Based in Slovakia, Molnar Fabry is a duo of jewelers who specialize in highly decorated or skeletonized custom watches based off ETA or Unitas movements. The Molnar Fabry Time Machine Regulator 911 is a one-off piece designed for an owner of a Porsche 911 car who wants a watch to accompany it. To emphasize the link between watch and car, the Time Machine Regulator 911 is cased in Grade 5 titanium, which is the same material used for the lug bolts of the Porsche’s wheels, and “911” is printed on the hour sub-dial.
Regulators were commonly used by watchmakers before the availability of precision quartz clocks, intended to be used as a reference time when setting the watches they were working on. Hours and seconds were less important than minutes for the purposes of regulation (watches of this era couldn’t be expected to achieve accuracy within seconds), so the minutes hand was given prominence on the dial. Modern watches in the regulator style are often homages to that era, with retro or classical design elements. Not so with the Molnar Fabry Time Machine Regulator 911, which uses its skeletonized central minute hand like the needle on a speedometer.
The hour sub-dial is located at 10 o’clock and uses blue roman numerals and a blued steel hour hand in a sort of wedge shape with some central mass cut away to show the disc underneath. The seconds sub-dial at 6 o’clock is likewise in blued steel and uses Arabic numerals for every 10 second interval, backed up by a seconds track in blue dots with a larger dot for every 5th second. Both sub-dials are made of 99.9% pure silver and are attached to the movement bridges using a pair of polished screws. Silver is an unusual material in watchmaking, due to its tendency to tarnish and darken over time. Perhaps the sapphire crystal over the dial will provide a sufficient seal to prevent these discs from darkening to the point of illegibility.
The large minute hand is blued and skeletonized, and it points to a periphery minute track which also uses blue dots, with larger markers every 5 minutes. At 12 o’clock the minute track is interrupted by the “MOLNAR FABRY” logo text, which could make precise time telling difficult between 55 minutes and 05 minutes past the hour, although that’s unlikely to pose any serious practical problems. The minute hand is also quite broad and doesn’t reach all the way to its minute track, which could compromise some precision when attempting to read the minute accurately. These are minor design nitpicks that are unlikely to detract much from the wearing experience of this timepiece, and those concerns aside, the broad minute hand is an attractive and distinctive design element.
Aside from the hour and minute discs, the dial of the Molnar Fabry Time Machine Regulator 911 is completely exposed to showcase the hand-skeletonized ETA 6498-1 movement underneath. This is a hand-wound movement with a 46 hour power reserve, which beats at the leisurely frequency of 18,000 A/H or 2.5Hz. The regulator complication has been made in-house by Molnar Fabry, and the movement has been well decorated with beveled edges, sandblasted bridges, blued screws, and components either white rhodium- or black ruthenium-plated for an industrial, engine-like appearance. All the modifications are done by hand, and the brand tells us this takes 280 hours per timepiece.
The case of the Molnar Fabry Time Machine Regulator 911 is 44mm wide and also made in-house from Grade 5 titanium. This is a strengthened alloy of titanium with the addition of aluminium, vanadium, iron, and oxygen, and it is significantly stronger than commercially pure (Grade 2) titanium. Compared with the 316L steel that most watchmakers use for their sports models, Grade 5 titanium is lighter, stronger, harder, and more corrosion resistant, as well as being better tolerated by wearers with nickel allergies. A sapphire crystal covers the dial and caseback, and the watch comes attached to a blue genuine alligator leather strap with white contrast stitching, with a simple buckle clasp also in Grade 5 titanium.
Although the Molnar Fabry Time Machine Regulator 911 uses a fairly inexpensive outsourced movement, the end result is almost unrecognizable from a stock ETA 6498-1. Michal Molnar and Igor Fabry occupy a special niche in the watchmaking industry, making custom watches with a high degree of hand finishing and modification – and I recommend our article on visiting the Molnar Fabry workshop to learn more about their remarkable work. Whether or not you can afford one of their beautiful bespoke creations, there’s no doubt the brand is offering something interesting and unique. The Molnar Fabry Time Machine Regulator 911 is priced at 14,900 EUR. molnarfabry.com