November 11, 2020
The German luxury watchmaking industry has evolved over the centuries to become a decidedly distinct entity from its counterpart in Switzerland, with a set of engineering and aesthetic conventions all its own. This tends to express itself in the meticulous and balanced execution of traditional themes and designs rather than the more fanciful and avant-garde Swiss, leading to brilliantly purist expressions of classical watchmaking concepts. Moritz Grossmann is an excellent example of this German aesthetic trend, although the brand itself dates back only to 2008 in its current iteration. To celebrate 12 years of operation, the brand has dedicated its latest release to perhaps its most traditional design yet. The limited-edition Moritz Grossmann XII Birthday Edition series adds an artisanal 19th-century silver-plating process to its already classically inspired formula, resulting in a one of a kind dial surface with a centuries-old antique feel.
Available in both stainless steel and 18K rose gold, the 41mm case of the Moritz Grossmann XII Birthday Edition is pure classic dress watch in form. The narrow rounded bezel, simple straight lugs, and full mirror polish are all hallmarks of traditional Teutonic dress watch design, but the XII Birthday Edition sets itself apart on the 4 o’clock side of the case. Alongside the truncated crown sits a small bullet-shaped pusher. On a watch without a chronograph or other complications, this pusher might be something of a mystery, but its function is one of Moritz Grossmann’s signature innovations. In order to assure maximum accuracy while setting the time, this pusher must be depressed in order to move the hands. This prevents the hours and minutes hands from slipping minutely out of position when pushing the crown back into its neutral position. The caseback is equipped with a wide sapphire display window to allow an unimpeded view of the movement within.
The dial surface of the Moritz Grossmann XII Birthday Edition is undoubtedly the star of the show, with a velvety-textured silver finish. This unorthodox finish is the result of the antiquated and labor-intensive process of silver plating by friction, a nearly lost art form practiced by only a handful of craftspeople today. Commonplace in dial making in the 1860s and 1870s, the process begins with a dial blank which is engraved, lacquered, and then kiln-fired to create the deep black numerals. From there, the dial surface is sanded down and roughened to remove excess lacquer and create a better binding surface for the silver plate. The silver plating itself is a remarkably simple process, where fine granules of silver are mixed in water with salt and tartar and applied to the dial by hand with a brush. The silver paste sticks to the rough dial surface, but not to the enamel of the numerals, allowing excess silver to be removed with little effort. The fine grain texture this method produces is difficult to replicate with more modern techniques, providing a sparkling reflective pattern that minimizes glare for the viewer. The rest of the XII Birthday Edition’s dial design is suitably 19th century as well, from the angular dial signature carried over from the original Moritz Grossmann brand’s watches of the 1860s. The engraved Roman numerals are long and slender, leaving maximal negative space for the dial surface to shine through. The heat blued hands are extremely slim as well, with the stems of the spade hands and the stick seconds hand in particular tapering down to nearly nothing before flaring outward at the ends. The sub-seconds subdial at 6 o’clock is broad and airy, with an elemental outer railroad seconds track. Overall, the dial design of the XII would not feel at all out of place on a mid 19th-century pocket watch instead of a wristwatch released in 2020.
Moritz Grossmann powers the XII Birthday Edition with the manufacture Calibre 100.1 hand-wound movement. Decorated in a classically German style with a broad German silver 2/3 plate bridge decorated with Glashütte stripes alongside a short, heavily hand filigreed balance cock, the Calibre 100.1 looks in initial images to emphasize finishing over intricate visual detail. Further emphasizing the classical philosophy behind this watch is the slow, steady 18,000 bph beat rate, allowing for a 42-hour power reserve.
Both the rose gold and stainless steel variants of the Moritz Grossmann are paired with hand-stitched alligator leather straps. For the rose gold model, this is rendered in a deep mahogany brown, while the stainless steel version is paired with pure black.
With the XII Birthday Edition, Moritz Grossmann has crafted one of the most faithful interpretations of classic German luxury watch themes in the current market. Only six examples each of the stainless steel and rose gold Moritz Grossmann XII Birthday Edition will be made. The Moritz Grossmann XII Birthday Edition is available now through authorized dealers with pricing for the rose gold variant at €27,600 and an MSRP for the stainless steel model of €19,100. For more details, please visit the brand’s website.