When it comes to ways of displaying the date on a watch, I consider myself a bit of a traditionalist in that I prefer the use of discs to read out the date, rather than a hand moving around a dial. Using a magnifier to help read the date is a decent way to go, but I have found myself liking the trend of “big date” displays, generally relying on two discs to compose the date displayed. There are more than a few models that offer this, but one of the more intriguing – in terms of looks and design – was just recently announced: the Zeitwinkel 273° Saphir Fumé.
At first glance, you might be tempted to think of this as “just another” skeletonized watch – and one that, perhaps, is not as artfully done as others. There is a kernel of truth there: while the German silver plates are decorated, they are not kinetically exciting – however, to stop there is to sell the Zeitwinkel 273° Saphir Fumé short. The unique bit here is, of course, that smoked sapphire crystal that comprises the dial.
Now, I have experienced a similar sort of approach on another watch in the past, and I can say that, in practice, it works well. With a tinted lens, as we have here, you are able to peer into the movement if you want to. However, if you are simply checking the time, then the tint sort of masks the mechanical bits, making it easier to pick out the handset.
Speaking of handsets, the beveled silver pair making up the main display appear to be just about perfect. They are sized well to each other, and I really like how the minute hand stretches to the the outer edge of the dial. I do wish, however, that the hour hand was a bit longer, allowing it to reach the hour markers. This design choice is even more surprising once you consider that both the sub-seconds and power reserve hands also reach to their respective marks without a gap. Nevertheless, it is true that – at times, especially on dials with shorter indices and/or with hands that are of the same shape – the hour hand is purposefully designed not to reach the inner end of the index, so as to make the two hands easier to distinguish.
With those indices, the sapphire crystal has another treat in store for the wearer. From the photos we have seen, it does certainly appear that the sub-displays are floating over the dial. This is one of those aspects that come into play with having the translucent surface, and something we more commonly see on a carbon fiber dial (which generally has a layer of clear epoxy over it). Aside from being a rather neat effect to notice in person, it also manages to further separate things from the movement underneath.
The ZW0103 manufacture movement features the aforementioned German silver plates prominently. Running at a frequency of 4 Hz and providing 72 hours of power reserve, the movement is tucked into a 42.5mm case that was designed in concert with the movement, ensuring an excellent fit. Flipping the watch over, you will have yet another sapphire crystal – bringing the total to three – showing you the back of the movement. As with the front, you do not see a lot of the movement – you have the rotor, balance wheel, and a few pieces of the gear train. Otherwise, it’s the silver plates that the Zeitwinkel 273° Saphir Fumé is showing off.
At the moment, the smoked sapphire Zeitwinkel 273° Saphir Fumé is the only version released; they do intend to introduce another version with a clear sapphire dial at Basel. While they are not a true limited-edition, the $13,400 (13’500.00 CHF) Zeitwinkel 273° Saphir Fumé is restricted by the fact that they are assembled by hand, which will limit numbers to some degree. Should you want to put your order in now, though, you can place it for either version. For me, I am intrigued by what I see, and I am curious to see some more live pictures of the piece from Basel. zeitwinkel.ch
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