“Design a watch that gives me all the information I want at a glance.” That was the brief once given by Dr Ludwig Oechslin, then curator of the Musée International d’Horlogerie, to Swiss industrial designer Christan Gafner. Not much to go on, honestly. But, as history has shown us, it resulted in a truly quirky, fascinating and pure mechanical watch. A watch that, in return, raised funds for the Musée International d’Horlogerie. The original watch was introduced in 2005 and was available until 2020, when it was discontinued. With 100 pieces produced per year during that time, it was never going to be an extremely widespread piece. Seventeen years after the original, the MIH watch has morphed into the Mechanik2 and now makes a grand comeback thanks to Christian Gafner, a key name in the watch’s history.
Back in 2020, the rights to the MIH watch were transferred from Embassy Jewel AG, the renowned Haute Horlogerie retailer and supporter of the Musée International d’Horlogerie, to Christian Gafner. That also explains why the MIH watch was no longer available from Embassy, the one place where you could order it. During its period of absence, the MIH watch has undergone a transformation and now returns as the Mechanik2. Despite looking extremely similar to the original MIH watch, the Mechanik2 holds more to it than just a new name, which we’ll get to later on.
One of the most interesting things to consider about the Mechanik2 is, of course, its backstory and its “less is more” attitude. Thanks to Christian Gafner’s minimalist design and Dr Ludwig Oechlsin’s mechanical wizardry, the watch looks nothing like other watches. The MIH watch and its offspring, the Mechanik2, is a testament to Oechslin’s genius, also showcased through Ochs & Junior. The beauty is that using only as few parts as possible, Dr Oechslin is able to convey a multitude of indications besides time itself. Whether it’s the date or even a complete calendar, the amount of components is kept to an absolute minimum. The same goes for this watch, as it uses a module constructed of just nine additional moving components for the date, day of the week, month and AM/PM indications.
The exterior of the Mechanik2 hasn’t changed a bit, with a fully matte grade 5 titanium case measuring 42mm in diameter and topping out at 13.7mm in height (including the crystal). The simplistic design of the case, with absolutely no frills whatsoever, contributes to the watch’s minimalism. The lug-to-lug distance is kept relatively short, thanks to the short lugs and partially hidden strap connection. On the right-hand side, we still find the titanium crown with 12 notches, reminding us of the 12-hour markers on the dial. Next to that is a single pusher for the chronograph, used to start, stop and reset it. Round the back, a titanium caseback with 12 torx screws hides the movement from view, apart from the sapphire crystal over the balance wheel. This used to reveal the incognito 30-minute counter for the chronograph, but that’s where things take a turn for the Mechanik2.
As said, the Mechanik2 is a lesson in purity and restraint. There’s nothing to this watch that shouldn’t be there. And thanks to the flat black dial and contrasting markers and hands, this is an extremely legible watch. The white printed hour indices and minute track, paired with simple white hour and minute hands, can easily be ready from a distance. The right side of the dial is reserved for the horizontally aligned calendar indications. From left to right, you can see the day of the week, month and date, all with white prints on black discs. On the left, two small dots indicate whether it’s AM or PM (one dot for AM, two for PM). The biggest change to the dial is the inclusion of a dotted 30-minute chronograph counter, which used to be positioned on the backside. Using a red dot underneath the track with holes, you can easily see how many minutes have passed since activating the chronograph. The central chronograph seconds hand is finished in black, with a bright red tip. One final detail is the 9 o’clock hour index which now reads MII (or M2) instead of MIH.
Powering the Mechanik2 is the tried-and-tested ETA / Valjoux 7750, with a module designed by Dr Ludwig Oechslin on top. We’ve already pointed out that this module uses only nine additional moving parts, and yet, you get an annual calendar display paired with a chronograph, activated by a single pusher. Pretty amazing, right? Going through the rest of the specifications reveals no further surprises. The rotor can be seen whirling around through the sapphire crystal window, providing the much-needed energy to the movement. Running at a rate of 28,800vph, the Valjoux 7750 uses 25 jewels and provides a power reserve of about 48 hours.
The Mechanik2 can be pre-ordered with two rubber straps of different lengths, both attached to a grade 5 titanium pin buckle. The pre-order campaign is now open. The Mechanick2 will cost CHF 6,900 (CHF 6,375 for non-Swiss clients), with a 50% deposit upon ordering. Delivery is set for later in the year, early 2023.
For more information, please visit Mechanik2.com.