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MeisterSinger Circularis Automatic Watch Hands-On

MeisterSinger Circularis Automatic Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Being a fan of mostly sport watches, I don’t wear too many dressier models. When I do, however, I like for them to wear bold and be interesting. A timepiece like the MeisterSinger Circularis Automatic easily suffices for when you want something familiar yet slightly avant-garde. This is probably the most “enthusiast-oriented” of the single-hand watches that have made MeisterSinger a popular brand today, and while the concept might be simple to understand, it really takes wearing one of these watches to get the concept and feeling of using a timepiece with one hand.

MeisterSinger Circularis Automatic Watch Hands-On Hands-On

At the heart of the MeisterSinger Circularis Automatic is an interesting movement that has been rendered in a very attractive fashion for MeisterSinger. They call it their caliber MSA01, and while it isn’t in-house, it is not all that common. Some people might know this movement better as the caliber SH21. The SH21 is produced in Switzerland by Synergies Horlogeres – which is owned by UK’s Christopher Ward. This is the first time I’ve personally seen the SH21 used outside of a Christopher Ward watch – and I think it lends itself to different executions nicely.

MeisterSinger Circularis Automatic Watch Hands-On Hands-On

MeisterSinger began working with them back in 2014 when they launched the original MeisterSinger Circularis which had a manually wound movement. That collection used the MSH01, which is essentially the same movement but without the automatic rotor. The MSA01 is the automatic version and, like the MSH01, has been modified from the stock SH21 both in terms of finishing and in order to use only one hand. Earlier in 2016, we debuted the MeisterSinger Circularis Automatic here. Compared to the manually wound model, the dial was cleaned up a bit for the Automatic, and given a bit more of a modern design.

MeisterSinger Circularis Automatic Watch Hands-On Hands-On

While the MSA01 movement is technically impressive, it is large. This means that the 43mm-wide and 13.5mm-thick case (water resistant to 50 meters) of the MeisterSinger Circularis Automatic is necessary to house the thick mechanism. It does, however, offer 120 hours (5 days) of power reserve between two mainspring barrels, and operates at 4Hz. MeisterSinger did a nice job designing the automatic rotor which has crescent-shaped cuts in that that are inspired by the brand’s logo. Overall, the finishing and execution on the movement are impressive, even though a watch like this does command a price premium over a Christopher Ward watch with an SH21 movement inside of it.

MeisterSinger Circularis Automatic Watch Hands-On Hands-On

All versions of the MeisterSinger Circularis Automatic have steel cases, but an 18k yellow gold bezel is available as an option. Just add “LG” to the end of the reference number for those. On their website, MeisterSinger only mentions the reference CC908LG with the blue dial and 18k gold bezel. Not sure if that is worth the price premium as these timepieces aren’t inherently cheap, but the prices don’t seem out of whack for what you are getting.

MeisterSinger Circularis Automatic Watch Hands-On Hands-On

It would be easy to call the MeisterSinger Circularis Automatic a fashionable watch. The chunky proportions are benefited by mostly bold dial colors that include the reference CC911 with the red “sunburst bordeaux” dial, the CC908 with the sunburst blue dial, the CC907 with the sunburst anthracite, and the comparatively demure but classy CC903 with the ivory dial. I would like to see MeisterSinger add one of their sunburst green dials to the MeisterSinger Circularis Automatic collection as well in the future.

The dial offers just the time with a single hand, and the date located at 6 o’clock. Little details such as the raised hour markers are nice. The questions you get while wearing a single-handed watch are interesting to say the least…

MeisterSinger Circularis Automatic Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Telling the time is actually really simple thanks to the handy scale on the dial. You’d be surprised how simple it is to get used to reading the time with one hand. What you gain in comfort you lack in precision, of course. You’ll also never know AM or PM as on some single-hand watches that use 24-hour dials, but that is the same in most other watches as well. What I think is particularly appealing about the MeisterSinger concept, is that they recognize most people use electronic timekeeping when they need accuracy or precision. A watch on your wrist today is a mere reference, and when you look at the time there you want it to be quick and easy to do at a glance – the MeisterSinger Circularis Automatic certainly delivers that. Moreover, these watches are nice to look at. In terms of combining style with a tool (albeit in a conservative way) timepieces such as the MeisterSinger Circularis Automatic do that well.

MeisterSinger Circularis Automatic Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Of course, there are other brands out there that offer single-hand watches. One of the first I knew about was Botta Design. With that said, MeisterSinger has really done a good job of “owning” this part of the market, offering a nice mixture of design and marketing to help find the right customers.

It might have just been for the prototype watches I saw, but the straps where not actual alligator but rather alligator texture-printed leather straps. For shipping reasons, it makes more sense to use these for non-retail models, but I do hope that for the retail pieces (and at this price) MeisterSinger uses only the best real alligator straps as doing so will help the core designs look even better. Prices for these MeisterSinger Circularis Automatic watches is $5,395 each.

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  • DebugOutput

    It was all going rather well until I got to the price. No thanks!

    • Roelf Van Der Merwe

      I agree. Gorgeous watch…but thats a lot of money!

    • Chaz

      Yup. For what’s basically a “novelty” watch, $5k is extreme. It’s nice that they have this fancy 5-day movement and all but…

      Didn’t this brand used to be a LOT less dear?

    • laup nomis

      I really like it, and I like the one hand idea too. I’ve got other watches, so why not, its a different approach to time.
      But that price, double-take, I’m sure there are good technical reasons. But they do other single hand watches for less than a thousand.
      Luch watches. £40 for a hand-wound, single-hand watch. ( okay I know, movement, quality, etc, etc).

  • When they say “less is more” they mean the price (as well as the hands). Nice looking movement, but yikes – the price!

  • IanE

    As I like the concept, but not the price, I have a Botta 24-hour single-hander. Yes, it’s just quartz, but it’s great for an occasional wear when I’m feeling relaxed about time. Perhaps oddly (?) nobody has ever commented or noticed that it’s a single-hander (though, come to think of it, noone except my wife has ever commented on any of my watches – we watch geeks may notice such things, but ‘normal’ people scarcely ever do so!).

  • HectorAsuipe

    A bit big in size and price. I actually prefer the No. 2 model (handwound with a nicer movement than the No. 1), which is usually going for about $1700. I like what Meistersinger is doing, but have yet to find the opportunity to get one.

  • SuperStrapper

    I’m never going to be able to appreciate single-handed watches. Just not for me. I have a hard enough time with 2 handed watches, consolidating down to one is just going too far.

    • ap patek

      Now if MeisterSinger would remove the numerals, hash marks and date complication…;)

      • And that pesky hour hand. Then it would be a really clean design 🙂

        • IanE

          And then we would (almost) have another Haldimann H9 Reduction ‘watch’!

          • SuperStrapper

            Took the words right from me mooth

          • Gokart Mozart

            I like the Haldimanns ( well the ones where you can actually tell the time)

          • IanE

            Me too – if I could afford the price!

        • Shinytoys

          that’s some funny shit !!!

        • John Effing Zoidberg

          MOAR ZEROES!

      • laup nomis

        Why not just put a maze on the dial and take everything else away. You could charge much more as well.

  • iamcalledryan

    I am not shocked by the price, it’s a nice movement that delivers 5 days of autonomy and fills the case beautifully. Furthermore, their other offerings provide a similar aesthetic with more ubiquitous third party movements at a far lower price so there is a Meistersinger for everyone (that likes single handed watches!).

    • Shinytoys

      it is a wee bit expensive…

  • Raymond Wilkie

    I really like this watch. I don’t need to know the millionth of a second so the one hand is just fine for me. Lovely movement. lovely coloUrs but with this particular kind of minimalist design i don’t think there was any need for the date wheel. Nice wee talking point but for the price i can think of a dozen watches before i picked this.


    It looks good but completely unpractical I had a jump hour and already struggled w reading time so I fear this would be a even more difficult experience. The movement is lovely the PR is nice to have but just too much coin for the brand. Not that they don’t make nice pieces but resale you shall get clobbered hard.

    • BJ314

      If you can’t tell time with a single hand its really your fault. It takes a few days at most to get used to.

      • BNABOD

        I will just reply with, if you have no manners it is really your fault.

  • Hands90

    Good luck using this if you have to catch a train
    $5,395 each! Imagine if there was a MINUTE hand it would cost 10K!

    • Shinytoys

      one extra hand would indeed double the price 🙂

  • speedy

    I like Meistesinger designs but I missed the time when they cost <1000$ (yes, the CWard movement is cool, but it is "just" a CWard movement).

    So I bough a single-hand Luch for 60$ instead…

  • Shinytoys

    Using a regulator is an acquired taste and practice. I wasn’t sure if it was for me so I purchased a Sturhling Automatic with one hand for time and a host of other complications. I’ve had it for 6 years and the unit is bulletproof. I’ve dropped it twice on a hardwood floor accidently and it’s still good for + 2 seconds a day. It’s a beautiful watch. I can see a Meistesinger in my future, make mine burgundy…:)

  • cg

    Have 3 single handers…. one thing for sure is they’re always watch conversation starters for the uninitiated. Have not met a person that doesn’t like them. These are very nice even tho quite pricey.

  • cluedog12

    According to their website, Meistersinger offers both genuine alligator and croco print straps.

  • Bill W

    $5,395??? One hand but zero shame. Great snakes!

    • Berndt Norten

      snake oil of a higher level, a higher plane….

  • funNactive

    It would be fun to wear but with how much use I would get out of it (along with my budget), it’s way too expensive.

  • Bill W

    How about the Defakto Inkognito? MUUUUUUCH less money:

    • That is an ugly watch. Looks like bauhaus done by a 12 year old designer. And it only has 15 minute markers, so I’d opt for the reviewed Meistersinger over the Defakto Inkognito (assuming price was not a factor). I’ve heard Ickler makes nice cases – perhaps that should stuck to just that.

      • Bill W

        It’s brutish but I kinda like it for a cheapie.

      • BJ314

        The Mono? Yes. The Struktur? No. It’s one of the ugliest watches ever made.

        • Well yeah, the Struktur is still no prize (way too plain & boring for me) but at least it’s better than the “brutish” (as Bill W noted) Inkognito.

  • Larry Holmack

    The version with the cream colored dial with a brown gator strap would be pretty nice. But..the $5300 price tag is bit steep!!

  • Gokart Mozart

    I like Meistersinger, and have one of their clocks in the living room. Looks really good and attracts lots of attention.

    This one is pricy but is the most expensive single hand watch they do. For the same style you can get a single handed watch for under £1000, and several in between or with various complications.

  • DanW94

    Well done Meistersinger. So much better than that last German who went around extending a single hand….

    • IG

      He was Austrian.

  • Timestandsstill

    I have the Perigraph model and though I don’t wear it often (great for vacations to “slow down” time) it’s a great watch. Although US dealers are not particularly forthcoming with discounts I found mine online from an overseas AD at a very attractive price. It does wear large and the faux alligator strap it came with looked cheap (to me) and was replaced with a Camille Fournet and it looks fantastic now. Definitely a conversation starter. It takes a bit of adjustment but soon it’s easy to tell time at a glance. If you like the look of these and the price is too high and you don’t mind a good 3rd party movement their other models offer good value.

    • iamcalledryan

      LOVE the idea of using it as a vacation watch.

  • mtnsicl

    I’ve always wanted a single hand watch. Kemmner made a nice one. I’ve never really looked at this watch as a dress watch. Not sure why, but I do see it. I think the price needs to be cut in half. And, all the different colors, unfortunately, give it a fashion watch feel. I think it should come in a cream and black dial only. Anything else just cheapens this good looking watch. I’d like to see a seconds hand on it. But, then I guess it wouldn’t be a single hand watch.

    • Timestandsstill

      Like this? Single hand with chrono and running seconds

      • mtnsicl

        Like that!

      • It would be funnier if their chronograph only had a register for hours (no seconds or minutes).

        • Timestandsstill

          Yes, it would be perfect for measuring cosmic events that take eons to unfold 😉

  • And for those who desire a single hand watch but are obsessed with precision, we offer the Zenith Striking 10th Foudroyante One Hand Watch. This 5 hz watch features a single hand which displays the current 1/10 of a second (only). In the same way that Meistersinger expects you to know the month and date of the reviewed watch, Zenith is pretty sure you can keep the current second, minute,hour, etc. in your head. Or just check your cell phone. Making one revolution per second, the sole hand makes 10 stops as its sweeps the 360 degree of the dial. Based on the El Primero Striking 10th chronograph, this Zenith is a minimalist expression for the OCD wearer who on the other hand does not care about those boring seconds, minute and hours.

  • John Effing Zoidberg

    So many zeroes I’m getting dizzy!

  • Disgruntled_Veteran

    It is a nice piece, just NOT my cuppa. I’ll stick to the Yes Inca 24/24 and use the rest of the cash for adding to the Tudor “Bronzo” fund . . .