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

Graf Zeppelin LZ-127 hand wind chronograph watch: a review

Background – I discovered this watch at the Malaysian outlet of Red Army Watches, which newly opened in December last month at the Tropicana City shopping mall. It caught my attention with its unusual lineage. The Zeppelin brand is of German origin. While the watch is labeled as “Made in Germany”, the P3133 movement is Russian made with a long history traceable to the venerable Swiss Valjoux 7734. This watch certainly piqued my curiosity concerning German made watches with Russian calibers.

Model – Zeppelin 7602-1 Hand wind Chrono 3133 White

Movement – The P3133 is a manual wind chronograph movement which traces its roots back to the Swiss Valjoux 7734 manual wind caliber. The Valjoux 7734 was part of the 773X family and is derived from the 7733 caliber with the addition of date function. The 773X family of calibers was introduced in 1969 when Valjoux decided to stop production, the tooling and design were sold to the Russian watch manufacturer Poljot (1st Moscow watch factory). In Russian hands the Valjoux caliber was modified to become the P3133 movement. In 2005 another Russian company Maktime bought the production line for the P3133 movement from the 1st Moscow watch factory.
The movement measures 31mm in diameter and is 7.35mm thick. It has 23 jewels and is shock resistant. The movement beats to the frequency of 21600bph. The plates are finished with a pattern reminiscent of the “geneva wave” and are gilded (gold plated). The screws are blued. The movement does not hack and does not come with quick set date function.

Case – The case is 41mm in diameter and 13mm thick. Lug to lug the watch measures 49mm. It is made of stainless steel with a polished finish. The screwed-in case back comes with a display glass which gives a clear view of the P3133 movement. The watch is rated to 5ATM water resistance.

Crystal – The watch is equipped with a scratch resistant sapphire crystal. The sapphire crystal is slightly domed but unfortunately is not AR coated. The glass on the display back is not sapphire.

Crown – The crown is knurled which provides a nice grip, an important point for a hand wind time piece. Being a manual wind watch the crown and pushers are not screw-in type.

Dial – The large dial is white and legibly printed with arabic numeral hour markers (less the numbers 3, 6 and 9). There is an outer ring lined with the minute markers in 5 minute increments. There are 2 sub dials slightly sunken at the 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock positions. The left sub dial is the running seconds and the right sub dial is the 30 minute totaliser for the chronograph. A small date window is located at the 6 o’clock position. Below the date window is the finely printed “Made in Germany” label. The Zeppelin brand name is printed below the 12 o’clock marker. The hour markers are not coated with luminescent material which will be a point of concern if one needs to read the time in the dark.

Hands – The hour and minute hands are sword shaped and nicely proportioned. The hour hand reaches to the arabic numeral hour markers and the minute hand is long enough to reach the outer minute markers. The hands are finished in dark blue and are not painted with any luminescent material.

Strap / Buckle – The watch comes with a brown genuine leather strap with contrast stitching. The buckle is the tang type and is unsigned.

Accuracy – The published accuracy of the P3133 caliber is -20s/+40s. However in my daily usage I find that the watch accuracy is not a point of concern.

Power Reserve – The published power reserve of the P3133 is 42 hours without chronograph operation and 37 hours with the chronograph running.

Comfort – For my 7 inch wrist the watch fits exceptionally well and is very comfortable to wear.

Overall Impression – The Zeppelin watch is well made as can be expected of a German product and the P3133 is a worthy caliber. I must say that this watch, at a retail price of approximately 635USD, provides excellent value for money. Any other Swiss made chronograph with equivalent hand wind caliber would easily cost multiples the asking price of the Zeppelin.

Pictures of the watch follows:


“Made in Germany” – does it mean the same thing as “Swiss Made”. Not yet but hopefully someday it will.


Display back showing the gilded plates and blued screws.


Note the shock absorbers on the balance. Looks a lot like Incabloc type.


“P3133” is clearly labeled on the movement.

Resources:

i) Reference on Russian movements

ii) Information on Maktime

iii) Red Army Watches

iv) Aviation Time online shop

Orient 300m professional diver watch – a Brief review

Orient is a Japanese watch company with a history dating back to 1901.  Orient offer excellent quality watches at very reasonable price points. In September 2008 Seiko Epson announced its intention to take full ownership control of Orient. Prior to that it had a 52% equity stake in Orient.

The Orient 300m Professional diver watch is one of the larger watches in my collection. It is a real saturation diver rated to a depth of 300m. It differs from the usual Swiss design for saturation dive watches in that the Helium escape valve is omitted.

The watch measures 45.7mm in diameter without crown and the lug to lug distance is approximately 55mm. At the side the watch measures 16.6mm thick. As can be expected from its dimensions the watch weights a hefty 233 grams with the steel bracelet. In case you haven’t noticed this is not a watch to be worn to the office unless you wish to risk denting the expensive office furniture or ripping your shirt cuffs off.

The crown is signed and is located at the 4 o’clock position, which helps to alleviate the problem of excessive wrist contact as is commonly experienced with 3 o’clock crown positions, especially with large sized watches. Crown guards curve out gently from the watch casing to protect the crown.

The matt finished orange colored dial is protected by a 5.3mm thick AR coated sapphire glass. On the dial the hour, minute and second hands, together with the hour markers are coated with a generous amount of luminous paint which provide excellent luminosity in the dark. The date window is located at the nine o’clock position instead of the more conventional 3 o’clock position. As this watch is obviously not meant to be elegantly concealed by shirt cuffs, the date window position does not represent a problem. The thick and wide bezel rotates in only the anti-clockwise direction in 60 solid clicks.

Between the 12 o’clock and 2 o’clock positions is the power reserve indicator. This is not a common feature on dive watches. The indicator swings in a 120 degree arc to indicate the amount of energy reserve in the barrel spring in 10 hour increments.

In addition to the stainless steel bracelet Orient has supplied an additional polyurethane strap. For those who find the watch a bit on the heavy side can always strap on urethane strap for an instantaneous weight loss. As a nice touch, Orient has also provided a strap changing tool to simply the task of switching straps. The bracelet is equipped with a cleverly designed gliding diver’s extension which can be operated without having to take the watch off the wrist. A push button release is provided to unlock the bracelet and a safety clasp prevents accidental unlocking of the bracelet.

Orient is known to utilize the “magic lever” automatic winding system in their movements. As such this self winds very efficiently. From a dead stop the watch can be easily restarted with a few swings of the arm, and once on the wrist the power reserve builds up with quickly and effortlessly.

Below are some pictures of my Orient 300m Professional Diver:

Frontal view of the watch face

Laser etched Orient logo on the crown. Notice the traditional lug hole design which simplify the task of strap changing.

Small date window at the 9 o’clock position

Laser etched Orient logo on the clasp.

Power reserve indicator has 10 hour increments.

The triangle marker on the bezel has a luminous pearl.

Cleverly designed gliding diver’s extension.

Details of the clasp locking mechanism.

Details of the clasp locking mechanism. Push lever for unlocking clasp.

Details of stainless steel bracelet with solid links.

Nicely engraved case back.

Detail of knurled screw down crown.

Close up of bezel and crown. Notice the knurls on the crown and coin edge on the bezel which provide firm grip.

Close up of dial. Notice the quality dial print work and the beautiful metallic borders on the markers.

As the pictures above testify the Orient Diver is a well designed watch with excellent quality build and finish. Orient could have put a much higher price tag on this watch but by not doing so have provided one of the best value for money dive watches available in the market today.

Technical specifications taken from Orient web site:

i) Mechanical Movement : ORIENT caliber 46N4A Made in Japan
ii) Self-winding movement (Does not hack nor hand wind)
iii) Enhanced shock proof
iv) 21 jewels
v) 21600/hour vibrations
vi) Power reserve indicator
vii) Stainless steel case and bracelet
viii) One-way rotating bezel
ix) Sapphire crystal with anti-reflection coating
x) Screw caseback, screwed-down crown
xi) Special extensible buckle for metal bracelet
xii) Water resistant to 300m
xiii) Diameter 45.7mm
xiv) Thickness 16.6mm

Additional specifications:

Reference no – CFD0C001M
Power reserve – 40 hours

Links and resources:

Reviews:
i) Review by Kew on Orientalwatchsite
ii) Review by Oldecrow on Orientalwatchsite
iii) Information Orient web site

Information on the Magic Lever winding system:
i) Post on Orientalwatchsite by Knightwatchman
ii)Article on Timezone by Rob Berkavicius
iii)Article on PuristsPro by Al

Summary table describing Orient movements