dive watch. This model was named after, and inspired by, the Royal shipyard of the Serenissima Republic of Venice. Again the brother’s project was fully funded in less than an hour. This time with a total of just over 90k Euros.

Meccaniche Veneziane and the Nereide GMT Controversy


The next watch from the brand was a GMT version of the Nereide - a new dive watch capable of displaying two timezones. It was an astounding campaign that was backed to the tune of half a million Euros.

Like Filippo Loreti, I suspect that unexpected success played a large part in the company’s next chapter. They were in a position of having to produce the new watch for over 800 backers. The watch was delivered late and when it was, there had been a change in movements. The Swiss-made ETA movement had been replaced with the less expensive, but also Swiss, Sellitta.

Compounding this was a collection of quality issues, probably not helped by financial and time constraints. Either way, a lot of the goodwill that they had built up with the first two releases was lost with the third.

Are Meccaniche Veneziane Watches Good Quality?


It’s a difficult question answer succinctly. The customers who bought the brand’s first two models - the Nereide and the Arsenale - raved about the watches.

The GMT? Not so much.

But bear in mind, not all of the complaints were about manufacturing quality. Changes between the advertised watch and the watch that was delivered caused some of the issues  - the movement had changed, as had the style of the GMT hand and the pip on the bezel.

On paper the watches are good. They feature their own automatic movements - built from Japanese Seiko and Swiss Landeron bases. They have sapphire crystals, in some cases ceramic bezels, and good water resistance.

Importantly, the leather strap models - the majority of their range - feature straps that are hand-made in Italy with leather sourced from Tuscany.

 



I’d suggest that if you are interested in the brand that you follow some of the links in this post and read reviews of specific models.

The 5 Best Meccaniche Veneziane Watches


As a small, young company, the number of collections produced is limited. So far, Meccaniche Veneziane has four distinct lines. The Redentore, Nereide, Nereide GMT and Arsenale. Within each, there are a number of colour and strap options, with some very eye-catching combinations.

I’ve selected my favourite five, which should give you a good overview of the brand, albeit based on my personal preferences.

 

Meccaniche Veneziane Redentore Watch

 

The Redentore was the first Meccaniche Veneziane watch that I featured on this blog when I included it in a list of affordable Jaeger LeCoultre Master Control alternatives.

The styling is reminiscent of the JLC - it has the same refined design. In this variant, it also has the same silver dial and the distinctive blue second hand. It’s a look that appeals to me, and as mentioned in the previous post, I currently have Sea-Gull’s similar model.

The Redentore would make a suitable alternative to the Master Control, but the watch is more than a JLC homage. Particularly if you chose one of the more colourful models. At 40mm it’s the perfect size for a contemporary dress watch and has the company’s MC145 movement - an automatic built from Seiko’s NH35 calibre.

In keeping with the brand’s Italian roots, the Redentore collection is influenced by the church designed by Andrea Palladio. The idea is that the watch is classically styled - Palladio is one of the father’s of the Neoclassical architecture - and the aim is for the watch to use this as inspiration.

It does a pretty good job of recreating that timeless design. As you’ll see from the other watches on this list, I have a soft spot for the versions using the Italian leather strap. The Redentore is a great example. The leather, which will patina, softens the overall look of the watch, making it my favourite of the Meccaniche Veneziane range.

Meccaniche Veneziane Redentore 1301007

  • 40mm Diameter
  • 11.9mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Automatic CAL.MV145 Movement
  • Domed Sapphire Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance

 



Meccaniche Veneziane Nereide 1302003 Watch

 

The first version of the Nereide was the brand’s debut model. It’s named after a Venetian built submarine that was used during WW1. The Nereide is now the centrepiece of the company’s collection. As you’ll see, I’ve selected three takes on the Nereide theme in this post.

Before we get into the design, let’s briefly cover the specs. Again, it has the MV145 automatic movement. Other than that, everything is as you’d expect from a microbrand at this price point.

The stainless steel case is a comfortable 42mm and 12mm thick and it has a domed sapphire crystal. It’s a dive watch so there is also 200M of water resistance. The variation that I’ve chosen to highlight has the hand-crafted and locally made leather strap.

The design will be familiar to watch aficionados. It’s a really attractive interpretation of the Submariner theme - very appropriate for a watch inspired by a submarine. The colouring on this model is reminiscent of a Tudor Black Bay. There are the same black dial, red bezel and gold accents. But in the way that it isn’t a Rolex homage, equally, it’s not trying to be a Black Bay.

The design really works for me, and judging by the initial Kickstart campaign, it works for other people too. Once more, I’d point out that leather strap is a crucial part of this design’s success. It adds just a touch of the artisan and I like that the brand’s website shows you a little of the craftsmen who made it.

Meccaniche Veneziane Nereide 1302003

  • 42mm Diameter
  • 12mm Thick
  • 22mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Automatic CAL.MV145 Movement
  • Domed Sapphire Crystal
  • 200M Water Resistance

 



Meccaniche Veneziane Nereide Special Edition Watch

 

In terms of outward design, the Special Edition version of the Nereide is almost identical to the standard watch. Indeed, there is a standard variation with this same black and white colour palette.

So where does it differ?

There are two major differences in this model. The first can be seen from the front. The bezel has been crafted from ceramic, making it harder wearing than the standard model.

Turning the watch around you can see a different automatic movement. This engine, the MV285, is built from a Swiss-made Landeron24 base. It’s nicely decorated and this particular watch houses a sand-blasted version.

The watch understandably has a higher price than the standard Nereide and is available in a smaller number of colour options. Essentially there is a black and a white version - each available with either a hand-made leather strap or a stainless steel jubilee bracelet.

Meccaniche Veneziane Nereide Special Edition

  • 42mm Diameter
  • 12mm Thick
  • 22mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Swiss Made Automatic CAL.MV285 Movement
  • Domed Sapphire Crystal
  • 200M Water Resistance

 



Meccaniche Veneziane Nereide GMT 1305003J Watch

 

Outwardly this version of the Nereide is very like the previous two. The most obvious difference is the addition of a GMT hand. This fourth hand can be used to display a second-time zone, a function used by pilots and the like.

To achieve this, Meccaniche Veneziane uses the MV295 Movement, based once more on the Swiss Landeron automatic. It’s another attractive movement - this version is decorated - and can be viewed through the exhibition back.

The watch that I’ve chosen to highlight has a jubilee bracelet and colours that remind me of Rolex’s own GMT watch, the GMT Master II - see the Batman Version here.

Like the previous Special Edition, the additional functions and Swiss-made movement have resulted in a price increase over the standard version.

Meccaniche Veneziane Nereide GMT 1305003J

  • 42mm Diameter
  • 12mm Thick
  • 22mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Swiss Made CAL.MV295 Movement
  • Domed Sapphire Crystal
  • 200M Water Resistance

 



Meccaniche Veneziane Arsenale 1303002 Watch

 

The final watch on my list takes its inspiration from the Arsenale shipyard in the Serenissima Republic. It’s a larger and chunkier watch than the previous models, although it is powered by the same movement as the Redentore and the standard Nereide.

It’s 45mm in diameter, which is really at my limit for size. Aesthetically, it has the rugged, almost machine-like styling that can be found on some over-sized divers. So the 45mm works here - it wouldn’t if this was a dress watch.

There’s no offering of a stainless steel bracelet with this model, with the manufacturer probably figuring that the strap lightens the overall watch and negates the size a little.

This model, more than the others, successfully mixes the brands two core elements. The brand name translates as mechanical devices from Venice and the case and dial do more than hint at this. The textured dial looks industrial and the bezel suggests ships rivets.

The second strand to the brand is the influence of architecture and Italian workmanship. I see the leather strap as providing that contrast in this model. The gold touches on the watch, and the pale stitching on the strap, both reinforce this.

It’s a large piece and won’t be suitable for everyone’s daily watch. But it is a well thought out design that encapsulates the influences that the brand is working from.

Meccaniche Veneziane Arsenale 1303002

  • 45mm Diameter
  • 14mm Thick
  • 24mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Automatic CAL.MV145 Movement
  • Domed Sapphire Crystal
  • 200M Water Resistance

 


Conclusion


Meccaniche Veneziane - or mechanical devices from Venice - is an Italian watch brand. Founded in 2017 by two brothers, they have successfully run a number of Kickstarter campaigns. In 2018 they launched a campaign that received nearly half a million Euros from backers - causing the company issues when it came to producing the watch.

The brand has proven to be both successful and controversial. It continues to design attractive mechanical watches inspired by Venice, with the Nereide dive model being the centrepiece of their collection.

I’ve highlighted my favourite watches from the brand, favouring those with hand-made Italian leather straps over the bracelet versions. I’d love to hear your own thoughts on Meccaniche Veneziane and their watches.

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