August 4, 2015
by Rob Nudds
Everybody’s got an aesthetic sweet spot – design principles that speak to you for no particular reason. Imagining your ideal watch is difficult, just like choosing a favourite in anything. But when someone sticks it right in front of your face, you just know that it is the one for you. And yet even then, even when you’re holding the watch in your hands, you struggle to describe why it works for you. That’s pretty much how I feel about the Junghans Meister Agenda.
This is not the first Junghans I have had the pleasure of discussing. It was a brand I knew little about before I started writing for ABTW – aside from their association with the late great Max Bill – but my admiration for their products has grown quickly. I recently discussed the new Max Bill range here, and was impressed by the cleanliness and balance of the dials. This seems to be a respect held by many in the horological community. Teamed with the fact these watches come from a German brand with some history and don’t cost an arm and a leg, it perhaps is easier still to see why they have so many admirers.
Hot on the heels of the Max Bill releases, Junghans has released another wave of timepieces that come from a slightly different style school, but are no less charming for their scaled-back simplicity. In the case of the Junghans Meister Agenda, that couldn’t be more true. The circularly grained anthracite dial simultaneously enlivens and dulls the watch face. I know that should be a total contradiction, but the overall look of the base material catches the eye, while the colour and the slightly grainy texture of the applied coating make this handsome, masculine dial appear as if it has been hewn from a piece of slate or scrap metal.
But there is nothing brutal about the functionality of this watch! The display features four points of information: The day is indicated at 9 o’clock, the date, across the dial at 3. At 12 o’clock, a silvered sub-dial displays the calendar week (running 1-52), and beneath that at 6 o’clock, another silvered sub-dial relays the power reserve. The calendar week in particular is an unusual addition that I find very charming. It is not only a functional feature, it is visually appealing (52 indices is something I am not used to seeing on a sub-dial).
It may seem like a minor change from the standard 60 markers, but when you see the same thing time and time again, little things like this are enough to send you bonkers with enthusiasm. Another thing that I find quite cool about this watch is how retro it looks. The functions too, for some reason, remind me of a time of Rotadexes and Filofaxes, of pencils and erasers, of wire-framed spectacles and smoking in offices. I’m not sure I can pinpoint exactly why that’s the effect it has on me, but I like it nonetheless.
The horse-skin strap is a muted complement to the straightforward dial and is held in place by a stainless steel buckle. The case is 40.4mm wide and 12mm tall – a very nicely proportioned watch that will slip comfortably under a shirt cuff but hold its own next to a weekend t-shirt. Wide and flat watches are, in my opinion, the way forward for professional timepieces – they maintain the suggestion of size and modernity, while remaining practically slim. That handsome dial is viewed through a hard plexiglass with SICRALAN coating, and it comes to life at night thanks to the environmentally friendly luminous paint.
A note on the SICRALAN coating: this is a treatment applied to the surface of plexiglass to harden it and protect it from minor scuffs and scratches as well as protecting the underlying material from UV damage (it is also said to add a slightly glossier finish to the plexiglass). However, if you can avoid polishing the plexiglass, that might be wise, as I’ve heard tell of people accidentally removing the coating and causing quite a mess. I wouldn’t let that put you of, though. Sapphire crystals are brilliant, but there’s something to be said for a plexiglass on a vintage style watch. It may not be to everyone’s taste, but at least the design of this piece is consistent with itself.
The Junghans Meister Agenda is part of the new Meister range from Junghans. It is an unlimited run and will be priced around $2,625. In my opinion, this is a very smart, highly functional watch with several quirky complications that are as interesting as they are useful. It is powered by a self-winding mechanical movement dubbed calibre J810.5, a reasonably priced piece, and a great example of the Junghans brand. junghans.de