In my younger days, I spent some time in Germany’s Berlin. When I wasn’t out being a Hertha Berlin ultra (I’m well hard, me) or retracing David Bowie’s steps while he was in town in the 1970s recording his Berlin trilogy (Trust me, it wasn’t as exciting or as romantic as it sounds), I spent time studying the German language. To my eternal shame none of it has stuck. Sure, I can order currywurst and tell a cab driver to take me to the airport, but holding a conversation about the knock-on effects of Gerhard Schröder’s changes to social-security policy in the early 2000s? Forget about it. Also, I found speaking English slower and louder seemed to do the trick most of the time.
Anyway, one thing I loved about German was its tendency to smash several words together to come up with something ludicrously long yet utterly apt. And to celebrate those compound words, I’m going to sprinkle, most likely incorrectly, this review of three German watches with some of the best. This is going to give us all weltschmerz.
Let’s begin with Junghans. It is the hipster’s choice, so wearing a Junghans might give you a backpfeifengesicht, but us norms need to reclaim the brand because it makes wonderful watches, such as the Meister Driver Chronoscope. This sleek timepiece has a mid-century design, a sporty two-dial chronograph and a burgundy, yes, burgundy, leather strap. Junghans is famous for minimalist design, so this is as busy as its dials get, which is still pretty sparse. At 45mm the steel case is rather large and the size is accentuated further by the domed glass over the dial, but as this is an unobtrusive design, I’ll let that slide. Inside is an in-house J880.3 movement that has 42 hours of power reserve. It’s easy for me to throw stones at hipsters like some handschuhschneeballwerfers, but they obviously have taste so don’t be put off when it comes to this watch, or Junghans in general. The Meister Driver Chronoscope is priced at HK$15,073 and available from mrporter.com.
If I haven’t shared too much already, I have a watch collection that adds up to way more than a baker’s dozen, but I lack the finances to justify it. Alas, brands such as Dufa keep making excellent watches at tempting prices and I fear I may weaken again. Priced at €499 (HK$4,250), the Van Der Rohe Chrono typifies Dufa’s approach to celebrating German watch design and heritage without making it inaccessible and elitist. There are nods to current trends, too, with the steel mesh bracelet and the trendy colour combos of grey dial and vibrant blue hands and numerals. The price is kept reasonable with the steel case, which measures 38mm, and the use of a Swiss quartz movement but that’s all to this watch’s credit as this is a piece for everybody from the kaisers to a bezirksschornsteinfegermeister.
As a child, I always dreamed of sailing as some sort of Donaudampfschiffahrtsgesellschaftskapitän so I’ve always had a fondness for dive watches. However, being older and not being able to swim, I’ve come to appreciate aviation watches more and Stowa makes some humdingers. The brand made watches for the German air force, admittedly at a problematic time in European history, but the designs have vergangenheitsbewaeltigung and become a classic copied the world over. The Flieger Klassik 36 Automatic has been specially made to celebrate the brand’s 90th anniversary and it’s faithful to the original with the “flieger” dial designed to be easily legible to pilots and complete with the robust pinned leather strap. Stowa’s ramped up the vintage look with off-white markers and numerals, blue-steel hands and a case sized at a retro 36mm. The Flieger Klassik 36 Automatic is priced at €941 and limited to 90 pieces.