November 22, 2022
by Mike Razak
They may be rare these days, but central minutes chronographs used to be quite popular. After the trio of first automatic chronographs were released in 1969, Lemania in 1970 released the caliber 1340. Two years later when Valjoux released the now ubiquitous 7750, Lemania shot back with another central minutes caliber, the 5100. The Lemania calibers showed up in watches from Nivada, Sinn, Omega, Heuer, and others. Then the quartz crisis hit, and both Lemania and Valjoux were folded into the Swatch Group, which didn’t need so many chronograph movements; the Valjoux 7750 prevailed and with it the 30-minute sub-dial layout. In the past decade, though, we’ve started seeing a few central minutes chronographs released by brands like Singer, Panerai, and Sinn, amongst others. Add to that list Carl F. Bucherer, which has just released the Manero Central Counter, expanding the Manero chronograph collection with a decidedly sporty timepiece in an attractive colorway.
Truth be told, this is not the first central minutes chronograph by the brand. If we hope in the Way Back Machine and dial in 2011, CFB released a model called the CentralChrono. Aside from the movement and the dial layout, though, that watch bears no resemblance to the new one. The ostensible advantage of a centrally mounted chronograph minutes hand is ease of reading. The chronograph timing is entirely displayed via traditional hands, obviating the need to glance at different parts of the dial (or squint at different parts, in many cases), and declutter the often crowded layouts of chronographs. In the case of the Manero Central Counter, the dial is clean, but in the interest of balance, two recessed sub-dials remain, a 24-hour display and the running seconds. The dial is a sunburst black with a white and matte olive green 60-minute track and a black chronograph seconds ring. The dial is completed with a take-it-or-leave-it date window at 6 o’clock. The applied hour markers and the hands (other than the chrono seconds) all have Super-LumiNova for low-light legibility, with the chronograph minute hand being rendered in olive green to match the minutes track. While it’s not clearly mentioned anywhere by the brand, the most interesting part of the dial is that the minutes track doubles as a soccer (football) timer, with sectors for timing halves and extra time, as well as keeping track of stoppage time. While it’s a bit odd that it’s included without mention, Bucherer has been a partner of the Swiss Football Association since 2016, so it’s not totally out of left field (or whatever the equivalent soccer phrase is).
The 42.5mm case of the Manero Central Counter is new but certainly familiar. It is decidedly sportier than other Manero chronos, with less of a curve to the lugs, which are thicker. It retains the long, polished chamfer from lug to lug, but this has been widened for a more dramatic effect. More rugged in appearance are the pushers, which are now low-profile buttons instead of the pump pushers on other Maneros. Along with the pushers, the pull-out crown is polished. The remainder of the 14.43mm-thick case is brushed. Surrounding the domed sapphire crystal and adding some very appealing contrast is the steel tachymeter bezel coated in polished black DLC. I can already hear people carping about the bezel. Yes, a lot of brands have been using black contrasting bezels in their chronos of late (including but not limited to Maurice Lacroix, Raymond Weil, Bremont, Zenith, and even Timex), but maybe it’s on trend for the simple reason that it looks good. If we start condemning every component of every watch that isn’t completely original, then we won’t have any watches left. Anyway, the watch is powered by the CFB 1967 movement, with a quoted 47 jewels and a power reserve of 44 hours at 28,800 vph. Bucherer isn’t very transparent about their base movements, but with a bit of prodding, we were told this is an Sellita SW300 base with a Dubois Depraz Chrono-Modul 2079 for its chronograph functionality. The piece is rounded out with a quick-release hybrid rubber strap in brushed green and black with deployant clasp, color-matched to the dial.
It’s not very often that we get to see an entirely new release. These days, iterative releases are the norm, with brands making tiny tweaks to existing designs or changing a dial color. Maybe it’s a permanent change, maybe it’s a limited release (or a quote unquote limited release). But it’s not usually an entirely new model. Yet that’s what we have with the all-new Carl F. Bucherer Manero Central Counter. Bucherer isn’t a complete stranger to sports watches, but its catalog is arguably dominated by more refined watches that skew dressy, while its sporty offerings in the Patravi collection are chunky and seem to lack even a fragment of the restraint evidenced by the brand’s other models. This new model seems to resolve that difference, bridging the gap between the ungainly Patravi offerings and the elegance of the rest of Bucherer’s timepieces. The real story here, though, may be the introduction of a new high-end soccer timer, something we haven’t seen in a very long time indeed. The Carl F. Bucherer Manero Central Counter is listed at $8,000 and limited to 188 pieces (though this writer is hopeful that we’ll see a version added to the permanent collection). For more information, please visit the brand’s website.