Schwarz Etienne FIJI Floral Seconds Aurum
The Schwarz Etienne FIJI Floral Seconds Aurum builds on the success of its steel sibling, pairing an 18-carat 5N red gold case with a glorious silvery-white dial. However, as Angus Davies reveals when it comes to this watch, ‘beauty is more than skin deep’.
In January 2019, Schwarz Etienne, the Swiss luxury marque based in La Chaux-de-Fonds, unveiled a new ladies’ timepiece, the FIJI Floral Seconds. The watch was initially offered with a choice of two dial colours, black and pale salmon. Personally, I was drawn to the latter option.
The FIJI Floral Seconds was conceived by a female designer and, to my eyes, the resultant aesthetic is spectacular. Indeed, I can say unequivocally this timepiece is one of my favourite ladies’ watches of 2019.
Part of the charm of the FIJI Floral Seconds is that it could only have been produced by an independent brand. It does not conform to watchmaking norms and incorporates a high quotient of originality, bestowing a wonderful prepossessing appearance. This watch would probably not have survived big brand focus groups and market research. Thankfully, Schwarz Etienne is comparatively small and dared to release this thought-provoking creation.
Building on the success of the FIJI Floral Seconds in steel, the Swiss Manufacture has just released a new version of the watch, housed in an 18-carat 5N red gold case, aptly named the Schwarz Etienne FIJI Floral Seconds Aurum.
The case, measuring 38mm in diameter, is a facsimile of the steel model. Once again, Schwarz Etienne has used a three-part modular design. This allows the brand to combine parts with distinctly different surfaces. For example, the case band features grooved and brushed surfaces which in turn are paired with a smooth capsule, incorporating the lugs. By combining two parts in this way, Schwarz Etienne has been able to unite two disparate surfaces, a feat which would not be possible using conventional case construction techniques.
Another benefit of this construction method is that different types of material can be combined together to create distinctive watches. I hope that in due course, Schwarz Etienne will unite an array of different materials, exploring the limits of creativity. Moreover, I hope the company will also create a collection of men’s models employing the same case construction method.
The dial of the Schwarz Etienne FIJI Floral Seconds Aurum is silvery-white. When contrasted to the aforementioned pale salmon option, it appears comparatively restrained. However, this is not necessarily a bad thing. A gold watch by virtue of its case material is more costly, hence lasting eye-appeal is of critical importance. By employing silvery-white tones, the FIJI Floral Seconds Aurum is less susceptible to changing tastes.
The generously proportioned hour and minute hands feature luminescent treatment, making them highly legible. The hour track sits on high and features ‘drop-shape’ indexes, save for noon where Arabic numerals are used. The droplet hour marker at 6 o’clock is oversized and is designed to emulate the stem of a flower.
At the epicentre of the dial, a tone on tone floral motif provides a tasteful flurry of feminine style. The ubiquitous small seconds display is cast aside, usurped by the Maison’s unusual animated floral display. A white lattice-like floral motif, featuring crisply defined apertures, allows sight of a rotating grey disc below. The motion of this latter disc proves hypnotic.
Once again, the artistic freedom of an independent brand comes to the fore.
By using 18-carat 5N red gold, Schwarz Etienne has imbued this model with a rich, reddish hue. Indeed, its colour proves much redder than rose gold. When combined with the previously mentioned silvery-white dial, the case and dial pairing exudes a tasteful, seemly appearance. I suspect that some dial colours would not work as well with 5N red gold, vindicating the Swiss firm’s choice of dial shade.
Similar to the FIJI Floral Seconds in steel, this über-luxurious Aurum version is supplied with two straps, pearlescent white leather and ‘lustrous red python’. Both exhibit a different character, albeit both share the same bronze-coloured lining. The interchangeable strap system allows the wearer to easily swap straps without the need for tools, instantly creating a different look.
Upholding the styling of the FIJI Floral Seconds in steel, the crown features a knurled grip and a small diamond on its vertical flank. When exploring the composition of the Schwarz Etienne FIJI Floral Seconds Aurum, inquisitive fingers are rewarded with tactile delight and a palpable sense of refinement.
To the rear of the watch head, a large pane of sapphire crystal affords views of the automatic movement within.
There is an aphorism, ‘all that glitters is not gold’. It perfectly describes the scenario where something that is superficially attractive is actually devoid of value. There is no escaping the Schwarz Etienne FIJI Floral Seconds Aurum is attractive and there is no question its case is formed of 18-carat gold. However, beyond its pulchritudinous appearance, does this watch have mechanical merit? Yes, most definitely.
Unlike some so-called luxury ladies’ watches that feature a bland quartz movement, the Floral Seconds Aurum is endowed with an automatic mechanical movement. Furthermore, this movement, the Calibre ASE 200.00, is produced at the brand’s impressive Manufacture.
Schwarz Etienne has incredible watchmaking prowess. It makes vast numbers of different components, including its own in-house hairsprings. Close examination of the movement reveals impressive finishing. In particular, the 3-bridge design incorporates guillochage, the main plate is adorned with perlage and the balance bridge features a sunray motif, emanating from the balance’s anti-shock device.
The Calibre ASE 200.00 incorporates a micro-rotor, harnessing the motion of the wearer’s wrist in order to wind the mainspring. Unlike, a conventional oscillating weight, the micro-rotor sits flush with the adjacent bridges, mitigating the thickness of the movement.
Similar to the case construction, the movement employs a modular design. This grants much flexibility, allowing the brand to modify the movement at a later date. For example, on the men’s models, Schwarz Etienne has swapped the micro-rotor for an additional barrel. This ingenious idea may well lead to the Swiss firm launching additional variants of the FIJI Floral Seconds at some point in the future.
At the outset of this article I disclosed my admiration for the FIJI Floral Seconds in steel. The FIJI Floral Seconds Aurum is different. While the dial shares the same topography as its steel sibling, the case shares the same modular design and the Calibre ASE 200.00 is employed once again, the Aurum exhibits a very different character.
The Schwarz Etienne FIJI Floral Seconds Aurum looks slightly more understated, courtesy of its silvery-white dial. I suspect its elegant mien will remain undiminished despite the onset of years. In my opinion, the Aurum will retain its eye-appeal for longer than the steel version.
While the Aurum is a tad more reserved, it certainly does not eschew style. The drop-shape indexes, curvaceous hour and minute hands and, most notably, the animated floral seconds display, sidestep the mediocre and evince an abundance of smile-inducing charm.
I applaud the Swiss brand for not succumbing to perceived wisdom by equipping this watch with a soulless quartz movement. The Schwarz Etienne FIJI Floral Seconds Aurum is a proper watch, featuring an impressive automatic movement. Indeed with this watch, beauty is more than skin deep.
- Model: Schwarz Etienne FIJI Floral Seconds Aurum
- Reference: WFI04MA16RB13-A
- Case: 18-carat 5N red gold; diameter 38mm; height 10.76mm; water resistance 5ATM (50 metres) sapphire crystals to the front and back
- Functions: Hours; minutes; animated floral display
- Movement: Calibre ASE 200.00; automatic movement; frequency 21,600 VpH (3Hz); 33 jewels; power reserve 86 hours
- Strap: Two straps supplied: pearlescent off-white leather and lustrous red python strap
- Price: CHF 21,500 excluding taxes (RRP as at 1.10.2019)