Moritz Grossmann reveals a new world timer, which they call the Universalzeit. We had a detailed preview and photoshoot session to present to you this comprehensive review.
This novelty is debuting at Sincere Fine Watches in Singapore and an opportunity to experience the Universalzeit will be first offered by Moritz Grossmann together with Sincere Fine Watches in Singapore from 23 February to 23 March 2022. The global embargo lifts tomorrow, but a special dispensation allows us to publish this review today.
New, hands-on and reviewed!: Moritz Grossmann Universalzeit worldtimer
Retail price for the Moritz Grossmann Universalzeit is set at SGD 76,500 inclusive of GST.
The Moritz Grossmann Universalzeit is the latest model from the German manufacturer. The name Universal-zeit is translated from German into universal-time, and the watch allows the time in 7 different timezones to be seen in a single glance.
The case, dial and hands
The case is a very classical round case, with long lugs. The three part stainless steel case has a bombe case middle, and convex curvette style bezel for both the front and rear. The case middle and soldered lugs and the bezels are high polish. The case is 44.5mm in diameter, and though it wears smaller than the dimensions might suggest, is still on the large side of the current norm. The size is perhaps an essential feature, as the dial is appropriately complicated, with many indications to display. Also, the watch has the nice and hefty Teutonic feel on the wrist.
The dial carries the motif of a globe. The dial itself is made of solid silver, and galvanized to provide colours of the Earth’s surface features as well as longitude and lattitude. These meridian lines are displayed as a filigree of line encircling the globe in a pale white shade. The world map shows the continents in a salmon hue, and the oceans in a luminous blue tone, which appears to glow as it catches light on its sunburst finished surface. The map is punctuated by six aperture windows to show the hours for the 6 cities located on map around the world. The cities are Tokyo (+9 GMT), Singapore (+8 GMT), Dubai (+4 GMT), Cape Town (+2 GMT), Rio de Janerio (-3 GMT) and Phoenix (-7 GMT). The choice of Singapore is key, as Moritz Grossmann has chosen to reveal this novelty with new retail partners – Sincere Fine Watches in Singapore. These apertures have rhodium plated bevels. A minute scale is set at the periphery at a slightly lower level to give some depth to the dial. Indices are faceted and polished bar appliqués with a double bar for 12 o’clock.
The hands are the typical Moritz Grossmann hands, which are rather special. These are hand shaped and crafted in the manufacture in Glashütte. Not many watchmaking maisons make their own hands, but Moritz Grossmann is one who not only make them in-house, but takes the craft of handmaking to the next level. The hands are are nuanced and carry detailing that can only come from mastery and control over the manufacture. They are made of stainless steel and have the painstakingly flat polished, and have the signature lance shape for the hour and minute hands. And a very slender, needle like seconds hand is bent into a slight dome shaped, a special specification for Moritz Grossmann hands to reduce parallax error.
For a dial with so many indications, the layout is surprisingly legible. The use of window apertures to show the hour in each location is very clever. As the digits go from 1 to 24, it also allows the ability to know if its day or night in those cities. And as promised, the time in the 6 selected cities plus local time can be read at an instant.
The only nit picks we have are perhaps the lack of lume and a date. Both which are useful features in a travel watch. A nice lume on the dial will allow time to be read in the poor lighting of a dark aeroplane, and the date is especially useful for the jet lagged traveler. And in addition, as this is a handwound movement, a power reserve indicator, say on the movement side to avoid dial side clutter, will also be a neat feature.
The worldtime operations
Setup of the watch is both intuitive and easy. The first step is choose one of the six time zones and set the time to show the correct hour in that city. Next is to the set the local time shown by the hands once the world time across timezones for the 6 cities is complete. The standard Moritz Grossmann crown arrangement for time setting is provided here. A single pull of the crown will hack the movement. The crown is spring loaded, and will automatically return to its original position, but now it is in time setting mode. Manipulating the crown will set the local time displayed by the hour and minute hands. A pusher at 4 o’clock will restart the movement once the hand setting is complete.
During travel, the main or local time’s hour hand can then be corrected to destination time via the pusher mechanism at 10 o’clock. The pusher has three positions: forward, backward and a center neutral position. Each click of the pusher moves the hand in one hourly increment, either forwards or backwards depending on the position it is in. This does not change the time display in the windows, and thus can be used to set the watch to destination time after take off.
Six cities are marked on the dial, viz Tokyo, Singapore, Dubai, Capetown, Rio de Janeiro and Phoenix. The selection of these cities are interesting, if a bit unusual. The most logical reason for the selection is that none of these 6 cities observe daylight savings, and thus the time displayed is correct throughout the year. Perhaps also, it is dictated by the requirements of the numerals printed on the disc, shown below. The numerals seem random, but each is precisely aligned to show correctly in each of the windows. The disc is printed with numerals from 1 to 24, each arranged at an angle of 15 degrees across a total of six rings and aligned perfectly to show the time in the 6 cities.
When the minute hand passes 12, the time in the time windows jumps forward by one hour. This is effected by a disc connected to a 24-tooth ratchet wheel moving beneath the dial. The ratchet is set such that when the minute hand moves over 12, it clicks the disc forward by one position. The wheel is otherwise held in place by a spring until the ratchet wheel signals the switch. A clever, simple but very effective solution.
The movement: Calibre 100.7
The movement is the Caliber 100.7 which is in-house designed and manufactured by Moritz Grossmann. And a true star of this watch. Not only is the way the indications are done very innovative and intuitive, the movement is magnificently finished. The movement is a development of the worldtime complication over the base Caliber 100.
The traditional Glashutte three quarter plate layout is used, and the movement plates are made in maillechort. The movement layout is an blueprint with straight cut edges and a circular cutout to showcase the escapement. A beautifully hand engraved balance cock, with a very long and sleek adjustment index is visible through this cutout, as is the screwed balance wheel. The text on the wheel bridge is also hand engraved, a specialty of the house, in place of laser engraving chosen by other manufacturers.
An example of the superior movement finishing can be seen on the ratchet wheel with its three-band snailing, framed by broad chamfers polished to a high gloss sheen.
Overall, the movement finishing in Moritz Grossmann movements are always top notch. And of course the Universalzeit is no exception. We judge the finnisage to be easily equal to the best in the business, and in many ways even surpassing their more famous Glashütte neighbours as well as most Swiss haute horlogerie maisons. The care and attention to detail is exceptional, even at this price class.
The competitive landscape
The landscape for a worldtimer is one which is rather interesting. It is one which filled with some of biggest names in the industry. To help us evaluate the landscape of worldtimers, we suggest that we might perhaps divide the landscape into two broad categories: those who use the Louis Cottier system, and those who don’t. The best examples of the Louis Cottier system is probably the Patek Philippe Worldtimers. These are truly desirable and highly coveted watches, often achieving very high prices in the secondary market place. Patek has made many such watches in the past, and continue to carry at least one reference in their current catalog. A current example is the Patek Philippe Calatrava Worldtimer Ref. 5231J (SGD 107,600). It features a magnificent cloisonné dial. The Patek is only available in gold cased options, and not in stainless steel. Case size is a modest and more classical 38.5mm.
The Vacheron Constantin’s Overseas World Time may be also be a consideration. It is available in a steel case and retails for SGD 55,000. The watch displays 37 time zones, combined with a day-night indicator, and its ability to adjust the settings via the crown. It also shows an image of the world map on its dial.
In the non Cottier camp are the innovative solutions provided by the likes of Glashütte Original in their Senator Cosmopolite (SGD 60,200 in SS). The GO, however shows the time around the world for 37 cities using a different technique. GO continues to support more cities as the number of timezones change. The GO is also able to automatically accommodate for daylight savings when appropriate. It is the only non-electronic watch to be able to do this. The case is 44mm in diameter, and is offered in four dial colour options in steel, as well as in white gold and red gold.
Another World Time watch sitting in the non Cottier camp is De Bethune World Traveller DB25 (CHF 150,000 before taxes in white gold). The dial is somewhat less cluttered, and the system for indicating the second time zone in 24 hour format while showing day/night is ingenious. The case is a rather large 45mm in diameter.
In this landscape, the Universalzeit, at 44.5mm diameter and an asking price of SGD 76k, sits somewhat in the middle of the pack. And does very well, even in this august company in terms of fine craftsmanship and innovation.
Overall, this is a very attractive watch in many levels. This is the first presentation of a universal time watch which uses city windows on a map that we have ever seen. Very clear, very legible display of all the information to correctly tell the time across the 6 cities, as well as local time at a single glance. Setting up the watch for travel is intuitive, and easy. The watch is well proportioned, and looks beautiful, and the finishing is exceptionally well executed.
On the wrist, the 44.5mm case diameter wears nicely. We think it wears slightly smaller than its dimensions might suggest, though there is no getting away from the physics that this is a rather substantial watch.
We think this is a worthwhile complication to add to Moritz Grossmann’s small arsenal of watches. In the last 10 years, they have shown considerable restraint to focus on the fine details, superb craftsmanship and magnificent finishing on their watches, rather than introducing one new complication after another. They have remained small and focused. With a production of a mere 300 watches a year, the brand is highly exclusive. And is a very strong value proposition in the superior finishing lavished on the watches.
The Moritz Grossmann Universalzeit was photographed in the Sincere Fine Watches boutique in Ngee Ann City, Singapore. Fujifilm GFX 50S II with Hasselblad HC 4/120 Macro and HC 2.8/80 + H26 with H Adapter G. Profoto strobes.
Moritz Grossmann Universalzeit specifications
Case: Stainless steel
Dial: Solid silver, windows with rhodium-plated bevel
Hands: Manually crafted, polished steel
Movement Manufactory calibre 100.7, manual winding, regulated in five positions
No. of parts 292
Jewels 31 jewels, of which one in a pressed gold chaton
Escapement Lever escapement
Oscillator Shock-resistant Grossmann balance with 4 inertia screws and 2 poising screws, Nivarox 1 balance spring with No. 80 Breguet terminal curve, Gustav Gerstenberger geometry
Balance Diameter: 14.2 mm,
frequency: 18,000 semi-oscillations/hour
Power reserve 42 hours when fully wound
Functions Hours, minutes and seconds, centre second with stop second, Grossmann manual winder with pusher
Operating elements: Crowns in stainless steel to wind the watch and set the time and the date, pusher in stainless steel to start the watch; crowns in stainless steel to correct the hour hand
Case dimensions Diameter: 44.5 mm, height: 13.78 mm
Movement dimensions Diameter: 36.4 mm, height: 7.45 mm
Case Three-part, stainless steel
Dial Solid silver, windows with rhodium-plated bevel
Dial disc Painted and printed
Hands Manually crafted, polished steel
Crystal/display back Sapphire crystal, antireflective coating on one side
Strap Hand-stitched alligator leather with prong buckle in stainless steel
Special features Grossmann balance; hand setting override and start of movement with lateral pusher; space-saving, modified Glashütte stopwork with backlash; adjustment with Grossmann micrometer screw on cantilevered balance cock; pillar movement with 2/3 plate and pillars made of untreated German silver; balance cock and escape-wheel cock hand-engraved; broad horizontal Glashütte ribbing; 3-band snailing on the ratchet wheel; separately removable clutch winding mechanism; stop seconds for hand setting; central second wheel; newly developed module for displaying the full hours in selected metropolitan areas; correction mechanism at 10 o’clock to adjust the hour hand when changing one’s own location