Two years ago, in 2013, Carl F. Bucherer launched a new watch, the Manero PowerReserve, housing the in-house CFB A1011 movement. This manufacture movement is based on their highly appreciated and accurate automatic movement, calibre CFB A1000. The CFB A1011 features a date and day indication, an innovative shock absorbing system, a unique automatic winding system something that makes this watch rather unique), and a power reserve indicator. We just had the Carl F Bucherer Manero PowerReserve in for several weeks, to review it. In this report we share our findings after using/wearing the watch on a daily basis.
Carl F. Bucherer? Who? Isn’t that a retail store selling high-end watches?
If you have ever been to one of Switzerlands’ cities, such as Geneva, Lausanne, Zermatt, Zurich, St. Gallen, or St. Moritz (or Paris, Frankfurt, Berlin, Munich and Vienna) you may have seen the stores of Bucherer. Bucherer sells many high-end watches, including A. Lange & Söhne, Parmigiani, H Moser&Cie, Vacheron Constantin, Carl F. Bucherer and many others. Bucherer also sells high-end jewelry.
In 1888, an ambitious young man named Carl F. Bucherer, opened his first retail shop in Lucerne, named Bucherer, selling watches and jewelry. After being successful with that, he decided to start his own watch company, Bucherer Watches. Bucherer watches were sold exclusively in Bucherer stores well through the 20th century. Which explains why the watches are not as well-known as many other brands. The family-run business decided to change the name of Bucherer Watches into Carl F. Bucherer in 2001, to honor its founding father.
So there is Bucherer and Carl F. Bucherer. The first one is the name of the store. The latter is the name of high-end watches. To avoid confusion, in this article we will use the full name or the abbreviation CFB.
It is obvious that CFB is a brand with a long tradition and history. The classic design of the Carl F. Bucherer Manero PowerReserve, the Swiss club-tooth lever escapement, the traditional gear train all fit in the long tradition of fine Swiss watchmaking.
According to its CEO, the foundation of the company’s success is that it is a family business. The company is long-term oriented and does not need to serve short-term shareholder needs. The company produces and sells around 25.000 watches. CFB has its own retail network and affiliates in Japan, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Taiwan, the United States and Germany.
Carl F. Bucherer positions itself as a luxury, high-end, premium watch brand with prices ranging up to CHF 400.000. The company also sells cheaper watches under brand name B-SWISS. The split between men and women is 60-40 in sales.
Movement manufacturing is an important pillar of Carl F. Bucherer strategy. In-house movements are developed in St. Croix and Biel. Roughly 80 people are working in the production department. In-house movements are developed in St. Croix and Biel. Movement, case and dial are assembled in the Lengnau Manufacture.
I must admit that I do have some difficulty in positioning the brand. Is it an accelerator for Bucherer’s retail business? Or does CFB to compete with the main Swiss brands that it also sell through its own stores? The development of the CFB A1000 movement as a foundation for multiple watch lines and models suggests that CFB is serious about expanding their watch development and production business. We will try to find out more during Baselworld.
The market appreciates Carl F. Bucherer watches. The company’s Manero Chrono Perpetual won the award for “best chronograph” in 2012.
OK, enough about the company. Let’s talk watches! To be precise, let’s talk about the Carl F. Bucherer Manero PowerReserve.
It’s all about the movement
Don’t get me wrong, the dial looks nice (in fact, the more I see it the more it grows on me) but it’s the movement that is the real beauty. At first sight its gear train and jewels resemble the highly regarded Peseux 7001 (now ETA 7001) movement. However, when you look closer, the differences become apparent. Carl F. Bucherer says that the movement has been fully developed in-house and from the ground up.
The design of the movement is awesome. It looks high-tech yet simple with a clever symmetry in lines, bridges and wheels. Look at the beveling on the bridges, the polishing, the corners, the screws, the jewels, the contrast in colors… It is a very balanced and sturdy looking movement. The word “simplicity” springs to mind, which is a compliment.
The base movement – the CFB A1000 – was announced in 2008 after acquiring its movement development partner Techniques Horlogères Appliquées SA. Besides proven technologies such as a classic regulatory system, a Swiss club-tooth lever escapement, and a traditional gear train with jeweled bearings, the movement features some very interesting innovations:
First, a peripheral (bi-directional) winding rotor. Brilliant. Not only does it look high-tech, but more importantly, the rotor does not block the view on the movement. The automatic winding system features a registered-for-patent shock absorbing and mounting system: the peripheral rotor bearing is safeguarded for shocks by Diamond-Like Carbon (DLC) coated rollers, which are mounted on ceramic ball bearings. The application of ceramic ball bearings makes the system virtually maintenance-free, according to CFB. No lubrication is needed. DLC is harder and more resilient than most PVC-coatings. The thickness of the coating is around one thousand of a millimeter and has a hardness of 2000 Vickers, which makes it several times harder than steel. The transmission wheel that transfers energy from the rotor to the mainspring is mounted with two Incabloc shock-absorbers. It is located towards the edge of the movement (see photo):
The walls of the bridge limit radial displacement of the rotor. Special screws control axial play to prevent the rotor from hitting the bottom of the case.
Second, the Central Dual Adjusting System (CDAS) for precision adjustment. This system ensures that balance and escapement require adjustment only once. After adjustment, the system is secured for shock absorption via two identical Incabloc shock absorption systems. Any shock will be absorbed through the arms, helping to protect the escapement (see photo).
One would almost forget that the CFB A1011 movement also features a day, date and a power reserve indicator.
Case and dial of the Carl F. Bucherer Manero PowerReserve
The case is beautifully finished with alternating polished and brushed finishing. The rounded lugs fit comfortably on the wrist.
Quite honestly, the classic dial design of the Carl F. Bucherer Manero PowerReserve had to grow on me. Initially it looked a bit too busy to me. However, in (sun)light, the differences in angles show different textures and color tones, varying from black to tobacco grey, which is really nice. The rounded lines around day and date also did not impress me (just too many shapes), however both are easy to read. But I guess that is a matter of taste. The Dauphine hands initially looked a bit too thick to me, especially compared to the 5-minute indicators. However, as I got used to the design, I liked it more and more. The dial is classic, balanced, and easily readable.
Strap and Clasp of the Carl F. Bucherer Manero PowerReserve
The strap of alligator leather is nicely stitched. The stiffness of the new strap that pulls the watch to the left on my wrist. But I am sure it will sit more balanced as the strap ages. The double pin lock folding clasp looks plain compared to the finishing of the case, but it is functional. The part of the clasp that is visible when you wear the watch, has a very nice finishing with the logo of Carl F. Bucherer. The size is perfect, not like some other clasps that fold all the way to the side of my wrist.
Day-to-day use of the Carl F. Bucherer Manero PowerReserve
I did wear the Carl F. Bucherer Manero PowerReserve while riding a bike without problems. I also put on my desk next to my phone or iPad without problems. The latter is an extremely important feature in today’s world full of magnetic fields that makes time fly in a mechanical watch. But be careful, I only tried for one night and one day and it was on my wrist while using the phone. I also used on one bike ride only.
When you wear the watch, you forget about it. That’s is a good thing, and I mean it as a positive remark. No one wants the feeling of a too heavy, clunky, and uncomfortable watch. The shape of the lugs makes the case fit perfectly, even on a small wrist like mine.
I admit: my initial reaction was “oh, nice watch, interesting movement”. After wearing the Carl F. Bucherer Manero PowerReserve for 2 weeks, studying the watch and reading about it, the watch has grown on me. I feel sad to let it go. I will miss the smoothness of the winding (too bad it’s automatic…), the readability, the reflections and colors in the sun, and its accuracy. But I won’t let it go, before labeling the watch as “recommended”.
Price range: around 11,500 USD.
Specifications – Carl F. Bucherer Manero PowerReserve Black Dial Stainless Steel
- References: 00.10912.08.33.01 (strap); 00.10912.08.33.21 (bracelet)
- Case: diameter 42,5mm, height 12,54mm, stainless steel, convex sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating on both sides, caseback with sapphire crystal. Water resistant to 30m (3m)
- Movement: Calibre CFB A1011, diameter 32mm, height 6,3mm, 33 jewels, automatic, power reserve of 55 hours
- Functions: power reserve, big date, day of the week, date, hours, minutes, small seconds
- Strap: Black Louisiana alligator leather strap with stainless steel pin lock folding clasp
- Check this link for more information: http://www.carl-f-bucherer.com/en/watches/manero/powerreserve/00.10912.08.33.01/
- Also available in rose gold with white and black dial, and stainless steel with white dial (strap and bracelet)