While the wild and creative designs of the late ‘60s and ‘70s still dominate the conversation surrounding vintage inspired watch design, the more refined and understated look of the ‘40s and ‘50s has become a wellspring for brands looking to create a legacy piece outside the norm. Carl F. Bucherer is a prime example, with its Heritage collection championing a cleaner and more classical look since the introduction of the first Heritage BiCompax Annual in 2019. For 2021, Carl F. Bucherer further expands this series, bringing a new reverse panda dial design to the equation. The new limited edition Carl F. Bucherer Heritage BiCompax Annual offers a somewhat sportier character than some of its predecessors, while retaining its midcentury inspired vintage charm, and extremely competent annual calendar complication.
The 41mm stainless steel case meshes classic sports watch elements, like a sloping polished bezel and tapering athletic lugs, together with more modern cues. The finishing is finely contemporary in initial images, with smooth brushing along the lug tops and case sides punctuated by a dynamic flowing polished chamfer that tapers to a fine point at the lug ends. The long sloping rectangular pushers and smooth bezel both continue this polished finish, creating sparkling highlights while deftly highlighting the area of the dial to direct visual attention. While on the thick side at 14.15mm, some of this visual height comes courtesy of a vintage style double dome sapphire crystal. Water resistance is on the low side at 30m.
Carl F. Bucherer takes the dial of this new Heritage BiCompax Annual in a decidedly sportier direction than previous iterations, courtesy of a new reverse panda colorway featuring silver azurage subdials slightly recessed beneath a black sunburst main dial surface. The dial layout itself is visually complex without feeling busy much like its forebear from 1950, with an outer tachymeter track flanked by a full seconds scale, along with retro-modern printed rounded Arabic numerals. In a somewhat non-traditional move, Carl F. Bucherer dedicates the annual calendar complication to a 12 o’clock big date display and a month window at 4:30, doing away with a day of the week indicator entirely. This leads to a cleaner, if charmingly asymmetrical look, and the 12 o’clock big date nicely counterbalances the large 6 o’clock Carl F. Bucherer branding. Perhaps the weakest point of the dial design is the handset, which varies wildly between dauphine style subdial hands and stylized tapering syringes for the main handset. These syringe hands may be contentious among enthusiasts as well, with a short and narrow syringe tip that feels almost like an afterthought in initial images.
Inisde the new Carl F. Bucherer Heritage BiCompax Annual beats the ETA-based CFB 1972 automatic annual calendar chronograph movement. The CFB 1972 far outpaces the annual calendar standard, accounting for the shorter month of February and requiring a reset only once every leap year, rather than once annually on March 1 as is the norm. Beyond the use of a Dubois-Depraz module, Carl F. Bucherer keeps the specs of the CFB 1972 somewhat close to the chest, but does claim a 42 hour power reserve at a 28,800 bph beat rate. To continue the black and silver reverse panda look, Carl F. Bucherer finishes the new Heritage BiCompax Annual with a black calfskin leather strap featuring gray trim and silver side stitching.
With a sportier colorway on a ‘50s inspired base and a technically impressive set of complications for the money, the new limited edition Carl F. Bucherer Heritage BiCompax Annual offers a refined and solidly value driven option for those searching for a unique breed of vintage inspired sports watch. The new reverse panda dial Carl F. Bucherer Heritage BiCompax Annual is limited to 888 pieces and is available now through authorized dealers. Pricing for the new Carl F. Bucherer Heritage BiCompax Annual is in line with previous iterations at $7,200. For more details, please visit the brand’s website.