search

Albert Villa Casablanca (Yellow) Watch Review

by Jul 7, 2024Albert Villa, Limited Edition

The watch industry (and many watch collectors (sorry!)) can sometimes be seen to have a snobby view on less expensive watches, however, no matter what the budget, a common factor is that most watches are made almost purely for pleasure of the wearer.  Many wearers’ pleasures may be satiated by fancy complications, high design cases and dials, or exquisite hand finishing, whilst others are content with something that they appreciate the look of.

Enter Albert Villa Timepieces, a small micro brand from Bucharest, Romania, inspired by and named after the founder’s avid watch collecting grandfather (Albert Villa); who seem to be making inexpensive watches that people seem to just like.

The Casablanca is the brand’s first collection and it definitely brings with it, a very different look – owner of Albert Villa Timepieces, Marian Mirea, explains the inspiration behind the Casablanca:

The Casablanca is a tribute to one of the most popular movies of all time, Casablanca. The movie and its theme song, “As Time Goes By,” have become pop culture icons. In order to highlight the place and atmosphere of the film’s actions, I chose the leitmotif for the dial, one of the most famous elements of Islamic art and culture , “Arabesque”, for the realization of which I used the engraving and enamelling techniques with cold enamel.  The idea of its creation came to me during a trip to Morocco and implicitly to the city of Casablanca, where I was fascinated by the wealth of architectural elements from the Hassan II mosque.  In addition to this aspect, when choosing the design themes and the name also contributed to the beautiful story from the movie of the same name Casablanca, with Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman.  So from the idea to the realization of this collection it was only one step to take, after returning home from the trip I created that design and personally produced the dials in my workshop.

Albert Villa Casablanca Yellow

Albert Villa Casablanca Yellow

Face & case

The 31 x 46mm rectangular case is gold coated stainless steel, which has been given a “frosted” finish to the upward facing surfaces, as well as the case sides, whilst bevelled edges of the case and the sides of the lugs have a polished finish.

Inside the glittering frame, a bright canary yellow dial with a geometric pattern on it sits beneath the sapphire crystal, which sits flush with the bezel.  The dial appears glossy and shines brighter when light catches a reflection on it.  The dial itself has been done using a cold enamelling technique, with gold wires creating the geometric leitmotif pattern, which repeats itself in a sort of flower shape out from the centre.  The gold wires separate the yellow enamel areas.

There are no indices, logos or other markings on the dial whatsoever.

The delicate hour and minute hands are in a Dauphine style; in a gold colour to match the case and the straight seconds hand is so thin it can barely be seen.

A small, flat crown sits at 3 o’clock, with a rounded Art Deco style A on the end, representing the brand name, Albert Villa.

Turn the watch over and the screw down case back is in stainless steel, with a vertical linear brushed effect.  There are various engravings visible, including an Art Deco style border design which outline “Albert Villa”, “Casablanca” and “Limited Edition 01/25”.

Albert Villa Casablanca Yellow Case Back

Albert Villa Casablanca Yellow Case Back

Movement

Powered by the automatic Miyota 9038, functions are limited to time only, however, interestingly there is a stop second when the crown is pulled out to set.

It runs at a frequency of 28,800 vph, features 24 jewels and has a 42 hours power reserve once fully wound.

Albert Villa Casablanca Yellow Strap & Buckle

Albert Villa Casablanca Yellow Strap & Buckle

Strap

The Casablanca was delivered with 3 very different straps, all of which can be seen in the images within this article.  First, is a classic antique brown lizard, with brown stitching; the second is brown ostrich leg, with yellow accents and brown stitching; and the third is in gold stingray, with no visible stitching.  All have beige leather lining, with the Albert Villa stamp along the length of one side.

Each strap has quick release pins and also included a brushed gold coloured steel pin buckle. 

Just to point out that should you purchase one, you will have a choice of 2 straps.

Albert Villa Casablanca Yellow Side & Crown

Albert Villa Casablanca Yellow Side & Crown

Other Stuff

The owner of Albert Villa Timepieces, Maria, actually owns and operates Mario Straps, a strap and leather goods making business too, hence the wild array of strap choice possibilities.

Albert Villa Casablanca Yellow On the Wrist

Albert Villa Casablanca Yellow On the Wrist

Our verdict

This is a fun watch.  It’s also slightly crazy, but my eccentric side is so very drawn to its bold appearance.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought to match a frosted gold case with a bright yellow dial – the multiple strap choices also mean the watch can be even more outrageous than it already is!  (Especially the gold stingray)

I am not usually a big fan of square edged watches, however, the Casablanca very much suits the rectangular shape and almost needs it to hold the geometric dial design together.

On the wrist, it’s very light and wears comfortably, almost as if there isn’t a watch there (until you catch a glimmer of it in the corner of your eye).  At only 9mm thick, it’s also relatively thin, slipping under almost any cuff quite comfortably.

As someone who spends a lot of time looking at more expensive watches, I definitely feel the difference; mostly in the weight but I also feel the difference in the movement when setting the time.  Let’s remember, though, that at only 498 EUR though, the price is inexpensive by any means.  Only 25 pieces will be made (and the fact it’s definitely not everyone’s taste), I doubt you will come across another one on your travels.  This colour version is actually sold out.

Some may say it looks tacky and/or cheap, but whilst it may not be a watch that one might reach for too often, I say they should loosen off a little and appreciate some things for what they are.  Fun and crazy.

Another collection has recently been released, which pairs a round cases, exotic dials and a Swiss automatic movement, so I’m interested to see how the brand evolves.

https://albertvillatimepieces.com/

 

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *