Throwback Sundays: Six recommended hand-wound watches

Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr +

For this week, our Throwback lists six hand-wound watches which we commend for your consideration.

Enthusiasts, especially hard core ones seem to prefer to manually wind their watches, instead of relying on a rotor’s movement to wind the movement. So for this list, we take a look at our archives to recommend six. The base criteria is that the watch should be as simple as possible, preferably a 3 hand watch with no further complications. And perhaps more dressy than sporty. Here goes our list, in no particular order.

A. Lange & Söhne Saxonia Thin 37 mm

The most basic watch from A. Lange & Söhne: the Saxonia Thin is a remarkably beautiful timepiece, with the full emphasis on the purity, the simplicity and the clean Teutonic character of the brand.

A. Lange & Söhne Saxonia Thin 37 mm in white gold.

At S$21,300 retail price, it is also the least expensive Lange watch in the market and possibly the best value for money entry into the high watchmaking universe. A gateway drug, so to speak. For the money, one gets a gold case, either in white gold as shown, or in pink gold, a thin movement measuring only 2.9mm in height, and that magnificent Lange finishing that the brand is famous for.

Vacheron Constantin Patrimony 42mm

From the Grande Dame, Vacheron Constantin, we propose the Patrimony in the 42mm case. Available in platinum, white gold and pink gold at S$52,000 or S$31,000 respectively. Though the platinum version may seem to have an overtly large premium over the gold ones, the slate grey dial slays us every single time we look at the watch. So I guess, for us, we will need to pony up the extra twenty grand for it.

The VC Patrimony 42 in platinum, and the gorgeous slate grey dial.

This is a beautifully made timepiece which contains all that is required of a luxury timepiece without the fanfare. The case is thin and elegant, the build quality is superb, the movement great both aesthetically and technically, and the overall look of the watch, utilitarian and beautiful.

Grand Seiko Elegance SGBK Series

We recently (yesterday!) reviewed the Grand Seiko Elegance SGBK series of hand-wound watches, featuring the Caliber 9S63 movement.

The SBGK002 with Urushi lacquered dial.

Like all Grand Seiko watches, the case, dial and hands are superbly designed and finished. The attention to detail is outstanding. The case is magnificently finished with the latest Zaratsu polishing method, and possibly the first curved dial with bent hands. The 9S63 movement, though is no slouch, is not as well decorated as the typical Swiss (or German) movement. The Japanese approach in the 9S63 is rather more practical, and less decorative. The movement is competently designed, and finished to a very (very, very) high engineering level.

Pricing of SBGK manual winding series is seem to be targeted at a premium level, with the SS edition with the Mt. Iwate inspired dial retailing for a US$7,400 and the gold editions with urushi dials asking for US$29,000.

Chopard L.U.C Quattro

From the Chopard L.U.C stable, we select the new Quattro, introduced in Baselworld 2019. The movement is not new, and remain unchanged from the original Calibre 98.01-L introduced 2009 with the four barrels providing a power reserve of 9 days.

The new piece as shown is in a white gold case, and that slate grey dial (again!) which features a rather subtle, but attractive straight graining texture. This is well-conceived watch with excellent aesthetics, technical substance. And might we add, rather reasonable value for money (don’t forget the super long power reserve) at US$25,800.

Voutilainen 28 Ti – The Inverse

Kari Voutilainen is an absolute legend in the world of watchmaking. Almost everything the man creates is of extreme beauty with a superb execution to match. Last year, he decided to throw his very popular Vingt-8 (writing this article reminded us that we have not yet done a full review of the basic Vingt-8 yet. Something we will remedy soon. Watch this site!), but turning the movement inside out.

yea, I know, the grey theme surfaces again!

But the process is not as simple as just reversing the straps. It turned out to be much more involved. The basic principle is to open up the movement front and back. And to relocate the hour and minute hands to the other side. As Kari went to work, the movement complexity grew from 140+ in the standard version to 269 in “The Inverse”.

As is usual in a Voutilainen, the execution is fautless. Movement finishing, both sides, are exceptional. We are already much in love with the highly polished conical shaped balance bridge. And all the haute horlogerie finishes are address to the highest levels. The surfaces of the pinions and wheels are completely flat and highly polished. The finnisage is done by hand.

Retail price in platinum is CHF 98,000, limited edition 8 pieces. and in titanium at CHF 86,000, limited edition 8 pieces.


Our last selection is perhaps a bit more whimsical than the other very sober choices. Here is the novelty of the hydromechanical watch. Plus the inventive case design and the use of the thick dome sapphire makes for a watch which will be the talk of every party. The design is esoteric and requires, perhaps an acquired taste.

The dial side reveals the gear train, setting mechanism, balance wheel and the two bellows which control the flow of the two fluids.

The movement is purely mechanical, and sourced from Renaud et Papi, and quite magnificently finished. The watch is a limited edition run of 25 pieces in each colour (in black and uses a bright green fluid for a stealthy look and in a silver-colored case and deep blue liquid as shown). Both priced at US$95,000.

Concluding Thoughts

There you have it. Our recommendations for six hand-wound watches from our archives. Our list began with the simplest and purest of watches – the two handed Lange, progressed with the addition of the third hand in the form of a subsidiary seconds sourced from the stables of Vacheron Constantin. The three hand then adds a power reserve indicator and we chose the Grand Seiko with the great attention to detail that the Japanese are famous for. Next step, we add a date and ultra long power reserve with the Chopard. We then shifted budget levels and proposed the magnificent inverted creation from Kari Voutilainen, followed up with the innovative and perhaps more whimsical offering from HYT. We think we have covered most of the ground, safe for the super high end, and the very low end watches. What would you have chosen?


1 Comment