Known for its iconic “Swiss railway clock” design that the watchmaker licensed from the Swiss Federal Railway (SBB) company around 26 years ago, the group has recently started selling yet another version of the legendary watch. Powered by a cheap, but dependable hand-wound movement, the new Mondaine Vintage is offered in a compact and slim stainless steel body and offers you all that you can expect from the brand: a simple and clear, easy-to-read design.
If you have already read our hands-on review of the Classic Big Date quartz-powered ladies watch (A669.30008.11SBO), there is probably no need to waste your time retelling you the history of the brand.
In two words, being as affordable as they are, these simple yet stylish watches offer you the most style and story for the price compared to similarly priced competitors, both Swiss-based and of Japanese origin.
This new Mondaine Vintage, a part of their 2012 Summer collection, comes with the same Bauhaus design of the aforementioned Swiss railway clock, which makes it easy on the eyes and, while not looking particularly flashy, allows you to catch the timekeeper’s readings at a single glance. Like other members of the series, the gadget is not that hot in the nighttime legibility department ditching any sort of lume in favor of recognizable styling, so keep this in mind while considering one of these cold beauties.
As I have already noted, its matt satin-brushed stainless steel body is compact enough at 41 millimeters in diameter and just 8 millimeters in height.
The praise goes to the good old ETA 2801-2 movement that, thanks to its manual winding system, is only 3.35 millimeters thick saving precious vertical space and making the piece impressively thin.
The movement has been around for almost 30 years now. While not especially high-end both in terms of components and construction it enjoys a reputation of a reliable and accurate caliber. However, once the warranty is expired, the cost of repairing the mechanism may be a bit impressive (at least, for a person whose budget can’t afford a watch more expensive than €500 or so: for example, even such a mundane thing as a winding stem for this movement costs around $10 on eBay, add here shipment and labor and things may start to get expensive.)
Luckily enough, the caliber is still being manufactured by ETA, so getting parts will not be a problem in the foreseeable future.
The Mondaine Vintage has already appeared at some online shops and you can order one for an affordable price of some 500 euros or even less if you happen to live in a country with low VAT and/or sale taxes.
Photos: Mondaine Watches / ETA
Mondaine Vintage Hand-Wound specification
Price: Around €500
Movement: Hand-wound, caliber ETA 2801-2, 25.60 x 3.35 mm, Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 17
Movement frequency: 28,800 vph
Power reserve: 46 hours
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds
Case: Stainless steel, matte brushed
Crown: Matches case, with Mondaine “M” logo
Size: 41.00 mm
Case height: 8.00 mm
Lug width: 22.00 mm
Hour markers: Black
Hands: Steel, black and red
Water resistance: 30 meters
Strap: Black leather strap with stainless steel pin buckle