Looking at time from another angle

Recently at Baselworld, a timepiece that grabbed my attention, was the Zeitwinkel 273°. Read my watch review about this model with a big date and power-reserve indicator.


Zeitwinkel 273°

An enquiry arrived in my “inbox”, expressing an interest in advertising on ESCAPEMENT. We often receive enquiries about advertising on our websites, only for us to subsequently decline this revenue.

To some this may seem strange, in what is arguably economically challenging times. However, the rationale is simple to explain.

We never want to associate with the “grey market”, where the provenance of a timepiece is unknown, nor do we wish to advertise brands which have little to do with haute horology.

I have a profound disliking for virtually all quartz watches, with only a few notable exceptions. They appear inert, devoid of life and sans emotion.

The only advertising I ever accept is from brands, whose watches I would personally wish to own myself. This may prove commercially naive, but I struggle to accept payment from companies whose products appear dull or lacking in merit.

The same can be said for editorial. The fragrant allure of a ravishing damsel from a public relations company is often rebuffed. No amount of sycophantic schmoozing will fool or persuade me to write about something I don’t like.

I reserve my time for those products which proffer virtue and engage my soul. There is little reason to waste time writing about products which have little to justify my feverish key tapping. Does this mean all products I write about are perfect? No, of course not, but on balance, they have something which connects with me. This is our modus operandi and precludes us from accepting payment from every potential advertiser who approaches our company.

However, on this occasion the name on the enquiry was from a Swiss company called Zeitwinkel, a brand which I must confess I had never heard of until a few weeks ago. The research process began. I wanted to know more.

Zeitwinkel 273°

Zeitwinkel, takes its name from two german words, “Zeit” which means “time” and “Winkel” meaning “angle”, hence translated from German into English, the brand means “timeangle”. This alludes to the local time expressed at a specific location on a sundial at noon. The “true local time” is close to the heart of the founders of the company, Peter Nikolaus and Professor Ivica Maksimovic.

Zeitwinkel 273°

Nevertheless, it is the alternative business angle, which forms this company’s USP (unique selling proposition). They avoid the colossal costs of celebrity ambassadors and sports sponsorship. They eschew such costly marketing strategies preferring to focus on delivering high quality Swiss timepieces.

Yet, there is a counter argument to this approach. Brand awareness employing advertising and other promotional strategies, ensures a watch brand is well known and can help strengthen residual values of their timepieces. To own a brand few have heard of can inhibit the disposal of a watch, where the collector wishes to migrate to an new found love.

Zeitwinkel 273°

Recently at Baselworld, a model which particularly caught my gaze, was the Zeitwinkel 273°. Available in galvanic black, blue or galvanic silver, it is the latter which offers the most appeal. Whilst the notion of putting the value into the product and minimising the expenditure on promotion sounds inspired, can I perceive the value when handling the product? Let’s see…..

The dial

The galvanic silver dial has a pure, clean appearance.

Zeitwinkel 273°

Hours and minutes are expressed with lancine shaped hands. They are silver in colour and their diamond-worked and facetted form dances with the light in a charming courtship ritual.

Applied silver coloured appliqués convey the hours with a restrained and dignified voice. There is nothing which shouts or overwhelms with this handsome ensemble, encouraging you to embrace the information conveyed. It reminds me of making the acquaintance of a stranger at a party. The unduly loud have a tendency to repel, whilst those who discourse with succinct and interesting delivery, charm and engage. And so it is for the 273°.

Adjacent 2 o’clock is a power reserve indicator. It features a blued hand, which sweeps from left to right, showing the stored energy within the spring barrel.

Zeitwinkel 273°

A subsidiary seconds display is located at 6 o’clock, it features snailed detail, a blued hand and repeats the aforementioned silver coloured appliqués, albeit in smaller form. The beauty of this dial is reinforced with the consistent and repetitious use of shape and colours. Zeitwinkel do not overwhelm the wearer with too many styles or conflicting details and it is this judicious and distilled delivery which reinforces its chaste persona.

Between 10 o’clock and 11 o’clock, a large date display resides. The two apertures reveal the date in a magnificently legible form. With the onset of middle-age, my shortsightedness has become more pronounced, hence the large text proved most welcome.

The case

The case diameter of 42.5 mm should prove suitable for the majority of wrists. The brand does offer alternative models with a case diameter of 39 mm for those who seek a more petite offering. However, this particular model embraced my arm very comfortably.

Zeitwinkel 273°

The bezel, lugs and caseback are presented in highly polished 316L stainless steel. The caseband features a recessed section, micro-blasted, bestowing a matte finish which wonderfully contrasts with the polished surfaces sat adjacent.

Sometimes the styling of some watches is brave and contemporary, but by default they have an intrinsically short shelf-life. This particular watch has a timeless appearance which should ensure longevity and wearability despite the onset of years.

I recently chatted to Peter Nikolaus, one of the two founders of Zeitwinkel, and he expressed a heartfelt desire to create timepieces which could be cherished by their owners for a lifetime. The company has endeavoured to seek styling which should retain relevance despite the passage of time and remain unsullied by the fickle fate of fashion.

The Zeitwinkel 273° contains a manufacture movement and therefore it seems befitting that the caseback features a sapphire crystal to indulge the inquiring eyes of the proud owner.

Zeitwinkel 273°

Zeitwinkel 273°

Straps or bracelets seldom justify column inches unless they are truly exceptional. I tried the watch both with a brown leather strap affixed and with a rubber strap attached. Both work well with the watch, albeit I would probably wear the rubber variant, merely for reasons of practicality. It is when you scrutinise the clasp, that you note the distilled execution of its form. This is a quality component and congruent with all aspects of the watch, which are delivered in a praiseworthy composition.

The movement

The self-winding ZW103 is a manufacture movement. This is particularly notable for a relatively small company and represents a significant investment by Zeitwinkel.

Zeitwinkel 273°

Located in Saint-Imier, the manufacture is nestled in the Jura region, an area synonymous with high-precision watchmaking. The company’s founders were keen to source components from Switzerland and have been successful in this aim, with a few exceptions where items are sourced from southern Germany.

The rotor is bi-directional and helps to capture energy, conferring a power reserve in excess of 72 hours. Moreover, it is open-worked revealing more of the finely finished movement beneath.

I make no secret that I have an obsessive predilection for finissage. My insatiable thirst for quaffing every minutiae of a decorated movement shows no sign of abating soon. Zeitwinkel have sated my yearning for examples of adroit skill, practised by talented artisans at the Manufacture.

The bridges and plates are presented in German silver. The three-quarter plate and balance cock are decorated with Côtes de Genève motif. The edges of the plate and bridges have been expertly chamfered and polished and would shame several offerings from brands charging twice as much.

Perlage is readily visible on the plate, especially near the balance wheel. It is delightfully delivered, reinforcing the high quality essence of the watch.

I admired the screws, employing a loupe, and can report the heads are chamfered, polished and the slots perfectly presented in peerless form.

This is a truly impressive movement with an outstanding specification that includes no fewer than 49 jewels; remarkable on a watch at this price point.

Conclusion

It may seem strange to some readers of this article that I make reference to marketing and in particular advertising initiatives employed by many in the watch industry. However, a huge proportion of the sales price of any new watch is expended on the marketing employed to heighten public awareness.

Zeitwinkel have chosen not to spend much of its means on advertising. Moreover, they have not sought brand ambassadors who may have a tendency to flit from one corporation to another, depending on the magnitude of the sponsorship deal on offer.

This watch company has chosen to put much resource into the watch. The result is a timeless timepiece with an elevated specification, produced at a remarkably competitive price (CHF 10,750 at the time of writing).

Only time will tell whether this alternative angle to the manufacture and sale of watches will prove successful. However, if you are looking for a high quality Swiss watch and you do not wish to succumb to marketing hype, then this would prove a worthy purchase.

Technical Specification

  • Model: Zeitwinkel 273°
  • Case: Stainless steel 316L; diameter 42.50 mm; height 13.80 mm ; water resistant to 5 bar (50 metres); sapphire crystal to front and caseback.
  • Functions: Hours; minutes; subsidiary seconds; big date; power-reserve indicator.
  • Movement: ZW103, self-winding; frequency 28,800vph (4Hz); 49 jewels; power reserve more than 72 hours.
  • Strap: Black, blue or brown hand-sewn calf leather strap or black rubber strap supplied on a stainless steel folding clasp.

Further editorial on the Zeitwinkel 273° by Angus Davies

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