In May of 2020 aBlogtoWatch first debuted the new Iron Walker family of watches, an in-house collection from the German-based watch retailer Wempe. While Wempe serves as an authorized dealer of many find brands such as Rolex and Patek Philippe, the prestigious authorized dealer has also been producing their own in-house Wempe-branded timepieces for a while now. New Wempe watch models are a bit rare, but clearly, the company has been hard at work because the Iron Walker watches debuted with more than a dozen variations between a three-hand quartz model, the Automatic Diver, and this Wempe Iron Walker Automatic Chronograph. Today, I take a close look at the Wempe Iron Walker Automatic Chronograph timepiece, as the reference WI300002 in steel with the metallic blue dial.

Let’s take a step back for a moment to consider what theme most Wempe watches take. My last two aBlogtoWatch reviews on Wempe timepieces were of the Wempe Zeitmeister Aviator, and then not long after, I looked at the Wempe Zeitmeister Sport Diver’s watch. Wempe took popular, established watchmaking themes (a dive watch and a pilot watch) and then rendered their own take on it, along with great German quality and good value. The idea seemed to be that if a consumer generally liked those types of watches, didn’t have an affinity for a particular brand, and just wanted a good watch from a store they could trust, the in-house Wempe brand watches would serve as a good choice.

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That is more or less the same approach Wempe took with the Iron Walker, although the much-used Zeitmeister name has been left out this time. The popular timepiece theme for the Iron Walker watches is “steel watches with integrated bracelets.” I previously wrote about the popularity of integrated steel bracelet watches on aBlogtoWatch. Probably the worst thing you can say about the Iron Walker watches is that they perhaps too-resemble some other popular watches and concurrently don’t introduce enough original design elements. That is a fair criticism of the Iron Walker, but at the same time, I think their value, overall handsome looks, comfort, and high-quality construction win the day and make these a great choice for a lot of customers.

Even if the Iron Walker Automatic Chronograph has a passing resemblance to the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph, the Iron Walker still comes in at around one-fourth of the price. The German-made package is easily on par with a number of watches costing much more, and the movement is also German Chronometer rated, which is a more stringent standard than Swiss COSC Chronometer certification.

At launch, all of the Wempe Iron Walker watches are in steel, with the Automatic Chronograph being the largest at 42mm wide and just about 14mm thick. The lug-to-lug distance is a rather wearable 49mm. The polished and brushed steel case is also water resistant to 100 meters (with a crew down crown) and has a flat, AR-coated sapphire crystal over the dial. As is the case on many Wempe watches, the caseback is (amusingly, because few people know what this is) decorated with an etching of the observatory in Glashutte (owned by Wempe, I believe) where German Chronometer ratings are awarded.

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In typical conservative Wempe fashion, nothing about the Iron Walker design is remarkable aside from the execution of the parts in terms of them having quality surfaces and finishes. The dial is legible and handsome, but simple, and the case with bracelet fluidly unremarkably slips into the clothing of the integrated bracelet look many consumers are after. I feel that watch collectors interested in the fashionability of these watches, but who really don’t want to spend big brand premiums will feel that the Wempe Iron Walker is among the better choices (although other watches such as the Maurice Lacroix Aikon Automatic Chronograph are also products to consider) in this overall price range.

While Wempe has not had a clear value marketing message aimed at contemporary watch collectors with their current timepiece collections, the Iron Walker is a bit different. Wempe can enjoy a lot of built-in current consumer demand in a quickly evolving marketplace where watches like this seem persistently hot. Wempe will ultimately get its fair share of the market specifically because of their conservative approach — focusing less on distinctive designs and more on offering quality and value for their take on a hot look.

Inside the Iron Walker Automatic Chronograph is the Swiss Made ETA Valjoux 7753 automatic chronograph movement (which as I said above is tuned and given a German Chronometer certification). The movement features the time with date and 12-hour chronograph, operating at 4Hz with a 52-hour power reserve. This movement is in the same family as the Valjoux 7750 but has a different chronograph (more symmetrical) layout. One quirk about the 7753 that causes a bit of irritation is the fact that there is an in-set pusher to rapidly adjust the date, as opposed to a quickset date adjuster. Wempe does provide a handy stylus that you can use to adjust the date rapidly (it still adjusts if you advance it forward in time), but you need to keep this tool handy if you need to quickly adjust the date. Otherwise, you’ll have to find just the right small pushing device that also isn’t metal (lest you accidentally scratch the watch whilst you poke at the small pusher).

One of the things Wempe got right with the design of the Iron Walker Automatic Chronograph case is the skillful combination of both rounded (such as the bezel) and angled edges (such as the chronograph pushers), as well as polished versus brushed surfaces. The harmonious integration of these features allows for a wristwatch design that is at the same time handsome and masculine, while also classy and a bit glitzy as a luxury jewelry-style object.

And what of the bracelet? The integrated steel bracelet faithfully maintains the popular theme while offering enough originality so that Wempe can claim that their bracelets are special. The screwed-in links feel solid, and on the wrist, I have to say that the Iron Walker Automatic Chronograph (even being heavy) is more comfortable than probably 75% of the watches I’ve worn that exist within this genre. With that said, the bracelet is functionally very simple, with a basic fold-over deployant (with a short Patek Philippe Nautilus-style clasp) and no micro-adjustment feature. Thankfully, Wempe only offers the Iron Walker on a bracelet (for now), which helps maintain a healthy consistent look among the various Iron Walker pieces.

Wempe offers only two versions of the Iron Walker Automatic Chronograph, including this reference WI300002 with its attractive metallic blue dial, and the reference WI300001 which has a black dial with a silver-toned chronograph subdial that offers a handsome and eye-catching contrast. My guess is that the popularity of this collection will mean additional Iron Walker versions will come in the future.

Wempe’s Iron Walker Automatic Diver is also 42mm wide, but the company also makes a 40mm wide three-hand version of the Iron Walker Automatic. Note that the 40mm wide men’s model also comes as a quartz model. 36mm wide quartz-based Iron Walker watches are also available, intended as women’s pieces. All of them represent a typically good Wempe value, backed by a solidly stable retailer and watchmaker that represents the type of company many people want making traditional timepieces. The Iron Walker watches are also astutely fashionable, representing a popular look beloved by watch collectors around the world. Provided enough people hear the story of the Wempe Iron Walker Automatic Chronograph watches, I don’t think they will have too much trouble finding interested buyers. The price for the Wempe Iron Walker Automatic Chronograph (Ref WI300002) is $5,075 USD. Learn more at the Wempe website.

Necessary Data
>Brand: Wempe
>Model: Iron Walker Automatic Chronograph reference WI300002
>Price: $5,075 USD
>Size: 42mm-wide, ~14mm-thick, and ~49mm lug-to-lug distance.
>When reviewer would personally wear it: As a daily wear anytime I’m not too worried about the fine brushed or polished surfaces not getting scratched. Highly versatile wearing experience, likely to get a “nice watch” compliment if stopped by the right onlooker.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Someone interested in the look of a conservative yet attractively shiny steel watch with an integrated bracelet – seeking quality but not necessarily popular brand appeal.
>Best characteristic of watch: Highly impressive both on and off the wrist for the money in terms of both visual presence and quality. Comfortable to wear, easy to read, and should provide years of relevant opportunities to wear a watch like this. Good enough to be a daily wear or someone’s only watch.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Lacks in the area of original design touches, even though the execution is excellent. Date indicator requires a separate tool to quick-adjust. Would be that much slicker with a nifty micro-adjust feature on the bracelet.

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