August 17, 2009
by Ariel Adams
The case is a curious shape for many of you. It is called a “cushion” – for what should be obvious reasons. Think of a chair cushion, or a couch pillow. I know it is not the most glamorous term as applied to a luxury watch, but can you think of a better name? This is the first cushion style watch for me, and I actually like how it looks on my wrist. I think the shape is more flattering than a tonneau case (rectangular cushion), and I appreciate the symmetry of the even side lengths here more. The case a coined/column design on the side on the side that helps fill the space with a pleasant decoration. In true sophisticated watch fashion, this theme is continue into the double fold-over deployment clasp on the strap. You can tell how the lugs are highly curved in order to not look to big on your wrist and have a retro styling to them. The different polishes on the case (mirrored, brushed) are done in a high quality manner, and the overall fit and finish of the case is really top-notch. I really like how the crown has the beautiful looking relief of the Perrelet logo. The crown is not screw-down on the watch, which I think I would have preferred. Though maybe this is because I am a diving watch kinda guy. The watch is water resistant to 50 meters which is standard for more dressy watches of this ilk.
On the back of the watch you can see the exhibition back of the case (which itself is secured via four screws) The dial crystal and rear crystal are both sapphire. The movement decoration was the first thing about the Perrelet A1021/3 that greatly impressed me. The decoration is thorough and unique to Perrelet. There is a skeletonized automatic rotor with a piece of gold attached to the back (for weight). The center of the rotor has the Perrelet logo engraved on it. Around the edge of the movement lies perlage polishing, and the movement use blued screws. Now the best movement decoration is located on most of the exposed movement plate and are a repeating pattern of Perrelet “P” logos. Giving it a quick glance and it may look like a floral pattern, but you’ll notice the clever branding upon closer inspection. For some reason the area immediately below the balance wheel is not decorated, but it is not a big issue as the overall movement viewing experience is quite positive.I am not quite sure what the movement is inside of the watch. Perrelet recently purchased movement maker Soprod, but I think that most of their movements are currently from Swiss ETA. I am pretty sure that this watch is maybe a base ETA 2836 that has been modified as well as given a power reserve indicator, though I am not sure, whatever the case, it is a automatic mechanical Swiss movement.
The watch strap is crocodile. I accidentally referred to it as alligator in the video. My apologies for that. It gets quite supple and is soft to the touch. The contrast stitching is a nice touch. Like all animal skin leather straps, you’ll need to wear the strap in a bit for the best fit. The deployment clasp is easy to use with it’s double fold-over clasp and push-button operation. A fantastic touch is the use of perlage polish decoration on much of the exposed surface areas on the deployment. The rest is highly mirror polished.
Now for the most important part of the watch, the face. This is the aspect of a watch that you are going to be looking at the most, so you’ll want it to be good. Perrelet designed an interesting face for the A1021/3 Day Date power reserve. First, the sapphire crystal is about flush wit the case and uses a few good application of anti-reflective coating. The dial itself is a black with a slight sheen and done with a sunburst pattern. It is subtle, but a good touch that adds to the luxury composition of this timepiece. The Arabic hour indicators remind me of those on certain Jaeger-LeCoultre watches. They also remind me of the “gentleman traveler.” Perhaps a fellow on a train when such means of transportation was still widely popular. Each hour marker and the hands are covered in a high quality luminant – likely SuperLumiNova. As you can see in the image, they light up brightly and are easy to view. As an added benefit of the lume being so thickly applied on the hour markers, they are raised up a bit from the dial. There is a centrally located seconds hand, and the three other complications that include the date, day, and power reserve indicator.
Each of these three features is done is a different way adding a sense of variety to the dial. The case is nicely done set deep into the case with an attractive metal lined date window. Best of all is that the date disc is black to match the dial color. The little metal ring in the “porthole” is a nice touch making the date window look less like a gaping whole in the dial, and more like something that is supposed to be there. The only thing that Perrelet could have done to improve this was at a reserve magnifier lens on the rear of the crystal to help make reading the date easier. Opposite the date window is the day dial. It is very straight forward and simply – almost too simple. The small polished steel hand is clear, but feels like it should do something like underline the correct day. Again this could be just speculation, and Perrelet tired this with the present dial being the optimal day dial presentation. Lastly you have the Power reserve indicator that adds the splash of red color to the dial. You’ll find that most luxury dressy watch have some hint of a third color on their dials to make them more interesting, red is a typical choice and “works as advertised” to spruce up dial designs. One of the nice things about a cushion shaped case versus as tonneau case is that you can have hands that are never too short. The hands here are the right length for this style watch and exhibit one addition feature that is pretty hard to find these days. Like classic watches, both the minute and seconds hand are bend down a bit toward the dial at the tips. This helps when reading the watch at angles as it more precisely shows you where the hands are falling on the dial. Like I said, this is a rare feature to find in today’s watch and I really like that Perrelet included them in the watch. Many of these minor details that I have been pointing out are certainly indicative of one major thing: that Perrelet has watches designed by actual watch makers who are familiar with the basic principles of making a watch. Honestly, this is not always easy to come by.
The Perrelet A1021/3 is a luxury watch made like luxury watches used to be made like. Offering quality materials to represent the presentation of the time in as clear and easy a way possible and adding a few useful complications. Luxury these days can take many forms, many of them purely for boldness or experimentation. This watch is out of another era in its philosophy. I will also that this cushion-shaped Day Date Power Reserve watch is not one that I would run up to in a store case and get excited about it. Maybe that is because it is so function forward in presentation. Thus, the timepiece does not scream “buy me,” but rather it grows on you after you give it a chance. Living with the watch for a bit I have become much more fond of it. It looks good and has lots of little luxury points that you can continue to enjoy for a long time – especially after those other watches with too much personality lose their novelty or fall out of style. These Perrelet watches will still be around. This same A1021 line of watch is also available with Roman numeral hands and hour markers instread of the Arabic numerals. Retail price is about $4,000, with the street price being less.