Timepiece creations like the Armure collection from Swiss Mauron Musy are what help keep the traditional watch industry feeling fresh. The brand is a collaboration between Eric Mauron and Christophe Musy who founded Mauron Musy and their products deserve some attention. While not cheap, watches like the Armure MU03 have a lot of interesting features, a great wrist presence, and a design that is highly distinctive. Let’s dive deeper into this water resistant watch that requires no gaskets…
That’s right, the principal technical selling point of Mauron Musy Armure watches is that they have been designed with “nO-Ring” technology, which is basically a way of saying that the case does not require any o-rings (rubber gaskets). Gaskets are the traditional means to create water- and dust-resistance in watches. Seals between metal parts create strong barriers that keep water out even under pressure. That’s actually quite a challenge, and it took decades for the watch industry to get it right. The story of the evolution of the diver’s watch in the mid-20th century is really also the story of the environmentally resistant watch case. Today, a 300-meter water resistant timepiece is hardly something to take notice of, but years ago, it was a serious technological achievement. Today, we have timepieces like those from Mauron Musy that offer 300 meters of water resistance without and gaskets — how is that possible?
The short answer is high-quality machining. I don’t know exactly how they did it, but the tolerances Mauron Musy is able to achieve are so fine that metal on metal components in their cases (the Armure MU03 is in all grade 5 titanium) are sufficient to keep water out. To do this, the Armure cases have been uniquely designed with interesting clamp systems that hold the 36-part cases together. This is no easy feat, as the clamps much be tight enough to keep out water but no so tight as to bend or warp the metal.
Gaskets have been removed from around the sapphire crystal and the case itself, as well as the crown system. Each of these areas no doubt required their own unique engineering challenges. The Armure watch itself is a direct manifestation of their effort in the interesting, modern design of the case. It looks like what it is, and what it is happens to be both functional and aesthetically appealing. Comfort and class are not a natural byproduct of engineering — so, when you see a pretty watch that also does something new from a technical perspective, paying top dollar starts to make sense.
I also asked myself the question of why not having gaskets is appealing in the first place. I think it has to do with age-resistance. Gaskets wear out over time and need to eventually be replaced. Metal lasts much, much longer. So, in theory, a water resistant watch without gaskets will remain serviceable for much longer because it doesn’t need to have worn-out gaskets be replaced. I’m not sure that this offers too much practical utility, but from an intellectual standpoint, a watch that will be water resistant years from now when a similar watch will need repairs is an fun selling point.
At 44mm-wide, the Armure MU03 case is prominent, but I would not call it oversized. The carefully machined and polished titanium case looks great on the wrist, and Mauron Musy made a special case to mimic the visuals of the case on the dial. This is a company that really wants you to notice how well it machines metal — and the Armure collection is meant to be a manifestation of its obsessive attention to fine-metal polishing. The all-metal dial includes applied hour markers (each given complex diamond-polished finishing), as well as hands and a decorative dial (here in blue color). Obsessive types will love how the dial has a full-sized 9 o’clock indicator, despite having a subsidiary seconds dial in that position (the hand sweeps in a cut-out in the middle of the hour marker).
The double “μ” (mu) logo is an interesting detail that comments on the theme of the brand. In math, the Greek letter μ is used to designate extremely small numbers, which I believe relates to the fact that Mauron Musy wants people to consider how tightly the company focuses on tiny tolerances and a big attention to detail. It works, but as is the case with many luxury timepieces, this is a watch that appeals to us nerds far before it has any meaning to the mainstream luxury consumer. That’s sort of a problem these days because, while newer luxury watch brands are eager to achieve mainstream success, their core appeal and message is far too intellectual for most consumers. I take pride in being able to understand a complex product, but I do have sympathy for brands like Mauron Musy that, despite having an awesome product, have a limp message for mainstream consumers who ask the simple question, “So, how is this watch going to help me get laid?”
Inside the Armure MU03 watch is a “manufacture” automatic movement that’s pretty nice to look at. This caliber isn’t produced by Mauron Musy itself but is an original movement produced for the brand by a local Swiss supplier. The movement operates at 4Hz with 55 hours of power reserve and offers the time with a subsidiary seconds indicator, date, and of course, it is an automatic. Interesting details include the bi-directional winding system (not that common) as well as the attractive architecture and finishing of the movement which do a great job at matching the overall aesthetic and theme of the Armure MU03 watch itself. Even elements like the date disc are custom. This level of “bespokeness” for the watch is an attention to details that help explain the price point, as consumer of watches in the $10,000 range really do deserve to have as many original (as opposed to shared) parts as possible.
Mauron Musy includes at least two 22mm-wide straps with each Armure MU03 watch, one being calfskin leather and one being rubber. For me, the sportier rubber strap is the more comfortable and cool option, but for dressier occasions, the leather strap is pretty nice. Overall, I really admire what Mauron Musy has done with Armure collection — especially the MU03. The watch very much represents what a lot of modern timepiece enthusiasts are looking for, including an original design, impressive technical story, and resolute attention to detail. Price for the Mauron Musy Armure MU03 watch is 9,700 Swiss Francs. Learn more at the Mauron Musy website here.
>Brand: Mauron Musy
>Model: Armure MU03 (MU03 -102 as tested)
>Price: 9,700 Swiss Francs
>When reviewer would personally wear it: As a modern-design-focused Swiss watch that has some impressive engineering tales to tell (to those who care to hear them).
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Engineer or machinist who appreciates tight tolerances and the pursuit of perfection for those who like to carefully observe small details.
>Best characteristic of watch: Impressive technical achievement in being able to engineer out gaskets (which can wear out over time). Watch is very well-made with original design and is also comfortable to wear on the wrist.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Price to branding ratio means that Mauron Musy will need to hit some critical mass with enough consumers who understand the brand story in order for the company to really grow. These watches are far too complicated to be made cheaply and the brand doesn’t answer immediate market needs. So that means Mauron Musy will need to carve out a niche for itself (which takes time). No major complaints about the watch itself, which proved comfortable, neat looking, and legible.