March 9, 2021
by David Bredan
My first proper hands-on experience with the small, hugely dedicated German manufacture Moritz Grossmann happened to come with the Moritz Grossmann Power Reserve in black steel, an objectively impressive luxury watch with some subjectively annoying nuances. There was a lot to take in.
From afar, i.e., through photos and passing hands-on moments at trade shows, I have long admired Moritz Grossmann’s dedication to watchmaking. As I unpacked the Power Reserve in black steel, I found a small but comprehensive booklet that comes with every watch, explaining the history and, more importantly, the values and current crafts and craftspeople of the company. After eight years in this business, I think I can distinguish words written by someone in a marketing office in perfect isolation from where watchmaking actually happens from words written by a small team that actively carries the same flag. The latter displays unity in effort and values. My impression, although I am yet to visit, is of the latter when it comes to Moritz Grossmann.
Limited to just 12 individually numbered pieces, the Moritz Grossmann Power Reserve in black steel intends to fuse the manufacture’s trademark aesthetic with a more sporty vibe. Generally speaking, Moritz Grossmann endearingly combines a Germanic focus on functionality with filigree delicacy. Subjectively speaking, a dial in blackened solid silver with a black case, black strap, and black buckle may sound sporty and modern when described over the phone – but in real life, when merged with such calculated design components, may not add up in the eyes of some. For them, this Power Reserve model is available in another 12-piece limited edition with a regular stainless steel case, with a solid silver dial in blue.
Dry specs such as a case diameter of 41.0mm and case thickness of 11.65mm are skewed by pleasantly unique proportions. The bezel is very slim and so the dial appears rather vast – but not without reason. The only subdial at 6 o’clock is as large as it can be as it stretches from the periphery of the dial all the way to the central hands, while the trademark hands reach all the way across the dial. Once you check the works of history’s greatest watchmakers, you’ll see that perfectly sized hands are an invariable hallmark of a watch designed with pride. The lugs are long and rather robust-looking – a rare combination with a slim bezel that nevertheless works fine.
In a cruel game of fate, despite the perfectly sized hands, the only notable shortcoming of the Moritz Grossmann Power Reserve is its legibility. The main culprit here is certainly the crystal itself – you can see my hand holding the camera and me with my eye closed and my mouth open, concentrating like an eight-year-old behind the camera. It is possible to take pretty pictures of this otherwise genuinely pretty watch – but in real life, the reflectivity of the crystal, combined with a black, texture-less dial that only amplifies the effect, is an area with plenty of room for improvement.
The prints and especially the hands are so achingly pretty, they are more than deserving of what Grand Seiko would call a “high-definition crystal.” An easy way around the problem is simply to get the Power Reserve with any other dial – the brighter the dial the less prominent the reflections will be and the more you get to focus on the carefully judged dial layout and the execution of every detail. Speaking of reflections: with proper magnification one gets to see their surroundings through the absolutely spotless mirror finishing on the center of the hands.
The movement of the Moritz Grossmann Power Reserve is shockingly good. It is well and truly the sort of stuff that sends the competition shivering in a corner. Dressed in the traditional festive attire of Saxon horology — i.e., a massive plate with broad stripes, hand engraved texts and decorations, screwed chatons, blued screws, and lots of mirror polish — it nevertheless has plenty of unique touches that make it unmistakable as a Moritz Grossmann.
The so-called “Grossmann balance” is proudly massive (with a diameter of 14.2mm), combined with a leisurely pace: It beats away at a steady 18,000 semi-oscillations per hour. It’s fast by pendulum standards, slow by modern standards. Its sheer inertia and claimed fastidious regulation – through four inertia and two poising screws – are keeping it accurate. To please the helpless nerds among us (such as myself), I will say that the Nivarox 1 balance spring has a No. 80 Breguet terminal curve with Gerstenberger geometry.
Oh how I miss the times when we could convene at dinner tables and just casually throw Gerstenberger into the discussion!
Power reserve is 42 hours, replenished exclusively through the crown. No noisy and obstructing winding rotor anywhere to be seen, and it’s all the better for it. Three of the 26 jewels are encapsulated by gold chatons and their blued screws.
Quality of execution elsewhere is more than solid, too. Even that hateful crystal has a rather splendid bevel on its periphery. The case and especially the slim bezel don’t appear to have been tailored for blackout duty; their delicate shapes and otherwise neat surface treatments are all covered in darkness. On the
bright positive side, the overall stealth-effect that is attained does, in fact, have a certain gravitas that no doubt will resonate with more than 12 collectors – but 12 is all it will take for these to sell out. Admittedly, the crown and movement restart button (to be used after setting the time) do look cool in black.
In essence, it is always a privilege to see the end result of all the hard work of such immensely dedicated and talented people. There is something very likeable to the brand Moritz Grossmann – and stepping out of its comfort zone with an (almost) all-black watch just adds to that. The movement is nothing short of an absolute tour de force, stealing the show from the impressive hands, dial, and case. The strap could be better – but I’m pretty sure it isn’t what gets sent out to the end customer.
The Moritz Grossmann Power Reserve in black steel is priced at €23,000 excluding VAT. A hefty price – but then again, it’s made in such a limited number that it well and truly is exclusive, which entails an impossibly small production run for the case and dial. Because 12 numbered pieces is where exclusivity is at, and not in the hundreds. You can browse the full collection and learn more at the brand’s official website.