October 12, 2014
by David Bredan
We already mentioned that the Habrings relied heavily on 7750 and 7760 movements – some of the most ubiquitous automatic chronograph calibers of the past several decades – and that they created unique modules to modify them and add more unusual functions to their watches. Consequently, when the time arrived to develop their own movement, they decided to stick to the basic architecture of the 7750 – as doing otherwise would have required them to re-design all their modules to adapt them to a different going train.
It was good to hear this from the brand themselves and, in our opinion, a decision to stick to that tried and proven layout is understandable, given the previous developments of the brand. Therefore, the A11B movement – in which the “A” stands for Austria, “11” for 2011, when its research began, and “B” for base, as what we have here will accommodate the modules – runs at 4 Hertz and provides 48 hours of power reserve. These figures should ring some bells to those who are familiar with the 7750; they are the same basic specifications.
Where the Habring2 movement stands out, however, is its timekeeping accuracy, finishing (at some locations), and its thickness – so let’s take a look at those in that order. Timekeeping accuracy we have already discussed, but it is reassuring to know that the movement is equipped with an anti-magnetic escapement, which should assist it in remaining accurate over several years of everyday wear and exposure to magnetism. When it comes to finishing, the movement is a bit of a mixed experience: it displays that additional care that one would expect in the quality of every single component, and yet when it comes to actual decorations, there are some rough edges – literally, and figuratively speaking as well.
The large, 3/4 plate (perhaps closer to 4/5th, for nit-pickers) covers most of the view: as opposed to movements with numerous bridges and cocks, the A11B comprises this large plate – with a few small openings – and a cock that secures the balance wheel. This construction leaves a limited number of edges that would require excessive finishing – beveling and polishing – and yet there remain some parts that appear to be left untouched. Of slight disappointment was the circular graining of the large plate, which resembles more of an industrial look than anything else: it looks interesting, but cannot be compared to the aesthetic qualities of perlage or côtes-de-Genève.
Last but not least, it would be nice to see some decoration on the inner edges of the balance cock as well as “behind” the balance wheel, where parallel lines left – likely by drilling machines – are visible, as opposed to the smaller perlage seen on some other movements. By contrast, where decorating work has been performed on the movement, the results are unquestionably impressive and pleasing to the eye. These parts of the movement include the curved edge of the larger plate, as well as the outer edges of the balance cock.
At just 4.2 millimeter thick, the hand-wound movement is remarkably thin, a most welcome feat in its design and construction. This allowed the Habring2 Felix and its 38.5 millimeter wide case to come in at just about 7mm thick, despite its somewhat domed sapphire crystal and angled lugs – which leads me to discuss the Habring2 Felix itself. The name, Felix for such an important release in the lifetime of a brand is as unassuming as the design of the watch itself. The name does not contain fancy words like Manufacture or Chronomètre added to it, it’s just… Felix.
The design follows suit, as it does not shout about its numerous merits. With its tiny logo, printed baton indices, 12 o’clock hour marker in a sleek Arabic font, and the skinny, albeit proportionally sized, heat-blued hands, it looks restrained – without being boring or underwhelming. It is simple, yes – borderline “basic,” we could say – but its proportions imply that a lot of work must have gone into its design.
As most watch enthusiasts out there, I do not think I will ever get bored of how heat-blued steel changes its color from pitch black to deep blue as the light falls on it in different angles. And while the hands’ shape are as straight-forward as it gets, they contrast well against the off-white, ever-so-slightly grained-looking dial and its black indices. Speaking of the latter, I do wonder how the face of the Habring2 Felix would have looked with a bit more detail, included applied indices, or perhaps an applied 12 o’clock hour marker or Habring2 logo. As it is, the dial looks flat, and while that certainly will appeal to some – myself included – at this price point, I feel some added detail on the dial would be welcome.
Where the Felix performs wonderfully, however, is wearing comfort – it is among the most comfortable watches that I have worn in a very long time. The 38.5mm wide and 46mm tall stainless steel case sat perfectly on my relatively small, 6.75″ wrist – so much so that, over the course of the nearly 3 weeks for which I have been wearing the watch, I often found myself subconsciously shaking my wrist to feel if I still had it on; it is that comfortable. It slides under the tightest of shirt sleeves and never restricts the movement of the hand. The case is of high-quality, and the small, but textured crown is surprisingly easy to wind the movement with – a frequent oversight in other hand-wound watches.
In essence, the Habring2 Felix is a wonderfully comfortable and painstakingly executed offering from one of the better-kept secrets of the industry. And while this fresh release is not without its minor shortcomings, it still manages to outperform plenty of its considerably more expensive, “manufacture” movement equipped competitors when it comes to in-house credentials, wearing comfort, and in fact, value. The Habring2 Felix will be priced at €4,450 or around $5,645 and will come in individually numbered cases. habring2.com