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Habring2 Felix Watch Review And Manufacture Visit

Habring2 Felix Watch Review And Manufacture Visit Wrist Time Reviews

Austria-based Habring2 had a lot to celebrate in 2014. For one, this year marks the tenth anniversary of this little watch manufacture that was established by Maria and Richard Habring and, more importantly, the brand has debuted its first fully in-house designed movement and the first watch that comes equipped with it: the Habring2 Felix. We were among the few to attend the unveiling event and visit the Habring2 manufacture in Völkermarkt, Austria. So, beyond an extensive review of the very first production model of this important release within the market of boutique watch brands, we will also take a look into the workshops where all Habring2 watches are made.

Habring2 Felix Watch Review And Manufacture Visit Wrist Time Reviews

The Habring couple founded their own company in 2004, in an effort to create a brand that would cater to more discerning watch buyers looking for something beyond the more obvious brands and their collections. Where Habring2 managed to really stand out was in creating restrained, albeit rather unique-looking watches with equally unusual complications – with the Habring Doppel 3.0 (hands-on here) serving as the flagship among all of them. Now, let’s begin with a look into the Habring2 manufacture, and then discuss the new A11 movement and Felix itself.

Earlier this year, we posted a detailed article about a visit we had paid previously (article here), so now we will focus a bit more on the processes related to the making of the Felix watch, as well as on how this new offering fits into the brand’s present lineup – and the market itself.

Habring2 Felix Watch Review And Manufacture Visit Wrist Time Reviews

The manufacture and the Habring2 offices are located in the same building – although on different levels – situated in the lovely little town of Völkermarkt. The manufacture consists of a few separate rooms acting as workshops, some designed for producing components, while there is one dedicated room with superior lighting and air conditioning for movement assembly.

Habring2 has traditionally relied on the Valjoux/ETA 7750 and 7760 movements, which it modified to feature dead-beat seconds, split-seconds chronographs, and other unique complications. It is here that we shall note that Richard Habring has been heavily involved in the development of IWC’s Doppelchronograph, that was also based on a 7750 and featured a rattrapante module. Habring2, along with countless other smaller and major manufacturers who relied heavily on ETA movements, had to face serious challenges in 2011, when ETA first began to considerably reduce the amount of supplied movements.

Habring2 Felix Watch Review And Manufacture Visit Wrist Time Reviews Habring2 Felix Watch Review And Manufacture Visit Wrist Time Reviews

While the Swatch Group and its ETA movement manufacturing division had, for several years, voiced its plans on drastically reducing the amount of movement kits (which are no longer available at all at this point), as well as complete movements that it was selling to non-Swatch Group companies, it was only in 2011 that the company got the green light from COMCO (the Swiss Competition Commission) to start cutting back on movements sold. Interestingly, the Habrings had printed out and showed us the email they received from ETA in late-2011, in which they were notified of a 50% cut in supplies.

Ultimately, it was this moment that gave them – and many other players in the industry – the final push to start working on an in-house movement. Developing a new movement and putting it into production unquestionably is among the greatest a challenges for any watch brand – with the smaller ones, like Habring2, having to tackle issues related to limited funding as well. Nevertheless, in 2011, the development of the A11 movement finally commenced, and about three years later, we are seeing that work come to fruition.

Habring2 Felix Watch Review And Manufacture Visit Wrist Time Reviews Habring2 Felix Watch Review And Manufacture Visit Wrist Time Reviews

Visiting the first room of the tiny Habring2 manufacture, we were greeted by two young watchmakers-to-be, in the process of crafting wheels for the new movement. This room contained traditional machinery, including lathes and engraving machines, which seemed to work well, when it came to producing sufficiently high quality components for the brand. Given the extremely limited production numbers, it is expected to see such boutique brands express excessive care towards even the smallest components. Therefore, while in the case of major manufactures, it is the high level of automation that is expected to guarantee a sustained level of quality, in small workshops, that is replaced with the attention that is given to any and all components made therein or received from external suppliers.

Habring2 Felix Watch Review And Manufacture Visit Wrist Time Reviews

When it comes to the manufacturing of their movements, and indeed the watch itself, Habring2 works with a surprisingly high number of Austrian, as well as some German and Swiss suppliers – all of which are claimed to be family-owned. This is a relatively common practice: small brands with very limited production figures often need to reach out to more specialized suppliers who are able to cater to their specific requirements, and do so without necessitating large-quantity orders.

Along with many other components, the Habring2 manufacture receives base materials for movement plates, balance wheels and balance springs in a relatively raw form, meaning that they are all painstakingly modified in the workshops. During our visit, we concentrated on the escapement – the most important component-assembly of any mechanical watch – specifically, the manufacturing of unique anchors, the scaling of hairsprings, as well as the pairing of those springs with individually adjusted balance wheels. Sounds like a lot going on, so let’s discuss it in a bit greater detail.

Habring2 Felix Watch Review And Manufacture Visit Wrist Time Reviews Habring2 Felix Watch Review And Manufacture Visit Wrist Time Reviews

The manufacture receives hairsprings in a “raw” form (seen in the image further above), meaning that while their profile and shape is a given, their length and end-curvature needs to be adjusted. This requires the use of a temporary assembly (pictured directly above) to be installed in the movement, allowing for the exact and live measurement of rate results as the hairspring is being scaled. The objective here is to determine the perfect length for the spring, as its isochronism (basically, the “rate” at which it vibrates) depends on the spring’s length. It is a rather time-consuming process where the finer adjustments take considerable time and attention – the spring has to be cut with the precision of a fraction of a millimeter, otherwise the rate of the escapement and hence the watch is ruined.

Habring2 Felix Watch Review And Manufacture Visit Wrist Time Reviews Habring2 Felix Watch Review And Manufacture Visit Wrist Time Reviews

The consequent step is getting the balance wheel poised, meaning that it literally is balanced perfectly. This requires the adjustment of the weight of the balance wheel, which can be achievement either by removing excessive weight through drilling microscopic holes into its periphery, or by adding counter-weights in the form of tiny screws installed in the edge of the wheel. At the Habring2 manufacture, we saw hairsprings and balance wheels be matched together, to guarantee near-perfect timekeeping performance.

Beyond mere performance, the added value here is, of course, to see the founder of a watchmaking company work on some of the most important components of a watch – certainly a big plus to many discerning collectors. The result of all this effort – beyond a slight but noteworthy price increase over previous comparable watches from the brand – is that Habring claims the A11B movement to fall within chronometer requirements – i.e. between -4 and +6 seconds. Now, after that brief look into the workshops of Habring2, let’s see the movement and the watch itself in greater detail.

Habring2 Felix Watch Review And Manufacture Visit Wrist Time Reviews

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  • thornwood36

    Right or wrong ( i kinda know its wrong ) , but i tend to judge people by the watch they have on ( irrespective of the price ), Some folks its shoes, others fingernails etc. but i think it tells a lot about someone, .mixed with a handshake, that’s all i need to know. this timepiece is just gorgeous, classic , simple, uncluttered. For me it screams a very functional. uncomplicated person, a stickler for time and knows quality when they see it,

  • stevenfairbairn

    thornwood36 Are people really so fickle? I think most people are just bothering about their own business. I do love this watch though. I’m more jealous of the makers than the wearer.

  • Ulysses31

    I like Habring designs in general, but I feel this is over-priced.  Of course, some will say it’s an internally designed movement (sort of) so it is worth it.  If I wanted a nice minimalist watch I would take one of the Genesis watches at close to half the price, with an off-the-shelf but modestly decorated movement.  The Habring is a good watch for sure but I think if you’re not too obsessed with in-house movements, you can get more for your money.  This thing looks unfinished, especially considering just how easy and quick it is for a watch maker to apply Geneva stripes or perlage.

  • The Felix is a lovely watch, but remains a head-scratcher for me. I see people compare the Felix to some Nomos offerings, as they are both modest looking and sized steel-cased watches with similar movement characteristics in approximately the same price range, but looking at the movement of the Felix it is just really hard to explain the price. For a non-watch person, you would need a printout of this article to show when you were talking about it, to make it understandable.
    Regardless, the watch wouldn’t be for me based on dimensions alone I think. I’ve never tried one on, but at under 40mm with such a heavy bezel, I predict that it would wear too small on my wrist for my liking.

  • eronwv

    SuperStrapper You are right, the Felix is going to face a very stiff competition from the Nomos in this price point. Well, there is no good or bad. Both produce clean looking watches with in-house movement. Comparing them is like comparing Starbucks and the coffee kiosks along the street corner as both are churning beautiful coffees. You decide.

  • hautejalapeno

    Handsome watch, but a Nomos Orion is handsomerer at a 1/3 the price.

  • BIGCHRONO

    Today, I awoke with some plutonium up my a**, so contend this watch does not offer good price/value ratio. I’m not oblivious to the quality care it receives during development & production, but after taxes (NYC/LI vicinity), it tops out @ roughly $6,100. That is way too much considering so many viable contenders exist for much less. Programmers should devise algorithms to fairly, properly, & realistically price watches according to relevant data provided by makers & the public.Too delusional? Then you suggest something dear readers.

  • bichondaddy

    I really want to thank Mr. Bredan for the article, it was very well written and it documented his tour through the manufacturing facility wonderfully!  These type of articles are the ones I always read a couple times.  

    As for the watch…it’s too small for my 8.75″ wrist….and from what I have read in other comments….it’s a bit pricey for what you get.

  • WimadS

    First of all another nicely written piece David! IMHO currently the best author on ABTW 😉

    As for the watch, very impressive work of such a small company. However, its design is a bit too modest for my taste. The comparison with Nomos was allready made, but I think Nomos does a far better job on the design. Contrary to Habring, Nomos actually has a distinctive design. Modest indeed, but distinctive. That is where Habring lacks. From the outside it could just as well be any 200 dollar quartz watch. Its a shame that such a piece of quality workmanship is hidden that way.

  • Oelholm

    When first seeing the back of the watch, I thought that it was some sort of prototype. “Base” indeed. Why not ditch the glass back and cut down the price?

  • TerryN

    Way too much money for such a badly finished movement. I wonder how much enthusiasm they will get for that price point.

  • antjay

    Wow , only $5300 more expensive than the better looking , in house movement Orient that you featured the other week . Seriously , I have seen better looking movements from Parnis !
    While I appreciate the craftsmanship and labour that has produced this piece , I find it sad that the end result is so “meh”.

  • joshgraves

    I love the simplicity of the face, but I don’t know about the price point.  I agree with David that the movement needs more pizzazz.  It would also be nice if there was more than one size offered.  Maybe a 42mm for larger wrists would compliment the 38.5mm.

  • habring2

    Thanks to David for his extensive review and all the comments regarding it! 

    It’s a pleasure and honour to be compared with brands like Nomos given that they are fully industrial and producing about 8.000 units a year compared with our about 150 in total. This is the main reason how the price is as it is. Felix’s parts are produced in batches between 50 (casing)  and max. 500 pieces (wheels), the assembly is fully manual including such key parts like pallet forks and balance wheels. 

    You may ask why are we doing such over buying industrial components? Well, it’s easy: We don’t have a choice. To produce our very own movement in such small quantities allows us as family company to survive in competition with the bigger brands. They price is not set after requesting “how much can we ask”, it’s set after “how much do we need to produce this piece and pay the material as well as the salaries of our employees and apprentices”. 

    We would love to be industry too, and ideally located in Glashütte. This would guarantee us as well a cofinanzation of 50% by saxon state and European Community for every single investment. But we have started in Austria 10 years ago and are proud to be the only watch manufaturer in this country with a rich clock and watch histrory before 1890.  And within this histrory austrian timekeepers never had “cote de Geneve”, so we do not feel it being appropriate.

    Again tahnks for all your comments!

  • hautejalapeno

    habring2 Thanks for taking the time out to reply, us readers very much appreciate it. I tip my hat off to what you are trying to achieve. Keep true to your principles and I’m sure greater successes will follow.

  • joshgraves

    habring2 Thanks for putting the price versus production in perspective.   I for one would love to put an Austrian watch on my wrist.  I truly hope Habring achieves commercial success.

  • IanE

    Late comment, but just seen the link! Nice dial design: odd however to suddenly see a Roman XII in the last picture after all the Arabic 12s!