MeisterSinger, the German watch brand, recently unveiled a new version of its Paleograph Single Push Column Wheel Chronograph, sporting an alluring grey dial and Milanese bracelet. Angus Davies gets ‘hands-on’ with this charming timepiece.
Grey is not a colour one normally associates with excitement. The term ‘men in grey suits’ refers to the highly influential figures who anonymously tread the deep pile carpet, gracing the corridors of power. While these individuals may not effervesce with charisma, they are able to sway the decision making processes of government with chilling efficiency. Despite the machiavellian machinations of these nameless figures, they still remain of little interest to the vast majority of the population and their pigment-free characters stealthily exist below the radar.
However, the very notion of grey being dull was overturned with the release of the best-selling novel, ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ by E L James. Suddenly, vast swathes of the population became interested in erotic practises, seldom discussed in polite company. The advent of this book reimagined the symbolism formerly attached to the aforementioned, retiring hue. Clearly, grey is no longer boring.
At Baselworld 2016, MeisterSinger, the watchmaking company from Münster, unveiled a new version of its charismatic Paleograph chronograph, sporting a new, grey-toned dial. On seeing this particular reference, I was seduced by its unusual mien and I vowed that at some point I would enjoy a period of intimacy with its teutonic form.
Recently, the MeisterSinger press loan was delivered and a period of evaluation was duly scheduled.
The pale grey tint of the dial has a mutable nature, assuming a darker tone when held at certain angles. Moreover, a sunray motif, emanating from the centre of the dial, compounds the interaction with light to sublime affect.
Congruent with MeisterSinger’s DNA, the Paleograph employs one lone hand to proclaim the hours and minutes. A white, printed hour track uses Arabic numerals and slim white strokes to assist with the interpretation of time.
A red central chronograph seconds hand teams with the minuterie encircling the dial, aiding the wearer when reading off elapsed time intervals. Red hands also grace the black subdials. A 30-minute chronograph register is positioned at 3 o’clock, with a small running seconds display located opposite. The smattering of red on the subdials enhances the visual attractiveness of the dial, without impairing ease of read-off. The black subdials are slightly concave, residing lower than the main dial plane and, in so doing, heightening the visual attractiveness of the horological landscape presented.
The sole white hand resembles an elongated isosceles triangle. Its dialogue sets aside all learned behaviour and requires the wearer to interpret time differently. However, I found this familiarisation process to be short and, after only a few hours of wearing the watch, interpreting the time became very intuitive.
By adopting its unique means of imparting time, this MeisterSinger timepiece exhibits a refreshingly calm demeanour. The meandering gait of the combined hour and minute hand seems at odds with the idea of a chronograph which, by its very definition, is focussed on the measurement of time intervals, including seconds and parts thereof. On the face of it, MeisterSinger has juxtaposed a contented soul, sauntering through life in a relaxed manner with a competitive person obsessed with honing their record lap time. Disparate ideas? Quite possibly, but the harmonious end result vindicates the decision to fuse these seemingly disparate concepts.
MeisterSinger has eschewed the tachymeter and telemeter scales found on many chronographs, mitigating the amount of detail on the dial and, as a result, preventing the dial canvas from appearing cluttered.
There is no inner flange area, the bezel is slender and the dial disc occupies virtually the full width of the case. Collectively, these design strategies have endowed this watch with a very clean and legible dial, making the Paleograph simple to use and extremely attractive.
‘Appearances can be deceptive’ is a well-known idiom and could easily be applied to the stainless steel case of the Paleograph. The 43mm diameter of the case seems significantly smaller when worn, resembling a 40 – 41mm offering.
I have tried to reason why my mind perceived the watch to be more diminutive than accurate measurement revealed. I would suggest the domed sapphire crystal and the substantial height of the Paleograph, 15.8mm thickness, are the likely explanations for the smaller than reality appearance.
Ultimately, size is a personal matter and I would recommend that those readers who would not normally consider a 43mm watch, take the opportunity to place the Paleograph upon the wrist.
The bezel, upper areas of the horns and caseback are highly polished. Conversely, the caseband and folding clasp are brushed. The Milanese bracelet betrays a gregarious personality, gleaming brightly in the merest hint of sunshine. The mixture of case finishes coalesce to congruous effect, underscoring the judicious design language employed by MeisterSinger.
I still have childhood memories of some intricately-formed, metal watch bracelets revealing a propensity to annoyingly drag out huge clumps of body hair with tear-jerking cruelty. Thankfully, I can report from personal experience that no such problem will befall the wearer of a Paleograph.
This chronograph has a very tidy caseband, free of pushpieces, featuring only a crown at the usual 3 o’clock position. The larger than normal crown provides a clue to its multitasking role. The crown not only fulfils the customary duties of winding the mainspring and adjusting the hands but also houses the monopusher for the chronograph.
The ‘single push chronograph’ consists of a sole, discreet pushpiece for starting, stopping and reseting the stopwatch complication.
Occupying the dorsal flank of the case, a broad sapphire crystal accords a wide-screen view of the hand-wound movement within.
The hand-wound Calibre MSYN13 is based on a Unitas 6497-1 movement which has a balance frequency of 18,000 vph (2.5Hz). This particular base is widely used within the watch industry and proves very adaptable, allowing modules / complications to be added by ingenious watchmakers.
In this instance, MeisterSinger has paired the Unitas 6497-1 with a column-wheel chronograph module. The blued column-wheel looks splendid with its six pillars, drawing the horizontal coupling close and engaging in an openly amorous embrace.
Theoretically, horizontal couplings lack the buttery smooth pushpiece feel of vertical coupling systems, where the chronograph is always in mesh with the gear train. Moreover, with horizontal coupling systems, there is a little jump when the stopwatch is actuated. However, in terms of horological theatre, horizontal coupling systems offer a superior sight of the chronograph function engaging and disengaging.
I must confess that, while the Paleograph has been in my possession, I have derived much pleasure watching the performance of the wheels and levers moving and found it difficult to resist pressing the single chronograph pushpiece ‘just one more time’.
I do not like the tendency shown by many watch brands to hide the mechanical thought processes of a timepiece beneath oversized bridges. Thankfully, the Calibre MSYN13 appeals to my horological proclivities, placing numerous movement parts on show. An example of this ‘bare’ movement design can be observed via the exhibition caseback where the five spoke wheel adjacent 9 o’clock can be seen revolving and, in turn, powering the small seconds hand on the dial side of the watch. This movement accords a wonderful honesty and mechanical transparency I find difficult to resist.
Numerous blued screws augment my affection for the movement still further. The bridges feature a brushed finish and some of the jewels and screw sinks are polished, eliciting another nod of approval from my direction.
The decision of MeisterSinger to venture off-piste with its unusual single-handed watches means that its timepieces are unlikely to appeal to everyone. The lone hand may seem counterintuitive at first glance, based on our conservative understanding of how time should be displayed. However, I have grown to like the single-handed voice of MeisterSinger’s watches and, once again, with this Paleograph model, I found that after a short period of acquaintance the dial proved instinctive to use.
The topography of the dial is clean, tidy and simple to interpret but, moreover, it is handsome, exuding an impressive degree of tasteful style. The case is a little deep, but at no stage during the time I wore the Paleograph did this cause any problems, in fact I found it extremely comfortable to wear.
Most notably, the movement provided the most pleasure to me during my temporary ownership of the Paleograph. The sight of the column wheel and horizontal coupling at play was enchanting. I adored the minimalist bridges of the Calibre MSYN13, exposing many of the movement parts ordinarily hidden from view. I also appreciated the visual simplicity of the single push piece and valued the tidy appearance it conferred to the exterior of the watch.
This MeisterSinger is a worthy topic of conversation which you can openly discuss in mixed company. Indeed, by releasing this version of the Paleograph, the German watch company has shown that, unlike the activities described in the E L James novel, there is no need to explore all fifty shades of grey to have fun, only one shade of grey is necessary to seduce the soul.
Model: MeisterSinger Paleograph Single Push Column Wheel Chronograph
Case: Stainless steel; diameter 43mm; height 15.8mm; water resistant to 5 bar (50 metres); sapphire crystal to front and caseback.
Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds; chronograph
Movement: Caliber MSYN13; hand-wound movement; frequency 18,000 vph (2.5Hz); 20 jewels; power reserve 46 hours
Angus is a self-confessed watch addict and is frequently asked to contribute to various printed magazines and websites around the globe. He also writes for individual watch companies on matters of horology and has appeared on television and radio as an industry expert.