Manometers, altimeters, tachometers, oil gauges and dashboard counters are François Moreau’s muses when it comes to designing watches for his Parisian-based Reservoir watch brand. The brand’s instrument-driven watches welcomed a more complicated chronograph model earlier this year. In true Reservoir style, the chronograph borrowed design elements from another instrument, this time associated with analogue musical equipment: the VU meter. Along with the conventional totalisers for elapsed times, the bi-retrograde counters for the minutes and date emulate the look of a classic VU meter, an indicator used on analogue amplifiers to measure the level of sound intensity. Following fast on the heels of the first two-tone editions, the latest Sonomaster Chronograph is rocking in black.
The Sonomaster Chronograph marks something of a departure from the standard configuration of retrograde minutes, jumping hours and power reserve indication found on most of the brand’s automobile, aviation and marine-inspired models.
In essence, a standard bi-compax chronograph with vertically aligned counters – 30-seconds elapsed times at noon and 12 hours at 6 o’clock – the Sonomaster has a surprising twist. Flanking the centre of the dial in two semicircles are signature Reservoir retrograde indications; in this case, a retrograde date on the right and retrograde seconds on the left. In keeping with the brand’s passion for measuring instruments and original displays, the retrograde indicators are styled to look like VU meters. Designed to display the signal level in audio equipment, no self-respecting music fan of the 1970s or 1980s would have ever considered buying an amplifier without VU meters, which were, like so many instruments of the day, slowly phased out with the advent of digital.
Measuring 43mm across, the 50m water-resistant steel case has a black PVD coating, a sporty brushed finish and an external engraved tachymeter bezel. The chronograph pushers are inspired by bass and treble buttons, while the crown takes its design cues from the amplifier control button on a piece of Hi-Fi equipment.
In contrast to earlier Sonomasters with their two-tone dials, this Black Thunder has a black dial, black counters, black retrograde displays and necessarily bold white markings with red highlights. The black flange bearing the precision seconds track, intercalated with white dots and white Arabic hour markers, is slightly raised and features two cut-out areas. The 30-min totaliser at noon and the 12-hour counter at 6 o’clock are placed slightly below the level of the raised flange, adding depth to the dial. The central hour and minute hands are treated with luminous material, while the central chronograph seconds hand has a bright red tip and a red Reservoir logo counterweight.
However, the indisputable stars of the show are the two lateral retrograde indications imitating the look of VU meters with their 120-degree arched scales and thin white hands. On the left, running on a red and white track from 0 to 60 are the seconds; on the right, displayed on a track from 1 to 31, is the date. The continuous motion of the bi-retrograde seconds adds a nice touch that is reminiscent of the constant flickering movement of the hands of VU meters.
Powering the chronograph and bi-retrograde display is the calibre RSV-Bi120. Based on a solid La Joux-Perret L1C0 automatic column-wheel chronograph, the movement is modified for the bi-retrograde functionality. The movement beats at 28,800vph and delivers an impressive 60-hour power reserve.
Availability & Price
The Reservoir Sonograph Black Thunder comes with a black leather strap with black stitching and a stainless steel butterfly folding clasp. The retail price is EUR 5,750 (incl. tax), and deliveries start on 20 November. For more information, please visit reservoir-watch.com.