Disclaimer: This watch was sent to me to review, and I was not incentivized in any way to write this. This is in no way sponsored by Second Hour or any other entity. All opinions here are my own. Since this watch was worn/used by other reviewers and is an early stage prototype, please make note that the experience will differ from that of the final production units.
A few months ago, I reviewed the Second Hour Gin Clear Diver, and I was very impressed by the quality that they were able to deliver for the money. The dial was beautiful, and the quality control was quite good for a sub $500 watch. But since then, my eyes have been on this watch – the Mandala.
The Mandala, like all other Second Hour watches, is inspired by sacred geometry. I believe the word Mandala is Sanskrit for a circular object with other geometric designs within it, to aid in spiritual meditation. But if you know someone who is into psychedelics, they’ve probably got a few of these on their walls too. This watch is designed to be an everyday sports watch, and I believe will launch at $420 USD (nice…) and will have an eventual retail price of $560. Given that their last Kickstarter project was a success and resulted in a lot of very happy customers, I think this will follow in a similar manner, and is likely to be even more popular than their diver.
Let’s check it out!
I measured the case to be 39.7mm in diameter, 45mm from lug-to-lug and an impressive overall height of 10.5mm. The case makes great use of polished and brushed surfaces that make this quite a versatile piece. I believe that the final production units will also include a scratch resistant coating that this unit doesn’t have.
The very sleek mid-case section extends and curves down slightly into a pair of short and narrow lugs. The lug width is 20mm, and the lugs are not drilled through.
There is a polished fixed bezel section that seats a flat sapphire crystal with a good amount of AR coating. There is very little distortion at the edges, and it has no effect on legibility.
There is a 5.4mm screw-down crown at the 3 o’clock position that is signed, and has an excellent grip, along with a pair of sleek and well designed crown guards. I believe the final crown will be lumed too.
Flipping it over, you have a screw-down case-back with an exhibition window. This watch is rated for up-to 100m of water resistance.
Overall, I love the case shape and from a design perspective it reminds me of watches like the Rolex Explorer, Seiko Alpinist and the Hanhart Preventor9.
The case is likely what will make this watch a keeper, but the dial is what is going to make you buy it. There are six different dial colors, and I was sent the blue to review. This particular watch is an early stage prototype, and I was informed in advance about some dust and debris on the dial. I was assured that the QC standard for the production units will be a lot stricter.
There is raised outer track that is blue and has Arabic numerals for each increment of five, printed in white. You then have a sloped minute and seconds ring that is white with large black ticks for the minutes and small black ticks for the milliseconds. You have black squares for each increment of five that is also lumed.
This raised outer track and sloped ring also house three attached indices at the 12 o’clock, 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock positions respectively. This seems to be a common design motif across all Second Hour watches. I’ve heard some complaints about it throwing people off since the 3, 6, 9, 12 indices are typically visual anchor points. I was able to quickly adjust to this, so I don’t share any of those concerns. There’s a bit of dirt on these indices, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt here.
On the dial surface, you have applied stainless steel indices that are generously filled with lume, and surrounded by a printed white outline. One index wasn’t perfectly centered within these borders, but I love the design enough to overlook this.
Moving inward, you have what appears to be a stamped guilloche style pattern that looks absolutely stunning in person. This works perfectly with their sacred geometry design inspiration and the finishing is wonderful. This pattern is also further re-affirms the Mandala name.
The brand’s logo is raised and painted under the 12 o’clock index, and the Mandala name above the 6 o’clock index. It looks well executed, although I would’ve preferred the Mandala typescript to be a little more legbile – It looks like MFINDFILFI more often than it does MANDALA. But this is me just being fussy.
The handset is great, and fits the sporty and geometric design aesthetic. The overall design reminds me a bit of what Armand Nicolet and Citizen have used in the past. These look well finished, and are easy to read.
Overall, I love the dial and I don’t have any complaints about the design. If they ensure a cleaner dial for the production units as indicated, I think folks are going to be blown away by these watches.
The lume on this watch is great. All the lumed elements are BGW9 Super LumiNova. They glow bright and hold their charge well – no complaints from me here whatsoever.
The three outer markers have large surface areas, and this region’s luminosity is compounded by the inner indices, so it gets pretty bright here. There are a few stray lume particles around, but I suspect those will not find their way to the final production units.
The chapter ring has lumed rectangles too, which is a neat design element, considering they line up nicely with the generously filled indices.
The hour and minute hands are well lumed, and so is the tip of the seconds hand. Overall, I love the lume design and I think the performance is more than adequate. Well done!
This watch features a Miyota 9039 movement with a customized rotor. This movement is visible through the sapphire crystal case-back, and I find this to be my only real complaint. The dial looks incredible, and is beyond impressive from a design perspective, but then you flip it over and have to look at this entirely uninteresting movement.
I do understand that there is a certain amount of privilege that allows me to have this opinion, but I think a solid case-back would’ve drastically elevated this watch’s perceived value. Think of the Ming 17.01 and Kurono Tokyo three-handers for example.
Putting aside my snobbery, the 9039 is a decent movement and appropriate for a watch in this price category; not to mention one that will allow this amazingly sleek case design. This prototype had quite a bit of dirt on the movement, but this is an early stage prototype and I’ve been assured this does not reflect their final production quality control.
On my time grapher, this watch was running at roughly +3 spd in the dial-up position, and -3 spd in the crown-up position. Got numbers for this movement, and for a watch in this category.
The bracelet is quite comfortable with a fine link style bracelet. The individual pieces don’t actually articulate, but it looks good and works well with the theme. The bracelet tapers from 20mm at the lugs to around 18mm at the clasp.
The end links are fitted very well, and the end-link articulation is great.
The clasp on the prototype is a bit hefty compared to the sleek case, but I’ve seen photographs of the final, sleeker clasp and I think it looks great there. You have micro-adjustment slots and it is signed with the brand’s logo.
On The Wrist
This watch is a treat to wear on my 6.25″ wrist. The 40 mm diameter and 45 mm lug-to-lug width are perfect for me, and I think those with smaller wrists can buy this without hesitation.
The 10.5 mm height, curved lugs and well articulating bracelet result in a very well balanced wrist experience, and the whole watch feels perfectly snug on the wrist.
This watch gets all the points for comfort and wrist presence, and while it may be a bit on the smaller side, I think folks with larger wrists can get away with this too since the watch lacks a bezel and is mostly all dial.
I’ll wrap this up quickly – if you like what this watch looks like, and if you’re willing to endure the blood, sweat, tears and other bodily fluids involved in weathering the turbulent journey that is a Kickstarter project, go and support this one. This watch is quite special, and manages to deliver an incredibly comfortable wrist experience, with a stunning dial and a movement that I think will make most folks happy.
I don’t typically back Kickstarter projects, as I could use that money to buy watches to review, instead of holding it up for months, but this one is looking quite tempting.
Thanks for reading!