When most people think of solar-powered watches, it is frequently the various Japanese brands that first come to mind, although German-based Junghans is another name that should be on collectors’ radar when it comes to this particular space. At the present time, solar watches only make up a relative fraction of Junghans’ overall offerings, although they ultimately offer quite advanced movements wrapped up inside the brand’s classic Bauhaus-inspired design language. Sometimes it’s easy to see a new Max Bill release and simply write it off as just a novel colorway of the mechanical pieces that have been around for years, but the Junghans Max Bill Mega Solar watches represent significantly different timepieces from a movement and functionality standpoint. The latest new duo of new releases from Junghans for 2023 expand the brand’s solar-powered offerings with two very different colorways for its Max Bill Mega Solar lineup, and the new models ultimately have far more in common with something like a Seiko Astron or a premium G-Shock from a functionality standpoint, while still offering the Max Bill collection’s clean and classic overall appearance.
The pair of new Junghans Max Bill Mega Solar watches features stainless steel cases that measure 38mm in diameter by 9mm thick with a traditional round profile and a crown located at the 3 o’clock location. While the reference 59/4325.02 features a classic polished finish on its case, the reference 59/7324.02 offers the same case with a gold-colored PVD treatment. Given that the new Max Bill Mega Solar watches feature radio-controlled movements, an additional push-piece is located on the side of the case at the 4 o’clock position in order to facilitate their operation, although since the case curves inward under the bezel on the lower side, the push-piece and its housing are hidden from view when directly looking at the face of the watch. The dial side of the new Junghans Max Bill Mega Solar models gets fitted with a domed sapphire crystal that has anti-reflective treatment on both sides, while the screw-on caseback is fitted with a non-transparent mineral glass crystal that features a sun motif, and water resistance for the new models comes in at a fairly standard 50 meters. At a quick glance, these new watches could easily be confused for the brand’s traditional mechanical models, although what really sets these solar-powered variants apart is the movements used to power them.
Inside the new pair of Junghans Max Bill Mega Solar watches is the brand’s Caliber J101.85 radio-controlled connected movement. Developed and manufactured in Schramberg, Germany, the Junghans Cal. J101.85 is powered by a curved solar cell that sits below the watches’ semi-translucent dials, and it also offers a power-saving feature that will allow it to keep accurate time for up to three years in total darkness. That said, arguably the most impressive feature of the Cal. J101.85 is its advanced functionality, and aside from its solar-powered capabilities, the radio-controlled movement also offers a perpetual calendar, automatic adjustment for daylight saving time, and easy setting and time zone synchronization through either the crown or the brand’s smartphone app. On paper, the Junghans Cal. J101.85 solar movement appears to be incredibly promising, as often the greatest drawback of feature-rich analog movements can often be the convoluted process involved with setting them. Having the watch capable of being configured through a smartphone easily remedies this issue, and it also allows the new Junghans Max Bill Mega Solar watches to retain their clean signature Bauhaus appearance.
To complement their different case finishing, each of the two new Junghans Max Bill Mega Solar watches receives a different dial and strap. With that in mind, the overall design and layout of the two dials are identical on both models, and both versions of the dial are based upon the same domed white semi-transparent surface that offers the classic Max Bill aesthetic. However, the stainless steel ref. 59/4325.02 receives a dial with bright red numerals and matching red printing on its calendar disc, while the gold PVD-finished ref. 59/7324.02 has a dial that offers these same details in a more traditional black printing. Similarly, both models are fitted with hands that match the respective metal colors of their cases, and while the gold PVD ref. 59/7324.02 is fitted with a taupe-colored leather strap that has a signed gold PVD pin buckle, the stainless steel ref. 59/4325.02 receives a bright red vegan-friendly strap made from recycled apple fiber with a tan microfiber lining and a stainless steel buckle.
Despite their wealth of features, the new Junghans Max Bill Mega Solar watches are actually priced slightly below their automatic counterparts, with the stainless steel ref. 59/4325.02 coming in at €1,075.00 EUR, while the gold PVD ref. 59/7324.02 costs slightly more at €1,175.00 EUR (or approximately $1,180 USD and $1,290 USD, respectively, at the time of writing). While you can get many of these same modern features from one of the big-name Japanese brands for a bit less money, these new Junghans Max Bill Mega Solar watches ultimately seem quite fairly priced when you look at the rest of the German brand’s current catalog. Although traditionalists will likely always prefer mechanical movements, these new solar-powered models aren’t necessarily aimed at the die-hard enthusiast demographic, but rather they are the perfect timepieces for those who love the classic Max Bill Bauhaus design but want it in a contemporary package that offers thoroughly modern conveniences with true set-it-and-forget-it functionality. For more information on the Junghans Max Bill Mega Solar collection, please visit the brand’s website.