Hands-On With The Bold Munro Ridgeline From Clemence Watches
It has been over a decade since I last bimbled through the gently winding roads of Glen Coe on my trusty old Yamaha. Yet the picturesque backdrop of Scotland at its rugged best has stayed with me ever since. I never imagined I would see that mountainous landscape being the inspiration for a watch dial. To be honest, Tom Clemence, founder of Clemence Watches, had to point out precisely what I was looking at after the Munro Ridgeline caught my eye back in September.
Asymmetry is a fun thing to see on watches. I don’t mean just a date window drawing attention to itself as it sits awkwardly beside a stunted index, nor a power reserve indicator blemishing the prettiest of textured dials. True asymmetry as an integral part of the case or dial design is something I enjoy, even more so when there is a functional aspect to it. Here, the angles and colors represent the gradients between which avalanches are most likely to occur. Thankfully, this has never been an issue during my highland excursions. But I like that the terrain I enjoyed so much has inspired a potentially useful and rather attractive field watch.
The Munro is a field watch with a tale to tell
At its core, the Munro is a field watch. A large dial, minute track, and highly legible hands and indices make it a watch that is easy to read. Clemence also offers the watch with a black, amber, or full-lume dial, but the Ridgeline is the most interesting of the series, even if the dial layout or the story behind it offends. The three colored segments represent mountain slopes. One sits in the foreground in turquoise, sloping down from the right-hand side. Then, another amber slope descends the other way. Finally, a dark and brooding sky sits behind. Apparently, the angles of these two slopes represent the minimum and maximum gradients at which avalanches are most likely. Clemence calls this a “visual cue that could prove life-saving to mountaineers and cross-country skiers alike.” There’s a third slope physically present, too, which occurs at the dial’s outer edge. This adds depth and echoes the contour of the crystal above.
A refreshingly smaller case
What’s common across all Munro variants is the small 37.5mm case. I usually gravitate towards case sizes somewhere between 38mm and 42mm. So I tend to view anything above or below this range as “large” or “small,” respectively. Okay, the Munro only falls half a millimeter below that arbitrary boundary. Still, I am reminded of its modest size each time I look at it on my wrist. I say “modest” rather than “small” because it doesn’t feel out of place. I don’t yearn for the same watch in a larger case. The other case dimensions are in keeping with the diameter — a lug-to-lug length of only 45mm and a 10mm height to the top of the box sapphire crystal.
A solid case back etched with a circular mountain motif covers the automatic movement inside. Clemence has chosen the Japanese Miyota 9039 for the Munro. This is the no-date version of the 9015 caliber. In addition to the absent date window on the dial, there is no date position through the screw-down crown. The Munro case is largely brushed, with just enough polished edges to help it look at home under a shirt cuff. Admittedly, though, one of the other colorways would help enormously in this regard. The tricolor dial is fun, but it’s anything but subtle. The sloping brushed bezel top gives way to a polished edge, with the same pattern repeated through the case top and polished chamfer.
A large part of my acceptance of this smaller field watch on my wrist is the stainless steel bracelet. It is supremely comfortable and one of the nicest I have experienced at this watch’s £575 price point. The same polished chamfer on the case is also present at the outer edge of the Oyster-style bracelet. Its comfort is partly due to the taper from a 20mm width at the case down to 16mm at the clasp but also to the full articulation in all of the links. The push-button clasp features toolless on-the-fly adjustment, and I remember Tom Clemence also pointing out that one of the links is two-thirds the size of the others. This should ensure that every owner gets the same comfort that I have had. After switching out the bracelet for a nylon strap, I found that the smaller diameter was suddenly much more noticeable.
The Clemence Munro Ridgeline in summary
Of course, anything asserting to be a field watch needs to perform as a time-telling instrument first and foremost. Thankfully, with eight layers of internal antireflective coating and lashings of Super-LumiNova BGW9, the Munro is not a story of style over substance. However, I can’t shake the feeling that the tale behind the dial configuration is more romantic than helpful. Nevertheless, it’s the reason I stopped in my tracks when I first saw the Munro and the reason I smiled each time I looked at my wrist. If you want other reasons to push you over the edge, a 2x carbon offset and a tree planted for each watch sold heightens the outdoor credentials.
The Clemence Munro is now available for pre-order now, with prices starting at £575 for the watch on a bracelet or £499 on an FKM rubber strap. Delivery is expected in March 2024. For more information, head to the official Clemence website.