Mercer Brigadier Chronograph
Mercer Brigadier Chronograph Specifications:
- 42mm 316L stainless steel case
- 12mm thin
- Domed sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating
- Custom punched case back
- Seiko VK63 Meca-quartz movement
- Embossed screw down crown
- 100 meter water resistance
Price $329 USD
It is always a personal pleasure to discuss a new release from a micro-brand watch company. I even have a feeling of greater satisfaction when the watch company is based right here in the United States. The Mercer Watch Company is based in New Jersey. The philosophy of the company focuses on producing a quality watch that isn’t equal a paycheck. If you would like to read more about the history of the company please click on the following link: http://www.mercerwatch.com/. Mercer released the Brigadier model not long ago which consisted of a custom case design and tons of quality specifications. Absolutely gorgeous watch!!! The original Brigadier, however, was a simple three hand automatic. So what about those individuals that clamor for chronographs or watches with additional complications? Never fear as Mercer decided to release a chronograph version of the Brigadier featuring the same great custom case and some other great specifications while keeping the cost at a minimum. The Brigadier Chronograph is available in four different variations retailing at an incredible $329 USD. $329 USD???? So what corners did they cut? Well none to put it simply as you will see as we move along in the review.
Holy Mecha-Quartz goodness! Yep, the Brigadier Chronograph houses a fantastic Seiko VK63 mecha-quartz movement. Sure, Mercer could have opted for an automatic chronograph movement but that option wouldn’t have fallen in line with the company philosophy as an automatic chronograph couldn’t be released with the custom case at $329. Besides costs, sourcing Miyota or Swiss automatic chronograph movements can be quite challenging or present lengthy delays in production. So what do I think about this Seiko VK63? Out of all the quartz chronograph movements on the market currently the Seiko VK63 might be my personal favorite. I will share a little secret. I prefer automatic movements. Well, actually, that is no secret for those that know me or have followed my reviews. However, I’m not an automatic movement snob and a quality quartz movement can find a home in my personal collection.
Knowing this little bit of information about me, one of my favorite all time standard (non in-house) chronograph movements is the Valjoux 7750 which happens to be an incredibly expensive movement. One of the features I love about the Valjoux 7750 is the chronograph instant zero reset. Guess what? The Seiko VK63 has the instant zero reset. The reset is accomplished by a mechanical component within the movement, thus the meca-quartz designation. Essentially, the chronograph second hand snaps back to zero when reset rather than cycling around the dial like many quartz chronographs. What is one of the worries about quartz movements? A personal worry for me is battery drain and the resulting battery changes. Without the instant zero reset, the additional battery drain resulting from cycling the chronograph second hand would always be present in the back of my mind. Obviously, not an issue with the Seiko VK63. Kudos to Mercer for selecting an outstanding movement for the Brigadier Chronograph.
Ok, I may have gotten carried away on the movement. The Brigadier Chronograph is so much more than just the movement. As I alluded to earlier, this variation of the Brigadier utilizes the same great custom designed case as the original Brigadier. Mercer didn’t just pick a case off the shelf and stick a movement in it and release the product to consumers. Seriously, how often have any of us seen a watch with a custom designed case for less than $1000? I absolutely love the lug design of the Brigadier. The lugs have a great curve and conform to the wrist quite nicely, but I really like how the lug ends almost level out or at least that is how they appear to me which provide great symmetry on the wrist. Is there more to like about the case than the design? Certainly. So many chronographs use standard round function pushers, however, the Brigadier has rectangular chronograph functions pushers which in my opinion add to the dressy nature of the case. The function pushers also serve as crown protectors for the awesome onion style crown which is another atypical feature of many dress chronographs. I really love the choice of the star logo etched into the crown face which corresponds perfectly with the model name. The crown is also screwed down which adds to an adequate level of water resistance for a dress chronograph. Are you going to dive with this watch? Of course not, but you also will not have to be fearful of getting it wet.The movement and case design provide so much to discuss about the Brigadier Chronograph and I probably could have rambled on about those aspects. However, I haven’t yet mentioned the domed sapphire crystal, the absolutely stunning dial, cool case back and nice strap. If I were to modify anything about the Brigadier in general one area would be the crystal and the other would be the strap. Don’t get me wrong the use of sapphire is exactly what everyone should want, however, I am not a fan of domed crystals regardless of the composition. The doming distorts the dial from certain angles which is my biggest beef. The doming can also make a watch difficult to photograph. When a watch has such a gorgeous dial a nice flat sapphire would just be more aesthetically pleasing.
I do not want to keep harping on the $329 price point, but I have already addressed the great movement, custom case, sapphire crystal but then when you take a close look at the dial, oh my! The level of detail is truly fantastic from the applied hour markers to the various textures and levels on the dial. I hope my photos and the video do the dial justice, if not, you may just have to pick one up to truly gain the appreciation I have for the dial. For you lume fanatics out there that just have to have some sort of lume on a watch never fear. There is a touch of lume on the handset only which is perfectly appropriate for a dress chronograph.
The last few features I will cover briefly are the highly detailed case back and the crocodile-embossed leather strap. I know nobody sees the case back and many times only the wearer knows what it looks like unless you are an all knowing watch god. I always find a personal level of satisfaction owning a watch with a highly detailed case back. The high detail of the Brigadier Chronograph case back add to the overall sophistication of the watch. I absolutely love the militaristic theme and couldn’t imagine a more perfect design. Finishing off the Brigadier is a very nice leather strap. The quality of the strap is not in question. The style and material are a perfect compliment to the watch, however, the short strap syndrome has reared its ugly head once again. If companies are not going to offer longer length straps for those with larger wrists as standard, then further research needs to be conducted on re-positioning the sizing holes in order to more comfortably accommodate the larger wrist. Adding sizing holes and moving them closer to the tail of the strap can make a world of difference.
I also want to applaud the Mercer Watch Company for producing such a high quality watch at such an affordable price. The Brigadier Chronograph comes packed with tons of quality specifications ranging from the great mecha-quartz movement, custom case, sapphire crystal, gorgeous detailed dial and so on. If Mercer keeps producing quality watches at this sort of price point, I can see a long future in the watch making business. I highly recommend checking out this particular watch model. I would like to thank the Mercer Watch Company for working with WatchReport on this review. I would like to thank each of you for reading. Please check out the YouTube video as well.