Everybody's New Everyday Watch
The watch market is a mess. Legitimate micro and independent brands live amidst Swiss and Japanese giants that control the market and dictate trends, and fashion brands that send the wrong message about horology. One must be offbeat to want to create a new watch company in this savage market and—to top it all off—make affordable timepieces that are well-built and well-spec'd. Or, we can see it as being the sign of bravery and dedication to fulfill one’s dream and path into this obsessive hobby that we all are a part of. It takes a certain type of person to do the above and today I’m honored to present the first model from the Medini Watch Company: the Sovereign.
The Sovereign is a classic everyday timepiece that immediately stands out from the crowd of the thousands of cheap fashion watches and dressy quartz ones we have seen too many times before. And I don’t mean to put Medini in the same basket as those, quite the contrary. I’ve been approached by meh brands (this is not a typo) many times over and I always said no. But when I saw Medini’s product shots and website, I sensed something different: a great attention to detail. Both on the watch and the website design from which emanates a clear passion and drive.
So, without further ado, let’s talk about the Medini Sovereign.
I’ve come to realize that, yes, in order to fit within a particular genre of watches, a watch has to come with certain specifications. A 46mm dress watch doesn’t make any sense, just like a 32mm pilot’s watch doesn’t make any sense either. (I can only imagine a fighter jet pilot trying to read the time on a tiny watch strapped over his flight suit.) Therefore conventions dictate that an everyday/dress timepiece should have a diameter revolving around 34-39mm at most. Well, guess what? The Sovereign has the right proportions for the category it lives within: a 38mm case diameter, 44mm lug-to-lug distance, 11mm in thickness and 20mm lug width.
Within its slim dimensions, the Sovereign contains a Ronda 715 caliber, a quartz-powered machine that comes with 5 jewels and five years of battery life. That’s a long time your watch will keep ticking without having to adjust the time and change the battery. A pretty neat feature of good quartz movements that I tend to glance over. Staying on the topic, the stated deviations for this caliber are -10/+20 seconds per month (which means that the movement will gain 0.666 seconds per day at most.) The time and date can be adjusted thanks to the small but easy to push/pull crown.
The dial is covered with a thick piece of sapphire crystal that comes with multiple layers of anti-reflective coating. The dial is easy to read despite having high-polished applied markers and hands and no lume. Well, it’s a dressy everyday timepiece after all and how often do we actually need to read the time in the middle of the night? Really, rarely. Although we will talk more about this in the “Design” portion of the review, I did want to already mention the refined finish the Sovereign comes with: high-polished bezel, lug tops and strap buckle, and brushed surfaces everywhere else.
To complete the package, the Sovereign comes with a padded genuine leather strap with a branded buckle. Although I typically do not like padded straps, I’ve got to admit it works well with this type of timepiece. The strap is soft to the touch and supple, not requiring any break-in period.
Yes, the Sovereign has great specs but it has an even better design. What grabbed my attention at first was the quality of the finish and, in particular, the polished markets and hands. Whether looking at the Arabic numerals at the 6, 9, and 12 positions or the baton-style markers everywhere else, I’ve got to be frank: I’m impressed. For a watch that costs $200—yes, I did have to mention the price at this very moment—you get a lot of bangs for your bucks. The leaf hands are equally well made and highly polished, and combined with a dial that is endowed with a sunburst effect, you can already imagine all of the wonderful light plays you could be privy to should you own a Sovereign.
I’m not an expert in vintage watches however it does seem to me that the Sovereign borrows some elements from years that have long gone by. Take a look at the railroad minute track that is reminiscent of World War II era field watches. The leaf hands that we can all consciously pair with historic brands in the likes of Montblanc, Longines, and Seiko. And I feel that I’ve seen baton markers on all dress timepieces from even more prestigious brands. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with borrowing elements from all of these brands—this is common practice, should we want to acknowledge it or not—and it is tasteful done on the Sovereign.
Overall, the Sovereign is a classic and robust piece of horology. It won’t set you back more than a good every watch should—referring here again to the $200 price tag. That is, again, what we all truly need on a daily basis: quality, reliably, versatile design. I would therefore categorize the design of the Sovereign as being versatile for three reasons: the sunburst finish on the dial, the high polished leaf hands, and the Arabic numerals. This rather unusual combination of visual elements makes the Sovereign comfortably sit in-between two genres of watches: everyday and dressy. We need a little bit of both in our collection.
The Heart of the Matter
At the heart of the matter is the fact that we don’t see enough of this type of watch and brand anymore. Yes, there are dozens of fashion brands that produce dressy everyday watches, however they always lack soul and quality. The Sovereign is, more importantly, a watch designed by an avid watch collector. So in order to make sense of the Sovereign and to explain the genesis of the brand, we must linger a little bit on the man behind the brand and why he created Medini. This is the type of information I normally reserve for profile stories, but Ahsan’s story is just too important to not share in this review.
Ahsan’s foray into horology dates back to his youth growing up in Karachi, Pakistan. He had an innate interest looking at the watches people wore on their wrist as if they could give a glimpse of who they were. However, he wasn’t surrounded by Swiss luxury timepieces. Instead, people wore simpler watches that they could afford and that fulfilled one basic and crucial element of any watch: telling the time. Although he has collected nice watches over the years—from Tissot to Bell & Ross to IWC—he has self-assigned the mission of democratizing horology. You know, for those who want a reliable timepiece but can’t dish out $10,000 for a Submariner.
Before starting Medini, Ahsan worked in consulting and part of his job involved training employees. He took consciousness of the fact that people “dress for the job” and that even newly graduates spend their first paycheck on a watch so that they can look the part. There is indeed a deep connection between how we look and how people perceive us, as the more polished we look the more seriously people take us. And this is something we can’t escape despite the best efforts of the youngest generations to break the mold. This means we still need to look the part and having a nice looking watch is part of the outfit.
So Ahsan’s mission by creating Medini is to democratize horology so that more people can own a nice watch and feel good about it. That’s what came across his website and that was clearer when I spoke to him. And the name Medini holds special significance to him: the name refers to a 15th century middle-eastern warlord and also means “Earth” in Sanskrit. The brand’s logo looks like a burning sun and a watch wheel at the same time. His idea was to marry different aspects relating to horology into the brand name and his logo as well as some that connect him to his roots.
For the most part, micro and independent brands focus on sports watches. I feel that two or three years ago the only watches we would see coming out of small shops were divers. There were so many of them that YouTubers and journalists became bored. “Yet another vintage looking diver” it seemed they would utter under their breath. Then brands did pilot watches and ventured into meca-quartz chronographs for a while. Then they took another step and made mechanical chronographs and now all the rage goes into GMTs. (I personally really like the latest trend as I have a knack for everyday travel watches.)
But what happened to quality and elegant everyday timepieces? I’m not saying they don’t exist, but we don’t see many of them. (It is understood here that I’m not including fashion watches, right?) There are many people out there who need a good watch not only to keep their lives organized (not everyday has a smartphone or likes to use one to keep track of time) and to also look the part at work and in the social world. So, here lies the importance of Medini and the Sovereign: making quality horology accessible to all.
Thanks for reading.