Hands-On With The Surprisingly Clever Paulin Modul C Mechanical And Modul B Quartz
If you are a regular reader of Fratello, you might have read that Paulin Watches was acquired not too long ago by fellow Scottish brand anOrdain. This sparked an interest in the Glasgow-based brand for many watch enthusiasts. I had read about Paulin but never had a chance to witness the brand’s products up close. So when the Modul C Mechanical and Modul B Quartz arrived at the Fratello office, I was more than happy to jump on the opportunity to learn more about these two charming Paulin models.
At first glance, the Paulin Modul C Mechanical and Modul B Quartz look like fun, modestly sized, vintage-inspired watches, each of which could be an off-beat addition to your collection. But once you start reading about the brand, the watches become a lot more interesting. Especially as a design enthusiast, I found it great to read about the architectural influences that Paulin uses for its overall concepts and the inspiration from legendary Dutch designer Wim Crouwel for the typography. In addition to that, Paulin is transparent about the development and production of the different elements of its watches by different suppliers. This brings a welcome depth to the story of these two funky timepieces.
The story of Paulin and anOrdain
Three years ago, Robert-Jan wrote about the Paulin Neo C. In the article, he explained the story of the three Paulin sisters who founded the brand. In addition to that, the Neo C was a collaboration with fellow Scottish brand anOrdain. Both brands make distinctive-looking watches with remarkable dials. But the ties are much closer than just similarities in design or working together on a collaborative timepiece. In August of this year, anOrdain announced the acquisition of Paulin, as Henry explained. Furthermore, the two founders, anOrdain’s Lewis Heath and Charlotte Paulin, are married.
With the acquisition of Paulin, only slight changes have occurred in the way the brands work. Interestingly, Imogen Ayres, anOrdain’s type designer, has become Paulin’s creative director. Other than that, the two brands will remain functionally separate while sharing a studio and other facilities. But Ayres plays a pivotal part in making anOrdain’s timepieces stand out immediately. The best example is the brilliant Model 3 limited edition created with Hodinkee. The typography developed for that piece works so well in combination with the spectacular dial. And the illusion that the numerals are floating above the dial makes it one of my favorite pieces of 2023.
The colorful Paulin Modul watches
The new Modul collection shows where Paulin’s designs are heading with Ayres at the creative helm. This collection consists of three different models, all of which feature the same case. However, you have the choice of three different dial colors. Additionally, each one offers the choice of a quartz or mechanical movement. Choosing either one of the two also results in a different dial. The mechanical version features small seconds at 6 o’clock, while the quartz version has three central hands.
We received the mechanical version of the pink-dial Modul C and the quartz version of the maroon-dial Modul B. The third and missing version, the Modul A, features a bright yellow dial. The two models we had are not just my favorites, but they also perfectly show the difference in overall appeal. You can either go funky with the pink- or yellow-dial versions, or you can go classy with the maroon-dial variant. Whichever color you choose, there is no going wrong with any of the Paulin Modul models.
While the initial impression might be one of color and shapes, there is a surprisingly high level of detail present in these watches. Let’s start with the case, which gives the Modul collection its name. The modular construction of the case ensures that it can house various movements. The brand wanted to source unused vintage mechanical and quartz movements but wasn’t sure which calibers it could get its hands on, so a modular case was the perfect solution.
The modular case
The modular construction comes in the form of a water-resistant black steel inner case that holds the crystal, movement, dial, and hands. This inner case is attached to the steel outer case using two screws on both sides. Altogether, the C-shaped case measures 35mm wide, 40mm long, and 8.2mm thick with an 18mm lug spacing. As you can guess, these dimensions amount to a modestly sized watch that wears very well, especially on smaller wrists. Topping it off is a vintage-inspired Hesalite box-shaped crystal and a distinct crown that bears the brand’s “P” logo. A nice design detail is how the bezel of the outer case is open, letting the black inner case flow nicely towards the crown.
The case features a circular-brushed finish on its top surfaces, polished bevels along the outer edges of the lugs, and lateral brushing on the flanks. And of course, the case is paired with remarkably funky dials. Overall, the aesthetic is dipped in retro charm, but the colorful presence of both pieces gives them very a modern twist. Even the more conservative maroon-dial version, with its yellow numerals and blue seconds hand, looks way more modern than you would think at first glance.
The funky dials with a hint of Dutch design
The dial layout features numerals also used for the Neo that Robert-Jan reviewed. That’s also where the fun Dutch connection comes in. The font type for the numerals was inspired by the work of Wim Crouwel, a famous Dutch designer who used a systematic and geometrical approach for his typography designs. I love that the Paulin designers were influenced by one of my country’s greatest graphic designers, and the result is a set of numerals that stands out immediately. These numerals mark the even hours while alternating dots and squares mark the odd ones.
Hovering above the dial is a simple but effective polished handset. The seemingly cut-off hour hand rotates perfectly within the boundaries set by the white baton-shaped hour markers. These point legibly to the numerals, dots, and squares. The minute hand hovers over those same hour markers, but it has an opening that reveals each one as it passes over it. It’s a clever design solution with a very distinct style.
As mentioned, the maroon-dial quartz Modul B has a blue central seconds hand. The pink mechanical Modul C features a slightly recessed sub-seconds register with a small but fat red hand. Finally, under the 7 o’clock and 5 o’clock markers, you will find the Paulin wordmark and the name of the brand’s home city of Glasgow, respectively.
When ordering your watch, you have the choice of a display case back or an all-steel case back. I would opt for the former as it adds so much more fun to the overall experience. The mechanical movement Paulin uses is the La Joux-Perrets D100. It is an improved version of the classic Peseux/ETA 7001. The hand-winding movement operates at 21,600vph (3Hz) and offers a 50-hour power reserve.
The quartz movement the brand chose is the vintage quartz ETA 955.112 caliber. If you order your watch with a display case back, you’ll be able to see the blue and gold-colored movement. Unfortunately, we couldn’t see it as our review model came with a steel case back.
Wearing the Paulin Modul watches
On the wrist, the Paulin Modul B and C unveil all of their charms. Both of the versions that we had pack plenty of vintage appeal. I was scared that they would be too small for my 19cm wrist, but as it turns out, they weren’t. Honestly, they are on the edge of what I would consider wearable, but the C-shaped case and colorful dials add a lot to the overall presence.
Combined with the matching straps, the watches are a joy to wear. The pink-dial Modul C was paired with a blue leather strap with a stainless steel buckle, while the maroon-dial Modul B came fitted with a brown leather strap, also with a steel buckle.
However, when you buy your Paulin Modul, you have the choice of a wide variety of suede, bridle leather, and cordovan straps. On top of that, the brand also offers a stainless steel mesh bracelet that looks very cool. Regardless of your choice of strap or case back, the quartz Paulin Modul comes in at €446.95 before taxes. The mechanical version can be yours for €982.95 (also excluding taxes), with the same choice of straps and case back.
Overall, I think Paulin has created a series of high-quality watches that pack an incredible amount of charm and plenty of nice details. From the watch design and choice of movement to the bigger conceptual influences and transparency about the brand’s supply chain, it’s a great total package. The Paulin Modul is a special line of timepieces and a great showcase of what is next for Paulin.
For more information, visit the official Paulin website. Let us know in the comments section which of the three available models you like best and whether you’d go for the mechanical or quartz version of the charming Paulin Modul.