Nivrel is one of my favorite underdog German watch brands. They do (have done) a wide range of stuff – from hardcore dive watches, to tourbillons, to erotic minute repeaters. I love the variety of their work. Lately it seems as though they have been focusing on more classic looking timepieces. Here is one of them, and it comes with a twist. This is the newer Nivrel La Grande Manuelle X47, and handsome classic timepiece that comes with a special type of day planner to go with the watch. It is the perfect type of watch for people who want something well-made but “nothing too fancy.”
OK, first let me explain this whole X47 thing. You can visit the X47 site here to learn more. The X47 is a daily planner that uses a clock face and some space below to plan your day. Rather than layout the day in sequential periods. you draw in parts of the clock face like it is a pie chart. The idea is to help you remember things by repetition, and association with where the hour hand is. The X47 book that comes with the watch is specially made for Nivrel, with the clock faces being (more or less) of the Grande Manuelle.
Leather-bound, the book is nicely presented and of a much higher quality than most of the things you’ll find at office stores. Nivrel gives you lots and lots of extra X47 pages. The set also comes with a metal mechanical pencil which is pretty cool. What is also special is that the X47 company is from the same area in Germany where Nivrel is from – making it a pleasant “regional partnership.” Nivrel is located in Saarbrucken, a city in Germany that I actually visited – which helps me enjoy the watch even more actually.
According to Nivrel – the Grand Manuelle X47 watch set is meant for people who “love to engage with time.” Organizational freaks or those who still use paper day planners will get a kick out of it. I personally like the concept – even if I don’t use it that much (and I really like the mechanical pencil). Whether or not the X47 part of the equation interests you (“X47” actually sounds like part of an equation), there is much to find appealing about the watch.
I call it my “baby Lange” (referring of course to high-end watch maker A. Lange & Sohne – which is also located in Germany), this watch is characteristically like many conservative looking Teutonic watches with a “traditional” sensibility to them. It is very easy to read, pleasing to the eyes, and like I said above, not trying to be anything “fancy.” I wouldn’t call it boring though. Nivrel’s placement of the crown at 2 o’clock, and the asymmetrical position of the subsidiary seconds dial mixes the design up ‘just enough’ to prevent the watch from being generic.
The steel case is 42mm wide with a polished bezel and brushed metal body. Crystal is slightly domed sapphire, and there is another crystal on the rear of the watch as a display back over the movement. The case is water resistant to 50 meters. For the dial, Nivrel uses a printed piece of solid silver. The subsidiary seconds dial is slight recessed, while the hands are done in blued steel. The blued steel is quite dark actually – and often looks black. In the right light, the deep blue of the hands does come out. It pleases me that Nivrel did what it needed to do to make the dial very easy to read. It is almost soothing in an industrial wall clock circa 1930 sort of way. The proper length of the hands along with the Arabic numerals will make you feel as though most of your other watches are illegible in comparison. Though I did feel as though the hand on the subsidiary seconds dial was a bit stubby.
Interestingly enough, there is zero Nivrel branding on the case, aside from the mention on the dial. Nivrel watches this watch to be very simple, almost in an elegant manner. Things like luminant on the dial are missing, but watches of this type usually don’t offer luminant on the dials – most Lange watches certainly don’t. For the movement Nivrel chose a high-grade version of the Swiss Unitas 6498-1 manually wound movement. This movement in one form or another has been around forever. This version has some nice blued screws, Geneva stripe polishing, perlage polishing, and a blue steel swan-neck fine adjustment system for the escapement. Without heavy modification, this is about as nice a decor you can get with the 6498-1 movement. What I would have loved forever – and would have really got me excited was the addition of a power reserve indicator on the dial. Call me crazy, but I think that all non-automatic watches (when feasible) should have power reserve indicators on the dial to tell you when to wind the movements.
Please note that the strap you see on the watch here is not the standard strap (though it looks similar). Nivrel will match all La Grande Manuelle X47 watches with a Louisiana brown alligator strap. This one however happens to have a stamped calfskin strap. The strap has a push-button, fold-over butterfly deployment strap with the Nivrel logo engraved in to it.
The Nivrel La Grande Manuelle X47 set will be limited to just 250 pieces. I think after those are sold you can still get the watch, but the X47 set won’t be available. Price for it all is 1,990 euros. I quite like this watch, and it offers a sort of “living simple” calming feeling. Some days La Grande Manuelle will feel downright boring, while other times it is exactly what you want to put on your wrist. It is comfortable, tells the time, and handsome – in other words the quintessential conservative watch.