Schaumburg Auf/Ab Gnomonik – A review of a unique single hand watch

Background

Since the dawn of civilization people have been trying to find practical means of measuring the passage of time. The ancients invented the sundial which indicated time using the shadow cast by the “Gnomon” or pointer at different times of the day. “Gnomon” is an ancient Greek term meaning “indicator” or “that which reveals”.

With the advancement of civilization, the necessary technology was developed to create mechanical devices to aid the measurement of time. The first clocks and pocket watches worked in the same manner as the sundial by employing a single hour hand to measure time. As the pace of life grew increasingly hectic with the advent of the industrial era, time became a scarce commodity and the minute and second hands were added to clocks and watches to further slice time into tinier precious bits.

In the post industrial era, despite the infiltration of high tech quartz watches and the ubiquitous mobile phone into our daily lives, the mechanical wrist watch has made an impressive comeback in recapturing its place in society as the preferred personal timekeeping device. Amongst the mechanical wrist watch types, the single hand mechanical watch is reappearing as a viable choice, one which provides a link back to the roots of mechanical timekeeping. Its stark simplicity reminds us of the bygone pre-industrial era when timekeeping proceeded at a more leisurely pace without the hustle and bustle of the modern age.

On a more personal note the single hand watch has always fascinated me and I was more than intrigued when I discovered the “Schaumburg Auf/Ab Gnomonik”. The Gnomonik is a timepiece which uses the “gnomon” or single hour hand to indicate time and hence its name.


An overall view of the watch from an oblique angle.

Description of the watch

Schaumburg Watch is one of the brands belonging to the German firm Lindburgh & Benson. The other well known product line from this German firm is Nauticfish range of diver watches.

The typical single hand watch, as offered by Meistersinger, Botta and Jorge Schauer, embraces the minimalist design principle and displays only a single hour hand on the watch dial. While this “less is more” approach certainly has its appeal, I personally find that the lack of a continuous second hand can leave the user in the unenviable position of having to guess whether the watch is still operating, especially after the watch has not been worn for a day or two.


Overview shot of the Gnomonik.
Note the single hand used to indicate the hour and minute simultaneously. Each hourly interval is divided into 5 minute intervals with major 15 minute interval markers. The continuous running seconds is indicated in an off center subdial located at 9 o’clock position.

The Schaumburg Auf/Ab Gnomonik watch strives to overcome the potential limitation of the traditional single hand watch design as described above by incorporating a small or subsidiary seconds function. A subsidiary seconds subdial is found at the nine o’clock position, providing the user with the ability to put a finger on the pulse of the watch.

In keeping with the traditions of mechanical timekeeping the Gnomonik is provided with a hand-wound movement, one based on the legendary Unitas 6497 pocket watch caliber. Schaumburg did not just plug a standard Unitas movement into the watch case but instead has extensively decorated the bridges and plates with hand engraving. Another custom feature is the power reserve function which is not commonly seen on the Unitas 6497 caliber. On the dial side the power reserve indicator is placed at the three o’clock position to provide visual counter balance to the small seconds subdial at the nine o’clock position. The resulting design does not disrupt the symmetry of the dial at all but instead it further enhances the dial’s visual appeal with a “Bicompax” look. To a manual wind timepiece the power reserve indicator is essential because it allows the wearer to gauge the remaining energy stored in the main spring and decide on the convenient time to manually recharge the watch.

Movement

The movement is designated as Schaumburg SW07, a manual wind pocket watch type based on the Unitas 6497-1 from ETA. The caliber is 36.6mm in diameter and 4.5mm thick. Schaumburg has added a power reserve indication function to the caliber but the extent of this modification is not clearly visible from the display back. The plates, bridges and balance cock have been intricately hand engraved. Blued screws add further refinement to the movement decoration. The movement is equipped with 17 jewels and the heart rate is 18,000bph. The power reserve is a respectable 42 hours. The glucydur balance is equipped with standard Incabloc shock protection. An index type regulator is provided for fine adjustments of the movement’s timing.

An overall view of the display back showing the hand engraved plates and bridges and blued steel screws.

A close up view of the movement highlighting the balance. The balance cock is hand engraved. The Glucydur balance is equipped with Incabloc shock protection and has an index type regulator.

Another close up view of the watch movement.

Close up view of the crown wheel, ratchet wheel and click.

Case

The watch case is made of brushed stainless steel which gives it an austere workman like quality. The watch measures 42mm without the crown and is 13.00mm thick. Lug-end to lug-end the case is 50mm long. The case back is fully threaded type with a large display window which provides a clear view of the decorated movement. The case is water resistant to 5 atmospheres or 50 meters. The sides of the casing are decorated with some kind of coin edge type groove pattern.

A close up view of the side of the watch case with coin edge type groove pattern.

Crystal

The watch crystal is scratch resistant, non AR coated sapphire with a flat profile.

Dial & Hands

The dial is metallic silver with a matt finish. Arabic numerals represent the hourly markers. Each hourly interval is divided into 12 intervals of 5 minutes each. These 5 subdivisions are represented by a notch on the dial. Every third notch representing a 15 minute interval is printed longer and bolder. In each hourly span, the 15 minutes intervals marked by the major notches are labelled as 0, 15, 30 and 60. The time is indicated by a single blue hand which moves with passing time.

Closer view of the dial. The hour markers are large arabic numerals (less the numbers 3 and 9). At the 3 o’clock position is the power reserve indicator and at the nine o’clock position is the off center sweep seconds subdial. In between the hour markers are twelve 5 minute markers, which cleanly divides the dial into 144 units of 5 minute intervals. The subdivision of time into 5 minute intervals means that one can read the time to the nearest 5 minutes with this watch. This hark back to an era when life is taken at a more leisurely pace.

Below the twelve o’clock position can be found the Schaumburg Watch brand label and below that is the company name Lindburgh & Benson.

The brand name “Schaumburg Watch” is proudly displayed below the twelve o’clock marker, and below that, in slightly smaller print, is the name of the parent company “Lindburgh & Benson”.

At the nine o’clock position is the small seconds subdial with a small second hand in blue ticking away.

A close up of the dial showing the single hand for time reading and the off center small seconds sub dial at nine o’clock position.

At the  three o’clock position is the power reserve indicator consisting of a blue indicator hand which sweeps through an arc of approximately 300 degrees. The arc is divided into 10% intervals marked by arabic numerals in increments of 10. Each 10% interval is further subdivided into 5 smaller ticks, each representing 2% of power reserve.

A close up view of the dial. Note the power reserve indicator at the three o’clock position. It forms a 300 degree arc and indicates the remaining energy stored in the main spring in 10% increments. In the picture the watch has about 70% of power reserve stored in the main spring.

The label “Made in Germany” is clearly printed at the six o’clock position.

Crown

The knurled crown is protected by a pair of crown guards. As is common with hand wound watches the crown is not of the screw down type. The crown is signed with the label “L&B”.

A close up view of the crown which is signed “L&B”, for Lindburgh & Benson.

Strap & Buckle

The watch is provided with an genuine leather strap signed “Lindburgh & Benson”. The strap is dark brown and comes with white contrast stitching. The tang type buckle is made of stainless steel with a brushed finish and is signed “L&B”.

Close up shot of the tang type buckle provided with the original leather strap. The buckle is matt finished and is signed L&B, for Lindburgh & Benson.

A close up view of the long end of the strap.

A close up view of the short end of the strap.

Lugs

The lugs are slightly angled down from the watch case but are finished smoothly with no sharp edges. The lug width accommodate 24mm size straps which are attached using threaded lug pins.

A close up view of the lug. Note the threaded type lug pin.

How to read time using the Gnomonik way

For each hourly interval on the dial are 12 divisions, each representing a 5 minute time interval. The single blue hand reaches all the way to these 5 minute notches. The time is read by adding the number of 5 minute notches to the nearest hour. For example, in the picture above the single hand is in between the 9:25 and 9:30 positions, providing an approximate time of 9:27. Read in a more conservative manner, the time can be rounded to 9:30, ensuring that one will always be early for an appointment.

Final Thoughts

I enjoy watching the Gnomonik faithfully continuing the tradition of measuring time in a leisurely manner using its solitary hour hand. To me this single handed watch has successfully recaptured the essence of timekeeping, long lost amongst the endless ticks of the quartz watches and humdrum of the mobile phones.

Resources:

i) Wikipedia article on Gnomon

ii) Schaumburg Watch Website

iii) Product info on Schaumburg Watch Website

3 comments on “Schaumburg Auf/Ab Gnomonik – A review of a unique single hand watch”

  1. D C Lane says

    Wow! Where can I get one?

    Haven’t found an online dealer who carries this model.
    Any help would be appreciated.

    Thanks!

  2. admin says

    DC Lane,
    You can try to enquire at Watchbuys. They are Schaumburg’s authorised retailer and can probably order the watch for you.

    Good luck.

  3. Lan Tester · says

    wearing mechanical watches is the thing i like because digital watches are cheap -

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