Schwarz Etienne Fiji Floral Seconds
The Schwarz Etienne Fiji Floral Seconds is the Swiss brand’s inaugural ladies’ timepiece. This watch references nature with a tone on tone floral motif and an animated floral display. Beyond its aesthetic prowess the watch incorporates an impressive automatic movement, enriched with high-end finishing. Angus Davies embraces his feminine side and looks closely at this multifaceted creation.
This detailed review of the Schwarz Etienne Fiji Floral Seconds includes live images, specification details and pricing.
‘The Times They Are A-Changin’. Female watch buyers, like their male counterparts, are increasingly drawn to the allure of mechanical watches. Watch brands have recognised this shift in tastes and many now produce a greater number of feminine timepieces which tick to the beat of a Swiss lever escapement.
Schwarz Etienne, a watch brand from La Chaux-de-Fonds, is no stranger to mechanical watches. Indeed, it is a ‘Manufacture’, crafting high-end, in-house movements within the confines of its modern atelier.
Recently, the Swiss brand unveiled its inaugural ladies’ timepiece, the Schwarz Etienne Fiji Floral Seconds. This eye-catching watch features an automatic calibre incorporating a micro-rotor, necessitating minimal wearer input while granting sight of the numerous movements at play.
I have long since admired Schwarz Etienne and coveted several of its men’s watches. On a recent trip to Geneva, I seized the opportunity to view the Fiji Floral Seconds, eager to confirm whether it matched the excellence of its male siblings.
Schwarz Etienne has chosen not to adapt an existing man’s watch for a female audience, the Fiji Floral Seconds is totally new. Moreover, the brand states the watch has been ‘designed by a woman for a woman’. This latter point is key.
A mistake made by many brands is to create a cynically styled bi-metallic watch with diamond indices and a quartz movement. This may appeal to some ladies, but increasingly female buyers are becoming more discerning, yearning not only for original design but also mechanical virtue.
The Schwarz Etienne Fiji Floral Seconds is offered in two dial variants, black and, my personal favourite, pale salmon. It is this latter watch which is the focal point of my review.
Sinuous, blue hour and minute hands evince a gentle character and float above an intricately styled dial. Silver-toned, tear-shaped indexes denote the hours, save for 6 and 12 o’clock. The former is depicted with a blue, oversized tear-shaped index, while the latter employs curvaceous Arabic numerals to proclaim the midnight hour.
The central dial area sits below the hour track and features a tone on tone floral motif. This patterned dial section is subtle and tasteful.
Schwarz Etienne has set aside the customary small seconds indication, equipping the dial with an unusual ‘animated floral display’. A large, lattice-work depiction of a flower is positioned above 6 o’clock. Beneath this upper membrane sits a revolving, blue lattice-work disc that slowly rotates, creating a ‘mesmerising depiction of life in motion’.
The flange is marked with a minute track, facilitating read-off.
Schwarz Etienne has gained a reputation for its modular movement construction. By removing a spring barrel and exchanging it for an identically sized micro-rotor, the movement can be converted from a hand-wound calibre to a self-winding movement. This approach provides economies without detriment to the overall quality of the movement. Indeed, such is the merit of this approach that it has led to several watch brands sourcing movements from the Swiss firm.
Now, Schwarz Etienne has applied its modular philosophy to case construction. The 38mm stainless steel case is formed of three parts: bezel, caseband and caseback. This trio of components forms a capsule which, in turn, sits within a cradle. This latter component, which incorporates the lugs, affixes to the capsule with four screws in steadfast union. By adopting this ingenious construction method, the watch company is able to combine differently styled parts.
In this instance, all case components, save for the caseband, are presented in highly polished stainless steel. The caseband is satin brushed and features highly attractive fluting. The generously proportioned crown facilitates easy manipulation. Moreover, it incorporates a diamond on its vertical flank, adding a seemly quotient of glamour to proceedings.
The high-end brand has equipped this watch with an exhibition caseback, affording widescreen views of the automatic movement.
The Schwarz Etienne Fiji Floral Seconds is a very practical ownership proposition. The watch is supplied with two straps, one in light blue and a second in brown. User-friendly strap fastenings to the rear of the watch allow the wearer to easily swap the straps without the need for tools. The strap is affixed to the wrist using a stainless steel folding buckle.
When a watch is sold, it is invariably supplied in a box. However, post-purchase, this box is often pushed to the rear of a cupboard and abandoned forever. Schwarz Etienne has reimagined the watch box. The Fiji Floral Seconds, along with the aforementioned second strap, is supplied in a luxurious Noleti® handbag. Once again, the Swiss Maison brings practicality to the fore.
The Schwarz Etienne Fiji Floral Seconds features the Caliber ASE 200.00. This automatic movement is endowed with a micro-rotor. Unlike some automatic watches fitted with a large oscillating weight, the Caliber ASE 200.00 confers unhindered views of the balance wheel, hairspring and pallet lever. The architecture of this movement invites the wearer to appraise each detail closely and note the ubiquitous craftsmanship.
The bridges are adorned with a sunray decoration, while the balance bridge is embellished with a guilloché motif. The ratchet wheel features a sunray pattern with fine lines emanating from the centre. Beneath the micro-rotor and balance, a sea of petit perlage adorns the mainplate. A sense of horological propriety prevails throughout.
It is often said that ladies favour quartz watches because they do not necessitate winding. However, providing an automatic watch is worn, there will be little reason to rotate the crown. If the Schwarz Etienne Fiji Floral Seconds is removed from the wrist, it will continue to run autonomously for an incredible 86 hours. It is remarkable for a lone barrel to deliver this degree of autonomy.
The balance oscillates with a frequency of 21,600 VpH (3Hz) and the movement contains 33 jewels. The Caliber ASE 200.00 is fitted with the brand’s own hairspring, another illustration of its engineering prowess.
The Schwarz Etienne Fiji Floral Seconds has a genteel appearance. The profile of the hands, the lachrymose indexes and the tone on tone floral dial motif all collaborate to seduce the unsuspecting onlooker. However, most notably, the animated floral display provides a highly original and bewitching focal point. Beyond its notable beauty, the dial is eminently practical, articulating the prevailing time clearly.
Measuring 38mm in diameter, the case is beautifully formed. Its construction is complex with numerous facets and swooping contours. The tasteful blend of polished and satin finished surfaces imbues the watch with a seemly appearance. In addition, the fluting on the caseband and the prominent diamond-set crown heighten the model’s allure.
As stated earlier, Schwarz Etienne is a Manufacture. Its technical capability is well known within the Swiss watch industry, with several brands procuring movements from this specialist firm.
The Caliber ASE 200.00 is exquisitely finished. Sunray decoration, guilloché and petit perlage abound. By equipping the movement with a micro-rotor, most of the mechanical theatre can be readily seen. Despite the diminutive scale of the micro-rotor, it efficiently harnesses energy with the merest motion of the wearer’s wrist. The power reserve of 86 hours is impressive, especially considering the movement features a lone barrel.
A reoccurring theme with the Schwarz Etienne Fiji Floral Seconds is ‘practicality’. The highly legible dial, the long power reserve, the interchangeable straps and the useful Noleti® handbag make this a practical ownership proposition. Indeed, Schwarz Etienne has demonstrated that it offers a viable alternative to an inert quartz watch. The Schwarz Etienne Fiji Floral Seconds is tastefully infused with femininity and mechanically pulses with life. Why would anyone buy quartz again?
- Model: Schwarz Etienne Fiji Floral Seconds
- Reference: WFI15MA08SS04AA
- Case: Stainless steel; diameter 38mm; height 12.13mm; water resistance 5ATM (50 metres); sapphire crystal to the front and caseback
- Functions: Hours; minutes; animated floral seconds display
- Movement: Caliber ASE 200.00; self-winding movement; frequency 21,600 VpH (3Hz); 33 jewels; power reserve 86 hours
- Strap: Supplied with two straps (blue and brown) paired with a stainless steel folding buckle
- Price: CHF 7,150 excluding tax (RRP as at 7.2.2019)