Yes, I know what you are thinking. I have had the pleasure of trying on the Royal Oak, the Laureato, and the Nautilus, so I too understand where the inspiration is coming from. But even in a world of octagonal homage, the new MAEN Manhattan 37 brings its own style. Let’s face it, we all love everything touched by the genius and sharp pencil of Gerald Genta, and we can’t get enough.

Just remember, Genta did not invent the fashion of octagons. The late ’60s and early ’70s had everything from octagon-patterned shirts to large octagonal sunglasses and yes, even houses. Genta was tapping into the zeitgeist of the time, and today, we are in the middle of a big renaissance. Thankfully not for the wallpapers or movie-star sunglasses, but for the watches.

MAEN Manhattan 37

The MAEN Manhattan 37

All the glamorous cues from the ’70s are present, but they’re subtly different in their execution and — let’s just point this out to start with — at a very decent value. I would not be stretching the truth if I proclaimed this one of the absolute best integrated-bracelet watches for under $500. And, for once, it’s perfect in size. This is one of the first prototypes from MAEN, with some subtle changes that will be implemented for the late-summer deliveries this year. When checking against the official website images, the MAEN logo has been changed to correct the charming italicized E, and the lume glows a slightly different color on the hands and indices. There’s no lume shot here, but the C1 X1 Super-LumiNova lasted hours with its light green glow, even with a hint left over in the morning.

MAEN Manhattan 37

First impressions

We are used to the delectable striations of Côtes de Genève on a bridge or rotor of a movement. But perhaps you’ve pondered the same question the MAEN designers (and I) did: what would it look like on a dial? Here, together with the metallic sheen of the four Manhattan colors, it takes on a chameleonic guise. This prototype is Salmon, which in my mind will be one of the best options. With its rich color, it channels a glamorous ’70s style perfectly suited to the case shape. But, to be fair, the main color throughout the day is more copper and bronze than a pink-touched salmon tone. For me, that’s only a big plus, as I have a lot of browns and beiges in my wardrobe. As a ’70s tone, it hits the nail on the head.

The Manhattan is not a tool watch, but simply suave. Difficult to capture on my Lumix GX9, the scope of color on the dial is tremendous. This MAEN Manhattan 37 emanates a rich touch of gold, transcending to pink-toned salmon in bright lighting. When left in the shade, it becomes a deep bronze, and I feel the need for a beige suit and some Carrera sunglasses to complete the raffish package.

The slender case

It is easy to copy directly from the best, but neither oblong nor octagonal is really what the Manhattan 37 is about. Rather, the first impression is one of rectangularity, and that is why the 37mm diameter wears just right. Any rectangular watch will wear larger than its size, and this 37mm feels just right. I am rather impressed with the finishing and especially the thickness of just 9.3mm. This is seriously sleek under the sleeve, and a 47mm lug-to-lug gives it a good balance. The top and base of the mid-case have a thin chamfer that accentuates the scalloped corners, giving the Manhattan 37 an identity all its own. One of the most impressive details is the fit and tolerances of the bracelet end links. Sebastiaan of MAEN Watches tells me plenty of time went into the engineering of the bracelet, and it shows.

Do not underestimate the engineering work within a bracelet

When it comes to the bracelet, MAEN has resisted the temptation to echo Patek or AP, and the more blocky bracelet has a tapered but sporty look. This is a thin yet solid design with reserved chamfers on the outer links. I’m getting a vibe of the rising-star Oysterquartz here. It’s a tapered and comfortable bracelet with a butterfly clasp, quite stiff in action, but this is a prototype after all. There are more echoes of the chunky Oysterquartz than the rounded, polished wrist-jewelry of the porthole-inspired one, and this is a good thing. The only obvious homage on this watch is the crown but it’s hexagonal so that’s okay, and the mid-width bezel is well put together. It frames a dial that says “dressy” and is a neat contrast to the angular solid steel bracelet, which combines a feeling of toughness with tapering elegance.

MAEN Manhattan 37

The changeling dial

The dial is what you notice first, and yes, it is good. It’s photogenic to the max, as it doesn’t take more than a sliver of sunlight (or strategically placed ring light) to wake up the Côtes de Genève. The wave-like striations bring an unusual dynamic to the octagon-smooth shape of the dial, while angular Nautilus-esque applied indices mark the hours. The handset itself is a MAEN design — a blunt baton shape with a central protruding section and generous Super-LumiNova. As mentioned earlier, the logo at 12 is changing on the production model, and the cheeky, leaning E will stand straight at attention. The image above is a render on which the new logo is visible. There is also a no-date version coming (hallelujah!).

A surprising caliber

A Swiss surprise lies underneath the case back in the shape of a Ronda R-150 self-winding movement. This is one of the reasons we have a slender 9.3mm case thickness, and why this is such an elegant piece of wristwear. Running at 28,800vph with a 40-hour power reserve, this ain’t no revolution, even with 25 jewels and Incabloc shock protection. That said, it certainly offers great value. At a svelte 9.3mm tall and a pre-order price of €479 (ex.VAT) instead of the retail €559, signing up for notification at Maen Watches is mighty tempting indeed. And for those fans of computerized, rounded rectangular wristwear, this might be a sleek intro to mechanical watchmaking. Make a note of it for that well-considered gift.

What do you make of it?

How about you? Do you feel the urge to try on an integrated bracelet, or are you a rubber-strap kind of guy? Perhaps this feels like a good entry ticket to the world of non-round watches. Let us know what you think of the MAEN Manhattan 37 in the comments.

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