Detroit Watch Company 1701 Pontchartrain
Well, it has been about six months that I have had the pleasure of owning a Detroit Watch Company 1701 Pontchartrain. This watch is in fact manufactured in the great city of Detroit, Michigan (which is also my beloved hometown) by a husband and wife couple of Patrick and Amy Ayoub. This watch truly is a gorgeous piece of art and I was looking forward to writing this review.
As a disclaimer, I actually own this piece and it was not sent in for review nor was I paid to review it. As another side note this is my first watch review so hopefully it is well written and helpful!
The Watch and Watch Maker:
The watch is the Detroit Watch Company 1701 Pontchartrain black dial, tan leather strap. The watch is hand assembled in Detroit with outsourced parts from Germany (dial, strap, hands), Switzerland (movement), and Hong Kong (Case). The Detroit Watch Company was founded in 2013 and is independently owned by the Ayoub family. They are distinct as being one of the few small American watchmakers. Their big neighbor, Shinola is probably the first large, mass production watch company in the U.S and even has stores across the pond in London and other far away cities; despite Shinola's size an capital, the two companies keep a rather friendly relationship between each other. Many would call their company a "microbrand," which it is but, their watches are impeccably finished to micro detail. The 1701 Pontchartrain is one of four different model families offered by the DWC (others being the 1701 classic (different model), B24, L'Horloge, and M1 Woodward). The company's goal is to design watches that evoke a time or place in Detroit's rich, rich history. For example, the 1701 Pontchartrain was inspired by Detroit's founding in 1701 by the French. The Detroit Watch Company has a lot to offer, from dress watches to an aviation chronograph suitable for any tastes.
Design, Dial, and Caseback:
The 1701 Pontchartrain sports a very original, simplistic, and classy design. This watch is surprisingly versatile in that its balance between dress and field allows it to be worn with a tux or T-shirt and Jeans. The watch is themed with objects significant to Detroit. An example being the French Flour de Lois, a symbol of Detroit's French heritage which is found on the caseback and crown. The crown is absolutely stunning with the 3d "pop" of the famous French symbol in which no picture can quite capture. The hands are like the heads of fountain pens and swords (the French Indian War was fought near present day Canadian/US border). They also have small lume strips on them which is a nice touch. The english D logo counterbalance on the seconds hand is just beautiful and is a feature that not even much more expensive watches may have. The Dial is a satin black finish that has an applied english D logo (which I love) and printed Arabic numerals/ minute markers that make this watch super easy to read. The dial also has information such as model, movement type, and manufacturing info all cleanly arranged. The actual case is nicely polished and flows very nicely however the watch feels a little tall when slipping under tight cuffs. The caseback sports a well executed sandblasted finish and additional info such as the serial number (1-50) and water resistance (5 ATM). The case also comes with a high quality leather band from Germany that has a deployment clasp, and I must say that I really like the band as it is comfortable and elegant. The overall design is just very well done and distinct from other watches.
39mm x 11mm x 20mm
Movement and Accuracy:
The Detroit Watch Company is unique in that all of its watches are automatic self winding. The company utilizes Japanese Miyota movements for the 1701 Series. All other movements are either ETA or Sellita. The 1701 uses the Sellita SW200-1 which is a workhorse in the industry, much like the ETA 2824-2. Sellita was actually a contractor for ETA however their survival as a company was threatened by ETA's downsizing. So they created their own movements which are very similar to ETA with a few extra additions (ex. 25 vs 26 jewels from ETA 2824-2 to Sellita SW200-1). The SW200-1 has a few cons being a rather low power reserve at around 38 hours and it has a rather loud rotor weight however, this is not a major issue. Accuracy wise, the SW200-1 is a solid performer and I get about +7 or +8 seconds a day (not to far of from COSC requirements). The SW200-1 offers a date complication, hacking seconds hand, sweeping seconds hand, and manual wind. In short, the SW200-1 is a very proven and robust movement which will last for decades.
Wearability, Comfort, and Strap:
The Pontchartrain is a very versatile and comfortable timepiece. It pleases many wrists with its 39mm diameter and 11mm height which is a perfectly balanced size. Lug width is measured at 20mm which allows for applications of different straps. The watch is foremost a casual dress watch. Its original design looks great in almost any attire from a dri-fit to a tuxedo. The strap is a double stitched calf leather with a butterfly (2 clip) deployment clasp. The strap fits very nicely to my small wrist and would suit larger wrists just as well. The clasp is stainless steel and is very comfortable, much more than I had expected. Overall comfort is superb as it has a very well balanced weight ratio and is not top heavy. At the end of the day, the versatility and comfort of the watch is to grade.
The watch immediately feels of a high quality the moment it is put on the wrist. The high polished case is very clean and the curves of the lugs are not only well executed but aesthetically pleasing as well. Calfskin strap feels very nice as well as the butterfly clasp that feels very robust and trusty. You have see and feel the watch to know its quality but I can assure you that it is there.
The packaging and presentation of the watch was very impressive for its price range. Its comes shipped in a moderately sized cardboard box with styrofoam cushioning to ensure no damage from shipping. It contains an inner cardboard box with a picture frame of design sketches for the watch. This is an item that I have not seen in almost any watch presentation and it is a nice addition to a work desk or coffee table. Further inside, there is an outer cardboard box with silver english “D” which houses the users manual, warranty booklet and of course the watch box itself. The booklet is interesting and is of a high quality. The warranty card has standard info for the warranty and an assembly date. The watch box itself is finely constructed and features plush stitching and a watch pillow. Overall, for the price, this is a top grade presentation of high quality.
The Watch comes with a standard 3 year limited warranty. It covers just about everything except standard wear and tear, modification by un-authorized persons, and abuse. The return policy allots 15 days from purchase date to return the watch as long as the it has not been worn or modified. The 3 year warranty is certainly a step up from the standard 2 year warranties, which is the industry's standard. Patrick is also very informative as well as active online so any questions you have can be answered via email or social media.
The unique thing about this watch is that it tells a story about a place unlike most timepieces. When people ask about it (and they will) you can tell a personal story about Detroit or just be proud that it is an American watch in a Swiss/Japanese dominated market.
The Detroit Watch Company 1701 Pontchartrain is a classic in its own right and an excellent entry level luxury timepiece. It has the refinement and class of a dress watch as well as that of a casual every day watch. This watch is just an excellent watch, and you will surely be proud to own one.
Check them out at https://detroitwatchco.com
Movement picture is courtesy of Patrick Ayoub
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