I first came across Merci Instruments through an Instagram post by @mrgrandseiko. He was showing off this trio of beautifully simple field watches that I’d never seen before. Sure, they looked a little like the Timexes or Hamiltons I so often see, but there was something about these that made me stop scrolling for just a second (no small feat). The guy behind this account is always taking great photos, but even this one caught my eye:
Not one, but three sexy watches I hadn’t seen before — I had to investigate.
Merci: A French Lifestyle Brand That Makes a Killer Watch
Turns out the group of watches I was looking at is made by a 10-year-old French brand named Merci. It’s a retailer with one shop in the Marais neighborhood of Paris. They sell goods from a variety of high-quality brands in addition to selling some of their own wares — most known for home goods. As it turns out, they’ve also dipped their toes into watchmaking. From what I can tell, the shop itself is meant to be more of a hangout: there’s a restaurant, used bookstore, and the website touts its community involvement and impact. They also proudly advertise a commitment to donating a portion of proceeds to humanitarian watches. In fact, the brand was originally founded to raise money for schools in Madagascar. All around, a good brand making quality products that’s not putting profit first.
The Merci LMM-01 Field Watch
It turns out Merci has also dipped its toe into watchmaking with its LMM-01 Field Watch. This is the minimal field watch that caught my eye while scrolling through the feed. Now, Merci offers the LMM-01 in a variety of dial options, but the originals keep it simple. There’s are three dial color options: white, black, and “vintage” (cream). All come with simple black stick hands (the black dial with some contrast white), and a red sweeping seconds hand that is also complemented by some small red text below 6 o’clock.
Merci offers the watches with either a quartz (Ronda 513) movement, or an ETA 2801-2 hand-wound movement with a 42 hour power reserve. The quartz version of the three classics will cost you €250, the manual movement €400. So neither movement is going to win any vanity awards, but who cares? They’re both totally functional movements (I’d say “workhorse” but I’ve sworn off watch cliches).
The watches measure 37.5mm x 10.7mm, a size that I don’t think anyone can really argue with. The only odd thing is the lug width, at 19mm.
Don’t like the classic options? Not to worry, Since first introducing the LMM-01, Merci has expanded the line to include some 70+ dial and strap combinations out of the box. In addition to the original dial choices, there’s now a silver-dialed small-seconds (that’s petite secondes for you french fries) version that’s a little more elegant. It’ll still only run you €478.
Merci also offers the watch on this cool ladder-style bracelet (that you can also buy separately, though at 19mm lug width it may not fit many watches). The versions with the bracelet are currently out of stock, just a testament to the popularity of these things.
The entire LMM-01 collection just nails it on all counts. The design is this perfect mix of minimalism-meets-function — like a cross of a Hamilton Khaki Field and a Mondaine (the LMM-01 even using the red seconds hand that the Mondaine uses). The price is also on point: €400 is certainly an amount many will think about before dropping it, but perhaps not too hard. All this from a funky French brand with a decent ethos and mission? It’s hard to argue with.
So if you’re looking for a do-it-all field watch (and who isn’t) — take a look at Merci’s LMM-01 collection.
And hey, if it’s good enough for the president of France, why not you?