For an American watch lover and veteran journalist in the field, I have a particular affinity for German watch brand Moritz Grossmann. With roots dating back to 1854, the Glashütte-based brand was started by Moritz Grossmann, was one of those fine brands expropriated and all-but-lost during World War II, and was re-established in the Saxony region following the reunification of Germany just a short time ago by German watchmaker Christine Hutter.
Today, the brand’s philosophy is to create as many parts as possible, from hands to balance and more, in house. Like its other German counter-parts, this brand has established a code of tradition and watchmaking that is capturing the hearts of collectors around the world.
So, when my esteemed editors at Monochrome-Watches, Frank and Brice, asked me to review the new Moritz Grossmann Tefnut Sleeping Beauty watch, designed by Singaporean artist and jewelry designer, Michael Koh, I promptly agreed. I made it a point to spend some time with this watch, and even to talk a bit about it with Ms. Hutter recently when she was in America for the WatchTime New York event.
Here’s the thing. Reviewing the TEFNUT is a tough nut (pardon the pun on words) to crack. There are so many good things about this watch, but something keeps nagging at me about it … at least from the perspective of an American woman. So, let’s cut to the chase.
The Moritz Grossmann Tefnut Sleeping Beauty watch is definitively a beauty – aesthetically and technically. From the aesthetic point of view, the watch fulfills the creed of designer Koh, who is known for creating charismatic watches (and jewelry) akin to poetry. By focusing on the mysterious and alluring moon, Koh chose to depict a partial moon in eclipse with a realistic rendition of the famous “man in the moon.” The detail of the depiction is incredible, and the crescent moon sits inside a round subdial at 3:00 that has the illusion of being elliptical thanks to the two rows of diamonds that surround it and that taper on the right side to one row.
To celebrate the beauty of the “fairy tale” moon, Koh opted to call it Sleeping Beauty… a call to every woman who ever dreamed of being a princess, and of being romanced by love, the stars, and the moon.
Just as the moon subdial features an elliptical diamond enhancement, so too does the case. In fact, the round case is set with diamonds on the right side that gradually get larger and larger as they surround the dial—with the left side of the case disproportionately set with larger stones. Also creating an incongruous yet alluring look is the fact that the watch features ultra-feminine lugs only on the left side of the case, where the strap is attached. On the right side of the case, the strap is held in place by gold caps set with cabochon gemstones to match the cabochon-set crown.
A closer look at the stunning guilloche’ sunburst mother-of-pearl dial shows that even the Arabic numerals are graduated in size, with just the 6 to the 12 actually being depicted on the left side of the dial. Additionally, there is a small subsidiary seconds dial between 7 o’clock and 8 o’clock.
In all, the design of the 36mm watch is a work of elegance, femininity and unusual sensual appeal. It should attract every woman who dreams of mystery and romance. However, judging on looks, herein lies the conundrum. I would be hard-pressed to wear this watch into a boardroom or even a business meeting, to me, it is truly a gem to be worn for a magical evening out.
The outer beauty and magical mystery of the TEFNUT Sleeping Beauty somehow does not reveal the mechanical mastery within. The watch is powered by the compact, modified caliber 102.0, with typical Grossmann elements including a cantilevered balance cock, micrometer screw, raised gold chatons, a large-mass-optimized balance and a removable winder.
Because of the smaller size of this delicate watch, the new caliber 102.0 was newly developed and is significantly smaller and flatter than other Moritz Grossmann movements. It sports a differently configured going train, large mainspring barrel suspended between the bearings, ARCAP (copper, nickel, zinc) alloyed wheels that contrast with the 3/5 German-silver movement plate, and a smartly arranged component line up.
The escapement wheel for this watch took its inspiration from the 16-teeth escapement that is a signature of the Moritz Grossmann brand. Because the smaller balance wheel at 21,000 vibrations per hour, it is fitted with an escape wheel with 18 slender teeth for optimal transmission ratios. The wheel train of the new caliber also reflects an unusual concept in that the barrel is supported by jewel bearings to reduce friction and optimize energy. For this watch, the center wheel of the wheel train (which the barrel engages with) is thinner and has been relocated to a new position. Now, the power produced by the mainspring barrel is transmitted to an intermediate wheel via single pinion and then is passed on to the no-longer centered “center” wheel.
The watch also features golden chatons that stand out over the plate and are set with white sapphire bearings that can be removed and cleaned individually without damaging the plate when resetting them: function and beauty all wrapped up in one.
The manually wound caliber boasts 196 parts, 26 jewels and three screwed gold chatons. It is fitted with an escapement lever, shock-resistant balance, Nivarox balance spring and offers 48 hours of power reserve. All parts are finely finished and engraved by hand. There are several renditions of this watch, including rose gold and white gold with blue or pink accents, each retailing for about $38,400 and up.
So, you ask, what is it that is nagging at me about this watch? I think, in the end, the answer is this: it offers hours and minutes, as well as seconds. Nothing more. No moonphase indication. There is just a beautiful moon residing on the wrist, enticing the wearer to believe in the promise of love and mystery. I want more. As an American, I just don’t believe in fairy tales, I want a mechanical movement that deliveries the stars and the moon as well as the eclipsed man on its surface. More details on www.grossmann-uhren.com.
This article has been written by Roberta Naas, founder of watch-magazine A Timely Perspective. Roberta is also the author of six books on watches.