We’re in the middle of a golden age of mechanical watches. Never before has there been such an array and diversity of watches on offer. So it’s somewhat paradoxical that for all the brands and models out there, the vast majority of our horological bandwidth is dominated by a minority of brands and pieces. Which is why you might not have heard of Zeitwinkel, a comparatively young brand that manages to combine refined design with serious watchmaking — highly laudable, considering the brand only started out in 2006.
Founded by Ivica Maksimovic and Peter Nikolaus in 2006, Zeitwinkel was, from day one, a brand that did things a little differently, which makes sense given that they didn’t have the props of heritage and tradition to lean on.
Zeitwinkel (which is ‘time angle’ in German) have an atelier in the Swiss watchmaking heartland of Saint-Imier, where the brand’s core collections, like the Zeitwinkel 273°, with its patented large date display, are assembled.
Zeitwinkel’s watch designs are typically German, well-thought-out and sober, but it’s the internal architecture that earns the nod of approval from the watch cognoscenti. Zeitwinkel has never used third-party movements, instead opting for their own movements from the beginning. At present, their catalogue consists of the ZW0102, a versatile automatic with small seconds and options date, along with the more complicated ZW0103, which integrates Zeitwinkel’s patented large date mechanism, with a power reserve display. These movements — in addition to being technically solid — look the part as well, with German silver plates and bridges, fine chamfering, and ribbing, adding up to a calibre that’s, well, high calibre.
It’s also a movement that’s never been on show more than in the Zeitwinkel 273° Saphir Fumé, a contemporary interpretation of their flagship Zeitwinkel 273° model. Fundamentally the watch hasn’t changed too much from the original, with the large 42.5mm stainless steel case that sits 13.8mm high.
The case construction is, as with other elements of Zeitwinkel, classic with a dash of modernity: the large crown and the polished, smooth rounded bezel is timeless in its appeal, but the recessed and matte finish on the case middle and lug profiles adds a sportier element.
With refreshing transparency, Zeitwinkel is upfront about its cases being made in Germany and finished by hand. The overall style and finesse of the case are in keeping with the dial, which, as you can clearly see, is a smokey sapphire, allowing the wearer a glimpse at the dial side of the movement, and the inner workings of that big date display.
Zeitwinkel’s 273° Saphir Fumé leaves nothing to the imagination, nothing distracts from its prime purpose as an efficient, legible watch. The contrast between the grey fumé sapphire dial and the applied, faceted hour markers and faceted and diamond worked hands are strong, and the framing around the date and the clear markings on the power reserve ensure that you won’t get too distracted by the mechanics being in plain sight. The view on the caseback is even clearer, with the German-style three quarter-plate, and primarily unobscured, thanks to the open-worked rotor, which keeps the 72 hours of power topped up.
Zeitwinkel’s 273° Saphir Fumé is a well-designed, well-built and well-considered watch. It’s also something special. Wearing a watch from a young brand like Zeitwinkel naturally imbues a greater connection to the people who created it — and it’s not something you’re going to see too often, which, for those who value independence and individuality is boon unto itself.
Calibre ZW0103, automatic, hours and minutes; patented large date display; power reserve indicator; 72-hour power reserve
42.5mm by 13.8mm in stainless steel; water resistant to 50m
Transparent sapphire with applied facetted and diamond-worked hour markers and hands
Rubber, calfskin or alligator, 20mm, with folding Zeitwinkel clasp