New and reviewed: Petermann-Bedat Ref. 2941 Monopusher Split-Seconds Chronograph

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Petermann-Bedat just released their new Ref. 2941 Monopusher Split-Seconds Chronograph Ref. 2941. We got our hands on the prototype, and here is our comprehensive review.

New and reviewed: Petermann-Bedat Monopusher Split Seconds Chronograph

The Petermann-Bedat Ref. 2941 Monopusher Split-Seconds Chronograph with Jumping Minute Counter will retail for CHF 243,000 before taxes. The Singapore retail is SGD 389,000 inclusive of GST. Limited Edition of 10 pieces.

We have been big fans of Gaël Petermann & Florian Bédat ever since we first met them in 2019 whene of the we saw their first protoype of the Seconde Morte. We subsequently visited them at their atelier in Renes, and continued our amazement with their work ethos and skills. We followed up with a comprehensive review and Watchscape of the commercial release of the Seconde Morte. And the Second Series.

The young pair then went on to win the GPHG Horological Revelation (Innovation) Prize 2020. We knew they were working on a new movement for a while now, and that a chronograph was in the cards, but when we first saw the new Monopusher Split-Seconds, it was with quite an amazement, especially the movement which is the La cerise sur le gateau – the cherry on the cake as they say in French.

The case, dial and hands

The case is 38.6mm in diameter and is made by designer Barth Nussbaumer of Barth Studio, and features a very smooth lug structure. The case is very elegant and features bevels which polished by hands and crafted at Comblémine in platinum.

The dial plates are made in a design aesthetic which shares the DNA from the commercial release editions of the Seconde Morte. The dial plates are in platinum and sapphire.

The concept of the monopusher chronograph is something that both Gaël and Florian was particular keen on. In their minds, this was non-negitiable and the chronograph had to be a single-pusher. “This was primarily a question of aesthetic balance.” As a result, a chronograph pusher which is coaxially mounted on the crown, and a reset pusher at 10 o’clock.

Both Gaël and Florian had cut their teeth working at A. Lange & Söhne, and in particular the Datograph, and 1815 Chronograph when they were in Glashütte, so it is no surprise that they took a leaf from that book and added the instantly jumping minute counter, a feature which was first premiered in 1999 with the Datograph.

The overall look from the dial side (face of the watch) is a rather interesting blend of the technical and sleek, modern aesthetics. The movement is visible in parts laid partially bare skillfully combined with the instrument like appearance of the hands and markings.

The movement: caliber 202

As we said, the La cerise sur le gateau is the movement. This is in full display from the sapphire case back. The movement comprise of 339 components, and is a ground up design by the Gaël and Florian. The layout of the movement is quite beautiful.

The chronograph works is squeezed into the same level as the cocks of the base movement. Here the Ref. 2941 is built over two levels, but not in the conventional sense of the base movement being the base level and the chronograph works on the second level. In the C. 202, the base train at the same level as the entire chronograph wheel train but with the split seconds activation levers placed on the dial side.

This architecture has two advantages claimed by Gaël and Florian – better mechanical reliability of operations and no constraints of placing the split seconds pusher in the case middle.

Also of note is the magnificent finishing lavished on the dial side of the movement, which is visible only when the dial is removed. The parts are just as well finished and chamfered as the parts which are visible from the case back. This includes the black polish performed on the steel chronograph levers.

The design of the split seconds chronograph is also interesting and unique in that the timing of the column wheels are such that the split-seconds portion of the chronograph works is released at the same time as the base chronograph when the system is reset. This requires adjustment and alignment to coordinate both column wheels so that this timing is achieved. In a regular split-seconds chronograph, this additional step is often not done.

The engagement point where the lever pulls on the star wheel on the base of the column wheel moving it by one position with each click. Also seen here is the jaws which coordinate the synchronisation of the column wheels and the striking lever. Compare this photograph with the drawing of this component.

Movement finishing remains top notch. This level of finishing is not often seen, even among independent watchmakers. Every bit is beautifully finished. The anglage is exemplary. The entire chronograph mechanism is black polished to perfection, and there are virtuoso elements like very sharp inward and outward angles, with senseously shaped curves on many of the levers. The movement layout and finishing absolutely ravishing.

Competitive landscape

The competitive landscape for split seconds chronographs is rarified. Not many independents have attempted this feat, and we are impressed that the young duo of Gaël and Florian has managed to pull this off. From the annals of the landscape, we can only find members which are from the major maisons.

The obvious competitor is the Lange Double Split, which we guess (no suggestion nor confirmation by either Gaël or Florian) is the inspiration behind the Ref. 2941. But the Mighty Double Split as it is known among collectors is now discontinued and replaced with the equally compelling Triple Split. Also in the consideration would be the Lange 1815 Rattrapante Honeygold “Homage to F.A. Lange”. All the Langes are currently at circa EUR 130-140k mark when we reviewed it, but now is hidden behind the Lange POA cloak. Be aware that Lange has just last week increased prices significantly across the board. The Lange 1 in pink gold now has a retail price of SGD 62k, and the base Zeitwerk priced at a whopping SGD 180k.

Another consideration is the Patek Philippe Ref. 5370 and the in-house Calibre CHR 29-535 PS (SGD 393,600). Also the Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Split-Seconds Chronograph Ultra-Thin (USD 280,000). And the least expensive option is perhaps the  Montblanc 1858 Split Second Chronograph at circa SGD 51k.

Concluding thoughts

The new Ref. 2941 Monopusher Split Seconds Chronograph is an impressive watch. The finishing is outstanding. The case, and the movement features spectacular work by Gaël and Florian, with many of the components are finished in black polish.

Operating the split-seconds mechanism was smooth, with a good positve feedback on each click of start, split, catch-up, stop and reset. On the wrist, the watch feels very comfortable, and though the case is in platinum, it does not feel very heavy, nor imbalanced.

The elephant in the room remains the pricing. At the asking price of almost a quarter of a million Swiss Francs, we cannot help but be a bit surprised. These days, sticker shock seems to be the norm, so perhaps surprised might be too strong a reaction. Competition from Patek and VC are in a similar ballpark, but what raised our eyebrows is that compared to the Lange Triple Split and 1815 Rattrapante, the Petermann-Bedat demands quite large over the well established chronograph specialist. Some food for thought. Supporting the case for the Ref.2941 is the fact that this is a 10 piece limited edition by a very small independent, and the work is every bit as good. So why would they not be able to command a suitably high pricing. How high a price is to be considered appropriate will ultimately depends on you, the collector who is considering the piece.