Shoreham is a British-based watch microbrand – hailing from South Wales, to be precise – set up by two university friends back in 2020. Inspired by a visit to Baselworld, one of the world’s biggest watch fairs, they decided to try and design an affordable timepiece to premium specifications, influenced by the luxury watches they loved. Having secured backing for the project via a short and highly successful Kickstarter campaign (impressively, it reached its funding target in just 15 hours), Shoreham delivered on their promise in the form of the Monmouth: a vintage-style dive watch with a thoroughly modern build.
Sounds like the origin story of many watch microbrands, right? Well, maybe – but we appreciate the brand’s British roots, and their genuine passion for watches. And we got even more excited when we actually got our hands on the watch itself. It’s a handsome tribute to the classic ‘skindiver’, a watch popularised in the 1960s that was smaller, slimmer, lighter and far more wearable than the chunky professional dive watches of the time.
Who is the Shoreham Monmouth Automatic Dive Watch For?
Though it’s a capable underwater companion, the brand knows that the vast majority of people will use this watch strictly as a desk diver. But of course, watches are an expression of a wearer’s personality – a clue to what makes them tick, if you’ll forgive the analogy – and so this is a watch with plenty of old-school style. It’s robust and capable enough to be a dependable adventure companion too, on land or sea.
It’s an inescapable fact that in the digital age, watches – especially automatic watches – are a luxury, not a necessity. Still, Shoreham have stayed true to the fundamentals of the ‘skindiver’ watch, specifically, the Oris 65 dive watch, with which the Monmouth shares numerous similarities. And just like that Swiss classic, it offers vintage style flourishes in a modern package, without sacrificing performance and legibility.
So, you get a fully lumed, ceramic bezel and a domed sapphire crystal for enhanced durability and scratch resistance. The crystal has a generous anti-reflective coating, which looks striking and generally ensures good dial readability even from viewed from acute angles. Ideally, you’d want this to be a clear coating for maximum legibility. This one does have a slight blue tinge, but it’s rarely an issue.
“This will go anywhere you ask of it – including up to 300m under the sea.”
The Monmouth offers water resistance of 30ATM or 300 metres (990 feet), which beats the majority of vintage-styled dive watches, even those from big brands (including the Oris 65). The case is built from industry standard 316L marine-grade stainless steel, an alloy that contains high levels of molybdenum to provide superior resistance to corrosion, even in saltwater environments. It has a finely brushed finish, reducing harsh reflections (and concerns over picking up the odd hairline scratch or two), whilst also adding to the overall ‘tool watch’ feel.
The case measures 42mm in diameter, excluding the crown, measuring 50.5mm from lug to lug. It’s a fraction over 14mm thick, though that domed crystal adds 4mm at the highest point. So, it’s heftier than a genuine vintage dive watch, but still a size that suits most modern wearers. The lugs are reasonably slim, with a utilitarian look that is not unattractive. There’s a screw-down crown, again signed with the Shoreham ‘broad arrow’-type logo. It lacks crown guards, but this can be overlooked as a design trait that is once again faithful to vintage dive watches – and since it screws down, that crown ain’t going anywhere anyway.
There are plenty of other great details if you look for them too. Flipping the watch over reveals a screw down case back with a repeating scalloped design – supposedly inspired by ‘the unrelenting swell of the Atlantic Ocean’ – as well as the brand’s ‘broad arrow’-style crest. Though the engraving could be a little deeper and more elaborate, it’s a lot nicer than a simple laser-etched line of text and a logo.
The knurled bezel is easy to grip and turns smoothly through 120 unidirectional clicks. Alignment is pleasingly crisp and precise, with very little play. The gloss black dial has nicely printed markers and text, overlaid with applied lumed indices. The handset consists of syringe-style, fully-lumed hour and minute hands, and a lollipop seconds hand with the tip finished in red, matching the ‘Monmouth’ dial text. It’s a small but well-executed touch that shows commendable attention to detail.
Critics might say that it’s not the most eye-catching dial. We sort of agree – we’d have loved to see a little more colour and texture. It would have been nice to use an applied logo too rather than just a printed one. Still, that would detract from the focus on function and in that sense the overall look is well resolved, with a pleasing symmetry. That’s down to the sensible placement of the white date window at 3 o’clock, which works in conjunction with a narrower marker to balance the broader markers placed at the other cardinal points. Unlike many other dive watches, the addition of a date window doesn’t ruin the rest of the dial. Incidentally, it also gives the Monmouth an edge over Chinese brand Steeldive’s well known budget homage to the Oris 65, which lacks a date function.
All lumed elements are liberally coated with fluorescent Swiss BGW9 Super-LumiNova compound. In daylight this shows a crisp white, but in low light conditions it takes on a luminous blue glow. Along with the Elliot Brown Bloxworth 3HD, it had the brightest and longest-lasting lume of all the watches we tested, being bested only by the tritium-powered Luminox. Bottom line? It works brilliantly whether you’re checking the time in a shadowy tent at 3 in the morning, or actually diving. So, it’s a versatile beast.
On which point, it’s worth highlighting the fact that the Monmouth is bundled in a handsome box along with not just one, not even two, but three straps: a black silicone rubber strap with white contrast stitching for ‘proper’ adventures (really soft but fully waterproof, and hypoallergenic too), a vintage-styled black Italian leather strap (presumably, for days when you’re chained to the desk) and a dressier stainless-steel Milanese bracelet. The last option might not be to everyone’s taste, but for us it conjures up sepia-tinted scenes of well-dressed Italians strolling along the golden beaches of the Amalfi coast. Or basically, a scene from a Tom Ford aftershave ad. You get quick-release spring bars and the lug-to-lug width is a very practical 20mm, so even if none of the supplied straps do it for you, a wealth of aftermarket additions are possible. We reckon it’s the sort of watch that would work just as well, for example, on a striped Bond-style NATO strap or a vintage textured rubber tropic diver.
We haven’t mentioned the watch’s innards up to now. As with probably 95% of other microbrand autos, the Monmouth is powered by the ubiquitous ‘workhorse’ NH35A movement, a 24-jewel, 21,600bph calibre built by Seiko. It’s Japanese, not Swiss, but it is ultra-reliable, inexpensive to maintain, and reasonably accurate for a mechanical timepiece – quoted tolerances for the NH35A are between -20 and +40 seconds per day. Our test sample of the Monmouth consistently ran well within that range. It’s a sensible choice.
So, while the Monmouth’s engine won’t excite watch nerds, it’s comparable to most other watches in its price range, and it does everything you’d want it to. It hacks, which means the seconds hand stops when you pull the crown out for precise time setting. It can also be hand-wound, so you can use the crown to wind the mainspring in addition to charging it via natural hand movement, just like any other automatic watch. Lastly, it has a decent power reserve of up to 41 hours. And perhaps we’ve just done the Monmouth a bit of a disservice there – after all, if you’ve only ever owned quartz watches up to now, the idea of an adventure watch that will never need a battery is still pretty cool.
Right, let’s wrap this up. So far, this brand and this watch both seem to have flown a little under the radar, even within the watch community, which is a shame. As you can probably tell, we like the Shoreham Monmouth, especially when you consider that the model is the brand’s first offering. We hope they go on to release more timepieces – and if they had a similar ‘vintage adventure tool watch’ vibe, then all the better. How about an Explorer-style sports watch next, chaps?
All in all, if you want subtle vintage dive watch styling but modern functionality, in a well-made, nicely executed and no-nonsense package, the Monmouth is a compelling choice. It retails at £299 direct from the brand (but bung in the code OUTDOORSMAGIC25 for £25 off – hey, you’re welcome). That isn’t small change, but for a solidly built automatic that will go anywhere you ask of it – including up to 300m under the sea – it is honestly priced and competitive.
Price: £299 / 316L premium grade stainless steel case / Screw down case back with unique serial number / Seiko NH35A automatic movement / 300m/30 ATM water resistance / 120 click unidirectional ceramic bezel. Fully lumed / Single dome sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating / Swiss Super Lumi-Nova: Premium grade BGW9 / Screw down, signed crown / Three straps included: stainless steel Milanese, black Italian leather and black silicone rubber.