Yes, it is small, but it’s very cute and perfectly legible. It also got a lot of attention for something so small – quite a few people asked me what I was wearing

If you have visited Switzerland you will already be familiar with Mondaine, but you may not have realised it. The Swiss Railways Clock is an iconic symbol of the country and can be seen at every railway station. Mondaine watches feature the very same design, and are immediately recognisable on seeing the bold red second hand. The very hand that is responsible for keeping the Swiss railways running on time. Quick, someone buy a job lot for the UK.

The design of the clock was thanks to a railway engineer called Hans Hilfiker over 60 years ago and it still manages to look contemporary even today. Favoured by designers and architects, the clock is on permanent exhibition in the Design Museum in London and the MOMA in New York, as an example of iconic design. The brand also received a nod of approval from Apple recently when they stole (and then subsequently licensed) the design for the latest iPad. I’ve always considered Mondaine to be worn by mostly men, but its recent collection includes the Aura, specifically for women.

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On first glance

I really wasn’t expecting to like this watch, my initial impressions were ‘too small, and looks like a nurse’s watch’. Not good. However, once it was on my wrist, it really won me over. Yes, it is small, but it’s very cute and perfectly legible. It also got a lot of attention for something so small – quite a few people asked me what I was wearing.

Up close and personal

The first thing you will notice is the crown at 12 o’clock rather than the traditional 3 o’clock. I think this is what originally led me to think of it as a nurse’s watch, as it looks like a pocket watch or stopwatch. I actually don’t mind the positioning if we’re talking aesthetics, but it makes changing the time a little bit fiddly (the strap gets in the way as you turn the crown, which is a real shame.)

On seeing the interchangeable straps I was immediately transported back to my childhood, when all I wanted was a Swatch, so I could change the strap whenever I wanted. In reality though, who would actually be bothered to do this? Not known for being handy, I expected to make a right pig’s ear of it, but even I could change the strap in a matter of seconds. Mondaine includes a handy tool/pin brooch in the packaging to unscrew the case back, but I actually just used my thumbnail, popped the new strap in place and then screwed it back on again.  Simple.

On the wrist

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The watch comes with two types of strap: white leather and a stainless steel mesh bracelet. I much prefer the white, but the mesh is quite pleasing if you like that utility industrial look. In fact, I think I would wear it with the white strap for summer and then when it got a bit grubby, and the leaves started falling from the trees, I’d swap it for the mesh. Two watches for the price of one, which will ease the credit card and make you feel a little bit smug too.

If the white leather strap puts you off, it’s worth noting that the Aura also comes in a black dial, black leather strap version.

  • Small but perfectly formed
  • No nonsense dial design
  • Easy to change straps
  • Under the radar, cool brand
  • Good value
  • The crown positioning

RRP: £225.00

Available from: Watch Shop, The Watch Hut

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATION

Style: Classic
Colour:       Silver
Watch Movement:  Quartz, Ronda 753
Functions:    Hours, minutes, seconds
Case shape:         Round
Case material:      Brushed stainless steel
Case width:  22mm
Glass:        Mineral crystal
Dial colour:               White
Strap type:   White leather/stainless steel mesh
Clasp Brushed stainless steel buckle
Water resistance:     30 metres
Manufacturer warranty:   2 years
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