don't buy a St. Moritz made-in-Canada watch

m. werneburg, 2011.06.12

This is my former watch. It's a "Momentum" by St. Moritz.

dead St. Moritz Momentum timepiece
St. Moritz Momentum timepiece

I bought it because it was the only timepiece I could find that was made in Canada. And by "made in Canada" I mean made somewhere outside of Canada, and assembled in the country. I tried buying a watch that way because I like to support local business.

Well, I was wrong to in this case. This is not a good wrist-watch.

The problems began when I bought the nice-looking stitched leather band. During the first Summer I worse the watch, the leather simply fell apart. I've worn leather-banded watches for years, and never seen anything like it. Disappointed, I bought a second one—an expensive and slow process given that I was by then living in Japan. That second band also rotted away in the course of a year. Getting nothing from St. Moritz in the way of support, I foolishly bought a metal band despite loathing the things.

This last purchase was simply throwing good money after bad. The metal bands are much more expensive, and while the thing managed to last two whole years, this longevity was more than the watch itself had in it. Because during the unusually hot Tokyo summer of 2010, the watch suddenly fogged up. I don't know if it was moisture or mold, and I don't care—it's supposed to be a watertight watch suitable for diving.

In November of 2010, I finally had a chance to take the thing into the Mountain Equipment Co-op in Toronto. This isn't where I'd bought it, but they do sell them. Walking up to the sales counter that displays the latest model of this same watch, I told the fellow, "Hi, I bought one of these watches."

"That's too bad," he said. In the ensuing conversation, it turned out that everybody's leather bands had disintegrated, and that St. Moritz no longer sells the things. Instead, they sell a faux-leather that's suppose to last longer. He held one up for me and instructed me to smell it. Chocolate? Yes, they'd impregnated the fake leather with the smell of chocolate. I have no idea why. In any event, the fellow at the counter told me to take the watch to the service counter for a trip back to the "manufacturer" (ie "assembler").

I did that. The woman there told me that many of the watches were turning up fogged. When I asked, "What about the dive rating," she said that she'd heard from the manufacturer that prolonged exposure to humidity was actually worse than outright immersion in water. Sounds nuts to me, but not as nutty as chocolate-flavored watch bands.

By January, I got the watch back. The fogging was gone. But now the watch was moving slowly. "New battery," I told myself, and took it to a shop here in the neighborhood where I now live. A couple of days after the battery switch, the thing started getting progressively later again. I'd been warned that this might happen by the jeweler who sold me the battery; but he'd warned that that would mean the thing needs to be disassembled and properly repaired.

So I can't use it. And I've now paid for a total of three bands for this timepiece, and in only five years I've watched it become useless and/or in need of an overhaul despite no strenuous use. Given the money I've already thrown at at, I'm leery to spend more on a repair that could be required again in only a few years.

Update, 2017: I eventually threw the thing away in disgust and frustration. Some readers have left comments asking what I expected from a St. Moritz. I guess I'd been programmed to expect durability because the watch I wore prior to the St. Moritz was a Pulsar that my parents bought me as a graduation gift in 1989. That watch survived fifteen years of daily wear.

An inexpensive Lorus watch, 3x as durable as a St. Moritz Momentum

I now wear a Seiko day to day, and have had no problems with it and no sign that it won't last for many years to come. It's the mechanical SARB033 I mention in the link below, and it cost less in the end than my ill-fated St. Moritz. The $50 Casio beater I wear on the weekends is also running without issue. I've had both watches for four years.

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quietly despairing with Seiko's SARB 033


Seiko's SARB line of watches exist to give "aspirational" Grand Seiko owners something with which to pretend it's all right.

my fishing watch – the Casio MDV-106


I bought a beater Casio that turned out to be a fine watch –with a few warts.

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