The Vertex M100 came at the perfect time. Not only did it appear at the cusp of the headlong dive into retro design, but also just as the fantastic story behind The Dirty Dozen was once again doing the rounds. It was a perfect storm for that first, tentative release, one that Vertex, an upstart darling of the indie watch scene, is trying to follow up with the MP45. So, is it a Led Zeppelin II or an In Utero?
I’m a huge fan of monopusher chronographs. I don’t really have any reasoning behind it, I just find them fascinating. Some would argue that they’re not as useful as traditional, two-pusher versions, as you can’t stop and start without resetting. That’s fair, but then surely, you’d just opt for a split-seconds instead?
Either way, in the MP45 it makes sense. The M100 was based on the Vertex original and so too is the new piece, albeit one that never really made it to production. The story goes that in 1945 the British War Office commissioned Vertex to create an ordnance timing watch with stopwatch specialists Lemania. It was never actually put into production (the war just had to go and end, didn’t it?) but it was prototyped.
Given the inspiration the MP45 of course has a similar style to the M100; that is to say, contrasting white numerals on black, lume-covered hands and a nicely weighty case. Here though the tried and tested design has a few modern twists, most noticeably an asymmetrical case with a lip running along the right-hand side, which acts as a subtle crown guard for the crown and monopusher. It’s a nice touch, one that adds a little more nuance to the decidedly simple military designs of the era.
The chronograph has less been integrated into the dial as cut directly into it. The twin subdials – seconds and stopwatch minutes – at 3 and 9 o’clock shear off chunks of the numerals, leaving halved 2s, 4s and 8s in shock and awe. Other than that touch of design flair, they blend in nicely, mirroring the outer chapter ring of the stopwatch seconds.
On the wrist the MP45 is pretty weighty, mostly thanks to its depth over its width. The sides come up quite high, which makes reading the watch like looking down a barrel. Still, it sits nicely and looks great under the shirtsleeve, where you can see the asymmetrical case and crown guard protruding out.
The movement inside is a monopusher version of Sellita’s SW500 chronograph movement. I can’t speak for the automatic – why would I? If you’re getting a purist watch, go for the purest version, but the manual-wind movement is lovely, with a beautifully-finished top plate across most of the exhibition case back.
It’s finished on a cool red-lined black leather strap – or rubber of course, but I would think less of you for choosing that if you live outside the tropics – and comes in a bombproof pelican case with an illuminator, bells and whistles. The question though, is how does it actually stack up as a sophomore effort?
Well, it’s similar enough to the original that it’s not exactly ground-breaking. That said, it builds on everything that made the M100 a success. It’s also just a damn fine watch. So, while it’s not quite Late Registration or The Bends, it’s proof that Vertex is more than just a one-hit wonder.
Price & Specs:
- Model Name: Vertex MP45 Manual
- Dial/Case: 40 mm diameter, brushed steel case, double domed box crystal glass
- Movement: Sellita SW510 MP hand wound mechanical movement rhodium finish, spiral pattern, polished bevel, blue screws
Water Resistance: 10ATM
- Price & Availability: £3,750, limited to 200 pieces
For more information visit Vertex Watches’ website.