Published by Weston Dakin on 17 Apr, 2020.


When I reached out to MAS for a sample of the Irukandji I was pleasantly surprised by the personal touch to MAS, sometimes with watchmakers there is a certain disconnect as you often deal with a PR rep that works for the company rather than the creator, with MAS it’s different, I was greeted by Matthew (the founder) and we spoke about a variety of different things including the watch. This personal communication felt great and is something that is often missing from other larger microbrands and watchmakers. I hope as the company grows this doesn’t change as it’s the first thing that helps set MAS apart from many others.

To the Irukandji and it’s a well-specced diver that does a fair amount to stand out from the crowd at this price, but, does it do enough? Let’s take a closer look.

History of the Watch Maker

Matthew and Son or MAS as you’ll see on the watch was founded by Matthew Francis in Brisbane Australia in early 2019. Matthew is a passionate watch enthusiast and loving father to his young son Tate whom he shares his love of watches with. Matthew, like many others, loves both watches with striking aesthetic qualities and the engineering that goes into crafting them. Matthew sought out to create a unique timepiece that was high quality yet obtainable to the masses. He also strived to ensure his watch would have a high degree of finish and style that many a watch enthusiast would appreciate and love. In July 2019 their Irukandji diver was successfully funded on Kickstarter and would become their first watch available for sale. Since July MAS have several other pieces in the concept stage with their JCB dress currently being prototyped.

The Specs

  • 316L Stainless brushed stainless case
  • Drilled lugs
  • Domed Sapphire crystal with AR coating
  • 120 click unidirectional bezel with lumed ceramic insert
  • Sunburst dial
  • Signed screw down crown (either 4 or 10 o’clock position)
  • Stamped case-back with Irukandji artwork
  • Seiko NH35 regulated movement
  • 200m water resistance
  • 42mm diameter
  • 5mm at the bezel
  • 20mm lug width
  • 46mm lug to lug
  • 13mm height
  • 100g (approx) on the tropic
  • Price: AU$425 (£224/$288.11)

Dial & Crystal

The dial of this reef blue Irukandji is aesthetically pleasing and is unmistakably a diver thanks to the very striking sunburst and large contrasting indices. The sunburst effect is very prominent and in certain light can make the dial appear to have a gradient that mimics that of the ocean with a lighter blue on the surface and deeper blue which signifies the deep. The indices are a nice mix of circular markers and larger triangular shaped markers at the 12, 6 and 9 o’clock. There is also a very well done chapter ring which flows around the circumference of the dial, this is finished in a lighter blue and has a contrasting white minute track. Under the 12 o’clock marker is the MAS hourglass logo that is nicely printed, above the 6 is the model name and depth specification. At the 3 there is a small well-cut date window that features a bevelled steel border that matches the hands. This does somewhat imbalance the design for me, and I would like to see a no-date option as well. Speaking of the hands, the second’s hand is a needle style with a reverse lollipop at the opposing end. The main hour and minute hands are very slimline and feature a needlepoint tip, I think the hands are a hair too thin for the watch and could have been made a bit thicker as I believe that broader hands would have suited the aesthetic more as a whole.

For the crystal MAS have sensibly chosen to use a lovely domed Sapphire with some applied AR coating, this is highly welcomed as we all know the benefits of Sapphire over a mineral crystal or Seiko’s hardlex. The crystal looks very attractive and distorts the dial in all kinds of interesting ways when viewed at different angles. I understand that this may not suit everyone’s taste, though I am quite a fan. The dome not only serves to provide lovely viewing angles, it also suits another aesthetic purpose that blends so well with the rest of the design. The bezel insert is ceramic which is a fantastic choice as it will look fresh for longer thanks to it being less prone to wear when compared steel or aluminium. The lume pip, markings and numerals all look very crisp and well-executed as there are no visible imperfections or smudging, this is great and shows MAS has brilliant quality control.

Case

The Irukandji has a full 316L stainless steel case that has a mix of high polish and brushed surfaces. The brushwork and finishing is all hand done which is apparent as it’s all extremely uniform and high quality plus the directionality of the brushing is all vertical which really shows that extra care has gone into it. The case design is rather intriguing as the shape is inspired by the body of the Irukandji jellyfish. This design is a highly unique touch and helps the Irukandji differentiate itself from other divers. The hand-sculpted body flows effortlessly into the bezel and mimics that of the jellyfish almost perfectly, this is no easy task to pull off as hand-crafting a natural and organic shape is not easy. MAS has achieved this to a high standard as the curvature of the case blends with the domed crystal to create that organic shape mentioned previously. This attention to detail has certainly not gone unnoticed. The lugs are extremely well-integrated too as their curvature flows nicely with the rest of the case, this was clearly done intentionally and certainly not an afterthought.

MAS has taken a slightly different approach to the crown. At first glance, the design certainly doesn’t look like it as it’s a fairly standard screw-down affair with a textured grip and signed outer edge. It’s also unguarded which suits me and for my use cases though some would prefer crown guards. I, however, think that a guarded crown would not blend well with the overall design, so I believe MAS made the right call. So what is different? Well MAS offers the option to have the crown located at either the 10 o’clock position or the 4 o’clock as I opted for. This is something you don’t see too often and certainly helps is stand out.

The case-back design work depicts the Irukandji jellyfish which is a species of jellyfish native to the coastal waters of North-East Australia. The Irukandji is an extremely venomous species of box jellyfish that is minute (only 1cm3) but packs a deadly sting. This artwork is done in high polish which is an extremely nice contrast against the machined finish that surrounds it. Bordering that you’ll find a finer machined finish that features some of the specifications again done in a high polish. This is then surrounded by another area of high polished steel that houses the cut-outs for the screw-down case-back. The combination of different finishes and the great design work makes for one of the nicest case-backs I’ve encountered to date.

Lume

Most divers currently available have either great or solid lume, and the Irukandji is certainly no exception. MAS has opted to use Swiss Super-LumiNova BGW9 on the hands, indices and the bezel insert. BGW9 is a fantastic choice as the relative brightness is 95%, although not the brightest Super-LumiNova on offer – that would be the C3 at 100% according to the LumiNova brightness yield chart, the BGW9 has a lovely blue-green hue at night and is white during the day. MAS opted to use varying methods to integrate the lume on the Irukandji and decided to use a liquid-based application for the bezel insert and transfers for the hands and indices.

This has resulted in a great if not amazing lume as a whole, the colour is fantastic and suits the watch perfectly, the brightness, however, is a little inconsistent. The outer bezel insert is noticeably brighter than the hands and indices, it’s not massively drastic, though you can spot the difference. The application on the bezel in-particular is consistent, very bright, hangs on for a fair while and is pleasing to look at. The lume on the hands does outshine the indices ever-so-slightly and lasts that bit longer and finally the indices, these are not the brightest and do fade quickly in comparison to the rest of the lumed areas. I think a more generous application on the indices would be very welcome and bring them more in-line with the rest of the lume. As for legibility during the evenings and at night it is great; overall it gets nice and bright thanks to the large indices, and simplistic insert design, this means that it is very easy to read the time in the dark. However, as mentioned previously, the indices do fade quicker than the rest and the time can only read in five-minute increments as the insert doesn’t possess minute markings. This is a slight trade-off for the cleaner aesthetic.

Movement

MAS hasn’t deviated from the norm here as most micro-brands and smaller watchmakers use the Seiko NH35 as their go-to movement. This is because it’s reasonably accurate enough out of the factory at around -20/+40 per day (most are more accurate than that), solid, robust and most importantly reliable. MAS has taken things a step further and ensured that each NH35 is regulated to ensure that the accuracy is within their tolerances and to Matthews standards. These tolerances are to +/- 5 seconds per day which is superior to that it comes as standard and puts the Irukandji a little ahead of most rivals at the same price point. Unfortunately, I don’t possess a timegrapher to test this movement to a higher degree, though regulated NH35’s if done well are known to last for years without a service and keep great time. So what else can be said about the NH35 that hasn’t already… not much really, it’s a widely documented and used movement for a reason. It utilises a respectable 24 jewels that are used in key locations in the movement to reduce friction for prolonged life. The movement ticks at 6 per second which equates to 21,600 for a relatively smooth sweep though it’s not as smooth as some higher beat autos. It also features hacking, bi-directional winding and a power reserve of around 41 hours, plus it’s not an overly pricey movement which is great for the watchmaker and consumer we get a great movement and don’t have to pay a massive premium for it. Also, as previously mentioned MAS have stepped the NH35 to the next level and had each NH35 regulated so that the value proposition is even stronger as the customer is getting that solid and robust movement, but with better timekeeping tolerances.

Strap

The first of the included straps is a simple colour matched two-piece nylon strap with quick release spring bars and the second is a simple tropic strap. Firstly the Nylon and it’s a solid quality strap, the material of the strap is textured but relatively smooth and flexible. The stitching looks good and uniform, the adjustment holes, however, are not the same. The holes have no reinforcement, and two have already started to come apart within the short time frame that I’ve been wearing it, this is a bit of shame as the strap is comfortable to wear. On the plus side, the hardware is well made and finished off with some nice brushing and the MAS logo. Also, the keeper is robust and nicely bonded together and does suit the aesthetic of the overall watch. Another plus point is the inclusion of quick release spring bars, this makes changing the strap an absolute breeze, though you’ll still need a tool if you wish to install the second included strap.

The tropic was a big surprise for me as it was expected, and it has exceeded my expectations quite drastically. Usually, rubber straps don’t fit my slim 6-inch wrist as they’re either too tight or too loose, the tropic, however, is about perfect and that is thanks to its core design. The tropics natural layout is to have a series of diamond-shaped cut-outs with the bottom and top of each patterned shape acting as an adjustment, this means that you can just about get a perfect fit as the gap between the cut-outs is very small. So if one is too tight and the other is slightly loose, then it’s not drastically one way or the other so that the strap isn’t too tight nor overly loose. The actual material quality of the strap is brilliant too, the rubber is soft, pliable and smooth on the inside. The outer side has a slightly textured finish with a notched outer edge, this doesn’t impact comfort at all though, and this tropic is easily the most comfortable rubber strap I’ve ever used, plus it looks great on the Irukandji. My only criticism would be the hardware, it’s decently made though it’s a little wobbly and I wish it was brushed to match the case.

Positives & Negatives 

Positives

  • A great spin on the diver in terms of aesthetics.
  • Lovely designed caseback artwork.
  • Regulated NH35 is a huge plus for accuracy.
  • Solid build throughout and great quality control.
  • Wears really comfortably on my slimmer wrist thanks to the lug design.
  • Great bundle of accessories to get started including two straps.
  • Very nice bezel action.

Negatives

  • Slim hands don’t quite match the aesthetic.
  • More lume on the indices would have been appreciated.
  • Would like to see a no-date option.
  • Nylon strap adjustment holes need reinforcement. 

Conclusion

In summary, the Irukandji is a fantastic dive watch that ticks a lot of boxes, but like most watches, it falls short of perfection thanks to a few minor issues. For the price point of AU$425 (£224/$288.11), it’s an extremely compelling offering. It all starts with the unique and organic case-shape that you just don’t see from other companies, that’s then bolstered by the great build quality and solid feel of the watch. From the bezel action to the crown adjustment, it all feels solid and extremely well put together. As for comfort, I did mention in my initial impressions video that it felt a little top-heavy for me, but I quickly acclimatised to it, and that initial minor issue was a non-issue after more wrist time. This is thanks in part to the lug design which helps bring the watch nice and snug to your wrist.

The lume is pretty great too, it gets bright, and the colour is very nice, it’s not perfect as the indices could do with a more a generous application, but it’s good. The movement choice is solid too, the NH35 is tried and tested and works very well, the power reserve is great, and it’s regulated too so it should keep hold of its accuracy for a long while to come. The icing on the cake is then the inclusion of two straps and a watch roll. All in all, for the price the Irukandji is a hard watch to beat, it has some many great qualities, and it’s only slightly let down by a few minor issues that don’t even come close to being deal-breaking.

Does the MAS Irukandji do enough to be a worthy contender in this already crowded market? Absolutely. It has so many good qualities, and with a few little tweaks, it could be the ideal dive watch for the masses.

Take a look at the Irukandji and everything else MAS has to offer here.

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