Hands On With The Vertex M100

Hands On With The Vertex M100

Richard Brown





In certain circles the name Vertex has almost legendary status.

Vertex M100

Vertex M100 - Credit WatchGecko

Yet oddly, it's not a brand you see very often. It was founded in 1916 by a gentleman called Claude Lyons, who was born in 1885 and, by the age of 17, started working in the watch industry.

Claude learned quickly and built up an excellent reputation. In 1906 he set up Dreadnought Watches with a £1000 loan and, by 1915, had evolved to a position where he was making watches for the British Military.

He established two headquarters, one in London and one in Switzerland, to allow him to maximize his expertise in both countries and build a variety of watches for the time. He was, in fairness, just another quality British watch brand; however, all that changed with the onset of World War 2. In 1941 Claude’s son Henry became a Captain in the British Army and found himself in a position to influence the procurement of a new generation of British military watches.

Vertex M100Vertex M100 - Credit WatchGecko

As we have documented many times on the WatchGecko YouTube channel and Magazine, World War 2 was a defining moment for the evolution of military wristwatches. The Americans created the A-11, which would spawn classics such as the Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical. The British War Office went down a very similar route; however, unlike the A-11, the British military model would have a small sub-dial rather than a full seconds hand.

Anyone who knows World War 2 watches can guess where this is going; however, if you've never heard of The Dirty Dozen, here is a brief history. When the British World War 2 watch design had been locked, twelve manufacturers responded to a tender for designs and began production against the same technical specifications. All twelve of these watches would eventually go into military service, some in huge numbers and some in very limited numbers, each one representing a slightly different take on the same specification. Collectively they would be known as The Dirty Dozen. The watches came from Longines, IWC, Omega, Record, Buren, Cyma, Eterna, Grana (super rare), JLC, Lemania, Timor and last, but by no means least, Vertex. Today a full Dirty Dozen collection is a prize most can only dream of.

Vertex M100AVertex M100 - Credit WatchGecko

Post World War 2, Vertex’s progress was steady, but the invention of Japanese quartz in the 60s and 70s rattled the entire watch industry and ultimately was a death knell to Vertex. In 1974 the company closed its doors.

Fast forward to 2015, and Claude Lyons’ great grandson Don Cochrane rekindled the name Vertex with a mission to make super high-quality British watches. His first offering was the M100 which paid homage to the original The Dirty Dozen Calibre 59 from World War 2.

A couple of months ago WatchGecko bought an M100A from Vertex to use as an alternate photo model in the studio. We see many watches; however it is rare to take delivery of a model where the build quality is so high and the attention to detail so good that it almost stuns the office collectively into silence. Omegas and Rolexes were cast aside in the queue to try on the M100.

Vertex M100AVertex M100 - Credit WatchGecko

The 2023 M100A is a 40-millimetremillimeter tribute to the original World War 2 military watch. The deal closely mirrors the 1940s watch, but it is without question a thoroughly modern interpretation. The current M100A comes with a custom automatic Swiss movement with Vertex’s Calibre 59 ratchet weight. It is an automatic Selitta SW260-1 Executive 31 jewel unit adjusted in five positions with an accuracy of +/-4 to 15 seconds per day.

The dial of the M100 is unique and beautiful. It has subtle texturing with the Vertex name and the British Broad Arrow front and center. The Broad Arrow originally denoted that a product was fit for military service. The well-proportioned hands are deeply filled with X1 Super Luminova, and the minute hand exactly reaches the military-style outer track. However, the stars of the show are the three-dimensional lumed numerals which are cut-out precision shapes. The numbers pop out of the dial giving a superb aesthetic and low-light display. All of this adds up to a watch this is so visually interesting you just keep revolving it in your hand, looking at it from every angle, noticing the fine concentric lines on the base of the sub-dial or the beautiful sweep of the small second's hand and the purposeful red zero dots at the 12 markers.

The M100A is presented in an original military specification Peli Case and comes with a leather and NATO strap. The whole pack comes in a canvas Diplomatic style bag with the letter W.W.W stamped on it. The W.W.W stamp was on the back of Dirty Dozen watches and denoted Watches Wristlet Waterproof.

Vertex M100Vertex M100 - Credit WatchGecko

The evocative packaging and ethos behind the watch simply captivate you. As you are unpacking it, you feel like you should be putting black camouflage face paint on and checking your equipment prior to embarking on a dangerous mission.

The deep feelings which the Vertex M100A generates, however all-encompassing, cannot be allowed to detract from the fact that this is, in every measurable way, an outstanding watch. It is beautifully built and made with such an attention to detail that it rivals any product internationally. Priced at £2500, the watch is worth every penny, and when you consider what you get for two times or three times this much from one of the Swiss giants, it represents good value.

But almost more important than that, The Vertex has an incredible story, and this thoroughly modern watch oozes the DNA of the World War Two classic. If the back story behind a watch means anything to you as a buyer, then you definitely need to look more closely at Vertex.


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Richard Brown

About the Author: Richard Brown

About the Author: Richard Brown

I truly believe one of the best partners in exploration and adventure is a fine watch. Over 30 years of collecting, my fascination with the technical capabilities of both vintage and modern timepieces has never abated and it is a privilege to be able to share this passion through writing.

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