New watch brands… We see them almost every day. The watch industry has seen so many new projects burgeoning recently. However, what you’re about to see is a bit more special. Today, we’re not reviewing yet another crowdfunded, accessible watch brand. With Löbner, a name with more history than you might initially think, we’ll be looking at a new German watchmaker, launching straight with a high-end, unique take on the chronograph inspired by portable short-time measurement in racing sports of the 1920s. Named the Steelracer and Rocketman Chronographs, these new watches have some familiar codes with their integrated design but also bring something typically German in the display that has definitely triggered our interest.
Despite being available exclusively at Bucherer (for now, at least), Löbner is a privately owned brand with CEO Matthias Düwel running the company with the help of experts and friends, including Emmanuel Dietrich, a renowned Swiss designer who is also behind the brand Dietrich. But what about the name Löbner? It doesn’t come out of the blue and is a tribute to an old German watch factory founded in 1862 by Franz Ludwig Löbner. The company specialised in manufacturing portable short-time measurement timekeepers, with devices capable of measuring 1/100th and 1/1000th of a second.
Löbner pieces have measured time at the Olympics and timed multiple world records in motorsport. This includes milestone records such as the rocket-powered Opel RAK 3 (256kph in 1928), Bernd Rosemayer being the first man to drive above 400kph with an Auto Union in 1937, or timing Caracciola with a Mercedes W125 in 1938 at 432khp… on public roads, a record that wouldn’t be beaten for the next 80 years.
This background is the driving force behind the return of the name Löbner, which debuts with a rather complex, quite distinctive, typically German yet contemporary trio of chronograph watches. Yes, they adopt the current trend of the integrated luxury sports watch but look at the side of the case and the display, and you’ll see highly unique features.
The Löbner Steelracer & Rocketman Chronographs
Using this past of timing devices, Löbner launches with a chronograph designed to time events, and most specifically, race cars. Made partially in Germany, powered by Swiss movements and assembled in the Glashütte region, three references are presented: two classic steel versions forming the permanent collection (Steelracer) and one black-out model limited to 50 pieces (Rocketman). Colours and materials aside, these are technically identical, starting with a powerful case with a familiar barrel shape and integrated style, a trendy design that feels contemporary and doesn’t play on the vintage, historic vibe of an old name.
At 42.5mm in diameter and 14.3mm in thickness, the Steelracer & Rocketman Chronographs will make an impact on the wrist. On top of this tonneau case is the all-important bezel with an engraved tachymeter scale. The Steelracer models are uncoated with brushed and polished surfaces, while the Rocketman comes with a black PVD coating with a small golden dot at 256kph, a tribute to the Opel rocket car. Sapphire crystals frame the case, which has a comfortable 100m water-resistance rating. What truly sets this case apart is the patented sledge crown protection on the side. The winding crown is located under a sliding element, which avoids accidental time adjustments and protects the crown from mechanical shocks. Once closed, it also provides a fully integrated look to the side of the watch. Pretty cool, and curious to use it in real life.
Moving on to the dial, we can see an immediate connection with precision timing instruments and something quite German in the display, with its decentralised indication of the time. The hours, minutes and small seconds are relegated to a subsidiary dial at 10 o’clock with their own gold-coloured hands. The rest of the dial is entirely devoted to measuring elapsed times, with an oversized central seconds hand and two counters for the minutes and hours. Not only does this display introduce something quite cool and racing-oriented, but it also creates a bridge with traditional German watchmaking with emblematic non-overlapping indications. The Löbner Steelracer chronograph is available in black or in blue, both with a sunray-brushed pattern, while the Rocketman has a matte black dial with blue chronograph hands.
Under the sapphire back beats a well-known base movement by La Joux-Perret, a highly modified automatic Valjoux architecture driven by a column wheel. This base movement ticks at a 4Hz frequency and stores a comfortable 60h power reserve. It is wound by a specific oscillating weight. More importantly, the display is the result of a complication module exclusively developed by Löbner, allowing for the decentralised indications.
The Löbner Steelracer are worn on an integrated steel bracelet closed by a folding clasp, while the limited 50-piece Rocketman comes with a black rubber strap with a folding clasp. As for the distribution, these Löbner Chronographs are exclusively available from Bucherer. They are now available for purchase online and in stores, with prices starting at EUR 13,800 (Steelracer) or EUR 14,800 (Rocketman). For more details, please visit lbnr.com and the dedicated page at bucherer.com.
We need to add that seeing the initial launch material and the official renderings has made us curious. We’ll try our best to get our hands on one of the watches soon to get a better impression of these powerful chronographs by Löbner.