Hands-On: the MAEN 39 Ultra Thin – Bilofy.com

Over these last few years of intense interest in integrated bracelet sports watches, we’ve seen many small brands introduce their own versions of watches in this genre, all trying to capitalize in some way on the sporty but luxurious wearing experience of a Royal Oak or a Nautilus. Some watches actually come pretty close to simulating the feel on the wrist, even if they can’t touch those higher end pieces in the realm of finishing and overall refinement. I think with the Manhattan 39, MAEN has taken the belt, producing a watch that is genuinely impressive as an ultra thin while coming in at a price point that’s honestly shocking. 

The retail price of EUR 999 for an integrated bracelet sports watch coming in under 7mm thick would have been unheard of just a few years ago. The fact that this watch exists and that it levels the playing field in a meaningful way for this extremely niche style of watch is an unexpected but welcome development (integrated bracelet sports watches are well understood and fairly common, but ultra thin integrated bracelet sports watches are quite a bit more specialized).

While the case is definitely the star of the show here, MAEN’s dial work is also worth noting. They’ve ported their unique Geneva Stripe dials from the 37mm version to the 39mm, and while it’s probably not for every taste, it does provide a unique texture experience. Rather than a more customary stamped texture, the Geneva striping here is accomplished the same way it would be on a movement, providing the wearer with a fuller view of one of the more ubiquitous movement finishing techniques. In changing light, the dial takes on an almost iridescent quality.

I’ve been a fan of MAEN for a while and continue to enjoy discovering their watches. I reviewed their Brooklyn 36 Triple Calendar earlier this year, and found a lot to like in terms of its build quality and relative value. But the Manhattan 39 feels like it’s in another category. It provides a wearing experience, for a mechanical watch, that is nearly impossible to find outside of a handful of very high end luxury watches. And while the overall level of finishing is naturally not that of a watch retailing in the five figures, it’s certainly up to the impressive standard MAEN has set with their previous efforts, and very good indeed for around $1,000. I’m not even someone who would describe myself as a major fan of integrated bracelet sports watches, but I came away from my experience with the MAEN 39 Ultra Thin impressed and excited to see what this still young brand has planned for the future. MAEN

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