June 8, 2020
by Ariel Adams
You have to be a real Meistersinger devotee to understand how the MeisterSinger Salthora Meta X fits into the brand’s larger timepiece collection. At its heart, the Salthora Meta X is trying to be a sportier version of the standard MeisterSinger timepiece fare — while, at the same time, playing with an uncommon timepiece dial complication.
There is a lot to like about the Salthora Meta X watch even though it is a quirky product with a number of design refinements that, if applied, could make for a really popular luxury product for more mainstream appeal. Today, the Salthora Meta X is still a niche-appeal product from a niche-appeal mechanical watch brand. I call that “exotic,” and there is a special place in my heart for exotic watches, even if I know that, with more time and investment, MeisterSinger could transform the Salthora Meta X into a more widely appreciated product.
If you recall, MeisterSinger is the German watchmaker that specializes in single-hand watch dials. Most of its watches use a single hand to indicate the hours and minutes. On most watches, a single hand makes a single rotation around the dial every 12 hours. While the Salthora Meta X does, indeed, have one hand, it does not indicate the time like other MeisterSinger watches. The larger central hand on the Salthora Meta X is used to indicate just the minutes, and the hours are displayed “digitally” on a moving disc via a window located at the 12 o’clock position on the dial.
The hour disc jumps to the next full hour at the top of the hour, which makes this watch a “jumping hour” watch, as opposed to the disc not jumping to precise positions and rather “wandering” between the hours (not nearly as elegant as jumping ones) in the hour window. The jumping hour complication is accomplished by a special module that is fitted over the Swiss Made ETA 2824-2 (or Sellita SW200) automatic mechanical movement that sits inside the Salthora Meta X case. The movement operates at 4Hz and has a slightly lowered power reserve of 38 hours, most likely on account of the power requirements on the jumping hour module.
One particular version of the Salthora Meta X (which remains my favorite) is the MeisterSinger Salthora Meta X Transparent (aBlogtoWatch hands-on here). That reference SAMX902TR watch has the same case and movement as this reference SAMX908, but a dial that attractively reveals the jumping hour mechanism (albeit with a slightly smaller hour disc), which is at the heart of what makes this watch noteworthy.
The Salthora Meta collection is MeisterSinger’s more classic (dressier) watch line with this jumping hour complication movement, and the Salthora Meta X is the sports watch version. The nicely finished steel case is on the larger side at 43mm-wide and 14.2mm-thick. The long, highly curved lugs actually make the watch feel larger, but the contrast polishing on the case between mirror-polished and brushed surfaces helps the chunky case look its best.
As a dive-style watch, the Salthora Meta X is water-resistant to 200 meters and the dial is topped with a domed, AR-coated sapphire crystal. Dial legibility is pretty good, and the case feels durable enough, but MeisterSinger struggles a bit to really put more than a functional dive watch personality into the collection. Yes, the Salthora Meta X has a uni-directional rotating bezel, a water-resistant case, and a bit of luminant on the dial (it could use more luminant, now that I mention it), the Salthora Meta X still feels like it needs a more appropriately designed dial if it wishes to be a serious sports watch. Right now the product straddles the line between sports watch and vintage instrument (in the dial design). I feel like the dial needs a bit more boldness and oomph.
One legibility issue on the dial is the readability of the hour in the jumping hour window. MeisterSinger uses the same font style and color as the minute markers. Why the hour numerals are not visually distinguished at least by color seems like a strange omission. The dial options themselves are chromatically appealing, and this pale dark blue is easy on the eyes. That said, I have to the dial needs a bit more consistency or harmony with the fonts. The MeisterSinger logo, hour/minute numerals, and dial text are all different fonts. That is at least one too many fonts. The dial otherwise is proportionally nice and logical, but it lacks a design edge, which I think should be part of the value proposition at this price point.
The dial and bezel luminant are widely applied but a bit thin in its application. When the lume is charged, it looks great but as the bezel shines more brightly than the dial, I think MeisterSinger could have found ways to beef up the Super-LumiNova a bit. Looking at the dial, overall, my recommendation on how to best refine it is to begin with the hour window and help it and the hour numeral inside stand out a bit more on the dial. Second, I’d spice up the single hand on the dial. If MeisterSinger wants to keep its core needle-hand look, that is fine, but this needs to be a wider needle and probably needs a nice texture or something to make it feel a bit more interesting since it is an integral part of the dial composition. Third, I would refine the dial text and fonts to make sure they are as elegant as possible — a cool mechanical jumping hour watch such as this deserves it, for sure.
Around the dial, the rotating bezel has a blue ceramic insert. Other versions of the Salthora Meta X have a dark gray ceramic insert. MeisterSinger also plays with colors and, in one instance (the reference SAMX902) has a different color for the jumping hour disc so that reading the time is easier. Blue, however, will be the trendiest of dial colors for the MeisterSinger Salthora Meta X collection, which is why I am pushing the idea of refinements.
For small wrists like mine, the big lugs are a bit overpowering, but not a deal-killer. MeisterSinger offers the watch on both this mesh metal bracelet and a series of strap options. The metal bracelet is the cool-guy option, but it does have some practical drawbacks, the most notable of which is the visual gap between the case and the bracelet (I like the integrated look more), and the fact that this style of bracelet can be painful depending on the volume and form of your arm hair.
Jumping hour watches are cool, and the minimalist style that MeisterSinger has developed for itself is a good place for the complication. Add in the popular fashionability of a diver-style watch and you have a formula for success, right? The Salthora Meta X is the result of that formula. It pulls off the concept, but since the concept is so interesting, I feel like I want to see MeisterSinger take it further. The Salthora Meta X Transparent was a great example of that and proof that MeisterSinger itself knows the Salthora Meta X collection as a whole could use some adjusting. The brand is close, and with its particular list of attributes, the brand’s team can do it. For now, the Salthora Meta X remains undeniably interesting, albeit a niche product for watch lovers who fully appreciate that it does, indeed, offer something different. Price for the MeisterSinger Salthora Meta X reference SAMX908 on a strap is $3,495 USD and on the bracelet it is $3,850 USD. Learn more at the MeisterSinger website here.
>Model: Salthora Meta X (reference SAMX908 as tested)
>Price: $3,495 – $3,850 USD
>Size: 43mm wide, 14.2mm-thick, ~51mm lug-to-lug distance
>When reviewer would personally wear it: When wanting to show off that you can wear a totally unconventional tool watch, just because.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Single-hand watch lover who nevertheless wants more precision in reading the time, and sports watch lover.
>Best characteristic of watch: Jumping hour dive watches are a compelling watch product, overall. Case is well-made and solid-feeling. Movement module and overall operation straightforward and hassle-free.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Blue dial version has readability issues, as hour window blends in a bit with minute markers. Dial lacks a bit of refined designer personality. Strap a possibly better option for those with arm hair prone to pinching and pulling. Can come across as a little bit expensive when compared with some of the competition.