Many goods we choose to purchase, brightly packaged and exhibiting a lustrous veneer, subsequently lose their appeal as they shown signs of wear. The once alluring external appearance can become passé and obsolete with advancing years. Numerous landfill sites are filled with a burgeoning quantity of unloved items.
In some instances, the functionality of an item is lost only days after the manufacturer’s warranty has expired. Despite much discussion about manufacturing environmentally conscious consumer goods, it seems more products are deliberately designed to fail at a pre-determined point in the future, only to be destined for the scrapheap.
Zeitwinkel – A refreshing alternative
In the coming months, many watch brands will launch new models and, by default, render some existing models as redundant. It would seem that some styles of timepiece, whilst looking contemporary and avant-garde today, may, within a short period of time, look outmoded.
There are numerous wonderful watches to tempt would-be buyers to part with their hard-earned cash. Conversely, there are some models whose hands, dials and other components have been selected based on price alone with little consideration given to long term durability.
Zeitwinkel is a watch brand who has chosen a virtuous approach to manufacturing products. It has designed watches with an intrinsic longevity that should not be adversely affected by changing consumer tastes. Moreover, the construction of its watches accords much thought to wear and tear with various aspects promising reliable operation for decades to come.
I have spoken at length with various personnel at the company and visited their atelier in St. Imier. They provide an interesting alternative strategy to that practised by some brands.
Firstly, there is no overwhelming impetus on the brand’s part to create numerous models each year. Zeitwinkel wish to focus resources on creating watches which are timeless and retain eye-appeal for years to come.
Moreover, they are keen to ensure that components used are of high quality and that a long and faithful service is bestowed to those discerning buyers who select their timepieces.
Whilst there are several enticing horological temptations within the Zeitwinkel range, my favourite model is the 273°. Prospective purchasers of the watch have a choice of three dial variants, galvanic blue, galvanic black and galvanic silver. It is the latter version I personally prefer. I recently got “hands-on” with the model and fell under its beguiling spell.
Zeitwinkel 273° – The dial
A dominant feature of the dial is the large date. It is displayed via two apertures, located between 10 o’clock and 11 o’clock. A key benefit of the large date is matchless lucidity. Those unable to read the date should book an appointment with their local optician as the date indication is unrivalled in its legibility.
Adjacent 2 o’clock is a power reserve indicator and above 6 o’clock is a subsidiary seconds display with snailed detail at its heart.
Whilst the lancine-shaped hour and minute hands are silver in appearance, the hands on the power reserve indicator and subsidiary seconds display are thermally blued. I recently enquired of the brand, the rationale for not selecting solely thermally blued hands. “It is not the Zeitwinkel way” replied the lady from the company. She went on to explain that it may have appeared too overbearing to employ blue for all hands. Her response provided an interesting insight into the company’s design philosophy.
There is a ubiquitous sense of quality. The hands and applied batons are facetted and diamond worked. They engage with light and have a three-dimensional allure to their form.
Zeitwinkel 273° – The Case
Over the years we have seen the diameter of some timepieces grow to gargantuan proportions. However, tastes seem to be changing and there does appear to be a trend towards small case diameters of 40mm to 43mm. The Zeitwinkel 273° has a case diameter of 42.5mm and its scale should ensure future acceptance despite subsequent changing fashions within the watch industry.
Zeitwinkel have expended much effort on the case. It features a recessed area to the vertical flank of the caseband. This recessed area is micro-blasted but the adjacent surfaces are highly polished. In delivering this handsome case, much perseverance and exactitude has been shown by the case supplier. Quite simply, this is a difficult case to execute. However, the resultant finish is exquisite. The contrast between the micro-blasted area and the highly polished surfaces is sublime. Moreover, close examination of the case with incredulous fingers, exhibits superb tactile delight and no trace of anything but smooth edges.
The exhibition caseback reveals the manufacture movement. Indeed, with much effort having been dedicated to creating the movement, I am glad Zeitwinkel have chosen to afford a view of the ZW0103 calibre.
A choice of leather or rubber strap is provided. Both feature a quality folding clasp. Whilst I like the rubber strap, with its slightly contemporary persona, I favour the leather strap which, in common with the watch, has an immortal characteristic.
Zeitwinkel 273° – The Movement
The ZW0103 calibre is self-winding, has a frequency of 28,800 vph (4 Hz), contains 49 jewels and has a power reserve in excess of 72 hours. However, whilst these aspects of the specification are impressive, it is the obsessive attention to the movement construction which offers much merit.
The three-quarter plate and bridges are made of German silver. The oscillating weight is open-worked, exposing much of the componentry beneath. Close inspection of the bridges and three-quarter plate reveals expertly chamfered and polished edges.
Varying sizes of cloud-shaped circular graining, or ”perlage” as it is sometimes referred, adorns the mainplate. This is done to enhance the aesthetic appeal and refreshingly is the antithesis of the economic expedience exampled by some manufacturing companies. It is yet another enchanting aspect of Zeitwinkel ownership.
Côtes de Genève motif is applied to the three-quarter plate and balance cock. However, it is whilst inspecting the finish with a loupe that you can tangibly discern the exalted execution of the pattern. The beautifully defined stripes are better than some found on more costlier watches.
Earlier this year, I toured the production facilities of Zeitwinkel and witnessed first hand the mirror-polishing and fastidious craftsmanship employed by the company. I left Zeitwinkel feeling a profound sense of admiration for the company.
Zeitwinkel 273° – Conclusion
In creating the Zeitwinkel 273°, the Swiss brand from St. Imier has produced a watch which has a long life expectancy. This longevity is tangible both in terms of design language employed and the intrinsic excellence of its construction.
In a throw away society it is refreshing that Zeitwinkel has chosen to create products that are destined to confer a lifetime of loyal service. With the 273°, the company has successfully produced “a watch for keeps”.
Zeitwinkel 273° – Technical Specification
Manufacturer Zeitwinkel Montres S.A., CH St-Imier
Model Zeitwinkel 273°
Functions Displays hour, minute, small second & date
Running autonomy >72 hours
Crown: Diam: 8 mm, bi-O-ring seal, 12 grooves
- Galvanic black, galvanic blue,
- Galvanic silver,
- Appliqués facetted & diamond-worked
- Facetted & diamond-worked
- Small second polished / thermally blued
- Power reserve polished / thermally blued
- material Stainless steel 316 L,
- height 13.8 mm,
- diameter 42.5 mm,
- glass Sapphire, convex & with anti-reflection on interior,
- back Sapphire with anti-reflection on interior,
- water resistence 5 atm.
Strap & Clasp:
- leather Hand sewn calfskin leather strap (Brown/black) with flawless Louisiana alligator structure,
- or rubber Black,
- impulse 20 mm,
- (leather strap) Folding clasp with Zeitwinkel engraving,
- (rubber strap) Folding clasp with applied logo.
- Caliber: ZW0103
- Manufacturer: Zeitwinkel Montres S.A., CH St-Imier
- Functions #1: Automatic, Small second, Balance stop, Quick date setting,
Large date display with quick changing, and Power reserve indicator,
- Diameter: 13½ lines, 30.40 mm
- Height: 8.00 mm
- Winding: Rotor, bidirectional wind
- Running autonomy: >72h
- Bridge and plate material: German silver
- Bearing jewels: 49
- Balance: Glucydur, spiral Straumann, frequency (4Hz) 28,800 alternations/hour, impact resistance Incabloc
- Adjustment Regulated in five stages
- Decoration: Screws chamfered and polished, ¾ plate and balance cock with Geneva, stripes (Côtes de Genève)
Pearlage on interior surfaces of plates and bridges, Lining on wheel bridge and rotor, Edges of ¾ plate and bridges
chamfered and polished