Carl Suchy & Söhne Waltz No.1
The Carl Suchy & Söhne Waltz No.1 features a dished dial incorporating a striped guilloché motif. Convenience is conferred with a self-winding movement, the Vaucher VMF 5401. This movement, visible via an exhibition caseback, is endowed with a micro-rotor, impressive finishing and a variable inertia balance.
This detailed review of the Carl Suchy & Söhne Waltz No.1 includes images, specification details and pricing.
Carl Suchy was born in Prague in 1796. At the time, the city was the second capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Suchy spent his formative years studying watchmaking in Gemany and Switzerland, prior to returning to his home city. Aged just 26 years of age, Suchy opened his first shop in Prague (1822). He enjoyed the patronage of the Royal and Imperial Court and he was acclaimed for his clocks and watches.
In 1849, Suchy’s sons joined the family business and the firm was renamed, Carl Suchy & Söhne. The company’s watches were produced in its Austrian manufactory as well as Switzerland’s watchmaking capital, La Chaux-de-Fonds. Later, in 1863, the firm opened a shop in the centre of Vienna and proudly held the title of ‘Purveyor to the Royal Courts’ until the demise of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Robert Punkenhofer, an Austrian national, rekindled the brand in 2017. With Punkenhofer’s passion for art and design, it was perhaps inevitable that the brand’s inaugural model, the Waltz No.1, would brim with style. However, rather than reimagine Suchy’s creations of the 18th century, Punkenhofer chose to embrace minimalism. In particular, Punkenhofer and designer Miloš Ristin, took inspiration from the work of Austrian architect Adolf Loos.
Adolf Loos (1870-1933) was born in Brno, a city in Moravia, a region of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He is widely regarded as one of the most influential European architects of the late 19th century and his name is synonymous with minimalism. He shunned Art-Nouveau which was prevalent at the time, viewing the ornate decoration of buildings as childish. Loos work led to the term ‘form follows function’. Indeed, in 1908 Loos published his landmark essay ‘Ornament and Crime’ which made the case for architecture to abandon ornamentation.
Appraising the appearance of the Carl Suchy & Söhne Waltz No.1 one is struck by the clean lines and efficient proclamation of time. However, unlike some of Loos designs, this modern timepiece does not eschew detailing. Indeed, quite the reverse, the tasteful use of lines imbues the dial with a highly unique and attractive aesthetic.
Recently, I spent time viewing the Carl Suchy & Söhne Waltz No.1 at close quarters, appraising each constituent part. I found myself not only critiquing the merit of the watch, but also reflecting on its supposed minimalistic styling. Quite simply, I cannot help wondering if this watch does actually upholds Loos’s ideas of minimalism and his notion of form follows function. I will return to this moot point later.
The white dial features an interesting guilloché motif. The right side of the dial is embellished with a series of parallel lines running east to west. On the left side of the dial, parallel lines sit perpendicular to the aforementioned lines, running from north to south. This interesting design suffuses the dial with light and shade.
The dial is dished, incorporating a smooth flange adorned with small circlets, providing a tasteful minuterie. Torpedo-shaped hour markers straddle part of the flange area as well as said guilloché dial areas. The silver-toned, faceted hour and minute hands exhibit a timeless quality and proffer peerless readability.
Unusually, the Carl Suchy & Söhne Waltz No.1 forgoes the ‘usual’ style of small seconds display, typically imparting meaning with a lone hand and neat track. Instead, the Austrian firm has chosen to supplant this type of function by equipping the dial with a disc, mimicking the appearance of the main dial surface. As the disc rotates it shows the watch is working and it can even be used to time a 30 or 60 second period. However, the absence of a seconds hand and suitable scale precludes the measurement of shorter time intervals. This may be an issue for some would-be buyers but, personally, I find this feature endearing. The fact is that sometimes in life we obsesses about seconds when really we should value moments. I think the character of this watch is consistent with this viewpoint.
A frosted ring frames the dial, acting as a means of delineating the dial from the highly polished bezel.
The Carl Suchy & Söhne Waltz No.1 is presented in a 41.5mm steel case. Courtesy of its slender Vaucher VMF 5401 movement (2.6mm), the depth of the watch is comparatively modest (9.3mm). In addition, the lugs arc sharply downwards and draw the strap close to the watch head. These various factors lead to the watch feeling smaller than its specification would suggest.
Examining the case of this watch reveals a plethora of details. The upper sapphire crystal is cambered and its trajectory is continued with the profile of the case. The bezel, upper lug surfaces and caseback are highly polished, while the caseband employs a matt surface treatment. The juxtaposing of these two contrasting surfaces works wonderfully.
A pane of sapphire crystal affixed to the screwed caseback affords views of the self-winding Vaucher VMF 5401 movement.
I applaud the Austrian brand for openly declaring they are using a Vaucher movement from Switzerland. Regrettably, all too often watch companies assign their own reference to an off-the peg calibre. However, Vaucher is a name worth mentioning. Its excellent movements are crafted to a high standard and feature some impressive specification details.
The Vaucher VMF 5401 movement incorporates a micro-rotor. This not only provides the convenience of a conventional automatic watch, but also bestows unhindered views of the bridges and glimpses of the wheels and balance. In addition, because the micro-rotor sits flush with the adjacent bridges, it proves slimmer than a watch fitted with a full-size rotor.
The gold-plated micro-rotor is detailed with the same lined motif found on the dial. Beneath the rotor, the mainplate is adorned with a profusion of perlage. The bridges are adorned with Côtes de Genève rayonnantes and gleaming bevels. The jewel and screw sinks are highly polished. Quite simply, this movement is beautiful.
Perhaps the single most impressive aspect of this movement is that it features a variable inertia balance. Masselottes or C-shaped weights are affixed to the spokes of the balance wheel. By turning the weights, the moment of inertia is altered, causing the balance to run faster or slower. When an index adjuster is employed as a means of adjusting the rate, a more commonly used system, the hairspring in nipped, hence it does not breathe concentrically. A variable inertia balance augments isochronism and by default improves precision. While variable inertia balances are nothing new, they are usually the preserve of costlier movements and certainly not commonplace on watches costing €8495 (see later).
The balance has a frequency of 21,600 VpH (3Hz) and the movement contains 29 jewels. The rapid rotation barrel is capable of running autonomously for 48 hours.
On the vast majority of occasions, wearers of watches are primarily concerned with the prevailing time and, specifically, the hour and minutes rather than the seconds. While the Vaucher VMF 5401 will work with a conventional small seconds display, Carl Suchy & Söhne has chosen to reject this in favour of a lined ‘Waltzing Disc’, positioned above 6 o’clock. As this disc rotates, it periodically aligns with the motif depicted on the main dial epidermis. It can still be used for measuring 30 or 60 second intervals but infinitesimal measurement is impossible. Personally, I appreciate the originality of the Waltzing Disc and the adjacent expanses of guilloché.
Both the indexes and the hour and minute hands gleam attractively and exhibit a neutral quality, neither subscribing to nostalgic design nor contemporary aesthetics. These elements should retain their eye-appeal, despite changing fashions. More pertinently, the hands and hour markers converse intelligibly with the wearer.
Beyond the functionality of the dial, its appearance is enriched with its dished profile and cambered sapphire crystal. This is an elegant timepiece which does not shout loudly, but quietly resides on the wrist in seemly and tasteful repose.
Often horophiles discuss case sizes, declaring those dimensions which befit their wrist and those which don’t. However, it is never quite as simple as measuring the diameter of a case. The Carl Suchy & Söhne Waltz No.1 perfectly illustrates my point. While the case diameter is 41.5mm, the lugs do not protrude far from the main watch head. Furthermore, the lugs sharply taper downwards, coaxing the strap to envelop the wrist. Based on these facts, I suspect this watch will suit the majority of potential purchasers, including those individuals who typically favour 39mm or 40mm cases.
Carl Suchy & Söhne has used one of the most capable movement suppliers in Switzerland. Vaucher has an incredible technical expertise as well as the capability to finish movements to an exalted standard. As I have already outlined, the Vaucher VMF 5401 has an array of attributes, however, in my opinion, one of the most impressive details is the variable inertia balance. This specification highlight is adored by purists, but is usually only found on higher-priced watches.
The recommended retail price of the Carl Suchy & Söhne Waltz No.1 is €8495 (including 20% VAT). This represents incredible value for money and demonstrates that some small independent brands are able to compete with some of the largest players in the industry.
In terms of the Carl Suchy & Söhne Waltz No.1 and the design influence of Adolf Loos, I am left in a state of ambivalence. Yes, the dial is clean and the overall appearance of the watch is timeless. However, the dished-dial, guilloché and elaborately knurled crown are ornately designed, surpassing the functional and effervescing with style. I feel this watch is more than a functional object which looks attractive by default, it is highly original, handsome and simple to read. It respects some of Loos principles but, in my opinion, it encompasses intricate details such as a cambered sapphire crystal which is not essential but enriches the overall ownership proposition. Nevertheless, beyond the semantics of design, this watch represents a masterful performance from a fascinating Viennese Maison and hopefully a foretaste of what is yet to come.
- Model: Carl Suchy & Söhne Waltz No.1
- Case: Stainless steel; diameter 41.5mm; height 9.3mm; water resistance 3ATM (30 metres); sapphire crystal to the front and caseback
- Functions: Hours; minutes; Waltzing Disc
- Movement: VMF 5401; self-winding movement; frequency 21,600 VpH (3Hz); 29 jewels; power reserve 48 hours; 176 components
- Strap: Black leather strap paired with steel folding clasp
- Price: €8495 (RRP as at 14.3.2019)