Monochrome Watches
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The New Reservoir Sonomaster Chronograph And Its Cool Bi-Retrograde Display (Live Pics & Price)

An original chronograph, true to the brand's concept of different displays.

| By Brice Goulard | 5 min read |
Reservoir Sonomaster Chronograph Bi-Retrograde

Established in 2017, Reservoir is taking its inspiration from measuring instruments such as counters, manometers, and gauges from universes like automobile, aeronautics and marine. This has been translated into wristwatches with a unique display comprising a retrograde minute, a jumping hour and often a gauge for the power reserve – and even for a pretty special dive watch. Even though the collection has expanded, the brand was always focusing on this display and module, and needed some fresh air. And the answer comes this year, with a new chronograph watch… But then again, it’s Reservoir and the Sonomaster Chronograph does not feature your classic tri-compax layout. Yes, it’s still about measuring instruments but this time, we’re talking retrograde hands of power measurements or VU meters from analog stereo amplifiers.

Reservoir Sonomaster Chronograph Bi-Retrograde

One of the key concepts behind Reservoir is that, despite the seriousness of the manufacturing and of the mechanics, these watches don’t have to be taken too seriously. They bring something fun and cool, something different and animated that attracts those who are a bit bored with the classic motion of the hands revolving around the dial. After multiple models using a retrograde/jumping display module created by Telos, all inspired by dash instruments found on boats, cars or vintage planes, the brand has decided that it was time to create something different, an entirely new watch, with completely different movement, yet true to the brand’s motto of offering an original display. And for its latest creation, the brand creates a bi-retrograde chronograph that is inspired by the display of VU meters – with a pair of slim needles dancing against a contrasting scale. VU meters (for Volume Unit) were used to measure the maximum levels at which the sound remains undistorted and which shouldn’t be exceeded. It was created by the combined efforts of a number of organisations in the USA, including the Institute of Radio Engineers, Bell Telephone Laboratories and broadcasters NBC and CBS. It ultimately appeared on every type of audio equipment.

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Reservoir Sonomaster Chronograph Bi-Retrograde

One of the key features of the thin hands of a VU meter is that they perform a retrograde motion, pivoting against a scale drawn in an arc or a straight line. It doesn’t revolve in 360 degrees, as do conventional watch hands, but they swing back and forth. And there you go… The inspiration for Reservoir’s new watch, a brand specialized in retrograde hands and original displays, was clear. And the result, which is directly modelled after one of the most iconic vintage hi-fi amplifiers, the Luxman M10 Mk II, is a pair of watches named the Reservoir Sonomaster Chronograph, with a bi-retrograde display in addition to the classic counters to measure elapsed times.

Reservoir Sonomaster Chronograph Bi-Retrograde

Before we move to the coolest of features – the display – let’s talk facts about the Reservoir Sonomaster Chronograph. We’re looking at a fairly large, sporty chronograph watch with vintage-ish inspiration and design cues. The case, made of brushed steel, measures a fairly large 43mm diameter, a sensation that is even reinforced by the large dial opening. The latter is framed by a polished, thin bezel with an engraved tachymeter scale. Several elements have been cleverly designed though, such as the crown inspired by amplifiers control button, and the pushers inspired by bass and treble buttons – thus following the inspiration for the dial. The watch features sapphire crystals on both sides, is worn on a classic leather strap with a folding clasp and is water-resistant to 50m.

Reservoir Sonomaster Chronograph Bi-Retrograde

But let’s move to what really matters with the Reservoir Sonomaster Chronograph; the dial and the display. The watch is available either with a rather modern and technical silver dial with black contrasting elements, or (our clear favourite) a black dial with contrasting beige elements – completely reminiscent of vintage hi-fi equipment. Both have a circular brushed base with applied Arabic numerals and precision track on the periphery. Time is read thanks to a pair of luminous baton hands. The indications for the chronograph are rather classic, with two counters at 12 and 6 o’clock, giving the elapsed minutes and hours, and of course a central seconds hand. Both counters are slightly recessed and feature a concentric pattern for better contrast.

The fun comes from the two recessed areas – constructed like a sandwich dial – with two classic indications, yet displayed in an unusual way. Sure, we’re talking about date and seconds, but don’t expect a classic small seconds rotating around its subdial, or a date in a small window at 3 o’clock. This is where the VU meter inspiration comes into shape, with two retrograde indications, both displaying their respective measure on a 120-degree arched scale. On the left, you’ll find a 30-second indication, meaning that it brings a dynamic and fast animation to the dial. On the right is a date, which gauge goes from 1 to 31. And both have red segments to indicate the danger zones

Reservoir Sonomaster Chronograph Bi-Retrograde

Bringing power to the bi-retrograde display of the Reservoir Sonomaster Chronograph is a rather solid movement provided by La Joux-Perret. Visible under a sapphire caseback, it’s a strong evolution over the 7750 base, retaining the automatic winding and integrated architecture, but replacing the cam with a column wheel. The movement, finished with blued contrasting parts, a dedicated rotor and stripes, runs at 4Hz and boasts 60 hours of power reserve.

Reservoir Sonomaster Chronograph Bi-Retrograde

Availability & Price

The two editions of the Reservoir Sonomaster Chronograph will be available from the brand’s website and selected retailers at the end of April 2022. It will be priced at EUR 5,750 (incl. taxes) or USD 6,100 (excl. taxes).

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4 responses

  1. As an old guy ,I love the VU meters ! As a watch guy the price is outrageous !

  2. A refreshing change to the presentation of a chronograph. Price is a bit high, but if the name on the dial was Breitling, Rolex or Omega it would be hailed as a bargain.


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