July 12, 2016
by Ariel Adams
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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. meistersinger.net