About time: Güt instincts
As the rest of Europe continues to sputter down the road to anaemic recovery, the Germans could be forgiven for cracking open a cold Bavarian beer, sitting back and putting their feet up. From cars to an all-conquering football team (Bayern Munich), they seem to be getting everything right at the moment - so much so that the Americans are tapping Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone to find out the secret of their success. Probably.
Just to rub it in the noses of the French and the British, the Germans are pretty adept at making mechanical watches, too, with the small Saxonian village of Glashütte - population 4,700 - punching way above its weight.
Glashütte is home to the iconic A Lange & Sohne, but the village's other watchmakers deserve their share of the limelight, and none more so than Mühle. Tracing its history back to 1869, Mühle began as a maker of nautical instruments, which may seem slightly strange, given how landlocked Saxony is. It still makes them, but these days the focus is on wristwatches and the pick of its 2013 offerings is the Teutonia II Quadrant Medium (above right).
A square-shaped dial is the main visual signature. On closer inspection, its luxurious, black, classically simple dial, its guilloche finish, and its black crocodile leather strap mark the Teutonia II out as a great dress watch.
The case measures 33mm by 33mm - small by today's standards, but traditionalists like me would rather we returned to more sensible sizes.
The case material is polished steel with a transparent case back. Water resistance tops out at 50 metres. Inside is a modified SW300 automatic movement with 42 hours of power reserve, which is a bit light given the modest features.
The Teutonia II Quadrant Medium is priced at a bargain HK$25,000.
From the classic to the modern, and a watch company founded a few months after the fall of the Berlin Wall - Nomos.
As many of the Glashütte watchmakers have roots in the 19th century, their designs tend to be classic. But with Nomo, the chief inspiration is the Bauhaus style of the 20th century, with its emphasis on minimalist design and clean lines.
Launched at Baselworld this year, the Nomos Ahoi (below right) represents the fundamentals of the brand but also adds a bit of Berlin cool from product designer Thomas Hohnel.
The 40mm stainless-steel case plays host to a dial design that is simple yet achingly hip and even a touch sporty.
Nomos is touting this as a great outdoor or weekend watch and it's difficult to argue with that: the waterproof textile strap and 200 metres of water resistance should make the beach the ideal place to show off the Ahoi. Inside is a Nomos Epsilon movement which isn't earth-shattering, but great for the HK$30,000 price tag. There is another version of the Ahoi, with a date function and Nomos Zeta movement, priced at HK$34,000.
Finally, we have a brand named after the village itself - Glashütte Original. Now owned by the Swatch Group, this watchmaker is widely respected for making its own movements and for its innovative history, but it should also get top marks for design.
The Senator Chronometer Regulator (far left) is a highly technical watch featuring a manual winding chronometer Calibre 58-04 movement that is certified by the German Calibration Service. Other functions include a day/night display, panorama date window and power-reserve indicator. But most importantly, the watch looks great - German classical styling at its best.
The case is 42mm and is made of 18-carat white gold; the strap is black alligator leather. Prices for the Senator Chronometer Regulator are available upon request.