Furniture that looks old but is made today is usually classified as reproduction furniture, models that take design cues from the past but are crafted with contemporary materials. This very same phenomenon also applies to the watch world, especially for brands that don’t have reams of historical catalogues to dip into and select the next vintage re-edit. Raymond Weil, founded in 1976, is one such brand with a portfolio of luxury everyday watches at accessible prices, powered mainly by quartz movements. Raymond Weil has never really been a magnet for watch connoisseurs. Now, in the hands of the third generation, things are starting to move on the mechanical front. What nobody could have anticipated, however, was the unveiling of the Millesime Small Seconds. Radically altering the perception most of us have of the brand, the Millesime Small Seconds conquered us with its winning vintage-inspired spirit. Particularly well received, the Millesime Small Seconds was not alone in its launch and was flanked by four handsome models that we will be looking at today: the Millesime Central Seconds.
Raymond Weil, or rather CEO Elie Bernheim, is transparent about the contemporary provenance of the Millesime models. They are not based on anything from the company’s archives but are designed to pay homage to a certain period in timekeeping history when refined, simple design was the norm. If you visit the brand’s webpage, you will understand how different this family is from the line-up of watches with musical-themed names and inspiration. Ranging from classical references like the Toccata to more rock ‘n’ roll iterations in its Music Icons series, the brand has been slowly but surely moving into more contemporary terrain with its Freelancer Chronographs.
However, the arrival of the Millesime was surprising, marking an entirely new direction for Raymond Weil. As Brice points out in his article on the Millesime Small Seconds a few weeks ago, this watch is an exercise in style. Motivated, no doubt, by the sector dials prevalent in the 1920s -1930s Art Deco period, this layout is enjoying a renaissance today. Even MONOCHROME’s first subscription watch, the Habring 2 Chrono Felix, flaunts a sector dial!
With no ancestor to revere, the design team had carte balance to dream up the perfect sector dial watch. The four Millesime Central Seconds models share a similar 39.5mm stainless steel case, except for the silver dial variant that comes in a rose gold PVD case. What is interesting to note is that the case height is slimmer than the Small Seconds, coming in at 9.25mm, perfect dress watch dimensions unless you are a hardcore purist and insist on 8mm and down.
The three-part case has a flat bezel, a large, fluted crown with the RW monogram and a combination of finishings. The flat bezel features elegant vertically brushed surfaces and a polished bevel, while the case flanks are brushed with polished surfaces on the lugs. The brushed component might rankle purists who prefer fully polished Calatrava-style cases; I think it adds character and echoes the vertically brushed area in the dial’s centre. An obligatory feature for most vintage models, the sapphire crystal over the dial is box-shaped. The snapped caseback has a sapphire crystal to view the movement, and the 50m water resistance is modest.
Sector dials have enjoyed a revival and are popping up across the board, some inspired by legitimate ancestors, others, like these, an exercise in style. The superior legibility of a sector dial is governed by the strict geometry and fine gradations found on most sector dials, a design feature that prevailed during the Art Deco period.
The Milleime Central Seconds comes in three dial colours: black, blue, silver and a very attractive shade of salmon. The three concentric tracks, progressing in size from seconds (180 short markers) on the periphery to minutes (60 medium markers) and hours (12 thick markers), facilitate precision time readings. Another feature often found on sector dials is the embossed crosshair in the centre, dividing the area into four segments.
To enhance legibility further, different areas of the dial are treated to different finishings. For example, the hour track is smooth, the minutes track is snailed, and the central area of the dial has a discreet vertical brush matching that found on the bezel. The silver-toned hour and minutes hands (rose gold-toned in the case of the PVD version) are lined with Super-LumiNova.
Raymon Weil has customised the rotor of the Sellita SW 200 automatic movement visible on the caseback, a standard automatic that will get the job done with a 4Hz frequency and a modest power reserve of 38 hours. Easy to service and reliable, the movement is not the talking point of the watch.
Availability & Price
The Millesime Central Seconds comes with a casual, 20mm calfskin leather strap to match the dial colour with four top stitches near the lugs and a stainless steel buckle. Since the lugs are drilled, the strap can be easily changed.
The Raymond Weil Millesime Central Seconds models can be bought online; the steel models retail for EUR 1,625 (incl. tax), and the steel with rose gold PVD for EUR 1,750 (incl. tax). Considering the well-executed design and attractive finishings that exude the aura of a yesteryear sector dial, the price is competitive and will go a long way in getting Raymond Weil noticed. For more information, please consult Raymond-weil.com.