Versatile horology at its best.
The world of horology is vast, intricate, fascinating, and at times, overwhelming. In addition to the historical Swiss brands that have made a name for themselves over the past two centuries, there are hundreds if not thousands of “microbrands” that have been coming and going for the past two decades (I say it in quotes because many such brands see themselves not as microbrands but rather as young, developing brands).
I first came across Serica in 2020 when I spotted an Instagram post from the brand displaying a magnificent picture of the Commando variant of the 4512 model. I was immediately captivated by it, so I enthusiastically shared the post with several members of the #watchfam. We all agreed there was something special about this watch, yet I didn’t know how special it would be until I actually held one in my hands.
In this review, I will first speak about the brand and the specifications of the watch. If this doesn’t interest you, feel free to skip directly to “The Heart of the Matte” section where I share my opinion about this timepiece.
Serica was founded in 2019 by Jérôme Burgert, a talented businessman and product developer who has been working in the watch industry for many years. More recently, Jérôme has been designing straps and bracelets for Joseph Bonnie, and as you may have guessed, he went on to create his own watch company.
The 4512 is the second iteration of their first model, the W.W.W. The latter version came with a black or white dial, broad arrow or alpha hands, a crown at the 3 o’clock position, a plexiglass crystal, and water resistance up to 100 meters. The W.W.W.’s successor, the 4512 reviewed here, comes with a black dial, broad arrow hands, three dial configurations—Commando, WMB, and California—a domed sapphire crystal, and water resistance up to 200 meters. Any dial configuration comes with a crown at either the 3 o’clock or 9 o’clock positions.
The watch has great proportions, with a case measuring 37.7mm in diameter, 46mm lug-to-lug, a little below 12mm in thickness, and 20mm of lug width. It is powered by the hand-wound STP1-11M movement that offers hacking, hand-winding, and a 45-hour power reserve.
Both the case and the Bonklip bracelets are made of 316L stainless steel. The crystal is made of a domed sapphire crystal with generous amounts of antireflective coating. The dial is lacquered black and features SuperLumiNova lume, which glows green.
I have the Commando variant which offers lume at the 12, 3, 6, and 9 markers with two additional dots of lume at the 12 flanking the baton. The California dial has the same lume configuration, but the WMB has lume at all hour markers.
The 4512’s design is inspired by military watches, and more specifically, the famous Dirty Dozen group of watch models made for British armed forces in World War 2. You will see this influence in the use of legible Arabic numerals, the 24-hour submarkings on the inner part of the dial, and the broad arrow hour hand that reminds me of some vintage Omega and diving watches from the distant past.
Like any proper military field watch, the dial of the 4512 is legible at any distance, any angle, and in any lighting condition. The hour hand has a gentle way of almost touching the Arabic numerals, and the minute hand reaches all the way to the minute track, making reading time accurate and easy.
The design of the needle seconds hand is by far the simplest I’ve seen on any watch. It just works. It’s there, ticking at a healthy 28,800 beats per hour, and its gentle triangle-shaped counterbalance is perfectly framed within the 24-hour track.
The 7.5mm unsigned screw-down crown sits flush against the case and is easy to grab and operate. Having a time-only movement, the crown has two positions: after unscrewing the crown, one can wind the movement in the first position and hack the movement to set accurate time in the second position.
Most of the case is brushed. The watch has fine vertical brushing on the side of the case, the top of the lugs, the top and bottom of the fixed bezel where it meets the case, and also high polish on the crown and the bevel of the bezel. The contrast of the brushed and polished surfaces give the case multiple dimensions and effectively reflects light as you rotate your wrist in different directions.
The Heart of the Matter
When speaking about a watch’s functionality, we often think about its complications (date and/or day indicators, chronograph, GMT) rather than its primary uses. The 4512 is the most versatile watch of my collection, not only because of its great dimensions but also due to its simplistically utilitarian dial design.
The dial is neither here or there. It’s elegant, understated, functional, legible. It definitely has a military vibe (look at images of the Dirty Dozen watches below for comparison), but the flat and fat vertically brushed bezel with its highly polished chamfers makes the watch more elegant than a typical field watch.
For someone who has set himself on the dubious quest of finding the perfect everyday watch, the Serica comes close to fitting the bill. It’s the kind of watch that you can grab every morning without even considering what you’re going to do that day: hiking Mount Everest, taking your kids to school, going to a business meeting, or meeting friends for dinner. The power of this watch lies in its humble versatility.
At times, you will want to put on a different kind of watch, perhaps one with a particular function such as GMT (for traveling) or a dive watch (for exploring underwater), but then you will have to go back to your normal life, and for that, you will need a normal watch that tells time and does it well.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that the Serica can’t go 200 meters deep or travel the world, because it can. Still, when I think about all of the things that happen in a typical day, I find that life is complicated enough as it is. Why don’t we make it easier on ourselves by not wasting time wondering which watch we should wear every morning?
So yes, the 4512 truly is a versatile watch, and versatility is at the core of this review. It’s not too small and yet not too big, not too toolish yet not too elegant. It has 200 meters of water resistance, a domed sapphire crystal, a thick and robust case, legible hands, a screw-down case crown and caseback, a manual-wind movement that has been modified so that it cannot be overwound (I’ll explain this in another post.)
The 4512 combines functional simplicity with sober elegance, which make this watch one that can be worn in any and all occasions. This is not, as you might have gathered already, a theoretical statement but a true statement. I have worn this watch in every imaginable situation from hiking to diving to driving through sandstorms to setting camp in the middle of a snowstorm to sitting down to a fancy dinner. This watch can do it all, and it does it well.
Photo credit: lepetitpoussoire.fr
As we know, the world of horology is vast and complex. What I wish I would have done when I first got into watches would have been to purchase a watch that can do it all. Instead, I purchased a field watch that only looked good on weekends, not at the office, not at a dinner party.
It is true that the cost of the 4512 may not work well with everybody’s budgets, especially when we are just beginning our journey into horology. Still, the reason I have not mentioned the cost of the watch so far is this: the great value of the Serica doesn’t lie in the fact that for $700 you get a huge amount of great specifications, but in the fact that for $700, you have a watch that you can use in many situations. That is, at least to me, a watch that offers great value, especially when compared to purpose-driven timepieces designed to be worn only in a limited number of scenarios.
Whenever I think about why people buy watches—to keep track of time, to make sure they will arrive on time at work, or pick up their kids from school at the right time, or not being late meeting a friend for dinner—I’m confident they don’t care that the watch they wear can be submerged in 200 meters of salt water. They are probably concerned about whether or not it keeps good time and is easy to wear and to use. That's also something the Serica does well.