Arcus released one of my favorite watches of the past year with the Tropos monopusher chronograph (video review here). Unfortunately, it never made it to production, which is a crying shame. I was talking with a fellow reviewer, and he said that if people cared as much about horological innovation as much as they claim to, Arcus would be a runaway success. While I’m paraphrasing his words, it is accurate. There are few brands doing what Arcus is trying to do. Part of what I will cover in this review was true of their inaugural watch and is true of this watch, the Mesos. The bottom line is this is a brand and a watch you need to pay attention to.
On the Wrist
The Arcus Mesos is exactly what I want in a chronograph. It is attractive, the proportions are spot on, and most importantly, it doesn’t feel like a chunk on the wrist. The Mesos clocks in at 39mm wide, 47.5mm lug-to-lug, and at 10.5mm wrist-to-crystal, this watch sings on the wrist. The case feels like the Tropos. It has an attractive case design that reminds me of Sinn cases in certain ways. It is elegant and rounded in all the right areas.
Arcus went from one extreme to another when looking at the Tropos and Mesos. Where the Tropos was heavily vintage-inspired with its aged lume and Flieger-style dial, the Mesos shoots far into the contemporary space. The watch feels more aggressive and edgy, and this is exactly what the chronograph genre of watches needs, some modernity. So many chronographs are going for the vintage reissue vibe that we’ve forgotten what it is like to have something new. Arcus has answered the call with the Mesos. I’ll cover more on the dial details below, but this is the style I am here for.
What really gets me going about the Mesos (and Arcus in general for that matter) is the inspiration they are using for their watches. They are watch people in their blood and it shows. The Mesos monopusher is using a Seagull ST19 movement that has been modified in a way to mimic the functionality of the Omega Chronostop from the 1960s.
The way this works is all based around timing laps. Press the pusher to start the chronograph as you would any other chronograph. When you’re ready to stop timing and read the elapsed duration, you press and hold the pusher to read the time. When you release it, the chronograph resets. Instead of Start/Stop/Reset, it is Start/Read/Reset. Not only is this cool as hell, but I don’t know another watch with this complication that you can buy new today. If you’re like me and use your chronograph as a replacement for a dive time bezel, this complication is perfect.
Arcus Mesos Specs
$475 / $599 (Monopusher)
*Height of the watch from the wrist to the top of the crystal
The dial of the Mesos is built to be modern and legible. The two colorways I had in for review were black and blue (the latter fits in perfectly with Watch Clicker colors, by the way). The white numerals are sharp and angular, giving the watch the modern feel I keep talking about. They remind me of Tron or other things from the 1980s that predicted what the future would look like.
Text on the dial is kept to a minimum with only Arcus’ branding at 12 o’clock and CHRONOGRAPH at 6 o’clock. There are two subdials (running seconds and a 30-minute totalizer) with concentric rings that add texture and depth to the dial. While the handset inside the subdials is simple, the hour and minute hands are not. They are half-skeletonized and taper to a cut-off point at the ends. The stick seconds hand has a round eyelet counterbalance and a color-coordinated tip.
As the Mesos is aimed at timing things in short intervals, the chapter ring has a graduated seconds scale with numerals every 5 seconds. Overall, the dial is executed perfectly for the minimal yet modern look the watch is going for. There is no unnecessary information and everything you would need to time something, read the elapsed time, and move on is right where it should be.
Case & Movement
The case finishing follows the same functional simplicity as the dial. The sides of the case and the top of the lugs are brushed cleanly and the bezel is mirror-polished. There is a significant turndown in the lugs which allows the relatively short lugs to wrap around the wrist as they come off the watch.
Although Arcus isn’t releasing a bracelet with this watch, I’d like to see one offered here. However, since the Mesos is targeted towards being a racing chronograph, the inclusion of a leather strap makes sense. The Seagull ST19 movement is visible through an exhibition caseback.
Speaking of the movement, if you’ve been paying attention to the photos, you’ll notice there are technically two different watches here, a monopusher and a standard two-pusher chronograph. Arcus is releasing the Mesos with an option to the buyer. The modified movement which will be the flyback monopusher chronograph will cost slightly more than the standard two-pusher.
The ST19 movements are modified in-house by Arcus, hence the upgraded price for the modified movement. These movements will also have a swan neck regulator (not in the prototypes I had for review). Considering the level of complexity involved in modifying these movements and the chronograph complication being offered, the modified Mesos is a relative bargain. Not only are you getting something to totally geek out on, but it is affordable.
I can hear the chants of, “But it is an ST19! They are unreliable!” Go sit down and leave the awesomeness for the rest of us. The watch community is always calling for innovation and shiny new toys. Well… here they are. Arcus isn’t slapping together off-the-shelf parts together; they are legitimately finding a way to move watchmaking forward. I’ll get off my soapbox now, but if you are one of those people, you should be supporting Arcus.
Without too much hyperbole I will say that the Mesos is a step forward in watchmaking. It’s unfortunate that the Tropos didn’t make it to production because I said similar things about that watch. I can’t think of many brands taking movements and modifying them in such a way that adds complexity in the way Arcus is. Sure, brands modify movements, but I wouldn’t consider a custom rotor a true modification, especially not in the sense that Arcus is doing it. If you love to geek out about your watches and truly love the mechanical nature of watches, the Mesos is right in your wheelhouse.
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