We have been very excited by the news of the Lederer Central Impulse Chronometer, and have covered the watch in its earliest release and later in the final commercial form. Recently, we had the opportunity to examine the first prototype in person, and bring you these pictures.
The watch we photograph and present here is still a prototype. It was not working when we examined it, and it was equipped with plexiglass without anti-reflective coatings on both surfaces. The commercial delivery watch will come with both crystals in sapphire glass, and coated with anti-reflective treatment. And of course, fully functional, and meeting chronometer specifications. But let us tell you this right off the bat. This watch is impressive! The crystals on both sides are like domes, extending to a thin sliver of the bezel which then extends smoothly into the equally thin case middle. In the prototype, the case material is in stainless steel, but final commercial releases will be in precious metal – the blue dial version we show here will have a white gold case. And another version in a silver dial is also offered.
But before we get ahead of ourselves, first, please do read these two articles to get the basic idea of what we are discussing:
- Release information on the Lederer Central Impulse Chronometer. This article describes the technical innovation of the Central Impulse Chronometer system which is achieved via double trains equipped with double remontoires, and a discourse on the direct impulse system.
- Release details on final design.
From the original release, the version that we gravitated towards was the one with the closed dial. We understand Lederer will not offer this version commercially, but we loved it because it was the most discreet version. Looking at the watch, there is no indication to the complexity of the movement within. It looked like a regular 3 hand watch, with its subsidiary seconds hand at 8 o’clock. Very understated. Till you flip the watch over to see the movement side. And then all breaks loose, and jaws begin to drop. Sublime.
Live pictures of the new Lederer Central Impulse Chronometer
While the release versions retain the same awesome looking case back view and the aesthetics of the front of the watch has gained refinement, with this revision comes a more showy stance. A figure of 8 aperture is opened on the dial to frame and showcase the two fourth wheels bearing two subsidiary seconds hands. The hands are in synchronization, but rotate in opposite directions. We go from “Wow” to “Kapow”! Guess, in the process, you gain some, you lose some as we breathe a soft sigh for the loss of the covertness of a covered dial.
The dial side
Immediately apparent on picking up the watch is that it is very slim. The 44mm case diameter feels much thinner than the 12.2mm total watch height would suggest. This is due to the tapering of the double dome glass into a very small, highly polished bezel which is presented in a smooth, convex shape which in turns tapers into the case middle. The rear bezel is similarly very small and highly polished. The overall impression is that the watch head itself is a slim disc, with rounded edges. The lugs are very short, further giving the vibes of a large watch head, and a dial which seem to extend to the very edges of the case.
The dial itself is anodized in blue – a light, satin like sheen hue, which can appear darker or lighter depending on angle of the light. The basic layout is a large chapter ring on the outer edge which is grained, and an inner medallion which features a Clous de Paris style guilloché pattern. A minute track which is laid down in white transfer print occupies the outermost edge at the periphery. Branding is a small text saying “LEDERER” around the inner side of this minute track at about 4 o’clock. Very understated, and we really appreciate the low key branding, and the restraint to publicize the sophistication of the movement with additional text.
Hour markers are appliqué bars for 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 9. The 12 is marked as an Arabic numeral appliqué . The markers for 8 and 10 are missing as the dual seconds aperture overlap the position.
Which brings us to back the apertures on the dial. The two openings in the watch face which show the dual seconds hands are bordered by interlaced circles. The watch we had on hand was a non-operational prototype, so we could not examine the synchronized counter-rotating seconds hands. The counter openings have an anglage edge in silver, and overlap to form a figure of 8 or a rotated infinity symbol. The upper one at 10 o’clock is simply marked at 20 second intervals and hand rotates counter clockwise. While the lower one is the operating subsidiary seconds hand is marked for the seconds and rotates in the usual clockwise fashion. Both sub-dials are skeletonized to show a glimpse of the movement.
The case back
The case back is the one which draws the ooh and ahs. The back bezel, so to speak is miniscule. And the glass dome cover extends to the very edge. Through it, one can see the mounting points of the movement, as well as the entire movement. The movement layout is symmetrical, and very appealing. Bridges are straight grained, with ample anglage applied to their edges. And 5 of the 7 bridges are skeletonized. Starting from the bridge which carries the keyless works and driving mechanism to the double barrels in gold. The barrels bear the engravings touting the branding and texts advertising the specialty of the movement. The complex click mechanism with a central wheel with wolf’s teeth and two peripheral click springs is visible right in the middle, and from here, the winding force of the crown is translated to wind both barrels. The two trains, with gold wheels are symmetrical, and the two constant force remontoires flank the balance wheel in the middle.
Tracing the power flow on both wings of the movement, the remontoire is visible on each train, with their wolf teeth on the outer edge of the wheel, and the remontoire spring coiled within. The remontoire is blocked as one of the wolf teooth engages with lever as it is being charged by the train over a 10 second interval. The lock is released once every 10 seconds and relocks as the remontoire spring jumps to discharge its power immediately to provide a constant force impulse to drive the fourth wheel. This effect will be visible as the seconds hand will be seen to jump once every 10 seconds. As it does, it drives the escape wheel, which engages with the balance wheel via the direct impulse system. This is a complicated escapement system, and among other things, require a design of the anchor to take into consideration its tiny size, shape, and the contact surface as it interacts with the escapement tooth and balance wheel impulse pallet.
In this prototype, finishing is not exceptional. There are many instances where we could see errors in finishing, incomplete processing and some burrs which needed removal, as can be seen in these high resolution photographs. However, we think this is par for the course for a prototype. And are certain that given what we know of Bernhard Lederer and his skill levels as a Master Watchmaker and Master craftsman, the final commercial product will be finished at a top level.
Pricing is at CHF 128,000 before taxes, (The Singapore retail is set at about SGD 200,000 with GST), which we feel is quite reasonable for a watch with this level of technicality and rarity (only 50 pieces – 25 in WG and 25 in RG are offered). We still would like to see the closed dial version being offered, perhaps in a more sedate stainless steel model, and if that were an option, it would be our preferred model. But currently we are told, there is no such plans.
As the crystals are plexiglass with no anti-reflecting coatings, the watch as presented picked up reflections of the insides of the softbox. Care was taken with black flags to reduce these reflections, but they are still there. We also did not have the luxury of photographing the watch in our own studio where we can take our time, but did the photographs in The Hour Glass HQ, and only had about half an hour. We also did not have the opportunity to do a deep clean of the watch, and as the sample had been handled multiple times over the day, was presented with some dust particles. We only managed a quick touchup session post production.
The photographs were taken with the new Fujifilm GFX 50S II with either the Hasselblad HC 4/120 Macro lens or the HC 2.8/80 with H26 Extension Tube. Both Hasselblad lenses are attached to the body via the H Adapter, and focus was achieved manually. As usual, Profoto strobes were used.