Review: The New Moritz Grossmann Tremblage

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Think of Moritz Grossmann watches and you think of classical elegance and incredible finissage. Yet, the Saxon brand – which draws inspiration from one of Glashütte’s watchmaking pioneers Carl Moritz Grossmann – remains criminally underrated. When Grossmann Uhren GmbH was incorporated in 2008, the first Moritz Grossman watch model that was to come is the Benu. Presented in 2010, the Benu became the symbol of a new beginning for the Moritz Grossmann marque.

Moritz Grossmann Tremblage

This year, on the 11th of November, Moritz Grossman celebrated its thirteenth birthday. To mark the occasion, the brand unveiled the Tremblage, an anniversary watch aptly based on the historical Benu model. As its name would suggest, the timepiece celebrates the traditional decorative technique of tremblage, popularised recently by watchmaking neighbours A. Lange & Söhne. Of course, the watch is far more than just that. Here, we bring you the details and our thoughts on the new Moritz Grossmann Tremblage.

The Case, Dial, and Hands

The case of the Tremblage measures a modern 41 mm x 11.35 mm. The model is available in either rose gold or stainless steel with the former matched with a brown alligator leather strap and the latter, a blue alligator strap. In terms of design, the case is fairly austere with mirror polishing all throughout. The bezel is wafer thin to afford the dial extra real estate – and boy, what a dial.

The case is the most restrained portion of the Tremblage, featuring a simple design and a classic full polish.

Rendered in untreated German silver, the dial emits a unique silvery golden glow under incident light. To craft such a three-dimensional dial, German silver is engraved to form the railway-style minute and seconds tracks, the “M.GROSSMANN” inscription, and hour markers, in relief. The easy way out would’ve been to use appliques, but that would not do for a timepiece meant to showcase the beauty of engraving. These raised dial elements are given a flat polish finish to distinguish it from the “base” of the dial, which has been decorated with tremblage. Centuries old and continuously refined, the tremblage technique is where an engraver sets one corner of the burin into the metal and constantly moves it, almost as if his or her hand is trembling. It was this trembling movement that gave the technique its name – the French word “tremblant” simply means “to tremble”. Depending on the movement, the tremblage stroke could be executed finely or coarsely – but the key is uniformity. For it is only uniformity that creates the desired look.

Using a range of burins, the surface of the German silver dial of the Moritz Grossmann Tremblage is given a tremblage finish by hand. The result is a surface that looks frosted, matte, and importantly, uniform. The icing on the already delicious cake is the handcrafted hands, annealed to an ethereal brown-violet hue in the rose gold version or a more familiar blue in the stainless steel version of the Tremblage.

Looking like a sea of fire, the tremblage finish on the dial allows it to scintillate as though it is covered in gems.

The Movement

Driving the Moritz Grossmann Tremblage is the pocket watch-inspired Calibre 100.1. The movement has a slightly below average power reserve of 42 hours (by modern standards, anyway) and operates at a stately 2.5 Hz frequency. At first glance, it looks like the Tremblage only has basic time-telling functionality, but there’s actually another hidden function that was invented by Moritz Grossmann and operated via the the stud-like pusher at the 4 o’clock position on the case. This pusher lets the user manually engage the movement after it has been hacked by the crown. The idea is that this prevents accidental movement of the hands when pushing the crown back to its original position, thus allowing for more precise time-setting.

But really, the highlight of the Calibre 100.1 is in its abundant decoration. The view through the sapphire crystal case back says it all. The traditional German silver two-third plate is endowed with a frosted finish on the top surface, and edges that are beveled and polished. In it are heat-treated violet screws that secure gold chatons holding white sapphire bearings, and a ratchet wheel adorned with three bands of snailing. The two-third plate is also engraved with the Moritz Grossmann signature, as well as the movement number in historical cursive script. Both the balance and escape wheel cocks are hand-engraved with a floral pattern in typical Glashütte fashion. And underneath it all is the main plate, also in German silver. Instead of the usual perlage, in the Calibre 100.1, it is simply afforded a frosted finish like the two-third plate for visual consistency.

The Calibre 100.1 seen through the sapphire crystal case back.

The Competitive Landscape

Watches with elaborate dials tend to polarise; you either think it’s the most gorgeous thing ever, or that it’s too much. The Moritz Grossmann Tremblage is no different. Detractors may bemoan a dial that lacks contrast, is distracting and way too crass on the wrist. On the other hand, fans of the watch will admire its unique aesthetics, appreciate the level of craftmanship involved, and understand that an anniversary piece is allowed to be bolder than usual. Whichever camp you belong to, one thing’s for certain: the Tremblage is stunning. From the dial to the case back, it is a celebration of traditional Saxon watchmaking executed to the finest level. The Moritz Grossmann Tremblage isn’t a limited edition timepiece but the manufacturer doesn’t produce many watches a year, so expect supply to be limited anyway. The stainless steel version of the Tremblage is priced at EUR31,500 while the rose gold version is priced at EUR42,300.

Well-proportioned, the Tremblage wears with security and panache on the wrist.

When it comes to textured dials, Grand Seiko’s SBGZ001 – released last year in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the spring drive – bears mentioning. The spectacular timepiece doesn’t just have a textured dial but also a textured case. The iconic snowflake pattern on the dial is inspired by the beauty of snow in the Shinsu region of Japan. In the SBGZ001, this pattern extends beyond the dial and onto the platinum case and bezel. Impeccably engraved by skilled craftsmen, the pattern appears to “flow” towards the lugs. Even the Calibre 9R02 that powers the SBGZ001 is artisanal, executed to the same exacting quality and style of the Calibre 7R14 used in the critically acclaimed Credor Eichi II. Such excellence, as one might expect, does not come cheap; the Grand Seiko SBGZ001 – limited to only 30 pieces – retails at JPY8,000,000 or USD76,000.

The Grand Seiko SBGZ001 in platinum.

For something a little more mainstream but no less impressive, look no further than the Breguet Classique 7137. Inspired from the legendary Breguet No. 5 pocket watch, the dial of the Classique 7137 showcases a myriad of textures, including three engraving patterns. These patterns – each one engine turned by hand – adorn different sections of the dial: the panier maillé, or basket weave, for the power reserve display; damier, or checkerboard, for the radial date display; and clous de Paris, or hobnailing, for the rest of the dial. The textures don’t just end at the dial, as the case band itself features Breguet’s signature coin edge fluting. Priced at SGD57,400, the Classique 7137, which has no fewer than three complications, is an excellent alternative to the Tremblage.

The Breguet Classique7137.

Concluding Thoughts

The Moritz Grossmann Tremblage is a labour of passion inspired by the rich history of German watchmaking. Its ornate design might deter some, but those with an affinity for decorative arts will feel right at home with the anniversary piece. While the stainless steel variant is certainly more wallet-friendly, it is the rose gold variant that inevitably steals the show with its bolder aesthetics.


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