The microbrand world is a large one, I remember when we could count the amount of watch brands out there by memory but now it is just impossible. For consumers and also for brands is a good and a bad thing, the supply of watch parts is high because the demand also is but that means there is quite a bit of repeated propositions too.
The amount of watches with generics movements is incredible, it creates so much noise that is har to separate the good from the bad and sometimes you missed what is really exceptional, I think this is the downside nowadays as the whole microbrand concept was made to challenge all of those more establish brands with a true value proposition. For example, if you couldn’t' afford (or find) your grail watch there was always a good alternative, maybe 2 but that was it, now microbrands compete so hard to get that costumer that a lot of corners cuts have to be made, the micro brand world is driven by mainly price. This is when I found out about Sólás, the brand was not focused on divers, fliegers nor chronographs, the main plate was a micro rotor dress watch, yes you read correctly.
If you are a watch enthusiast you already know that watches with micro rotors are one of the most expensive in the watch world, is not a complication, it's a design concept which allowed the watch to be thin but at the same time self-winding. This kind of movements can be found in watches from 15 000 GBP (please exclude the Paul Router from the conversation as is long discontinued) and definitely not in a sub 400 GBP watch. I got in touch with Sólás to try seek the possibilities of reviewing their Starlight watch and after a week we managed to get hold of this beauty, below our impressions.
For a dress watch the magic number is 38mm, I am so glad that this is the case dimensions used for the Starlight, very slim at 9.8 height with a lug to lug distance of 46mm. The numbers just tell one side of the story as they work very well at any occasion.
I know we spent quite a bit of time talking about the movement but we have to say that the Hangzhou 5000A is a visually striking from the back as anything I currently have in my collection, that gold rotor in the corner allows you to appreciate the beauty of the movement and again gives the opportunity to have a thinner watch. The dial is one of the features that strikes the most, it's an aventurine dial which plays beautifully with the light, sometimes is blue and sometimes is black, either way each dial it's custom to its owner as the patterns cannot be reproduced. I love the way it looks, I am not an aventurine dial person myself but on the Starlight fits very well with giving the appearance of a watch that could easily cost 10x the price. The of centre sub-seconds and date complete the elegant profile making the watch not only beautiful but also functional. The Starlight also has sapphire crystal in both sides and a water resistance of 50 meters which is impressive for a dress piece.
On the wrist:
The watch wears like a dream, it sits with sophistication on my 6.25 inch wrist, that thinness is key to feel like you are wearing something special but that you only notice.
I am sure that I could be one of the first person who did this but I took the Starlight outside with no light with the moon reflecting the dial, it looks like nothing else I've seen, the blacks are darker and the dial gets brighter, it just mimics a night sky to perfection. The watch comes with a custom leather strap which is very soft and contours the wrist as a tailored pair of gloves, it also has the engraved logo at the bottom giving a beautiful sense of a bespoke piece.
The Starlight is a unique piece among all the offerings that we have in the microbrand world, it's refreshing but at the same time old school, it has that vintage feeling with modern materials and reliability,
I remember that earlier on my watch collecting people explained the differences between winding systems, when I discovered what a micro rotor was it completely clicked with me, I've always asked myself why doesn’t everyone do it this way, well now 15 years later here it is, hopefully we get to see more versions of this movement in the beautiful Sólás case, they have an amazing canvas so they just need to keep painting.
More information at https://solaswatches.com/
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