The joys of a one-handed watch.
Many watch companies have unique brand attributes that are leveraged to garner market distinction, in a quest to become a noun or a verb, the holy grail of product adoption. Think of the Moon Watch (Omega), the Tank Watch (Cartier), or the “Hey, I just got my first raise watch,” (Rolex Air King). MeisterSinger brings its own highly identifiable take on timekeeping to this group, designed around the concept of providing just enough information to minimize the necessity of maintaining a grasp on time: a single-hand watch.
I met up with John van Steen, MeisterSinger’s managing partner and director sales, at the Tony International Mall in Tampa, Florida, the location of Old Northeast Jewelers, owned by the legendary Jeff Hess, the brand’s American distributor.
Van Steen is tall, affable, and comports himself in a uniquely European manner along the lines of Bond villain Auric Goldfinger. Fortunately, he was here to present and sell, not cut anyone in half with a laser beam.
Van Steen explained the philosophy behind the relatively new (founded in 2001) Swiss watch company.
“We are selling the most precious watches in the world – on a MeisterSinger time is passing by slower. You cannot buy time – if you are a billionaire or living on the street you have the same time. Quality of life is not measured in money but in moments. People are so busy in their daily lives hunting for those moments. As a group we are looking for an occasion – and we hit a goal – then move to the next goal. We are constantly rushing without asking a moment for ourselves. Our watch extends those moments by taking the pressure of the exact minute out of the equation.”
In short, MeisterSinger makes time fuzzy.
The face of a MeisterSinger brings van Steen’s logic to life. The twelve-hour dial is divided by 144 markers, each one representing five minutes. There is no “Swiss made” printed on the dial, and most models don’t bear a date indicator, because, “Readability of the time is the most important thing to us. Swiss made is on the case back where we have the space,” says van Steen.
I asked van Steen which watches in his 2019 collection represent the essence of the company’s slow time philosophy and he handed me a bronze-cased model No. 3, the most popular watch in their lineup. The No. 3 has a 43mm polished bronze case, unique in that most bronze watches are dull. The back of the case is stainless steel, because no one wants a green wrist. It features either an ETA 2824-2 or Sellita 200-1, which honestly makes little difference, as the Sellita is a respectable clone of the ETA. A domed sapphire crystal that magnifies the dial.
MeisterSinger has rendered three models in bronze: the No. 03, the Metris, and the Perigraph.
Other standouts in the collection include the Salthora Meta X, with a proprietary “jumping hour” movement that literally skips to the next hour every sixty minutes (you just have to see it). For those who want to attempt to figure out the time as well as the day and date on a single hand watch, there’s the Pangaea Day Date, a handsome 40mm watch with a variety of dial treatments.
The entire company concept and resulting treatments reminded me of the Scandinavian design movement, that embraced minimalist functionality in a simple manner, with no distracting details or ornateness to detract from the elegance of the core form. If you’re a collector, with a case full of luxury sport watches, highly complicated high-end watches and intricate novelty watches, there is room for a watch designed for a slower mood. Think of the MeisterSinger as a reprieve from the overburdened designs littering the showcases of every watch store in the world, a smooth pinot noir in a world full of Frankencocktails. Slow down, take a breath and forget about time, for a second.
If I were to buy just one of these watches I’d opt for the Perigraph, ref. AM1017BR, in bronze with an exhibition back. Why? At 43mm, it’s a nice, largish (but not quite Hublot-ish) size, is made of a unique material, has a very attractive blue dial with red accents and some interesting complications, a Swiss movement and at around $2,200, provides a lot of wrist candy for the money.
Stay fuzzy, my friends.