Hands-On With The Rallymaster II From Maurice De Mauriac
First impressions don’t always last. My parting reflections on the Maurice de Mauriac Rallymaster II couldn’t be further removed from the initial impact it made. Last year saw the first Rallymaster, a 40-piece limited collaboration between Racquet magazine and Zürich-based watchmaker Maurice de Mauriac. The watch was a tennis-heavy design in pastel pink. This year, the doubles partners have teamed up again for the Rallymaster II, with a limited pre-order window coinciding with the dates of the US Open. The production numbers are now locked down, but we’ve had the chance to go hands-on with this piece. Although the initial unboxing was another surge of pale pink, in reality, it’s no more than a trickle.
My eyes were drawn by the cobranded promotional tennis ball, matching baby-pink strap fitted to the watch, and memory of the first model. Interior designer Carlton DeWoody penned the original Rallymaster, taking inspiration from the colors and textures of chronographs from the 1970s. The apparent lack of chronograph functionality is no hindrance. The sub-seconds register offers up enough dial structure to play with. For this update, Maurice de Mauriac has largely kept the same dial design but revamped it with a pastel-blue color scheme. The result is a refreshing summer watch that would be perfectly at home as part of a twosome alongside the original Rallymaster.
A triumph in pastel
If you didn’t already know that this was a tennis-themed watch or that was named Rallymaster, then some of the tennis motifs wouldn’t be obvious. Once you start looking out for them, though, you find them everywhere. Some are subtle, such as the tennis-ball-shaped relief on the crown or the “optic yellow” color of the lume dot on the seconds hand. Others, like the net emblazoned across the dial or the rackets and ball on the reverse, are a little more brazen. The dial is a triumph in pastel. The main section of the coarse-grain surface is a desaturated ice-blue shade with a muted gray chapter ring. The only dash of pink appears as one-third of the seconds register (the split here is to signify the 20 seconds in which players must serve).
I love asymmetry in watches, whether exhibited through the case or the dial. Here, the Rallymaster pairs the larger sub-seconds register on the dial’s left side with a smaller magnified date window on the right. Around the dial, we see applied indices, with five on either side of the net. With such a restrained and light color palette, I wasn’t expecting a heavy lume application. In fact, the Rallymaster boasts impressively bright and charming low-light readability.
A complex design, simply finished
The 39mm case is fully brushed, with a slim mid-case flanked both above and below by ever-decreasing steps. The reverse sees a screw-in case back as one of two levels below the central part of the case. On the front, the fixed bezel comprises two separate strata before the sapphire crystal protrudes further still. It’s quite a complex design, simply finished, which does a good job of disguising any thickness. The drilled lugs complete the no-nonsense composition. While many straps seem to have quick-release bars, including those supplied with the Rallymaster II, strap changing is always quicker with drilled lugs.
Swiss made, with love
For anyone keeping a keen eye out for any more Easter eggs (and I might have missed a few, so let me know in the comments below!), the dial text spells out “Swiss Made, With Love.” The automatic movement inside, mostly obscured by the ball and rackets etched into the sapphire crystal, is the Swiss Landeron 24. This ETA 2824-2 substitute gives 40 hours of power reserve and beats at a 28,800vph frequency. The Landeron 24 reference is a family of movements with the same three-hander base. This variant shifts the central seconds to a sub-dial at 9 o’clock and appears to be one of the less common modifications.
Textile flex straps
Included in the package are two straps. Both are what Maurice de Mauriac refers to as a “textile flex strap,” in either pale blue or pastel pink, with a pinstripe line through the center. The pink strap does an incredible job of highlighting the pink segment on the sub-dial. Although the shade of blue chosen for the other strap also matches a sub-dial segment, I can’t help but feel it could have continued the paler hue from the dial. That said, neither looks out of place. The elasticity of the fabric makes these some of the most comfortable straps out there.
The flexible and soft material allows for a snug fit without the watch ever becoming uncomfortable. On a heavier watch, that might not be true. This style of strap is best suited to a sporty watch, and the Rallymaster II feels at home.
Is the Rallymaster II game, set, and match?
Themed watches can be tough to nail. Deciding how much to cram in and when to pull back can’t be easy. My thoughts are that Maurice de Mauriac has got this one spot on. There was a risk of creating a watch I would feel awkward wearing unless I were venturing down to SW19 (that’s Wimbledon for the non-British folk). However, the tennis elements are quirky and fun rather than cheesy and labored. The lasting impression is one of a cheerful design with a delightful color palette.
As mentioned at the start, pre-orders are now closed. The trophies are now with Coco Gauff and Novak Djokovic. Production numbers are final for the Rallymaster II. Still, we’ll be watching to see if this becomes a regular pattern of tournament-timed purchasing slots for new variants. For more information on other Maurice de Mauriac models, head to https://mdm-watches.com/.