Why I Bought It: The Endurance by Habring² For CronotempVs Collectors

Why I Bought It: The Endurance by Habring² For CronotempVs Collectors

Thanks to my good friend and CronotempVs co-founder @scaramanga__, this poetic revival of the flashing top-seconds complication, made for explorers of a bygone era, proved too allluring to resist.

By Marco Gabella
Chairman & Executive Publisher

It’s no secret that I am addicted to watches. But to say I have just one watch addiction would be simplifying things: I am addicted to several types of watch, each defined by their era, function, display, or style.

One of my particular collections is made up of wristwatches with atypical displays, dating from the 1960s and 70s. It includes the likes of the Girard-Perregaux Casquette, the Amida Digitrend, and the Mondia Top Second.

The latter is a particular gem. In addition to the central seconds hand, a red dot at 6 o’clock “flashes” every second to assure the wearer that the watch is working correctly. It might look like a blinking LED, but it is actually a double-bladed propeller on the escape-wheel pivot. It takes two seconds to fully rotate, with each scarlet-hued blade appearing through a circular aperture on the dial every second. Genius!

I had only just acquired my gorgeous example of a Mondia Top Second when my good friend and CronotempVs Collectors Club co-founder @scaramanga__ told me about a new CC subscription watch that was in the pipeline, one that would see a rather poetic resurrection of the top-second display: It was the Endurance by Habring2 for CronotempVs Collectors.

Three-fold Inspiration

The brainchild of @scaramanga__, the Endurance takes inspiration from a trio of sources. First, there is his own father, who joined the Spanish navy during his country’s civil war. Growing up with a parent who was an experienced seaman in a bygone era, @scaramanga__ came to appreciate the crucial role that analogue instruments of yesteryear – marine chronometers, barometers and the like – used to play in the lives of those at sea.

Then, there is the story of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914 to 1917. Having read a book about it, @scaramanga__ was fascinated by the epic resilience shown by Sir Ernest Shackleton and his crew in the face of adversity after their ship Endurance was sank by ice while they attempted to make the first land crossing of the Antarctic continent. It gave @scaramanga__ the idea to create an instrument – a watch – that could have been used on this, the last major expedition of the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration.

Finally, there is the Mondia Top Second. Although not a big vintage watch enthusiast, @scaramanga__ felt the top-second complication deserved to be revisited. But in his eyes, such an indication would be more useful on a tool watch used in testing conditions, to show that the watch is still working. Conditions such as those faced by Shackleton and his men.

@scaramanga__ says: “The goal was to make a watch with all the advancements that one could have wished for in a timepiece a century ago. Something any officer on a polar expedition like the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition would have worn in the first quarter of the 20th century.”

In addition to at least one indicator to show the watch is working well, something that helped the wearer distinguish between night and day would also be essential, given that much of the time in the North and South poles is spent in total darkness or never-ending daylight. Likewise, the watch would need to withstand the extreme cold.

Who would be able to make such a retro-explorer’s instrument? Step forward Austrian independent watchmaker Richard Habring and his wife Maria who, together, make up Habring2.

Looks Can Deceive

At first glance, the Endurance by Habring2 for CronotempVs Collectors looks like a bicompax chronograph but suffice to say it’s not – such a resemblance is merely superficial.

Framed by the peripheral minutes ring and standing out on the dark gray, finely grained dial is a triumvirate of circular displays. On the left, small seconds with a “flashing” top-second hole. On the right, a 48-hour power reserve indicator. And between them, an instantaneous day-night “bubble” indicator. At the beginning of the day at 6am, its hatch jumps open to reveal a glossy Super-LumiNova disk – an evocative representation of the daytime sun – before closing at 6pm to show night has set in. Complementing these three displays are matte, light gray lume-filled hour-minute hands and numerals.

Subtle Features

Working from an ETA-"Valgranges" base movement, Habring2 developed the top-second complication which, like Mondia’s, uses a double-bladed propellor. Likewise, the Austrian watchmaker created the instantaneous hatch-opening mechanism for the day-night indicator. It’s a subtle feature, and one that really only the owner is aware of, but therein lies the beauty of it.

Also present is the Habring Magnetic Shield that protects the 4Hz balance’s hairspring against magnetism, as well as a special oil that is designed to work at extreme temperatures as low as -60 °C.

42mm But Wears Smaller

Packing a 50m water resistance, the stainless-steel case, similar to that used for the Habring2 Perpetual Doppel, is 42mm in diameter, but it wears smaller because the lugs have been reworked and placed further down to create more of an arc to curl nicely round the contours of the wrist.

And the internal configuration of the gaskets inside the crown also had to be reworked to fit the case, but a nice by-product of this redesign is that the watch feels like it winds even more smoothly.

Hard Not to be Seduced

This isn’t the first time that CronotempVs Collectors has proposed a unique watch made in collaboration with a watchmaker or brand. Since it was founded in 2009, the club has worked with several big players and niche indies to make specially commissioned CC editions. But this one stood out for me.

That it is a neo-classical homage, combining a cool, almost forgotten complication from the past with the inspiring backstory of Shackleton’s expedition, was more than enough for me to be seduced. What’s more, it’s price tag of €7,600 excluding taxes is very decent.

As such, I didn’t even need an hour to decide to sign up for one of the 33 pieces on offer as part of a subscription model which reached full allocation in no time.

Like the moon-phase indicator on Hermès’ Arceau l’Heure de la Lune, the top-second display of the Endurance isn’t a conventional complication and, let’s be honest, it is not even necessary in today’s world. But to think of this watch in today’s world would be missing the point. It is singular, it is poetic, and evokes a bygone era of heroic exploration, real or imagined.

For more information, please visit CronotempVs Collectors website.

(Photography by Pierre Vogel. Additional research and technical description of the watch by Steven Rogers.)

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