Today, I’ll be taking a look at a brand that you’ve not likely heard of before, despite it having existed for over a decade. Mona Watches is a Bordeaux-based brand, which proudly labels itself the first French microbrand. It has been around since 2012, offering several quartz timepieces with a unique design aesthetic. The most popular model was the HMS. This is the model that we witness the mechanical rebirth of here today. And if you’re reading this on Thursday, the 9th of November 2023, you happen to be doing so on the date of its Kickstarter launch. But more on that later.

Mona’s new mechanical timepiece follows the design cues established by the brand’s flagship model. The most prominent of these is the watch’s lug-free design. Now, this in itself is nothing new. The lugless design can be found in other popular watches, such as the Seiko Tuna, the recent GPHG winner from Ciga Design, Ikepod watches, and Giuliano Mazzuoli’s Manometro. It can even be traced back to the ’40s and ’50s. During that time, several Haute Horlogerie brands produced dress watches with this disco volante (“flying saucer”) design. An example of this is the Audemars Piguet 5093. But this style did not necessarily belong to any one brand. Today, it’s not a hugely popular design choice (only the wonderful Autodromo Vallelunga comes to mind), making Mona a rather distinctive contender in the microbrand space. Let’s take a look at the watch(es) and see what the brand’s comeback has to offer.

Mona mechanical automatic watch blue dial pocket shot

The new Mona watches

Let’s start with the basics. The new mechanical Mona model features a distinctly lugless 39 × 10.3mm stainless steel case. This immediately makes it wear rather well on just about any wrist. Hell, even the 49mm Seiko Tuna wears well. But thanks to its lack of bezel and ample dial, the Mona watch has a different aesthetic. It’s more Bauhaus than it is badass. But it’s also more subtle than shouty. Inside the case, which features a rather rugged knurled finish along its band, we find the star of the show.

Mona mechanical automatic watch blue and white dials

Mona’s dials are pad-printed and painted in the brand’s workshop. They are comprised of solid colors and rustic yet elegant markings, with the brand’s twin-flag logo at 12 and three lines of text at 6 o’clock. These include “France,” “Marque Déposée, and the Latin “vulnerant omnes, ultima necat” (“they all wound, the last one kills”). A phrase commonly found on sundials, this serves as a reminder that life is short.

My favorite is the eggshell-colored dial, which features a subtle texture, blue printing, and matching hands with yellow accents. However, four others are available in blue (pictured here), dark green, black with a white outline, and an inverse version. This last dial variant is a special awareness-spreading “Movember” edition. But all will contribute to this worthy cause, with 5% of the entire fundraising campaign pledged to the Movember charity. All five models are powered by the automatic Sellita SW-100.

The watches use this rather minuscule movement due to the relatively small space made available by the integrated lugs. Though the watch has a 39mm circumference, the movement must fit a 27mm diameter equivalent. Still, this movement is no less Swiss and offers the same 42-hour power reserve as its larger counterparts. The watch also has a flat sapphire crystal and a 100m water resistance rating.

Mona mechanical automatic watch blue and white dials

Last details and impressions

Another detail worth mentioning is the crown. It’s nicely machined and contains a small painted dot in the same color as the dial. The watch’s blocky-looking hands are also notable, with the hour hand’s tip painted in the same color as the seconds hand, like a magic wand. You’ll also notice the small yet nicely engraved case back, which signals the movement’s proportions. Overall, the watch wears well, has all the right specs, and has a carefully curated aesthetic that will undoubtedly appeal to those looking for something departing from the norm.

I did mention Kickstarter earlier, didn’t I? Well, this is where the watch made its debut earlier today. You can find the new Mona automatic watches with prices starting at €599. The watch will be delivered in a rather nice reusable Toyo box with a special foam insert. Sound good? Then head on over to the Kickstarter page to find out more.