If Transylvania is best known as the mysterious land of bloodthirsty vampires, the story of the timepiece we are reviewing today is related to a watchmaker, Eugen Hintz (1869-1962), who had settled his boutique/workshop in the Transylvanian city of Fagaras. The Peren Hintz is a tribute to a pocket watch that was produced for him by the Swiss manufacturer Wyler in the interwar period. Back then, it was frequent to see the name of the retailer who ordered a watch and sold it in his shop featured on its case, on its movement, or on its dial. Andy Bica-Popi, the founder of Peren watches, grew up in Fagaras. To celebrate the microbrand’s fifth anniversary, he decided to revisit the -Wyler/Hintz pocket watch and released an old school wristwatch with a twist. His direct-to-customer approach allows him to offer it at a fraction of the price of a similar product. Let’s take a closer look.
Vintage-inspired watches are all the rage these days; in this respect, the Peren Hintz pocket watch inspiration is immediately clear. Its simple case, numerals, and dial texture all contribute to this feeling and add up to an entirely pleasing watch.
Presented in 316L stainless steel with brushed and polished surfaces, the model measures in at a wearable 42.5mm x 11.20mm. The bezel is almost non-existent and the watch is almost all dial. The latter is off-white, simple, and elegant, with large Arabic numerals and a minute track spanning the outer perimeter. Burgundy and orange accents bring an original twist. To complete the vintage look, the watch has long, thin hands. Together with the anti-reflective coated sapphire crystal, these provide excellent legibility.
If the Peren Hintz primarily stands out with its utilitarian aesthetics, it does come with an original feature. Being a tribute to Transylvania, the 6 o’clock running seconds hand is replaced by an aluminium rotating disk inspired by the “Andesite Sun”, a large carved circular solar disk from the Carpathian Sarmizegetusa Regia site, a sacred Dacian centre. In case you are not a fan of that original detail, Peren also offers a more traditional version of the watch fitted with a regular small seconds hand.
Flip the watch over and the exhibition caseback offers an unimpeded view on the hand-wound ETA Unitas 6498-1 (the sibling of the Unitas 6497 with the small seconds indicator positioned at 6 o’clock). I have always been a fan of this tried-and-tested pocket watch sized movement. And winding it is always a joy… Ticking at a slow 18,000 vibrations/hour, it provides 50 hours of power reserve when fully wound. It is offered in two different executions by Peren: standard or élaboré, the main difference being the precision and the decoration of each version. The watch we had for review was fitted with the élaboré version, with its Geneva stripes decoration.
The Peren Hintz is presented on an attractive brown calf leather strap fitted with a steel pin buckle. It is pleasant and wears as comfortably as you can expect for a 42.5mm watch, the curved lugs and soft leather strap contributing in full. The large knurled crown is easy to wind and pull to set the time. Despite the old school looks, the watch has quite some presence on the wrist with its large dial opening, distinctive hands and numerals, and original details.
Overall, the Peren Hintz does a good job of marrying vintage and modern aesthetics. It left me with a good impression for a watch that is now offered at CHF 596 – and even CHF 496 for the version fitted with the standard execution of the Unitas 6498 movement – delivering excellent value in comparison to most watches with similar specs. These are pre-order prices that will soon be adjusted to CHF 888 and CHF 788 respectively (as soon as the first batch of watches is fully delivered).
The Peren Hintz is available through the brand’s website. For more information, please visit perenwatches.com.