A Moment in Time: Junghans Meister Hand-Winding
How I got this watch: I asked one of the US distributors for Junghans, Junghans Watches USA, to spend some time with some of the new release. I was sent this watch and the Form A for two weeks. I did not wear the watch. This is not a paid review.
The Junghans Meister Hand-Winding is incredible watch
If you like a big chunky bezel with lume covering every square millimeter of the dial then the Junghans Meister Hand-Winding is not for you. If you appreciate simple but effective design then read on.
How I got this watch: I asked one of the US distributors for Junghans, Junghans Watches USA, to spend some time with some of the new releases. I was sent this watch and the Form A for two weeks. I did not wear the watch. This is not a paid review.
The Meister, other than the Max Bill range, is the most recognisable family of watches from Junghans. The sleek dial and thin case is often imitated by other brands but for my money there is nothing quite like the original. The first Meister was produced in the 1930s and there has always been a Meister of some form or another made at Junghans since and the current Meister line is surprisingly eclectic given how simple the design of most of the watches were. The Meister line now includes a pilot's chronograph, a telemeter chronograph, the new Meister driving range (which was expanded this year at Baselworld) and the original time only designs.
Despite the merits of these new lines, when you think of Junghans Meister, you can only think of the hand-wound. Or at least I do. This watch, Reference 027/3504, has been part of the Junghans collection for several years now and is available at Junghanswatchesusa.net, who provided me with a piece for this article.
Three Hands. 12 hour markers. No date.
If the goal of a timepiece was to display the time then those three things are all you need. You could get rid of 9 of those hour markers if you were being picky but a full set of 12 does aid legibility. These elements are what Junghans chose to work with for the Meister Hand-Winding and each compliments the other beautifully. The elegant dauphine hands catch the light and slope to follow the subtle curve of the sunburst dial. The thin strips of polished steel hour markers at 12, 3, 6 and 9 have been carefully measured and anchor together the painted markers between. The running seconds hand at 6 o'clock ticks away in the small recessed naval that adds a small amount of depth to the dial, further changing the color of blue you'll see when the light hits it.
Blue dials seem to be getting more and more popular these days, fellow German brand Nomos recently released a series of blue dial variants, but there is nothing like the sunburst effect on the Meister Handwinding. As I type these words it's an overcast day and the dial is a deep navy blue, but walking 10 feet over to a window will open up the dial and allow dozens of different shades to reveal themselves. The same light changing effect also happens with the hour markers and hands, both of which have been polished to a mirror shine. During photograph they appeared black when the light wasn't on them, but a slight angle change from the lamp reveals their true nature. There is no lume on either the hands or the dial itself so don't count on any night time time keeping vigils with this watch.
Of course, it would be amiss to mention the exclusion of a date window.
I've spoken about date windows in Vlog 13 and it would be remiss of me to not talk about the lack of one here. Whilst Junghans does offer watches with date windows, including the new Form A, I do prefer when they don't, especially on the Meister line. The design work so much better without the conspicuous hole in the dial and it speaks to the value that Junghans places in their classic design. Watches around the $1000 price mark are in a very competitive market and it would have been very easy for Junghans to sacrifice their design to fulfill the tickbox of an average consumer. A date window is an expected addition and for people new to watches the exclusion of one can mean the difference between buying or leaving it behind in the cabinet. Yet Junghans have faith that their Meister design sans date window will be enough to entice potential customers to buy the watch. And in my opinion, it is.
The case size is 37.7mm but it looks at least 3mm larger
37mm is often regarded as the perfect size for a dress watch but it can seem a tad small to the average watch wearer. 37.7mm (How Germanically precise) is a hair bigger than this perfect size but in practise it looks a lot bigger than its measurements. This is due to the thin bezel, the long thin hour markers and the subtle curvature of the dial itself which make it seem larger. It's a wondrous effect and those who like the design but want a larger watch should definitely take note of it. The way the case slightly overlaps the top of the strap and how the lugs start from underneath keep the footprint of the watch tight.
The watch is powered by the Caliber J815.1, a thin hand wound movement
When I say that this watch is thin, I mean it. It's barely over 7mm (7.3mm for you pendants out there) and the use of the J815.1 allows for the profile to kept slim. The J815 is a modified ETA Peseux 7001 which Junghans have decorated with vertical stripes with a smattering of blued screws adding a dash of color. The winding and setting of the movement felt good as the sloped caseback allows for easy gripping on the smaller crown. The Peseux 7001 is an extremely reliable and accurate movement that was used as the base for Nomos' own in-house movement, the Caliber Alpha.
How on earth watchmakers are able to fit a 42 hour power reserve into a movement that is barely above 2mm is beyond me and I'm constantly baffled by even the simplest of horological achievements like this. The only part of the watch that adds a little bit of height is the convex plexiglass crystal. This plexiglass crystal is one of the staples of the Meister line and it adds a vintage feel to a watch that in all other respects in very timeless. The crystal is coated in Sicralan, an anti-reflective coating that is mostly used in car windshield glass, that protects that dial from UV rays and increases scratch resistance.
With 3 ATMs (30 meters) of water resistance, the Meister Handwinding is only suitable for rainy days rather than deep sea dives. 30 meters might be miniscule compared to the semi-dress/tool watches that other brands make with higher resistance but for most people, 30 meters is going to be perfectly adequate for 99% of the time.
The watch comes on a light brown horse skin strap that is perfect for a casual dress watch like the Meister Hand-Winding. It's a 20mm lug width so if the light brown isn't to your fancy then finding a replacement will be simple enough though you will have to be aware that the distance between the case and the lug holes is narrow so a thin strap is a must. The steel pin and tang buckle has the Junghans name engraved on it.
The Meister is an elegant timepiece that doesn't compromise its design and still manages to come in under $1300, and I respect that a lot. The sleek design perfectly walks the line between vintage and modern. It's a timeless watch and one hell of a good deal.