Occasionally a really unique and genuinely interesting timepiece rocks up on Kickstarter: enter the Ayers Metropolitan. With an intriguing cartwheel inspired dial, and a flat cushioned case coupled with a bold bracelet, it certainly catches the eye at first glance.
Glenn and Sally Lim, the couple behind the brand, are Australian but have moved to Hong Kong to be able to fully complete their dream of setting up a new watch brand. At date of publishing, their Kickstarter campaign is currently running and is set to end at 26th April 2018. Let’s take a closer look to see how it fares.
Bear in mind that this is an early prototype that has been passed around a lot, hence the amount of scratches.
- Dimensions: 44mm diameter x 10.5mm height x 51.2mm lug to lug
- Weight: 159g (with links removed to fit)
- Water resistance rating: 10ATM / 100m
- Movement: Miyota 9015
- Accuracy: +5.8 sec/day
- Lug width: 26mm
- Warranty: 2 years
- Price: RRP $980 / £700
- Kickstarter here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/glennlim/the-metropolitan-a-premium-automatic-watch-by-ayer
- Pledges from: $500 / £355
The case is a flat and comfortable cushion shape, with a seamlessly integrated bracelet that you don’t even notice; very clever design. The lugs are quite dumpy too – so whilst it’s a 44mm diameter it doesn’t wear as such.
The case is primarily brushed apart from one polished ring, around the outer edge of the bezel. Having it more or less fully brushed is a good choice in terms of longevity as it’s more resilient to scratches and will look better for longer; the polished accent providing a splash of refection when the light hits it nicely.
The flat sapphire crystal on the top has a subtle but very effective anti-reflective coating – it was a pleasure to photograph, providing excellent clarity to the dial. The exhibition window in the caseback is also sapphire.
The crown fitted here is push-pull, however the production run will be fitted out with a screw-in crown – much better for water resistance. Despite its relatively small size, the crown is easy to use, with good grip and enough leeway above and below the crown guards to be able to manipulate it. The logo is embossed on the end, which in my eyes could possibly be done a little bit deeper.
Drilled-through lugs are a good plus, however as it’s a custom fit between the lugs and strap you can’t replace the bracelet with any normal leather strap without chopping the top two corners off. Hopefully they’ll offer a range to alternative straps.
The caseback features the aforementioned exhibition window, with surrounding engraved details, including a unique serial number which you don’t see too often on a microbrand.
I love it when a dial has an impressive depth to it, and the Ayers Metropolitan has just that. In particular, the hour markers are very thick, signifying excellent quality.
The cartwheel pattern is also applied onto the blue base, with the hour markers sitting on top of it. This is most certainly a unique, unusual and striking alternative to the usual. It’s exceptionally and impressively flawless under the macro lens.
The blue base has a very gentle fabric inspired texture, which is interesting to look at close up. The date window has a very neat border surrounding it, lining up well. It looks to be the stock date wheel.
The hands are a tapered arrow, with a polished border and split in half. The seconds hand is a straight white painted stick, with the icon as a corunterweight.
The dial is loaded with Swiss Super-LumiNova®, which will be upgraded and will be even stronger when goes into production. This is good, as currently it does look the part but I’ve noticed it’s not the strongest in the world. It’s an impressive full-lume dial (all the blue base, hands and hour makers). The cartwheel detail renders a cool shadow-like appearance in the dark.
The bracket starts off very wide, being 26mm at the lugs. It’s specially integrated into the lugs, so there’s no way of getting a regular leather strap on the Metropolitan, unless you hack away at the top corners, which no doubt will look terrible (unless you know what you’re doing).
The links are a variety of horizontal (the central interlinking links) and vertical (the H links) brushing, which is a clever way of differentiating the reflections.
The butterfly clasp is well constructed too, with a top flap on one side which sits on top of the other, creating a seamless join between either facet. Another characteristic of the clasp is the unexpected level of finishing; in particular the addition of pearlage within the inner realms where you wouldn’t expect it.
Powering the Ayers Metropolitan is the go-to high-beat automatic for micro brands: the ubiquitous Miyota 9015. Whilst it’s not the most pleasing to the eye (although Ayers have loaded it with a custom print job on the rotor), it’s solid, dependable, and easy to regulate.
This one in particular is coming in at an impressive +5.8 sec/day – knocking at the door of COSC specs, showing the capabilities it has. The custom printed rotor features the Ayers text logo in the centre, surrounded by the motif logo pattern.
The Kickstarter pledges starting at $500 / £355 is a very good deal, but the RRP of $980 / £700 is a tougher cookie to swallow. I personally would struggle to pay that – not when you have so many well-established Swiss brands out there costing the same; such as Christopher Ward or Steinhart, let alone Hamilton or Tissot etc. Of course, none of those watches in the same price bracket look the same as the Ayers Metropolitan; it truly is unique and that’s what I love about it.
Really, the only issue I can see is the legibility at a quick glance at certain times – the hands merge into the patterned background at more or less at every other marker. That may cause issues for some, however I’ve not found it to be a problem – so if you’ve got good eyesight then I wouldn’t be too concerned.
Taking all things into consideration, the build quality is fascinating all over – especially the exquisite dial completed to a level that I’ve not quite seen before from a newcomer.