Cars and watches aren’t so different. Both are developed by corporations, relatively large or small, from countries which span the globe. Some are expensive, some are very affordable, but all provide a product to suit various tastes and needs. Crucially, both industries rely heavily on a talented designers to create a unique and resonant timepiece. Some watchmakers, however, like the Detroit Watch Company, blur the lines between the industries more so than others. We spent some time with the Detroit Watch Company M1-Woodward chronograph, a timepiece that has roots reaching deep into the automotive industry.
Patrick Ayoub, who co-founded DWC with his wife Amy, knows a thing or two about good design. After getting his start on the design team for the BMW Z1, he moved on to work in studios for Volkswagen, SEAT, and Chrysler — the latter bringing him to his current long-term residence in Michigan. After departing Chrysler for a position at a local design firm, he began to design watches and provided input for a number of independent watchmakers before launching his own brand.
Unabashedly pulling inspiration from the history and landmarks of the Motor City, the M1-Woodward chronograph is DWC’s tribute to the legendary Woodward Avenue, which runs through the heart of the city. The street’s influence isn’t immediately apparent at first glance aside from the “Woodward” script on the dial. Flip the watch over, though, and you’ll find an engraved version of the famous M-1 road sign surrounded by a ring of nearby cities the road bisects. Having myself just moved from Detroit to Los Angeles, wearing an authentic tribute to the city on my wrist was a bittersweet treat.
Visually, the M-1 fits right in line with the rest of the DWC lineup. The nib-style hands are DWC hallmarks, as is the fleur-de-lis motif on the crown, a reference to Detroit’s deep French roots. It’s not a small watch, but the mass majority of automatic chronographs aren’t. At 44 mm, the M-1’s stainless steel case fits a regular-sized male wrist perfectly. Its 13.5-mm thickness is a byproduct of the real estate often demanded by automatic chronograph movements, but if you are already accustomed to that tendency, it’s not a dealbreaker. Each M-1 is powered by the ubiquitous ETA 7750 movement, a reliable and high-quality workhorse that has historically powered high-end chronographs from IWC, Tag Heuer, and Omega.
Our tester arrived with a beautiful blue dial, but the M-1 is also offered in black, white, and gray. On the wrist, the M-1 feels high-quality and substantial. The chrono pushers and crown are heavy cut and satisfying to use. The deployant-clasp band is made of thick leather, and doesn’t add too much height to the watch, a problem often suffered by deployant bands. The diameter is perfect and the original design is a refreshing change of pace from some cookie-cutter designs emerging from larger brands.
For Detroiters, we’re not sure there’s a better watch that celebrates the city’s rich history, and certainly no better timepiece to wear during the Woodward Dream Cruise. For everyone else, the M-1 Woodward is a handsome and well-designed chronograph that fits in nearly any watch rotation. Prices begin at $1,850, so it’s affordable — at least by automatic chronograph standards.
If the M-1 Woodward tickles your fancy, head over to Detroit Watch Company to see the range as well as the other DWC watches that are available.