Straight Out Of Schramberg: A Round-Up Of Junghans’ 160th Anniversary Limited Editions
The Teutonic brand is marking a big birthday with its characteristic minimalist flair.
This year German watchmaker Junghans is celebrating 160 years of watchmaking. To mark this milestone, the brand has adopted a new slogan: “Creating time – yesterday, today and for generations to come.”
Junghans also has a birthday present for fans of its minimalist yet exactingly engineered mechanical watches. The brand is releasing three new limited edition timepieces, exploring the past, present, and future. We spoke to CEO Matthias Stotz as he unveiled the novelties via teleconference from Junghans HQ in Germany’s fabled Black Forest.
Junghans was founded in 1861 in Schramberg, Germany, by Erhard Junghans and his brother-in-law Jakob Zeller-Tobler. With Schramberg nestled in the heart of the Black Forest, a region known for its wooden cuckoo clocks, it soon became apparent that time and place would be important influences on the brand's products.
The company rapidly grew, and by 1903, Junghans produced over 3 million timepieces a year. Soon the brand transitioned to Bauhaus-influenced designs, like the Max Bill, and experimented with different platforms, like radio-controlled timekeepers, to revolutionize accuracy.
That is a lot of history to encapsulate in a single watch, but Junghans decided to honor its mid-century heyday with the new Meister Signatur Handaufzug Edition 160.
Meister Signatur Handaufzug Edition 160
More than just a reissue, the Meister Signatur Handaufzug Edition 160 is powered by an authentic vintage Junghans caliber that’s been disassembled, re-finished with rose gold plating, and then reassembled.
“More than 10 years ago, we bought a new old stock lot of these old movements,” said Stotz. Though these hand-winding J620 calibers may be old, they are not old-fashioned with an impressive-for-their-era power reserve of 45 hours. “And the classic structure of the movement is very service friendly,” the CEO added. Thus, the company decided that repurposing them was an authentic way to pay homage to this signature timepiece. The execution of this concept is very satisfying to observe, as a glance through the display caseback will illustrate.
The look of the Meister Signatur Handaufzug Edition 160 is based on a Meister from the 1950s. But it features some thoroughly modern touches like the elegant 39mm x 10.3mm 18K rose gold case and screwed sapphire caseback with an anti-reflection coating (the domed crystal also shares the same treatment). It comes on a leather strap with an 18K rose pin buckle.
There is, however, one more throwback detail: The signature on the silvered dial is a replica of the logo found on original Junghans timepieces from the 1860s. “It’s a very beautiful watch for collectors,” commented Stotz.
The Meister Signatur Handaufzug Edition 160 will be available in September, is limited to 160 pieces and will be priced at €8,160.00.
FORM A Edition 160
Junghans has every right to crow about its accomplishments. Over the past 20 years, it has developed watches using many different technologies. And its embrace of minimalist simplicity, as seen in the Max Bill and Meister collections, is due to the company’s abiding interest in German industrial design. So, to represent the present, Junghans is launching two iterations of the FORM A Edition 160.
Launched in 2017, the FORM A collection took Junghans’ signature minimalist aesthetic to the max. While it looks super spare on the surface, this line features many fine details. For example, the 39.3mm wide steel case is bowl-shaped, which makes it tactile. And the short lugs make it very comfortable to wear. But because the display is so clean, the face of the FORM A lends this timepiece a lot more presence than its smaller dimensions suggest on paper.
Though the two FORM A Edition 160s come from this minimalist stock, they are also a testament to how inventive the Junghans designers can be. Informed by the brand’s home in the Black Forest, one uses a black and brown palette and bark-textured strap to conjure up the nature that surrounds the Junghans manufacture. The other has a red and grey colorway with a strap made of the region’s traditional loden wool. Both have a special inscription on the dial that reads “Junghans Automatic Black Forest Since 1861.”
“We would like everybody to visit the Black Forest and our museum,” added the CEO. But as Stotz noted, until international travel picks up again, “It’s like an indicator of origin.”
This duo is also a way to reach out to new consumers. The FORM A Edition 160 honors Junghans’ history, but they still feel very contemporary. The watches are powered by a self-winding J800.2 caliber with a power reserve of up to 38 hours. The cases have a matte black PVD coating, and the hour markers are lit up with an environmentally friendly luminous substance. For first-time buyers, it’s also very attractively priced, especially for a limited edition automatic watch.
The FORM A Edition 160 will be available in June, is limited to 600 pieces each, and is priced at $1,150.
Meister Gangreserve Edition 160
Finally, to represent the future of Junghans, the brand is unveiling a special edition of Meister Gangreserve. Junghans introduced their first mechanical watch with a power reserve indicator back in the 1950s. By using a color display, this window lets the wearer know precisely when the watch needs winding.
What’s forward-thinking about these three anniversary timepieces is that Junghans has updated the design language of the watch to make it more intuitive. And because there are three different versions, there’s bound to be one that speaks to you.
First, there is an elegant stainless steel option on a steel bracelet with a matte white dial, silver-plated hands, and a green power reserve indicator. There is also a sportier version on a tawny leather strap with a blue sunray finished dial and steel case. And third, there is a business-friendly variation on a leather strap with a gold-tone PVD coating on the case and a matte white dial.
All three come in 40.4mm x 11.1mm cases and powered by the self-winding J810.2 movement with a power reserve of up to 42 hours. “It’s a bit bigger than previous Meister Automatics,” said Stotz. “But ergonomically, it is more modern, more discreet.” The trio all have a domed sapphire crystal that also makes the timepiece feel more fluid.
The Meister Gangreserve Edition 160 will be available in August, is limited to 600 pieces each, and is priced between $1,490 and $1,550. For more information, visit Junghans’ website.
(Images © Junghans)