You can easily be forgiven for not knowing about the Belgian-based Méraud. While the designs of their watches are timeless, Méraud was founded 2018 in the city of Ghent by vintage watch enthusiast Stijn Busschaert. His goal was to produce uncompromising but, crucially, affordable vintage-inspired watches for detail-crazy collectors like himself. With the Antigua, the brand’s second watch release, we can say mission accomplished.
The Antigua was developed over a three-year period, and two of those years involved Busschaert’s hunt throughout Switzerland for the perfect New Old Stock vintage movement with enough supply to support a run of 200 pieces. What he ultimately chose was the Landeron 248, a hand-winding chronograph movement from the 1960’s. Every movement has been rebuilt and mechanically improved, engraved with the Méraud logo, and can be easily viewed and appreciated in all its vintage mechanical glory through the Antigua’s see-through Sapphire crystal caseback.
Like all Méraud watches, the Antigua was designed in Belgium but made entirely in Switzerland. The design influence came from the yacht racing watches of the 1960’s, and it gets its name from the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta in the Caribbean. The watch features a regatta timer on the dial of the kind used by yacht crews to count down to the start of their races. The Antigua’s 45-minute sub-dial can still be used as originally intended, to count down to the start a yacht race.
There are two color options for the dial, a glossy “Miho Black” and a grainy cream dial called “Soft Sand.” The accents of pastel orange and green on the sub-dials and hands stand out and add a vintage nautical feel, with a South Beach color palette that doesn’t take itself overly seriously. The hour and minute hands are polished steel, and the seconds hand is painted bright orange.
There are two sub-dials: a 45-minute timer at 3 o’clock and a smaller 60-second timer at 6 o’clock that keeps track of running seconds when the larger sub-dial is in use. The tachymeter (measuring speed) on the outer edge of the dial is set on a lower step, adding a sense of depth to the dial. Super LumiNova dots make it legible in the dark, in addition to polished hour markers on the dial. The serrated uni-directional 60-minute bezel is also lumed, and is made with an embedded scratch-resistant sapphire inlay. The bezel numerals have an art-deco font that feels both era-appropriate and complimentary of the other design and color elements.
As far as physical proportions, the Antigua has a sizable 40mm case size including the bezel and a domed sapphire crystal. But at just 13.5mm thick, it’s a fairly slim watch thanks to the lack of rotor in the hand-winding movement. This is a nautical watch of course, so it is waterproof to 100m.
Busschaert partnered with the Brussels-based watch strap maker, Molequin, who designed a hand-crafted nubuck leather band specifically for the Antigua. For an additional charge, it can be ordered with a stainless-steel bracelet.
The watch costs $1,895 with the leather band, and $136 more for the steel bracelet. Deliveries are expected in fall 2023, though with a run of 200, expect them to sell out much sooner.