“Since I started MONOCHROME in 2006, the motto has been “dedicated to fine watches”, and this is exactly what drives not just me, but the entire team, on a daily basis. I guess it goes without saying that we’re watch enthusiasts ourselves. Today is a landmark in MONOCHROME’s 15 years of history, as we introduce our first collaboration watch, the MONOCHROME Montre de Souscription 1.” Frank Geelen, Founder of MONOCHROME. For our first collaboration watch, we turned to one of our favourite brands, Habring², an independent Austrian watchmaking atelier created by Maria and Richard Habring in 2004. Habring² specialises in unusual displays such as dead-beat seconds and foudroyante, as well as chronograph movements. Introducing the MONOCHROME Montre de Souscription 1, now available for orders at shop.monochrome-watches.com.
A Montre de Souscription
As Frank Geelen explains: “From the outset of this project, we decided not to offer our first watch in a classic limited edition; instead, we chose a process that is part of the history of watchmaking, the ‘Montre de Souscription’ or subscription watch.”
Based on the Habring² Chrono-Felix and limited to 33 pieces, the MONOCHROME Montre de Souscription 1 will be sold via subscription, a process that will sound familiar to those with some knowledge of watchmaking history. From 24 June to 8 July 2021, we will be taking pre-orders for the 33 subscription watches; first deliveries are scheduled for September 2021.
Working with an independent artisan watchmaker means we can scale production while maintaining exclusivity. Once pre-orders are closed, Maria and Richard Habring will start working on the first watch that MONOCHROME has ever offered its readers. Habring² will assemble the entire watch in Austria, sourcing most parts from small, high-quality manufacturers.
An Indie Watchmaker and 1940s Chronograph Inspiration
The MONOCHROME Montre de Souscription 1 watch reflects our love for historical and contemporary horology. By teaming up with an independent watchmaker, this version of the Chrono-Felix also embodies a fundamental element of MONOCHROME’s editorial policy and its focus on the independent watchmaking scene. Working with Maria and Richard Habring, who are as passionate about beautiful mechanical timepieces as we are, was a perfect match for MONOCHROME, resulting in a watch that subtly blends tradition and modernity.
The base for the MONOCHROME Montre de Souscription 1 is the compact and elegant Habring² Chrono-Felix watch, a cornerstone model in Maria and Richard’s collection equipped with a technically advanced monopusher chronograph movement developed and assembled internally by Habring². One of our goals was to give the watch a distinctive vintage twist. The dial, which recalls the dials of some of the most attractive chronographs produced in the 1940s, features a sector layout, precision railroad tracks and a telemeter scale. As an all-time favourite of the MONOCHROME team, the two-tone salmon colour dial was unanimously approved.
The Habring² x MONOCHROME Montre de Souscription 1
The compact case of the Montre de Souscription 1 is made of stainless steel. To consolidate the retro look of the timepiece, we selected a stepped bezel and agreed that the surfaces throughout should be hand-brushed. Another critical factor for us was size. Purists will be happy to know that the MONOCHROME Montre de Souscription 1 has a restrained diameter of 38.5mm, a height of 12mm and measures a modest 46mm from lug to lug. The drilled lug holes give the watch a slightly more instrumental look and also make it easier to change the strap.
Departing from the characteristic minimalism of Maria and Richard Habring’s watches, we designed a dial that evokes the dials of some of the most attractive chronographs produced in the 1940s. The central sector features bold hour markers and stylised Arabic numerals for a touch of modernity. The dial is finished with a two-tone process in a warm galvanised rose gold colour that contrasts with the cold tone of the stainless steel case. The hour chapter ring is decorated with a concentric pattern, while the central part of the dial and the peripheral track display a vertically brushed surface. An ode to vintage watches, there is a telemeter scale on the periphery of the dial, and the sub-counter indications and minutes are placed on precision railroad tracks.
Another of our specifications for the MONOCHROME Montre de Souscription 1 was a clean yet captivating dial. As such, it is a classic two-register chronograph with small seconds at 9 o’clock and a 30-minute chronograph counter at 3 o’clock. And, obviously, no date. The stainless steel leaf-shaped hour and minutes hands and the small seconds hand are all polished. To differentiate the indications at a glance, the two hands for the chronograph function are made of blued steel.
A Beautiful Hand-Wound Monopusher Calibre
Under the sapphire caseback is an exceptional movement. The presence of a monopusher – to start-stop-reset the chronograph – sets it apart from more conventional two-pusher chronograph watches. But there is far more to the calibre A11C-H1 than its single-pusher architecture. It is a compendium of Richard Habring’s background combined with 20 years of continuous evolution and optimisation cultivated by Maria and Richard at Habring².
Richard Habring is renowned, among other things, for the development of an ingenious and pragmatic split-seconds module adapted to a Valjoux 7750 ébauche. Saying that Richard knows this movement like the back of his hand would be an understatement. The construction of the A11 family of movements results from years of work on the 7750 base, perfecting and optimising its architecture. Although the A11C-H1 might initially look similar to the tried-and-tested Valjoux, most of its components have been upgraded and are now produced in-house or by independent suppliers. No parts are sourced from ETA anymore.
Maria and Richard’s idea with the A11C-H1 was to improve every aspect of the movement. As a result, it is conceived to be robust, easy to service and repair, and is superior mechanically and visually to the Valjoux. Another notable factor lies in the construction of the movement. All the components of the chronograph – the cam, the blocking lever, the operating lever – are manually assembled and secured with pins, not welded. This means that the Calibre A11C-H1 is entirely assembled and adjusted using traditional watchmaking techniques. As a result, the pusher responds smoothly yet decisively when actuated.
Having control over parts production – which are mostly milled or laser cut instead of being stamped – means that tolerances are smaller, and thus precision is enhanced. Some other improvements concern the regulating organ, which is now equipped with a tangential screw regulator index. The movement, which runs at a frequency of 4Hz (28,800 vibrations per hour), delivers 48 hours of power reserve when fully wound. Moreover, it is equipped with an anti-magnetic escapement with a chronometer-quality Carl Haas hairspring and KIF shock protection, a demonstration of the extensive work undertaken by Habring² on this movement.
Thanks to its refined finishings, the movement is also very pleasing to the eye. In addition to the optimised components, the Calibre A11C-H1 is finely decorated by hand. The bridges are finished with circular brushing and bevelled edges, while the mainplate is decorated with perlage. Blued screws and gilded components add a lively touch of colour to the scenery. The same attention to detail has been applied to the parts composing the chronograph mechanism. For instance, the cam is heat blued, and most of the levers are straight grained with polished bevels.
The MONOCHROME Montre de Souscription 1 Chrono-Felix is delivered with a supple and comfortable taupe-coloured nubuck leather strap closed by a stainless steel pin buckle. The back of the strap features MONOCHROME’s signature light-blue leather lining. The strap can be easily exchanged thanks to the incorporation of quick-release spring bars.
Also included is a 7-row beads-of-rice bracelet with straight end links to underscore the 1940s mood of the watch. The bracelet features a folding clasp and is suitable for wrists up to 19.5 cm or 7.5 inches.
Availability & Price
The MONOCHROME Montre de Souscription 1 is limited to 33 pieces and will be available via a subscription campaign at shop.monochrome-watches.com. The campaign starts on 24 June 2021 (at 3 p.m. Central European Time / 9 a.m. New York time / 9 p.m. Singapore time) and ends on 8 July 2021.
The price of the watch is EUR 5,950 (excluding taxes) and includes free insured international shipping and a 3-year warranty by Habring².
When ordering the watch, we will ask for a non-refundable deposit of EUR 2,000 (excl. taxes). The remaining amount will be charged when the watch is ready to be shipped.