The New Everyday Timepiece
When is the last time you heard of someone creating something unique for a family member of a friend? Something that is not an ugly sweater woven by a loving grandmother or a kid who made a drawing for a parent? It’s more in the sense of an object that has a purpose and that was crafted by a person’s hands, with precision, patience, and passion. If I could I would build a house for my wife and I know that many watch enthusiasts would love to design a watch for their close ones. So imagine someone who has done so, like Édouard Paris and his first model, La F.
La F stands for “La François” and is named after one of Édouard’s closest and oldest friends. His brand, Manime, was just launched and as of the time of writing this review, La F is currently on pre-order directly from Manime’s website. As we will see, Édouard put a lot of himself into La F. He infused his first horological creation with intent: the intention to make a watch that his friends and family members could wear everyday and appreciate what a good mechanical watch looks and feels like.
At first glance, La F is a wearable timepiece. It has a square-ish shape with rounded corners and slab case sides at the lugs. The case measures 40mm in diameter and only 45mm lug-to-lug. Combined with a thickness of 10.2mm you get a watch that sits flat and secure on the wrist. A bit in the way an Audi Quattro is glued to the asphalt, La F says “I don’t want to come off your wrist.” In a good way. These great dimensions are completed by a 20mm lug width and drilled lugs, making it easy to virtually put any strap on. As we will see below, La F has a versatile design that works well with all sorts of straps, from leather to rubber and even NATOs.
Inside the thin case we find the time-only Miyota 9039 that beats at 28,800 BPH (4Hz) and comes with 24 jewels and 42 hours of power reserve. One must grab onto the small but easy-to-operate push/pull crown to hack the movement and adjust the time and to wind the higher-end Japanese caliber. The winding is smooth as always with a 9000 series movement. And although the crown is not of the screw-down type, the case-back is. La F, therefore, comes with 50 meters of water resistance. (Enough for an everyday timepiece.)
La F might look like your average dressy daily wearer, however it packs a few features that make it more capable than it might seem at first glance. In addition to having a robust movement, La F comes with a double-sapphire construction (double-domed in the front and flat on the back,) C1 SuperLuminova lume that glows green, and a mesh bracelet that comes with removable links at the clasp to adjust it to your wrist. La F is therefore precise and robust, two core tenets of any reliable everyday watch.
As you might have gathered by now, La F is an everyday watch more than a dressy timepiece. Although it looks at home in both professional and personal situations, for example taking it to the board room on a Thursday and a black-tie dinner on Friday night, it can also shine during a BBQ while wearing your favorite t-shirt and baseball cap. It’s that kind of watch. What makes it versatile goes beyond its specifications, however. It’s about the way it was designed and certain details that make La F much more interesting to look at than most dressy everyday watches.
The case is perhaps the first element of the watch design that gives it an edge. For the most part, it looks square with rounded off edges and straight cuts at the lugs. It’s as if someone would have chopped each end of the watch to solder thin and straight lugs onto it. This truly gives La F a modern feel and a purposeful look that is quite refreshing. The case itself shows an alternation of finely brushed surfaces on the top and sides of the case. The bezel, the chamfers on the case and the cut sides are all polished.
Lastly, the dial comes with an interesting jujitsu of radial brushing on the gray and black sections and high-polish applied markers and Dauphine hands. I particularly like how elegant the combination of these hands with these markers is. They contribute the most refined aspect to the watch and contrast with the brushed dial, as if to remind us that La F is not just a dress watch but also a capable one. In a sense, Édouard wanted to show his family and friends time-tested elements of classic watch design.
The Heart of the Matter
I’m a sporty, 200-meter no nonsense type of watch guy. I don’t care much for anything that looks remotely fancy and single-purpose. (You may know by now that I am in the eternal pursuit of the perfect go-anywhere-do-anything timepiece.) To do many things a watch should have—according to my selfish list of requirements—good water resistance, a screw-down crown and case-back, sapphire crystal, a date, and a bracelet. La F doesn’t match several of my criteria (notably the screw-down crown and date complication) however I can see myself hiking and even working in the yard with it.
I think that was the point Édouard was trying to make with La F. Realistically, most of us—most of the time—need a watch to tell time in civilized environments. Whether we live in the countryside or in Manhattan, that’s all we need to do. To accomplish this, a watch must be reliable (check,) comfortable to wear (check,) and look the part in most situations we find ourselves in (check.) And unless you live on an island and your profession is commercial diver, you don’t need more than 50 meters of water resistance to weather a rainfall on your commute back from work.
La F is not, therefore, the type of watch you’ll take hiking Mount Everest, nor the one you’ll go dive with. It can’t do either. But it can do 95% of other things you will find yourself doing—the things that you already do without thinking about it. You know, stuff like taking pictures of your baby or dog, typing emails on your computer, drinking an Aperol Spritz with your friends on Friday night, or driving your vintage Porsche 911 on the California coastline. When we think about which watch to buy next we often think of the one that would be useful in situations we find ourselves in the least often.
So, where does that leave us? La F from Manime.
What you might have gathered is that Édouard Paris is French. (I know, what a coincidence that his last name is the same as the country’s capital!) However he lives in Bangkok, Thailand, bringing the 21st century tradition of watchmaking beyond his native nation’s borders. What I find interesting is that La F is resolutely French in that it looks elegant, everyday, and that it has an edge. My wife often complains that French women look like they never do their hair because they look messy but put together. So they do do their hair and not really at the same time.
La F, therefore, is French in that sense. It looks like a dress watch but not really, and it has the specifications of an everyday timepiece, but not really. I’ve come across watches before that had blatant identity crises, but La F does not. Édouard was purposeful in designing La F in that he imbued it with many details that make it look unique, as we’ve seen above. Again, I must admit I love the brushed accents on the case corners and the dial. It gives the impression that the dial continues outside of the sapphire crystal.
It’s really mesmerizing in person.
While most new French brands have been exploring different genres of the world of sport watches—divers, chronographs, field and pilot watches—Édouard went for the route of elegant everyday horology. He could have easily fallen into the trap of cheap quartz-Bauhaus inspired dress watches that we’ve seen too often be the first model of new brands. But he did not. La F has a unique character, superb finish, and solid construction that make many other similar watches pale in comparison.
La F may not be a type of watch for everyone—although everyone needs one. It certainly is the first one anyone interested in horology should buy as it goes anywhere and does (most of) anything and all of this for a reasonable price: $336 on pre-order and $399 thereafter. As a reminder, Édouard’s goal was to create a robust everyday watch for his family and friends and it is my opinion that he has succeeded. You can learn more about Manime and La F by clicking here.
Thanks for reading.