Pocket watch-inspired aesthetics are a recurring theme with Moritz Grossmann, exemplified by last year’s Power Reserve Vintage and the Hamatic Vintage from earlier in 202. Continuing with the same style – narrow Roman numerals, reed-thin hands, and a 19th century logo – is the XII Birthday Edition, a limited edition to mark the 12 years since the brand was founded in Glashütte.
Despite the design having being rehashed multiple times with the varied limited editions, the aesthetic fits Moritz Grossmann watches well, and arguably works better than the contemporary style (and logo) found on most of the brand’s watches. In fact, the pocket watch look is especially suited to the anachronistic yet beautiful construction of Moritz Grossmann movements, which are similar modelled on pocket watch calibres.
But going beyond first impressions, the dial design does have a few missteps. Most obvious is the minute track, which has hashmarks for fractions of a second or minute, a feature necessary on watches with a central seconds hand in order to read fractions of a second. This watch has a subsidiary seconds at six, making them unnecessary.
It seems as if the designers did so to differentiate this from the Hamatic Vintage, which has a similar-looking dial. That watch has a technically ideal minute track, but using the same design here would make the two uncomfortably indistinguishable at a glance.
That aside, the quality of Moritz Grossmann watches are top notch – with both the dial and the movement being excellent in fit and finish. The hands in particular are delicately thin but still thoroughly finished by hand – in fact Moritz Grossmann claims they are the thinnest hands ever found on a wristwatch. And the movement is finished to a high standard that surpasses comparable brands. Put another way, the brand boasts some of the best-finished movements in its price segment.
Traditional silver plating
The highlight of the XII Birthday Edition is its silvered dial that was produced the traditional way, via friction plating – a production method that’s as 19th century as the dial design.
First, the numerals, logo and minute track are engraved on a brass dial blank, and then filled with black lacquer for legibility and longevity. Next is friction plating: silver powder, salt and potassium bitartrate, also known as cream of tartar, is mixed to create a paste that’s rubbed evenly onto the dial blank, creating a uniform, frosted silver finish.
A hallmark of Moritz Grossmann is the attention paid to the hands. While the brand started with ordinarily-sized, lance shaped hands that were exceptionally refined in shape and finish, it later developed a new style of hands that are impossibly thin – almost too fine – yet still hand made.
The hands are sanded, polished and curved by hand, and then heat-blued. Minuscule in width and richly blued, they stand in contrast to the polished steel boss that holds the hands at the centre of the dial.
Flipping the watch over reveals the familiar cal. 100.1, a manual-wind movement with a large, two-third plate and hand-engraved balance cock. Particularly noteworthy is the beautifully finished ratchet wheel that’s adorned with a triple snailing and individually polished teeth.
The movement is also fitted with Moritz Grossmann’s trademark complication – a patented hacking mechanism where the seconds hand stops when the crown is pulled out to set the time, but only gets going again when the pusher at four o’clock is pressed. This allows for slightly more precise time synchronisation, as opposed to the traditional method of pushing in the crown to start the seconds, which might suffer from user error or play in the minute hand.
Key Facts and Price
Moritz Grossmann XII Birthday Edition
Ref. MG-002802 (rose gold)
Ref. MG-002907 (steel)
Diameter: 41.0 mm
Height: 11.35 mm
Material: 18k rose gold or steel
Water resistance: 30 m
Movement: Cal. 100.1
Functions: Hours, minutes, and seconds
Frequency: 18,000 beats per hour (2.5 Hz)
Winding: Manual wind
Power reserve: 42 hours
Strap: Alligator with pin buckle
Limited edition: Limited edition of six pieces each in rose gold and steel
Availability: From authorised retailers
Price: €27,600 in rose gold; €19,100 in steel (excluding taxes)
For more, visit Grossman-Uhren.com.
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