MeisterSinger No. 03 Bronze
The MeisterSinger No. 03 Bronze, which imparts the hours and minutes with a single hand, features a bewitching blue dial and is housed in a generously proportioned 43mm bronze case. Angus Davies spends a week in the company of this German watch and reflects on its character and influence on the wearer’s psyche.
The ‘Bronze Age’ (4000BC and 1200BC) is a term used to describe the period of time between the ‘Stone Age’ and the ‘Iron Age’, when different civilisations discovered the benefits of bronze. The first people to embrace bronze, an alloy of copper and tin, were the ancient Sumerians, based in the Middle East.
The Bronze Age marked the first time that man worked with metal. Bronze proved harder and more durable than copper, making it ideal for tools and weapons. Over time, the understanding of metals increased, leading to metalworkers making various objects from bronze, copper and gold. The making of cart wheels and agricultural implements such as ploughs can be traced to the Bronze Age.
Bronze has several properties. The alloy has a high ductility, allowing the material to be stretched into wire or hammered into a thin strip without breaking. Bronze exhibits low friction against other metals and it does not generate sparks when it comes into contact with a hard surface, making it ideal for use in close proximity to explosive or flammable materials.
In recent years, the world of watchmaking has rediscovered bronze. When bronze is exposed to air, it oxidises forming a protective layer termed, ‘patina’, preventing the onset of corrosion. It is this patination which has ensnared the hearts of horophiles. Early examples of bronze watches acquired a rich green hue, granting them an age-old appearance. As time has passed, some brands have tried to inhibit the transition to green tones, preferring to retain the brown, slightly distressed appearance of new bronze.
In recent years, MeisterSinger has witnessed the public’s liking for bronze watches but has clearly chosen to wait. No doubt it has wanted to see if the public’s love for the metal was a passing trend or likely to endure for years to come. At Baselworld 2019, the Münster-based firm unveiled three references in bronze cases, the Perigraph, the Metris and, lastly, the No. 03. These models have been staples of MeisterSinger’s collection for a while, however, by equipping each reference with a bronze case, the German company has suffused each watch with a wholly different character.
I decided to look at the MeisterSinger No. 03 Bronze, a model which shares some of its DNA with the brand’s inaugural watch, the suitably named, No. 01.
MeisterSinger – an alternative philosophy
In my twenties, I rushed from place to place at breakneck speed. Meals were often consumed in a few nanoseconds and my social life came second to my professional responsibilities. I obsessively pursued material goods at the expense of my own well-being. Now, I am 51 years of age and life’s tempo is less frenetic. I can see the folly of my youthful actions and now view the notion of time very differently.
Today, my schedule is not measured in seconds, it’s far more relaxed. I don’t obsess about owning a larger home, a faster car or wearing designer clothes. My life is punctuated by experiences. Time is precious and, now I am older, it is more valuable. Perhaps it is for this reason that I am drawn to MeisterSinger’s watches. While they are accurate, they only show time to the nearest 5-minute interval, inviting the wearer to work to an andante beat rather than succumbing to the perils of a presto tempo. Indeed, MeisterSinger’s symbol, the fermata, implores the wearer to stop and savour each moment.
MeisterSinger is synonymous with producing single hand watches. In the case of No. 03 Bronze, the lone red-tipped hand is presented in ‘Old Radium’, heightening the vintage character of the watch. The hand circumscribes the periphery of the dial, almost touching the internal edge of the case.
Each hour is presented in double-digit form, a design code the brand has favoured since its inception. The double-digit format imbues the indexes with a harmonious mien. A series of graduated lines, positioned in between each hour marker, indicate 5-minute, 15-minute and 30-minute intervals.
Initially, viewing the unusual hour and minute display may seem a tad off-putting. However, after a short period has elapsed, the single hand method of indicating time proves most intuitive. A date display is positioned above 6 o’clock, where red numerals on a cream date disc succinctly converse with their wearer.
MeisterSinger describe the dial as ‘deep blue sunburst’. Most of the time the dial appears dark anthracite or black, however, when it tastes the sun’s kiss, it assumes a blue tone. The shade morphs from steel blue to Aegean blue, transitioning through a myriad of shades in between. Furthermore, the ‘sunburst’ or sunray dial elicits areas of light and shade. The brand’s own images do not fully convey the plethora of hues manifest with this dial. However, this is understandable as I repeatedly tried to capture the variety of tones with my camera, standing in shadows as well as squinting in the sun’s gaze.
Despite its comparatively modest asking price, MeisterSinger has endowed this watch with an enchanting and sumptuous dial.
The MeisterSinger No. 03 Bronze case measures a fulsome 43mm in diameter. The lugs taper sharply downwards, coaxing the strap to encircle the wrist. MeisterSinger has fitted the watch with a dark brown hand-stitched calf leather strap, paired with a bronze buckle. While the German watch was temporarily in my custody, I found the shape of the case, the lug design and the gentle caress of the strap afforded sublime levels of wearer comfort.
MeisterSinger has elected to use a particular type of bronze which acquires its patina comparatively slowly. I am not sure whether this is achieved by tweaking the composition of the alloy or, alternatively, treating it in some way. Personally, I like the appearance of the case when new, as it exhibits a blend of warm golden hues and brown tones. Should the wearer wish to remove the patination, Manfred Brassler, the company’s founder, explained that this can be easily achieved, merely by wiping the case with a silver polishing cloth.
The bezel, centre of the case, including the caseband and lugs, the crown and the pin buckle are all made of bronze. However, MeisterSinger has shrewdly fitted a stainless steel caseback to the watch. Bronze often contains nickel which is known to cause an allergic reaction in a small number of people, hence the German firm’s decision to use stainless steel for the caseback, the primary point of skin contact, seems eminently sensible. The caseback is secured with six screws and features a pane of sapphire crystal, granting sight of the self-winding movement within.
The MeisterSinger No. 03 Bronze is fitted with an ETA 2824-2 or Sellita 200-1 movement. Both movements share a similar design, albeit the Sellita calibre features an additional jewel. Many watch brands choose to use both movements in order to mitigate the potential harmful impact of delayed supplies.
Observing the dial of a MeisterSinger, one becomes aware that the lone hand moves very slowly. In 30 minutes, a conventional minute hand rotates 180°, however, the single hand fitted to this watch arcs just 15° over the same period. As the motion of the lone hand is very different to a conventional watch, the movement within a MeisterSinger has necessitated modification. The dial of this timepiece provides a relaxing place for the eyes to dwell.
The oscillating weight within the movement is embellished with Côtes de Genève motif and adorned with engraved golden text. The balance has a frequency of 28,800 VpH (4Hz) and, depending on which calibre is used, the movement contains 25 or 26 jewels. A single barrel provides 38 hours of autonomous operation.
I always associate the MeisterSinger name with gleaming cases, crisp dials and contemporary design. The MeisterSinger No. 03 Bronze evinces a slightly different persona. Its case has an aged, slightly distressed appearance and the dial, while eminently legible, is not one distinct shade but rather a melange of black and blue tones.
While MeisterSinger has chosen to foray into uncharted territory by using bronze, it has not abandoned the brand’s reputation for superb dial designs and cases proffering excellent ergonomics. Every element of the MeisterSinger No. 03 Bronze coalesces wonderfully and the model confers an extraordinary level of wearer comfort.
Despite its modest asking price of £1990 (RRP as at 4.7.2019), the watch exudes refinement. The dial is exquisite and the case is impressively executed. The movement lacks some of the impressive finishing found on the brand’s Circularis models, but the keen pricing of the No. 03 Bronze precludes this.
Beyond its exhaustive list of qualities, the MeisterSinger No. 03 Bronze bestows a certain mindset. Bronze wears its age proudly, showing it has lived a little. Furthermore, the notion of enunciating time with a single hand, invites the wearer to ignore the futility of seconds and absorb the here and now. It is with the wisdom of middle age that I can appreciate the value in MeisterSinger’s philosophy and, more pertinently, appreciate the allure of the No. 03 Bronze.
- Model: MeisterSinger No. 03 Bronze
- Reference: AM917BR
- Case: Bronze; diameter 43mm; height 13.5mm; water resistance 5ATM (50 metres); sapphire crystal to the front and sapphire caseback
- Functions: Hours and minutes indicated with single hand; date
- Movement: Calibre ETA2824-2 or Sellita 200-1; automatic movement; frequency 28,800VpH (4Hz); 25 or 26 jewels; power reserve 38 hours
- Strap: Dark brown hand-stitched strap with bronze pin buckle
- Price: £1990 (RRP as at 3.7.2019)