Watch collecting is about fun, and for most people worldwide, spending nearly €1,000 on a watch is a luxury. We can get perfectly capable time-telling watches for €30, so we collect more expensive ones for other reasons. What about wearing something with a deeper meaning? Maen makes some great takes on vintage-inspired wristwear, while seconde/seconde/ straddles the line between art and design. But this time, the inspiration is the Pandora’s box that was the Manhattan Project of the 1940s.

The Manhattan Project

The Manhattan Project — a history lesson

For those of you who didn’t pay attention in school, here’s a timely reminder of the Manhattan Project. The original watch from Maen goes by the name the Manhattan 37, while the Manhattan Project, quoting Wikipedia, “was a research and development program undertaken during World War II to produce the first nuclear weapons. It was led by the United States in collaboration with the United Kingdom and Canada.”


The first base was in Manhattan, and J. Robert Oppenheimer worked as the director of the Los Alamos lab that designed the bombs. Chillingly, at its peak, the project employed nearly 130,000 people, and it cost about $2 billion (roughly $32 billion today).

The Manhattan Project

Maen and seconde/seconde/ strip the Manhattan 37

So, there is a sobering meaning behind the white-out of the silver dial here, bereft of nearly all markings and all applied indices. All we have left are two hands, the name of the project, and a spinning reminder of weapons that should remain unused forever. Perhaps its inspiration was a certain world leader recently threatening to use nuclear arms or the North Korean testing of missiles. That is largely irrelevant, though, as the sentiment itself is immensely important. And with only a small portion of the facts stored in your memory, that slowly spinning ionizing radiation symbol (its official name) works as a thought-provoking icon.

The bright orange symbol matches a rectangular “PROJECT” label. In the usual irreverent style of seconde/seconde/, it looks pasted over the “37” of the original model name, off-center and highly visible. It is a dial decoration, but for me, it worked within the first second of seeing the image. To most of us, it will be a simple reminder to interpret as you wish, whether the stripped dial represents the bright white light of a nuclear blast or the nothingness it leaves behind. However you see it, it is impossible not to be touched by the sentiment.

A rather good watch with added meaning

Let me try to lighten the mood by reminding you that the Maen Manhattan 37 is quite a nice watch. After having one as a week-long house guest two years ago, it made an impression on me. Since then, the range has been expanded to include a 39mm ultra-slim version, but the original Manhattan 37 has big Goldilocks potential. It is inspired by (but not a homage to) the ’70s grails we know and love. With all the right clues, including octagonal shapes and bold bevels, the slim 37mm case offers fantastic wrist value for right around €900. As a base for this thoughtful collaboration, the Manhattan 37, including its sleek bracelet, is a great everyday watch. It is also the only watch I know of with the evocative Côtes de Genève pattern on the dial.

the manhattan project

Maen × seconde/seconde/ Manhattan Project — Minimalism with meaning

Those broad, machined Geneva stripes usually inhabit watch movements. On this watch, the pure vertical pattern sans markings or indices takes on a different role. But that doesn’t take away from its value proposition and sharp design. Interpreting this collaborative effort, it comes across as an important thought piece and a bold statement. It also happens to be a rather good piece of wristwear. As another reminder of the thoughts behind this piece, there is a quote from Robert Oppenheimer on the back. It reads: “Now I am become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds.” This is a paraphrased translation of a line from Hindu scriptures, with Oppenheimer’s poignant words added: “I suppose we all thought that, one way or another.”

The Manhattan Project by Maen × seconde/seconde/ will be available for €937.37 (excluding taxes) within a 24-hour order window. It opens on the Maen home page today, June 7th, at 16:00 CEST.

What do you think about the Maen × seconde/seconde/ Manhattan Project, Fratelli? Are you ready to be reminded of the importance of world peace on your wrist? Let me know in the comments.

Watch specifications

Maen × seconde/seconde/ Manhattan Project
Steel with Côtes de Genève finishing, no indices or markers
Case Material
316L stainless steel
Case Dimensions
37mm (diameter) × 47mm (lug-to-lug) × 9.3mm (thickness)
Case Back
Stainless steel with engraving, screw-in
Sellita SW200-1: automatic with manual winding, 28,800vph frequency, 38-hour power reserve, 26 jewels
Water Resistance
5 ATM (50 meters)
316L stainless steel three-row integrated bracelet with push-button butterfly clasp
Time only (hours and minutes with spinning ionizing radiation symbol as going indicator)
€937.37 (excluding taxes)