Cuervo y Sobrinos, the only Swiss watch brand with Cuban roots, takes inspiration from a best-selling model recovered from its archives. The Historiador Cronógrafo 1946 features an attractive panda-style dial in a salmon colour with brown counters. Limited to 100 pieces, the Historiador Cronógrafo references the brand’s colourful past but comes with a contemporary automatic chronograph movement.
Cuervo, a jewellery and watch repair shop, was established in Havana, Cuba, by Spanish immigrant Don Ramón Cuervo in 1882. As business prospered, Don Cuervo’s nephews were recruited, becoming Cuervo y Sobrinos. The go-to establishment for prestigious imported timepieces during its heyday in the 1950s (Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin, Rolex), Cuervo y Sobrinos counted on a roster of illustrious clients like Caruso, Gary Cooper, Hemingway and Einstein. By the 1950s, Havana had become a luxurious playground for the rich and famous. Revived in the late 1990s, Cuervo y Sobrinos is now based in Capolago, Switzerland and has carved a niche with models that lean heavily on vintage design cues and a touch of Cuban flamboyance.
In line with more contemporary tastes, the cases are larger than the original vintage pieces which inspired the collections. One of the best-represented collections is the Historiador, named after Cuervo y Sobrinos’ first watch produced in 1946, immediately recognisable thanks to its distinctively shaped lugs. While I first associated them with the tailfins of American cars that were popular in Cuba in the 1950s, the lugs also look a bit like the bat’s wings on Bacardi rum’s logo, another famous Cuban company established in 1862. Whichever way you look at it, they certainly draw attention and add a lot of character to the watch.
A few months ago, Cuervo y Sobrinos released a 42mm chronograph to celebrate the Cuban Grand Prix of 1957 (Gran Premio de Cuba). Fans of more compact watches will be happy to learn that this new Historiador Cronógrafo 1946 has a more restrained 40mm diameter and a thickness of 12mm. To give you an idea of how well it sits on a smaller-sized gent’s wrist, our photographs were taken on Brice’s 16.5cm wrist. Another difference between this model and the Gran Premio de Cuba is the different styles used for the pushers.
As opposed to the more vintage-inspired sporty piston pushers of the Gran Premio de Cuba, the Historiador Cronógrafo features elegant, rectangular pushers with smooth rounded edges and is polished throughout. The distinctive shape of the lugs gives the watch a very noticeable presence, but these are curved and sit flush on the wrist, as you can see in our photos. Using an attractive ‘antique salmon’ colour for the background of the dial, the two horizontally placed counters are snailed and picked out in a brown ‘tobacco’ colour, another signature element of the brand referencing Cuba’s famous cigars. The two-tone or panda-style dial is finished with a brown tachymeter scale and applied silver-coloured Arabic numerals.
The three central hands and the hands on the two sub-dials (30-minute elapsed times at 3 o’clock and running seconds at 9 o’clock) are silver to provide some contrast, but there is no lume on the dial. The inscription ‘Únicos Importadores’ (exclusive importers) on the dial refers to Cuervo y Sobrinos’ reputation for stocking top-quality brands during its heyday. Protected by a double-curved sapphire crystal with an anti-reflective treatment, the vintage mood of the dial is reinforced.
Powered by an ETA 2094 automatic, the CYS 8123 movement and its customised rotor can be seen on the see-through area of the caseback. Beating at 28,800vph, the calibre delivers a power reserve of 42 hours.
Availability & Price
Picking up on the chocolate-brown-tobacco details of the dial, the watch comes with a matte brown Louisiana alligator strap with a folding buckle and is delivered in a standard Humidor cigar box. Limited to 100 pieces, the watch retails for EUR 3,900 (incl. tax) and can be ordered from the brand’s website or purchased at retailers.