Progression is an interesting thing. After experimenting with mechanical watches, I’ve gravitated back into the realm of mid-range quartz. So when Wenger offered to send not one but two watches my way, I opted to sample an offering from their Urban Metropolitan line. Retailing for around $170, these Swiss-made timepieces come armed with a strong design and longstanding pedigree. But can the form live up to its function? I spent several weeks with the watch in order to find out.
Straight from the box, the Urban Metropolitan is an attractive watch. Its case is nicely sized at 41-millimeters across, with a depth of just 10-millimeters. The calfskin leather band is a light latte color, with a somewhat uncommon width of 21-millimeters. The case itself is comprised of stainless steel, over which Wenger has applied a gray/black coating not unlike that found on their Field Watch. Construction is watertight to 100 meters, though the leather band will likely limit its aquatic activities.
Rounding out the package is a sapphire-coated mineral crystal. It sits flush with the case, covering a clean, cream-colored watch face with minimalist-style markings. The four primary digits are rendered with a large type, with the secondary numbers demurring just a bit. This watch also features a date window near the 3 o’clock position. The overall effect is one of easy legibility, enhanced by the shape of the hands. While the hour and minute hands are flattened at the tip, the red-tipped second indicator provides an attractive arrow design.
A pretty strong first impression, wouldn’t you say? But that’s why I prefer to do extended testing. While you’ll read about some of my functional qualms a little later, I want to hit on a few design issues. First and foremost is the crystal. For something advertised as “sapphire coated,” it scratches incredibly easily. See that mark above the 6 o’clock position? I have no idea how it happened. I babied this watch from the day it was received, and yet it managed to acquire a pretty ugly scar.
Then there’s the band. Is it comfortable? God, yes. Truly, it’s the most comfortable stock band I’ve experienced (with the possible exception of the Weekender). But it’s already started to acquire some nasty marks. Not something I want to see from a moderately dressy watch.
Speaking of marks, I have the same concern with this case coating as I did on the Field Watch. That model began showing scratches almost immediately, and I think the Urban Metropolitan would eventually suffer the same fate. One of their other case choices, such as the polished stainless, would likely be a better choice.
Overall, this is an elegantly designed watch that’s unfortunately let down by its construction. There’s some good here, but the amount of care needed to keep it pristine hurts its overall appeal.
2.5 stars out of 5
If there’s one thing I can say about Wenger, it’s that they know how to make a reliable movement. Both of the watches they sent have kept excellent time, gaining somewhere on the order of a quarter-second each day.
But while the Field Watch’s movement is robust and decisive, the mechanism of the Urban Metropolitan left me a little leery. Yes, it keeps excellent time, but the ticking of its second hand jitters and jerks at certain spots along the dial. This is particularly strange, since I assume both watches use the same quartz movement. It’s especially noticeable here because of the watch’s clean face. It makes it look as though the mechanism is stumbling, though its overall accuracy appears to be unaffected. At least it hits the hash marks more often than not.
Let’s move onto illumination. Here’s a comparison shot with a Citizen BM8180, both freshly charged.
Instead of simply saying “It’s bad,” (because it kinda is), I’d like to discuss this watch’s intended habitat. Consider the name – Urban Metropolitan. That tells you that this is designed for use in developed and dense environments, with a streetlamp or neon sign never more than a few paces away. So, the fact that it’s only lumed on the hour and minute hands shouldn’t be much of a problem. The clean dial could also be an asset in such a situation. But if you’re a stickler for nighttime visibility, this isn’t the watch for you.
Other than these issues, the watch functions very well. The prominent crown is easy to use, and the setting process is simple and standard. Date changes are quick, and the clasp easily fastens and releases. It’s a reasonably functional piece, making its other struggles all the more tragic.
4 stars out of 5
As with the Wenger Field Watch, the Urban Metropolitan comes with a three year manufacturer’s warranty. And between the scratched case and the jittering second hand, I have a feeling it’ll be reworked once I send it back to the factory. But here, on my wrist, these problems make me nervous. Add in the unattractive wear on the band, and it doesn’t strike me as a long term companion. A different case finish paired with a stronger strap would do wonders.
2.5 stars out of 5
Here’s where things get really ugly. While the price does fluctuate, the Urban Metropolitan generally retails for between $175 and $150. Ouch. This makes it the most expensive timepiece I’ve tested. And, unfortunately, I can’t recommend it at such a cost. There are so many better watches you can get for that kind of money; Citizen, Seiko, and even Wenger themselves make superior products in the sub-$150 range, and the Urban Metropolitan just can’t measure up. Or, at least, this particular model couldn’t. At least it keeps excellent time.
1 star our of 5
What we have here is “A Tale of Two Wengers” – The Field Watch (a good budget option that grew on me over the course of testing) and the Urban Metropolitan (an attractive watch that faded throughout its stay). I even tested this guy for a few extra days, hoping I’d find more positive things to say about it. It was during this extended wear that the scratch developed. I stuck with it for one more day before calling the review, with something of a bitter taste in my mouth. I wanted very much to like this watch. The timekeeping and ergonomics are great, but its high price point and construction struggles were ultimately too much to overcome.
I still like the Urban Metropolitan as a design concept, and there are other models in this line that are certainly worth a look.