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Alexander Shorokhoff Avantgarde Watch Collection Hands-On

Alexander Shorokhoff Avantgarde Watch Collection Hands-On Hands-On

While Russian-born German watchmaker Alexander Shorokhoff does have a Heritage line of watches, a lot of his company’s creative juice these days is focused on their eclectic Avantgarde line of watches. Avant-garde (French for “advance guard” or “vanguard,” literally “fore-guard”) are people or works that are experimental or innovative. With that in mind, let me say up front that most of the watches in the Avantgarde line are not what you would call a “first watch.” No, these are for when you already have more mainstream watches and are ready for something out of the ordinary – something daring, even. What makes them stand out even more is that you’re not going to be paying five or six figures for these reasonably-priced pieces.

Alexander Shorokhoff Avantgarde Watch Collection Hands-On Hands-On

Alexander Shorokhoff refers to this watch line as “Art on your Wrist,” and that is very apt. Art is very personal, both in terms of what you appreciate and what you choose to acquire, as a reflection of your individual tastes. Are all of these watches the type of items I could see myself wearing daily? No, but each one has a charm or quirky appeal of its own. And, yes, there are a couple of them that I would easily wear every day for a given season of the year (except that there aren’t well-defined seasons where I live).

Alexander Shorokhoff Avantgarde Watch Collection Hands-On Hands-On

Zaha Hadid-designed pavilion, Weil am Rhein

What we are looking at today are just some of the watches from the Alexander Shorokhoff Avantgarde line. I had the pleasure of trying on each of the following watches at Baselworld 2015. Unlike most exhibitors who display their new watches as the immense Messe show halls in Basel each Spring, a couple of years ago, Alexander decided to instead showcase his watches at the Landesgartenschau (in the Hadid Pavilion) just across the border in Weil am Rhein, Germany. This calm oasis stands in stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of the Messe. Manning their art show like exhibit is Alexander and his family, who welcome you as a friend and treat you like family. It is all very different from the all-business vibe in the big brand booths just a couple of kilometers away in Basel.

Alexander Shorokhoff Avantgarde Watch Collection Hands-On Hands-On

Something I’ve noticed at Baselworld is that when you are speaking to an actual watchmaker (or movement designer), they notice and comment on what you are wearing. In the big corporate booths you could wear a cucumber on your wrist and no one would say anything about it! Needless to say, Alexander notices what you wear and is eager to talk about it. Like the AHCI (independent watchmakers) I’ve run into at BaselWorld, watchmakers like Alexander are typically humble, approachable, and nice people to hang out with, proud of their wares, but without any PR spin in the conversation.

So, without further ado, on to the watches. Today, we will highlight the following Alexander Shorokhoff Avantgarde line watches:

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  • Babylonia
  • Equa
  • Day & Night
  • Barbara
  • Watch Dandy
  • Glocker
  • Plus-Minus

Alexander Shorokhoff Avantgarde Watch Collection Hands-On Hands-On

The Babylonia is probably the most iconic watch for Alexander Shorokhoff. Featuring a hand-engraved 2609.AS movement, it looks very little like the Poljot 2609 caliber it is derived from. By the way, the 26 in the original caliber name indicates that this is a 26mm movement. The original version of this watch (Babylonia I) incorporates the large “60” on the top of the dial and slightly smaller numerals at 20 (4 o’clock) and 40 (8 o’clock) which are found on many Shorokhoff watches.

Alexander Shorokhoff Avantgarde Watch Collection Hands-On Hands-On

Alexander Shorokhoff Avantgarde Watch Collection Hands-On Hands-On

New this year is the Alexander Shorokhoff Avantgarde Babylonia II which has an elaborately engraved dial. There are novel minutes/seconds markings on the chapter ring on both the new and original pieces. The mother-of-pearl zodiac-inspired chapter ring and hour markers are a consistent design element on all Alexander Shorokhoff Avantgarde Babylonia pieces, along with the fixed sun, moon, and water design elements (representing the Euphrates and Tigris rivers).

Alexander Shorokhoff Avantgarde Watch Collection Hands-On Hands-On

Alexander Shorokhoff Avantgarde Watch Collection Hands-On Hands-On

In our retailer series, Ray Grenon (Grenon’s of Newport) selected the Babylonia as the watch he thinks best represents the tastes of Newport, Rhode Island. I can’t argue with Ray, as the Alexander Shorokhoff Avantgarde Babylonia is a very unique-looking watch but one that is also refined and could easily pass for a much costlier timepiece. At 47mm, this is not a small watch, but it wears well for its size – due in part to its 11.5mm thinness.

Alexander Shorokhoff Avantgarde Watch Collection Hands-On Hands-On

The watches have 50m of water resistance, and the case has anti-glare coated sapphire crystals front and back. The aforementioned 2609.AS movement is hand winding, with a power reserve of 42 hours. It is made with 17 jewels and runs at 21,600 bph. In the Alexander Shorokhoff Avantgarde Babylonia I, the main plate has sun beam polishing, engraving, and gold plating. For the new Alexander Shorokhoff Avantgarde Babylonia II, the balance bridge, barrel, and train wheel, are also gold plated. Price for the Alexander Shorokhoff Avantgarde Babylonia I is $2,835, and the new Babylonia II is $3,250.

Alexander Shorokhoff Avantgarde Watch Collection Hands-On Hands-On

The 24-hour Alexander Shorokhoff Avantgarde Equa watches are available with a light or dark mother of pearl dial. These are not dual-time or GMT watches, but they do have a 24-hour indication versus the usual 12-hour scheme. It’s powered by a caliber 2423.AS movement that began life as a Vostok 24-hour movement, but which was completely dismantled and refined by Alexander Shorokhoff. The movement runs at 19,800bph and has hand engraving.

Alexander Shorokhoff Avantgarde Watch Collection Hands-On Hands-On

The hand engravings can be seen through the sapphire exhibition back. The dark mother-of-pearl almost looks like the night sky (if you have a little imagination) and counters the conventional argument that mother-of-pearl is only for ladies’ watches.

Alexander Shorokhoff Avantgarde Watch Collection Hands-On Hands-On

The light dial has visual texture and a hint of color, and does not look feminine at all. Not that the ladies couldn’t rock this watch, but guys should have no problem so long as they are comfortable with the bright orange and metallic blue rehaut with its 24-hour markings. On paper, this combination (MOP, orange, and blue) might not sound so great, but I think it all comes together in the finished watch. The orange and blue rehaut is bright and metallic and provides a nice contrast to the iridescent white mother-of-pearl. These bright and summery-24 hour watches were my favorite new Shorokhoff pieces this year.

Alexander Shorokhoff Avantgarde Watch Collection Hands-On Hands-On

The stainless steel watch comes in a 43.5mm-wide case that sits 11.5mm high. It has 50m of water resistance, and anti-reflective coated sapphire on the case front and back. Available with a calfskin leather strap or a mesh band bracelet, the Alexander Shorokhoff Avantgarde Equa on calfskin leather strap is priced at $1,365 and $1,720 on the mesh steel bracelet.

Alexander Shorokhoff Avantgarde Watch Collection Hands-On Hands-On

Related in function but very different-looking from the Equa is the Alexander Shorokhoff Avantgarde Day & Night 24-hour watch. Again, mother-of-pearl graces this watch. But largely, the MOP  is not obtrusive and appears simply white at some angles. Interestingly, the even hours are indicated at the periphery of the dial while the odd hours are displayed on the small inner ring. And no, the sun and moon do not move. They are just there to playfully indicate which half of the dial displays what part of the day.

Alexander Shorokhoff Avantgarde Watch Collection Hands-On Hands-On

Alexander Shorokhoff Avantgarde Watch Collection Hands-On Hands-On

The Alexander Shorokhoff Avantgarde Day & Night watch has the same size (43.5mm wide and 11.5mm high), shares the 2423.AS movement with the Equa, and has a price of $1,365.

Alexander Shorokhoff Avantgarde Watch Collection Hands-On Hands-On

The Alexander Shorokhoff Avantgarde Barbara is named after Barbara Dennerlein, a well-known jazz musician in Germany and around the world, being especially famous for playing the legendary Hammond B3 organ. Since 2012, Barbara Dennerlein and Alexander Shorokhov have had a very productive association. Alexander has now developed a unique watch dedicated to Barbara. With this design, he presents the watchmaker’s realization of what art and avant-garde mean to him. This watch is a limited edition, with 169 pieces made.

Alexander Shorokhoff Avantgarde Watch Collection Hands-On Hands-On

The Alexander Shorokhoff Avantgarde Barbara shares a similar case as the Equa and Day & Night, at 43.5mm wide and 11.5mm high. It has 50m of water resistance as well as a sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating. The watch has a swiss ETA 2824 automatic movement that runs at 28,800bph and has a 42-hour power reserve. It also features a hand-engraved rotor. The Alexander Shorokhoff Avantgarde Barbara watch comes on a calfskin leather strap and has a price of $2,100.

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  • I_G

    Lot of vodka must be consumed during the design sessions.

  • DanW94

    Nice review Mark. They sure are, um, colorful. The only one I could remotely pull off without looking like a circus performer/kids entertainer is the Watch Dandy. It’s got a funky designed dial but at least it hasn’t been dipped in a liquid rainbow and decorated by a gypsy fortune teller. I’d have to change out the strap though. Looking at the amount of decorative features alone, both front and back, the prices seem reasonable.

  • IanE

    Well that was a fun review! Good for a night on the town (after which they would probably look quite normal!)?

    (Meanwhile, I would say Season’s Greetings, Mark – but, as you don’t have them, have a good Noel!)

  • Raymond Wilkie

    At the end of the day, there is just so many was that you can move hands round the face of a watch wither that be automatic or mechanical. unless your a complete nerd ( to them i apologise ) the design of the piece is the first thing that’s going to attract your attention. I think this company does that wonderfully using a combination of unusual colours ( with a u ) and materials. The night and day i think is fantastic but the Jazz tribute looks a little lost, but well done you Germans.

  • SuperStrapper

    I’m honestly not that big a fan of the Avantgarde line, but I have owned an AS chronograph regulator , a few years and I really like it. One of my favourite watches in the box: very unique without being crazy, and it is a ton of watch for the money.

  • wallydog2

    The “Dandy” has been very high on my wish list…but the bracelet’s gotta go.

  • bjs314

    Love just about everything Shorokhoff releases.

  • spiceballs

    Whimsical design certainly says it all. Nice review Mark, thx.

  • BNABOD

    Unusually unusual fantasy pieces. Applaud AS for giving it a good effort. I would rather save my pennies for more functional less carney like pieces but to each is own. The prices are reasonable for once, a nice change from the 200K liquid moving watchamachine just reviewed earlier.

  • radikaz

    Mark Carson, u r writing for abtw now? 😀 great job!

    • Thanks – I have been writing on a limited basis for ABTW for a while.

  • Berndt Norten

    I am not joking when i say i expected the prices to be 100 times higher. Heck I would even buy the one that says SARPHIRE GLASSES on the back! Interesting watches.

  • ??????

    Very brave design, I must say. Alexander doesn’t care about being a kid inside imho, most of his watches could have made me loose my sleep during my school time. Currently, I am a bit too conservative to wear most of the watches, but still find the Dandy and the Sun-Moon rather attractive. Anyway, what goes without doubt: the pieces are 100% unique and wearing them would be 100% fun, but not for everyday. Btw the prices seem to be rather low regarding the finishing.

  • Timeless Watch

    Great watch for the Gen Y’s…

    • Nelson

      I’m a Gen Y but these are not my style. Perhaps, for Gen Zzzz

      • Timeless Watch

        Maybe the peace child from the swinging sixties…

  • Gary Aerne

    These watches are to busy.

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