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Zeitwinkel 273° Saphir

When I went to Baselworld a few months ago I had many conversations about the state of the watch industry. Interestingly some people I spoke to said it was very buoyant and others were a bit more somber. The main topic was the new Apple smart watch and what impact it would have on the world of horology in general. In fact a lot of companies have jumped on the bandwagon and produced their own smart watches. Certainly the Apple device will be a huge seller (like all of their products) but I feel it will stimulate the interest of people who have never worn a watch previously. Obviously I am speculating about this outcome and only time will tell (excuse the pun).


For various reasons many brands decided to not exhibit at Baselworld. Even though the show attracts a lot of attention (and is a brilliant platform for networking) it can be an astronomically expensive affair for a small independent company. One of the watchmakers that made the agonizing decision not to attend the event was Zeitwinkel. The last time I featured Zeitwinkel on Total Watch Reviews was back in November 2013. At that stage I wrote an in depth article about their magnificent 273°. It is fair to say they are not the most prolific watchmakers in the industry and therefore the release of a new model is a highly exciting occasion.


So far my contact with Zeitwinkel has been with marketing and communications manager Ines Berwanger. A couple of months ago Ines sent me a press release introducing a new addition to the stylish 273° range of watches called the Saphir. Dimensionally it measures 42.5mm x 13.8mm and should appeal to a broad demographic of buyers including the lucrative unisex market. Certainly it is a lot smaller than I tend to wear, as I personally prefer much larger watches. However I concede I am probably in the minority as a lot of consumers like classic size watches.


Even though I like all the watches from the 273° collection, this new Saphir version is my personal favorite. Effectively Zeitwinkel have given the timepiece a skeletonized façade, which gives the piece a whole new dynamic. I absolutely love the tinted transparent sapphire glass dial. This characteristic delicately exposes all the intricate mechanical elements of the watch. Apparently achieving this amazing effect involved twenty highly complex technical stages. Other features include a small seconds sub counter, retrograde power reserve indication and large date window (positioned at 10 o’clock). Overall the Steampunk composition is delightful and as always the finishing is first rate.


At the heart of the watch is a self-winding movement developed by Zeitwinkel at their production facility in St.-Imier (near La Chaux-de-Fonds) in Switzerland. The Caliber ZW0103 comprises 49 jewels and oscillates at a frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour. All the components on this special skeletonized mechanism have been engraved, decorated, polished and varnished by hand. This entire splendor is visible through the sapphire crystal case back. The 273° Saphir features hours, minutes, small seconds and a power reserve of 72-hours. It also has a quick date setting function and is water resistant to a depth of 50 metres.


Interesting Zeitwinkel have equipped the 273° Saphir with a black calfskin alligator-effect strap instead of a genuine reptile skin for sustainability reasons. Priced for the discerning at: CHF13,500 (approximately $14,465

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