Off the Cuff: Manime La F.

In the past few years I’ve been delighted to see an explosion of French independent brands. Names such as Serica, Baltic, Neotype, SYE, and now Manime. The latter is the latest player in the field of international watchmaking in that the brand was founded by Édouard Paris, a French watch enthusiast who lives in Thailand. I know, maybe this fact doesn’t make Manime French entirely, but its first model displays certain aesthetic values that I’ve now come to fully associate with the modern French horological tradition. There is a certain je ne sais quoi (totally appropriate for me to say this since I’m French) that makes La F stand out from the myriad of time-only dress watches with which new brands generally start. 

Manime La F. Microbrand Watch Review
La F. by Manime @mainspring.watch

This visual tradition can be seen in the delicacy of the proportions of the watch, its refined finishing, and its affordable price tag. Just like Charlie Paris and Neotype’s founders, Édouard wanted to make watches for the people who are the closest to him. His goal was to make original and good quality watchmaking affordable to his family and friends and that is a value that I’ve seen transpire through the work of several French brand owners. As we will see below, La F is an everyday timepiece that comes with some serious specs and an attractive price tag. 

Manime La F. Microbrand Watch Review
Unique styling @mainspring.watch
Manime La F. Microbrand Watch Review
Radially brushed dial @mainspring.watch

La F. stands for “La François” and is named after one of Édouard’s closest childhood friends. It’s a mid-size watch by today’s standards as the case comes in with a diameter of 40mm, a lug-to-lug of 45mm, a thickness of 10.20mm (including the crystal) and a lug width of 20mm. As its dimensions indicate, it sits flat on the wrist and is extremely comfortable to wear. And one might think that with only 10.20mm of thickness and an early bird price tag of $341, one would find a quartz movement within. But one would be wrong. La F. comes with a Miyota 9039 that beats at 28,800 BPH (4Hz) and offers 42 hours of power reserve. 

Manime La F. Microbrand Watch Review
Powered by the Miyota 9039 @mainspring.watch

Furthering the list of cool specs is the sandwich sapphire crystal construction. The front piece is of the double-domed variant while the back is a flat piece of sapphire. Having a see-through caseback makes it possible to gaze upon the Miyota movement within. It’s quite nice to see an automatic movement in such a thin case as it gives the impression of being able to touch it. Moving to the dial, the gray sections are adorned with a fine radial finish and the case displays an intricate succession of polished and brushed surfaces. The top and side of the case is brushed, while the lugs, the bezel, and the chamfer on the mid-case are polished. 

Manime La F. Microbrand Watch Review
Mix of brushed and polished finishes @mainspring.watch

Although you won’t take La F. diving (it comes with 50 meters of water resistance), you will however be able to read time in dim conditions as the hour markers and hands are covered with decent amounts of C1 SuperLuminova. Last but not least: La F. comes on a mesh bracelet with quick-release spring bars and drilled lug holes to make swapping straps something of an easy process. 

Manime La F. Microbrand Watch Review
C1 Super-LumiNova @mainspring.watch

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Specs

Case316L Stainless Steel
40mm Diameter
45mm
10.2mm Thick
20mm Lug Width
Screw Down Caseback
50m Water Resistance
Dial & CrystalDomed Sapphire Crystal
/w AR
Radially Brushed Dial
Applied Markers
C1 Super-LumiNova
MovementMiyota 9039
24 Jewels
28 800bph
42-Hour Power Reserve
StrapStainless Steel Mesh

Nezumi VM1S


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Of Interest

La F. offers something unique and different and I was immediately attracted to two elements in particular: the elegant and well-made dial that comes with multi-faceted and polished applied markers that remind me of the dials of 1950s Rolex Oyster Perpetuals; and the rounded and square case with its cut out ends that look badass (for the lack of a more elegant word). The clasp is also worth noting as it comes with a unique (at least to me) system of adjustments in that it has very small links that join the mesh bracelet to the clasp. One can remove the small links to size the bracelet. This is a nice complement to the double deployant clasp. 

Manime La F. Microbrand Watch Review
Elegant dial @mainspring.watch

The dial is to me the icing on the cake. I find that the needle-shaped polished hour markers look elegant and classic, and combined with the fully polished Dauphine hands the whole package looks like it’s coming from…well, I don’t actually know because I’ve never seen anything quite like it before. I am also smitten with the radial finish on the dial that is both visible and delicate, a bit like a satin texture. All of this makes La F. an elegant—almost dressy—everyday timepiece. I wouldn’t actually say it’s a dress piece because the angular case makes it look sporty. Perhaps the best way to describe it is by saying that La F. is cool. I know, this doesn’t make me sound fancy. 

Manime La F. Microbrand Watch Review
Slim profile @mainspring.watch

Quibbles 

Alas, I did find one quibble with La F. And this is something most of you might glance over and don’t care for. It’s the fact that the logo was printed on the sapphire see-through case-back meaning that it’s a tad difficult to see the Miyota 9039. Perhaps that could be a deal-breaker if La F. came with a fully-decorated movement with perlage finish and heated blued screws. You know, having a thousand-dollar movement semi-hidden from us because of a logo. So this is at its best a mild quibble but a quibble nevertheless. 

Manime La F. Microbrand Watch Review
La F. by Manime @mainspring.watch

Final Thoughts 

What do you feel when you hear someone say, “That’s a lot of watch for the money?” It’s an expression that has been overused by watch journalists like me. Yet, this is exactly what I want to say about La F. However, I will circle back to a point I made earlier: Édouard designed La F. for the people he is close to. For his family and friends, so that they can have a good quality timepiece strapped to their wrist. So that they don’t have to waste $200 on a fashion watch made en masse and instead wear a unique piece of horology. 

Moreover, La F. comes with great specifications for the price (yes, I just said it!) as you get a sandwich sapphire construction, a premium Miyota 9039 movement, outstanding finish on the dial and a unique case shape.

The early bird price will be $340 and full retail will be $401. La F. comes in four dial colors—black, blue, green and red—and launched yesterday, September 27, 2022. To know more about La F. and Manime, check out their website.


Vincent Deschamps is a museum professional, originally from France, with more than 10 years experience as a researcher, producing visitor experiences for national and international organizations. He is also the founder of mainspring.watch. You can follow Vincent on Instagram.


Off The Cuff articles are full-length, hands-on reviews of the watch in question and represent the opinion of the author only. All photos are original, unless specified otherwise. If you would like to have your watch reviewed on this site, contact us here.

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