The style of Saxon watchmaking is instantly recognisable and often results in very understated, elegant and restrained watches. Of course, there is more on offer, but if you look at what most brands offer, the core is simplified elegance on the outside with highly detailed mechanics on the inside. Moritz Grossmann follows the same design philosophy for most of its watches, while also offering a more modern and contemporary style. Case in point, the recently announced Moritz Grossmann Backpage Transparent.
While most of its watches offer a very restrained look, at least on the habillage, the movement side is Haute Horlogerie through and through. The brand is a true manufacture, developing and producing as much as it can in-house, by hand. The manufacture doesn’t cut corners and isn’t shy of doing things outside of the box. This is portrayed by the Moritz Grossmann Hamatic, the brand’s first automatic movement featuring a unique pendulum-style automatic winding system. This is based on traditional hammer-winding mechanisms, predating central, peripheral, or micro-rotors. The functionality of the movement was originally best-suited for pocket watches, which were worn in a mostly static fashion as we explained in-depth about a year ago.
The Moritz Grossmann Backpage Transparent is not a traditional watch in any sense of the word, much in line with the spirit of the Hamatic, for instance. It is not a mechanical watch with a skeletonised dial or even a skeletonised movement. But what it offers is an almost unrestricted view on the movement. How? The clue is in the name; it is fitted with a reverse-engineered and constructed movement under a sapphire crystal openworked dial. It reveals the mechanical heart of the watch, usually reserved for the backside only and thus only visible when not worn on the wrist. Two versions are available, both highly limited. There’s a choice between rose gold or white gold case with crown and pusher, handmade in-house. The case is polished and measures 41mm across and a reasonable 11.45mm in height.
From the face of the watch, almost the entire movement is visible. The previous version had a sectioned hour ring on the outer edge of the dial, complemented by a sub-seconds dial. In this new version, the Backpage has received sapphire crystal “dials” to uncover even more of the calibre 107.0 underneath. A semi-circular sapphire crystal incorporates both the hour track from 11 to 5 o’clock and the small seconds indication at 6 o’clock. On the outside of the “dial”, a discreet minute track in black completes the indications. Time is indicated with handcrafted and finished hands, annealed to Moritz Grossmann’s trademark violet hue.
The construction of the entire calibre 107.0 is mirrored, to explain it in the most simple way, and is essentially a calibre 100.1 in reverse. When you want to flip a movement to display the gear train, escapement and other bits normally only visible through a transparent caseback on the front of the watch, you might encounter a few issues. The most important one is the rotational direction of all the wheels. If not corrected, it would result in the hands running counter-clockwise. Moritz Grossmann reworked the calibre 100.1 to reroute the rotational direction so it will run clockwise again. An extra wheel is positioned between the crown wheel and ratchet wheel. Other than that, the construction of the entire escapement is different too. On one hand, it needed to be reworked to fit with the redesigned 3/4 plate and on the other hand, the escapement and direction of the coiling of the balance spring are mirrored too. The balance cock is hand-decorated with a floral engraving, as is common in all Moritz Grossmann movements.
Another common trait in all calibres by Moritz Grossmann is the use of untreated German Silver for the plate and bridges, which has a warm, champagne tone. Often the calibres are treated with German ribbing, comparable to Geneva stripes, but in the Moritz Grossmann Backpage Transparent, the plates have been finished with the brand’s own ribbing.
Both sides of the movement are meticulously finished by hand. The finishing includes hand-bevelled and polished edges on the bridges and plates, hand-engraving on the balance cock, triple snailing on the ratchet wheel, hand-engraved inscriptions throughout the movement and more. One of the nicest touches is the gold chatons with white sapphire jewels, mounted to the plates with heat-treated screws, matching the hands in that lovely brownish violet tone. The screws have not been recessed into the plate, which makes for easier servicing without the risk of damaging the surface of the plate.
The choice to mirror the movement doesn’t imply Moritz Grossmann has made any concessions on the reverse side. This is equally lavishly finished and offers a clear view of the innovative winder-and-pusher time-setting mechanism. On most watches, time is set by pulling out the crown to a fixed position and then turning it to adjust the hands. On a Moritz Grossmann Backpage Transparent, you just briefly pull out the crown once, which stops the movement and the balance wheel. The crown instantly returns to its secured position but does allow you to set the time. Once set, a push on the adjacent pusher restarts the movement and resets the system to the winding position. It reduces the chance of water, dust and other unwanted things to penetrate into the case and it reduces the chance of accidentally adjusting the hands when pushing in the crown.
The Moritz Grossmann Backpage Transparent is limited to only eight pieces in each version. The watch comes on a handmade dark brown alligator leather strap with rose gold or white gold pin buckle. The retail price is set at EUR 48,400.
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