Originally, when BLACKFISTS received one of Mint Evolutive’s Defender watches to review, the urge to compare the watch to high-end brands came to mind. After spending a few weeks with the watch, we were gravitating towards calling it the “Tudor Pelagos without the wallet strain,” as a means of categorizing the Seiko-powered, Frenchman curated, interchangeable and quality-crafted timepiece as it does, in fact, have the feel of a luxurious powerhouse. But it would be a disservice to Mint Evolutive and the brand’s mastermind, Alexandre Besson, to put it in a box, as the only box it’s meant to reside in is the one in which it came.
Upon receipt of the Defender Premium Kit, which can be found here, we were quite pleased with how it feels on-wrist. As a watch built for modders, it’s meant for the curious-hearted and the ever-changing mind. Some watch specs that are noteworthy are its NH35A JPN-21600 VPH movement with a 41 hour power reserve, honey comb dial, strong-as-hell 316L stainless steel case that boasts 40X49X12.4MM dimensions, AR-coated sapphire crystal, screw-down crown, and 200 meter water resistance.
To ensure versatility, each watch kit is equipped with tools to change bands, is generously packaged with “bezel removal blades” that make it easy-as-pie to swap bezels, and any other tool you can imagine necessary to have the most fun for your money. Its perlon straps are comfortable, durable, and sharp and its metal bracelet is far-from-cheap and features both polished and brushed stainless steel.
It’s a joy to swap out parts and the 120-click bezel comes in 3 colors that complement the perlon straps, onyx, night sky, and maroon. In speaking with Mint Evolutive’s mastermind, Alexandre Besson, we learned a bit about the history of his horological journey and the passion it took to create evolutive watches for the everyday man.
Besson’s late father was a great, accomplished gentleman and lover of watches, and the world of modification became a possibility for Besson when he inherited some of his father’s Seikos. Another source of inspiration was found while Besson was doing design work for a client. He found out “about the watch modding subculture and instantly fell in love with the hobby.” He likes “the idea of being able to modify the watch and the ‘challenge’ behind sourcing parts, tools, and reassembling the timepiece” by himself.
The creative ethos of his watches are not in consumerism, but rather in ownership and work. “While people take a lot of satisfaction in possessing things, to me, fulfillment is in accomplishments. I believe it is the journey, the learning process that allows us to grow and [gain] [positive] self-esteem. The interaction between the customer and the product creates that feeling of [positive] self-esteem, being proud of what you are able to do, not just buy. In the end, we’re replacing the bling and show off-y value with self-esteem and fulfillment. I know that might sound a bit philosophical, especially when the market has been pushing us for the last 50 years to always consume more, making us believe that we only exist to purchase goods or liabilities to feed capitalism.” But Besson is totally right, it’s not about what you have, it’s about what you do, and it’s refreshing to have that as a reminder on your wrist.
Some watches that Mint Evolutive drew inspiration from were the “Longines Legend Diver, Rolex Explorer 6350, Panerai 3646, Rolex Datejust 16264 ‘Turn-o-Graph,’ and some details from the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Incabloc for [their] ceramic bezels.”
Although Besson’s father’s Seikos were part of his journey, one watch started everything off. While he was walking “the streets of Tsim Sha Tsui, [he] came across a Rolex 6541 in a window display of champagne court. [He] was immediately hooked by the aesthetic of that piece. It was only a couple of months later while [he was doing] research on the internet, that [he] found out about the story of that watch and the different models released for the US and EU markets. Looking at those pictures, you realize that by just changing the bezel, the watch itself has a completely different vibe. It all started the concept of Mint brand, being a watch that can be worn on any occasion.
[He] indeed purposely reused those proportion characteristics – the long drilled lugs, the classy yet subtle crown size as well as the chamfer on the side of the case.” Besson insisted on “keeping the proportions, and made the watch up to today’s sizing standards with modern materials & technology,orking every design detail to make sure that the watch will look good either with a smooth or rotating bezel.”