January 9, 2016
by Ariel Adams
Buben & Zörweg isn’t typically known as a watch maker because, in my understanding, they produce very few of them. Rather, Buben & Zörweg is more commonly known as a maker of very high-end watch winders, safes, and other presentation items meant to show off your collection of fine timepieces and other stuff. Back in 2012, we debuted the brand’s first timepiece which is this Buben & Zörweg One Perpetual Calendar, and I’ve finally gotten a chance to see one of these interesting watches hands-on.
Buben & Zörweg is likely slowly releasing the limited edition Buben & Zörweg One Perpetual Calendar watches that are, of course, decidedly niche. Less than 250 of them will ever exist. What first struck me about the Buben & Zörweg One Perpetual Calendar watches was the movements which were designed and produced by watchmaker Martin Braun – who I’ve always respected. He is known for the now defunct Martin Braun brand, and later, the brand Antoine Martin. Braun is among the select watchmakers out there who also do work for other brands, which is good because Martin is always curious about trying new things.
Hands-on with the Buben & Zörweg One Perpetual Calendar, you realize that the watch itself is very cool. It has an extremely modern feel that fits in with the larger scope of Buben & Zörweg products. The case and dial quality are really nice, and it is clear that Buben & Zörweg did their homework when it came not only to design but also to finding the right suppliers.
On the wrist, the Buben & Zörweg One Perpetual Calendar is by no means small, but it does look very cool. At 46mm wide, the Buben & Zörweg One Perpetual Calendar is offered in either 18k rose or white gold, or in solid platinum. Given the amount of precious metal in the case, these are nicely weighted timepieces. One of the most interesting case design details is the black onyx section inset to the side of the lugs. This acts to visually reduce mass and keep focus on the roundness of the case. Given the customization options available for this and other Buben & Zörweg products, I’ve seen images of the Buben & Zörweg One Perpetual Calendar watch without these black lug inserts as well.
As an even more limited edition, Buben & Zörweg also offers the “One Perpetual Calendar Deluxe” that has a ring of baguette-cut diamonds around the bezel, more diamonds in the crown, and on another ring around the side of the case. This probably wouldn’t be my first choice… but some people just need that extra dazzle of diamonds.
Lovers of purely classic design will probably not fall in love with the Buben & Zörweg One Perpetual Calendar since the brand really wanted to give the timepiece a very contemporary feel. This is the type of watch you want if you enjoy modern high-end minimalist architecture and furniture, where materials and just a few sparse lines are what define an object. Normally, this only works on watches when you apply more Bauhaus design themes. However, the Buben & Zörweg One Perpetual Calendar is neither cluttered nor minimalist. It uses a lot of modern design principles, choosing to celebrate the grace of “large” unadulterated surfaces, but at the end of the day, the design fits into a minimalist home without being at all minimalist. You might not like the design, but I think you’ll agree it is well-done for what it is.
The mostly symmetrical dial takes some time getting used to, but I think it works very well. I appreciate how Buben & Zörweg designed it to have some openwork views into the movement, but done in an extremely tasteful manner. Given that this is a perpetual calendar, Martin Braun focused on promoting the most important calendar indicators such as the date (big date indicator) which used two semi-exposed discs, and then windows for the day of the week and the month. A small round window to the immediate right of the 12 o’clock hour indicator is used for the leap year indicator.
Dial legibility is pretty good even though I am not convinced that the watch needed skeletonized hands. Materials and finishing are very good, and the One Perpetual Calendar certainly has a “big brand” build quality to it. Flip the case over, and you’ll find a view of the Martin Braun-designed caliber BZ01-MHO manually wound mechanical movement which has a power reserve indicator. The watch has a long power reserve total of 156 hours and is produced from 312 parts. It does, however, operate a bit slower, with a frequency of 18,000 bph (2.5Hz). With that said, Braun designed the movement to be as accurate as possible with a silicon anchor and escapement as well as his “Dynamized Swiss Escapement (DYS Escapement).” The dark finishing on the movement surfaces is nice and adds to the modern feel of the Buben & Zörweg One Perpetual Calendar.
Attached to a thick strap and comfortable on the wrist, this watch feels like it fits in so much more with classy yet highly contemporary homes, furniture, and cars much more than many other of today’s luxury watches. Buben & Zörweg even designed a special winder with a “crown claw” design to wind this and other manually wound timepiece with the Buben & Zörweg Time Mover Handwound. That is a cool yet pricey accessory for this and other manually wound watches with complications such as perpetual calendars that are a pain to reset all the time if the watch runs out of power.
The two gold versions of the Buben & Zörweg One Perpetual Calendar watch are limited to 99 pieces each (the diamond-decorated “Deluxe” version is limited to 9 pieces) and the platinum model is limited to just 49 pieces. Rare and very cool, this is what finding fun high-end luxuries that your fellow watch nerd friends probably don’t even know exist is all about. Prices are $65,000 in 18k rose gold, $69,000 in 18k white gold, and $92,000 in platinum. buben-zorweg.com