The history of Junghans may surprise many haute horlogerie collectors. The firm began in 1861 in the Black Forest region of Germany and was one of the largest watchmakers in the world till the quartz crisis wiped out many of their suppliers in Switzerland. They continued with quartz watches and to innovate with solar and radio controlled technology with partners in Japan. But seemed to have lost most of their glitter. Today, they have become sort of a secret brand for those in the know. A German watch brand, which is well designed Bauhaus style, often in an alluring retro style for frankly rather modest money. We wrote about their 155 year history (click here), and today we review their Meister Telemeter.
Junghans Meister Telemeter
The Telemeter is part of their Meister series which feature retro looking designs. This is a “replica” of a watch Junghans made in 1951, with period appropriate details. In 1951, these watches were equipped with the J88 column wheel chronograph movement. Our friends at The Watch Insider carried a very short article with a photograph of this 1951 watch.
The main draw on the new Meister Telemeter is the dial, which have a vintage look and feel and is quite alluring. The Meister Telemeter is a two counter chronograph, with a special marking ring to qualify it as a telemeter – a device which can be used to measure distance.
The telemeter is marked on a scale which which allows the user to approximately measure the distance to an event that can be both seen and heard (e.g. a lightning bolt or a torpedo strike) using the speed of sound. The user starts the chronograph at the instant the event is seen, and stops timing at the instant the event is heard. The seconds hand will point to the distance measured on the scale. The scale can be defined in any unit of distance, and the Meister Telemeter uses kilometers.
This method is based on the fact that light travels much faster than sound through the atmosphere: Light travels at 299,800 km/s, whereas the speed of sound is only about 332 meters per second, depending on air temperature. And was quite standard for range finding in war times.
The case, dial and hands
The case of the Meister Telemeter is a rather good sized 40.8mm in diameter. And although the case is 12.6mm thick, not quite thin by most standards, the watch appears to look very svelte and slim. This is due to the taper of the front and back bezels which give the illusion of a slim look.
The review sample was finished in PVD gold, with no specifications available on the thickness of the gold deposited on the stainless steel case. We usually prefer either a standard stainless steel case (polished or brushed) or a solid gold case as we feel plating does not add any value. Although in this case, we are mildly persuaded as the visual impact of the plated case looks like its solid gold. And coupled with the slim look of the case evokes a vintage feel.
But the dial is the star.
The dial is simply quite magnificent. The main body of the dial is flat, although it looked like its curved at the edges. This is due to the curved plexiblass cover. Additionally, the sub-dials for the chronograph counters are sunken and concaved gives a three dimensional look to the dial.
The markings on the two white dialled versions are in black with the telemeter scale in red. The hour markers are Arabic with a black border and in-filled with SuperLuminova. The cream colour of the SuperLuminova is reminiscent of the tritium used in early watches, and completes the vintage look.
The hands themselves are also period appropriate sword styled hands with an extension tip, and filled with SuperLuminova.
The attention to detail extends to the plexiglass protecting the dial, which has a pronounced bombé (curved) at its edges. This is a nod to the glass over the dial of early watches which needed a flat surface to allow the readings to be read with minimal distortion, but yet as technology for plexiglass making demanded a curve to allow it to fit into the case, the curve was left to the last possible millimeter before it dramatically turns into the case.
The Movement: Junghans J880.3
The Meister Telemeter has a display back, alos in plexiblass. Within beats the Junghans J880.3. Although the movement carries a Junghans caliber number, it is an ETA 2892 with a Dubuis Depraz 2030 chronograph module. Quite a standard movement for modestly priced chronographs.
Finishing is not exceptional. The rotor carries some fauss côtes, which we suspect is either stamped or ruled with a machine. And the base plates are finished with perlage and a brushed finish. Chemically blued screws are used, and probably was part of the ETA ebauche as delivered.
The back bezel is secured with four screws and provides 3 ATM water resistance.
As a replica watch, the Junghans Meister Telemeter is appropriately design with good attention to details. The watch indeed has a very vintage feel. The dial is simply magnificent, and given the reasonable asking prices for the watch, we think that it alone might be worthwhile proposition.
The movement is quite common and rather pedestrian to look at, but being based on the well proven and tested ETA/Dubuis Depraz, will be reliable and perform its duties well. But again, given the agressive price points, is not something one can really complain about.
Overall this is a nice looking chronograph, with good detailing for a vintage feel. In our mind, the Junghans Meister Telemeter is one of those used as a “secret handshake” for entry into the cool gang.
Junghans Meister Telemeter Technical Specification
027/5382.00 in PVD gold plating S$ 3,440 inclusive of GST (The review sample)
027/3380.00 in SS case, silver dial S$ 3,220 inclusive of GST
027/3381.44 in SS case, black dial with SS bracelet S$ 3,440 inclusive of GST
Case: Stainless steel diameter 40.8mm; height 12.6mm; water resistant to 3 bar (30 metres); Plexiglass to front and exhibition caseback.
Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds; chronograph.
Movement: Calibre J880.3, self-winding movement; frequency 28,800 vph (4Hz); 45 jewels; power reserve 42 hours.
Strap / Bracelet: Saddle leather strap presented on a stainless steel pin buckle