Habring² is a brand that is special on many levels. Not only is it one of the rare manufactures to produce mechanical watches in Austria, but it is also the shared vision of a couple, Maria and Richard, some of the most pleasant and passionate people we know. And of course, the independent watchmaker is also known for making cool, finely crafted and creative watches – with a focus on chronographs and dead-beat seconds. Among these watches, there’s one that has to be seen as extremely desirable, the Habring² Monopusher Chronograph Japan Edition, a rare watch retailed exclusively through a Tokyo-based retailer… And one of these superb models just appeared for sale.
Habring² is the result of a shared vision between husband-and-wife Richard and Maria, founders of a small independent watchmaking atelier that, over the years, has gained great respect and fame. Born in 2004, Habring² is not your typical, ultra-famous and demonstrative brand. It comes from Austria, from the small town of Völkermarkt, and produces watches with a clear sense of pragmatism. Don’t expect triple-axis tourbillon here, or outer-space displays. Maria and Richard had something different in mind. The watches are rather attractively priced and include cleverly constructed complications, with a specialization on chronographs – mostly monopushers and rattrapante, something that Richard mastered in his previous position at IWC, being the man behind the Doppelchronograph.
In about a decade and half, Maria and Richard have gained international recognition for their work. The watches that leave the Austrian manufacture are today extremely well perceived by a growing group of seasoned enthusiasts, and the industry also spotted this talent, with multiple nominations at the GPHG and even an award in 2012 – for the Doppelchronograph. Classically designed, with a certain Germanic rigour at first but also a slight dosage of vintage charm, the watches produced by Habring² are not only visually pleasing, but the mechanics are also reflecting this spirit of relative discretion, yet with technical expertise.
In addition to the foudroyante, the dead-beat seconds or the split-seconds chronograph watches, Habring² has a thing for classic chronographs… Well, classic with a twist, as one of the Austrian watchmaker’s speciality is the monopusher, a chronograph with a single-button architecture. There have been multiple editions of the Habring² Monopusher Chronograph, but the one you see here might simply be the most attractive, rare and collectable of them all.
Originally retailed exclusively through the most renowned specialist of independent watchmaking in Japan, Shellman, this edition was produced in two versions. There was a silver-coloured dial model with blued hands and, as presented here, a black dial with polished metal hands. The overall production is estimated at around 10 pieces in both colourways, making it a watch that you rarely see on the second-hand market. What’s so special about this Japan edition? First, it is housed in a vintage-sized 36mm steel case, with stepped bezel, and worn on an equally retro-looking bead of rice steel bracelet.
Even more special is the dial, with a clear vintage inspiration. This bi-compax chronograph integrates cues from well-known 1940s models, such as Patek Philippe or Longines. The dial combines a telemeter track on the periphery and a snail-shaped tachymeter scale centrally-positioned. Time is displayed with polished leaf-hands and Breguet-shaped printed markers indicate the hours – two elements that once again pay tribute to some of the most desirable chronographs of the mid-20th century. The result… a stunning looking watch, with compact proportions and visual complexity, housed in a simple, slightly utilitarian case that contrast perfectly with the elegance of the dial.
But the story doesn’t end there, as this rare Habring² Monopusher Chronograph Japan Edition isn’t just a pretty face. The mechanics inside are also noteworthy. At first, you might think that this model has a slightly utilitarian background, which is true… in a way. There’s indeed a connection with the ubiquitous Valjoux 7750. But, the watch is actually powered by the calibre A08-MONO, a heavily modified 7750 architecture. Not only the chronograph function has been transformed into a monopusher, but most parts have been recalibrated and are produced internally or by selected suppliers, and finished in-house in a far more pleasant way. And no, nothing actually comes from ETA…
The idea of Maria and Richard Habring with this movement was to improve the 7750 on all levels, in terms of functionalities, long-term serviceability and aesthetics. The Austrian watchmaker applied some modifications on the main wheels as well as on the cam, the blocking lever, the operation lever. The whole chronograph mechanism is not only traditionally finished with polished bevels and straight graining, it is also manually assembled (instead of being welded on the 7750) and manually adjusted in function. Additionally, this movement is now hand-wound and not automatic anymore, and the view through the caseback reveals a thermally-blued cam, anglages, circular grained bridges and perlage – all traditional decoration techniques, resulting in a movement that is both visually and technically far more advanced than its commoner architecture would suggest.
This fine and rare Habring² Monopusher Chronograph Japan Edition is now for sale at EsperLuxe, an online boutique specialized in independent watchmakers based in the US. It is listed here for USD 14,900.
Note: if you love this watch, keep an eye on MONOCHROME as in a couple of months, we might have something interesting for you… just saying!