When I read that Mugen would be creating a special edition of the Civic Type R sedan, I immediately thought two things: It would be awesome... but, I would probably never see one in person. The Milano red, 240 horsepower beast would be a limited to only 300 units, sold only in Japan. The Mugen Type RR (ABA-FD2) sold out in minutes, some going for double the sticker price.
Mugen must have heard the collective sound of JDM hearts breaking around the world. Their answer: celebrate the Type RR by creating an RR-themed wristwatch, the Mugen Time Machine. Not just any watch – but a true timepiece that could rival Seiko’s Sportura line of racing-inspired watches. The design would have to walk the fine line between being lazily rebadged (“just slap a Mugen logo on it!”) versus grotesquely over-designed (“let’s mold the case in the shape of a car and add aero vents!”). Mugen’s designers walked that fine line, and did it brilliantly. The designers chose to use the Type RR’s unique tachymeter as the starting point for design inspiration, while borrowing cues from materials and details you’ll find beyond the RR’s cockpit.
The result is a well-made, exceptionally-executed exercise in product design that takes the soul of the Type RR and puts it on your wrist. Mugen boiled it down: Carbon fiber. Red stitching on black. Tachymeter typefaces and markings. High-RPM redline. Gunmetal with red accents. Top-end mechanical engineering.
The design of the watch face (the “dial”) is styled after the actual tachymeter in the Type RR. The attention to detail is remarkable and on par with the quality found in Mugen’s other products.
The watch face is styled after the tachymeter found in Mugen’s Civic Type RR. The homage to the vehicle is the most literal in this design aspect, and it works well. A thin red stripe surrounds the outer edge of the dial from 6 o’clock to 3 o’clock. Numeral typefaces match those found on the Type RR, complete with a “x 1000r/min” marking. The second hand is a thin solid red arm that looks just like the tachymeter needle. The Mugen logo appears in white just below the 12 o’clock position.
The watch face surface is carbon fiber, a clean upscale finish. The hour and minute hands are chrome with luminescent inserts that glow in the dark after being exposed to light.
A squared date window is set into the 3 o’clock position, nicely done as white numbers against a black field (In lesser watches, manufacturers sometimes cut corners and use black numbers against white). I appreciate that the date window is framed in a subdued matte black; Mugen’s designers resisted the trend to make the date frame chrome or white.
Surrounding the dial is a world time dial. This rotating dial frames the watch face like a slide rule and displays the relative times in various countries around the world, including Cairo, Tokyo, Los Angeles, and more (23 cities in all). The display also includes a thick red line that mimics the redline area of the Type RR’s tach. The dial moves by rotating a ruggedly-molded knob that is finished in black with a red detail. My only gripe about this knob is that it lacks any kind of resistance, gliding a bit too easily.
Made from black ion-plated stainless steel, the watch case is a dark matte gunmetal finish with chiseled edges around the crown and strap lugs. The bezel, crown and world time knob are the same color but in a gloss. The dial pulls out nicely and has discrete clicks at position one (to set the date) and two (to set the time). I like watches like this that have very little play when you set the time.
The case is water resistant, rated at 10 BAR (aka 10 ATM, 100m, 330ft). So it will hold up for swimming and snorkeling, but not for aggressive submersion uses like high-board diving or sub-aqua diving.
The watch case measures 46mm, including the crown. From lug to lug (measured vertically), it’s just shy of 50mm. The Time Machine’s 46mm case size is larger than a typical Seiko 5 (40mm), but not so large that you’re pushing U-Boat territory (55mm+). Personally, I prefer watch cases between 42mm and 47mm. The case thickness is about 15mm, so it sits off your wrist a bit higher than most watches. This is great if you need a watch that won’t slip out of sight under a jacket cuff (which is what you’d want while driving).
If you’ve ever shopped for a watch that cost more than $200, then you know that high end watches are typically automatic winding (or “self-winding”). The “engine” of the watch is a mechanical machine (called a “movement”) powered by the motion of the wearer’s arm (instead of via a battery, electricity, or physical winding of the stem). A weighted rotor turns in response to motion, which in turn winds the mainspring. If you wear your watch daily, it will stay perpetually ready to go, and you’ll never have to do anything (such as replace batteries or wind the stem). The downside is that if the watch is unworn for a day or two, it will wind down and you’ll have to set the time.
For this reason, some watch collectors buy a watch winder. You can buy one for as little as $30, or fairly good ones can be purchased from Brookstone for $100-200. A watch winder is basically an electrical watch display case that also rotates your watch at periodic intervals. When I’m not wearing my Mugen Time Machine, it is on display (and getting wound) in a watch winder.
This Mugen timepiece has a sweeping seconds hand that glides across the dial nicely. Watching the seconds tick by echoes the thrill of revving the Type RR’s 2.0-liter DOHC i-VTEC.
The movement appears to be a Seiko-made Y675B, a solid choice by Mugen that will be maintenance-free for quite a while.
Under the Hood
Turn the watch around and you’ll find a transparent crystal on the exhibition caseback that reveals the mechanical heart of the watch. “Lift the hood” by looking through the clear 22mm diameter window to admire the weighted rotor and the tiny, precise pulsing of the innards. The Mugen logo and the words “The Time Machine” are printed on the inside of the crystal in gray. Surrounding the crystal are etchings indicating assembly and movement origins, and that the watch is water resistant.
I ordered my Time Machine with the cloth strap (a version with a matching black ion-plated stainless steel band is also available at additional cost). The heavy-weave cloth strap has a nice thickness and weight that curves to your wrist very well. The textured surface features red stitching along the straps and the strap loops, matching the red-on-black stitching you find in many Mugen interior accessories (and the seats in my EP3). The inside of the strap has a thin black lining that feels soft against your skin. The metal buckle is dark gunmetal with a slight gloss finish that matches the crown and bezel. There are no markings on the outside of the buckle; I would have loved to see the Mugen kanji stamped on it. The underside of the buckle has a tiny “INOX” stamp on it, which means that it is inoxidable stainless steel (and not just regular steel).
The fitment of the strap is comfortable and tailored to favor smaller (Asian) wrists. I use the forth strap hole (from the top) on this watch, compared to my other watches where I usually use one of the first three. That said, it will still fit larger wrists just fine (unless you have wrists as thick as exhaust pipe).
The Time Machine comes in a sturdy custom presentation box. The outside of the box is silver, black and metallic red with a faux carbon fiber finish and white Mugen logo. Open the hinged lid and you’ll find another Mugen logo and the watch propped up in by a foam cylinder. A tightly-folded instruction booklet sits beneath the foam, and is extremely detailed. I was relieved to see that instructions are in English as well as Japanese, since most Mugen products only include Japanese instructions.
Mugen has set the bar for Honda-themed timepieces. A masterful balance of design and engineering, the Mugen Time Machine RR is a must-have for Mugen and watch enthusiasts alike.
About the Author. Perry Wang is a designer, auto-enthusiast and manager based in Portland, Oregon. He's one of the founders of Trigger Global, a digital marketing firm in Los Angeles. His Honda and Mugen illustrations can be found at AngryYoda.com.
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