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Throwback Sundays: Six Recommendations for a Minimalist Watch, from Our Archives

Less is more.
by Robin Lim on September 8, 2019
Reviews

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication – how true is that. The rise of the Bauhaus movement in the 1970s changed the direction of how we look at design over the last five decades or so. Going against the trend of excess and opulence, minimalism is certainly a breath of fresh air in this world out there.

Although we are not advocate of fashion watches such as the likes of Daniel Wellington, but what we have learnt from this episode is that consumers have a strong preference from simple and clean design schemes. It is not so much about the bling-bling nor the complicated aesthetics anymore. We think that this is definitely a noteworthy point to ponder over.

In recent times, we have – to our delight – seen many more established brands taking a stab at the art of minimalism. Not that many brands have not produced such simple watches before, but it seems as though the trend is getting more prevalent these days. We have always been fans of such timepieces, for its legibility and uncluttered looks. It also allows the watch to shine on the other aspects as well, such as the case construction or the quality of the watch’s finishing.

For this week’s column, we will be taking a look at some of our favourite timepieces that are clean and simple in terms of its aesthetics.

NOMOS Tangente Automatik

When it comes to Bauhaus-inspired watches, NOMOS is surely one of the brands that would come to mind immediately. Founded in 1990, the brand personifies and follows the Bauhaus philosophy of clean but sharp looks.

The Tangente is one of the best selling model in the NOMOS collection. Within the range, the Tangente Automatik offers collectors an interesting proposition. The 35mm stainless steel watch features a rather simple dial design, with a thin and sleek case construction. But what is appealing about the timepiece lies in its in-house movement. The finishing of the DUW3001 is decent, but for a timepiece at such a price point, we dare say that it is pretty much devoid of any strong competitors at this stage.

The Tangente Automatik is priced at US$3,780 (approximately S$5,221), which makes it an excellent value proposition. It is a great watch to kick start any serious watch collection, and it is a good option if one wants to enter into the wonderful world of German watchmaking.

Junghans Meister Kalendar Moon

Continuing with the theme of Bauhaus-inspired German watches, we have the Junghans Meister Kalendar Moonphase.

While the brand is known for its Max Bill collection, the 40mm Meister Kalendar Moon offers collectors a classic-looking timepiece that features all the modern goodness. What we also adore about this particular watch is its clean aesthetics, despite having a plethora of indicators (i.e. day, date, month, and moonphase display). The layout, together with its large dome crystal and thin bezel, accentuates the vintage vibes of this watch.

The watch is powered by the base calibre ETA 2824-2, and fitted with the calendar/moonphase Dubois Depraz 9310 module. It has a power reserve of around 38 hours, and it is a full calendar watch that offers tremendous value against its competitors. The Meister Kalendar Moon retails at US$2,190 (approximately S$3,025).

Ochs und Junior Perpetual Calendar

Perhaps best known for its perpetual calendars, Ochs und Junior is certainly a brand that deserves a spot on the list today. Founded in 2006, the Swiss watch manufacturer is the brainchild of Dr Ludwig Oechslin – the man behind incredible watches such as Ulysse Nardin’s Freak and Classic Perpetual Ludwig.

The Ochs und Junior Perpetual Calendar is a watch that follows the brand’s ethos closely, which is to “execute the most functional representation of time horizons in the most technically elegant manner possible“. The unique selling point of this perpetual calendar is that fact that the module utilises a modified gear system that only requires 9 additional components (and 3 modified parts), on top of the base UN-118 movement from Ulysse Nardin.

If that is not compelling enough, the design of the watch is equally intriguing as well. The watch uses cut-outs to indicate the date and leap year, while it leverages on the central disc to display the month. The two mini rotating discs at the 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock position acts as a power reserve indicator and seconds display respectively.

The 42mm Ochs und Junior Perpetual Calendar in titanium is priced at CHF 20,240 (approximately S$28,321), and the maison only manufactures 15 examples of this piece annually. Less is indeed more.

A. Lange and Sohne Saxonia Thin

The Saxonia Thin may be the entry-level model from A. Lange & Söhne, but it is certainly foolish to overlook this particular watch.

Launched in mid-2016, the time-only Saxonia Thin encapsulates what a dress watch should be. The 37mm watch is simple and discreet, but it certainly exudes class and quality. The highlight for the piece perhaps lies in the finishing of the 167-part Calibre L093.1. A. Lange & Söhne is known for its impeccable attention to detail, and collectors will be pleased to know that the finishing of the manual-winding movement is on par with its higher-end brethren. This includes the intricately hand-engraved balance cock, Glashütte ribbing, and bevelling on the edges of the plates. Sublime is perhaps the word to use to describe the incredible level of finishing here.

The watch retails at US$14,800 (approximately S$20,443), and we believe that it is very well-priced for a timepiece of such calibre. If one is looking for a simple and excellent dress watch, look no further.

H. Moser & Cie Endeavour Perpetual Moon Concept

H. Moser & Cie is a brand that is no stranger to controversy. But beneath that cheeky demeanour, the brand had produced many brilliant award-winning watches in the last couple of decades.

The relatively new Endeavour Perpetual Moon Concept is one of such watches that was executed with finesse and simplicity. Fitted with the signature 42mm Endeavour case, the watch comes with a Vantablack dial – which is supposedly the darkest shade of black, and consequently does not reflect any incident light as a result. We think that it juxtaposes rather well with the stainless steel (or red gold) case and hands, as well as the moonphase display.

Powering the watch is the in-house Calibre HMC 801, a hand-wound manufacture caliber equipped with the interchangeable Moser escapement. The movement beats at 18,000 vph, but it has an impressive power reserve of minimally 7 days. The moonphase is highly accurate too; it needs adjustment once every 1,027 years. The finishing, needless to say, is of haute horlogerie standard as well.

The Moser comes with a price tag of S$54,310, which is slightly hefty for a stainless steel piece. However, it is a damn fine watch – and one that is both prowess in both the technical and artisanal aspects of the watch.

Vacheron Constantin Historique Ultra-Fine

We round up the article with two exceptional pieces from Vacheron Constantin’s Historique collection: the Ultra-Fine 1955 (rounded case) and Ultra-Fine 1968 (square case).

The Historique collection features some of the finest Vacheron Constantin watches in its well-catalogued archives, and the two dress watches here are fine examples of that. These two pieces are encapsulates the idea of elegance, each with a very sleek case profile.

The 36mm 1955 features a manual-winding movement (Calibre 1003), while the 35.2mm 1968 comes with a self-winding one (Calibre 1120) instead. Both are excellent movements with brilliant finishing, and they were both certified with the Hallmark of Geneva seal.

Priced at S$44,500 and US$35,200 (approximately S$48,622) respectively for the 1955 and 1968, these two pink gold watches offer collectors an interesting glimpse into the history books of the Geneva-based watch manufacturer. This is elegance at one of its finest.

Concluding Thoughts

It is not difficult to see the appeal of watches that has a minimalistic and clean design. It is nice to have a watch that is elegant and aesthetically easy on the eye, especially for dress watches on formal occasions.

What is also interesting are watches like the Ochs und Junior Perpetual Calendar. While the complication is nowhere near simple, but we like how the brand managed to incorporate the art of minimalism with a very simple but effective dial design. The technical bits, which shares the similar principle, is very efficiently executed as well.

So, what are your thoughts on today’s selection? Do you prefer something fancier, or does simple and clean looking watches work better for you? Let us know in the comments section below!

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