It is not the first time we talk about Reservoir Watches, a young brand that has made a name for itself with its cool, well-designed, original watches. Here, at MONOCHROME, we love the beauty of mechanics and novel ways of telling the time – and this Reservoir model, with its jumping hours and retrograde minutes, satisfies us on both levels. But it also comes with a very attractive price tag…So, let’s invest in some quality time with the Reservoir Supercharged Sport.
The combination of jumping hours with retrograde minutes isn’t new. Some will remember Gerald Genta’s watches or more recently the Bvlgari Octo Retro watches. The main difference between the Reservoir and these watches lies in its price. While you’ll have to have a solid 5-digit amount of change in your pocket at Bvlgari, the Reservoir is priced below EUR 4,000 – a price range where you’d usually find jumping-hour-only watches, with a normal minute hand (for instance, Meistersinger). Obviously, the price of the Reservoir watch means accepting a few concessions, like the ETA base movement, yet the display is cool and unique enough to make us want to test the Reservoir Supercharged Sport on the wrist.
The display first
First and foremost, the display of the Reservoir Supercharged Sport matches the automotive-inspired theme of this watch perfectly. Even though there are also Aeronautical or Marine-oriented pieces at Reservoir, we think the dashboard inspiration fits the concept best. This display is based on not one, but two original elements, which bring a nice mechanical touch to this watch. On the other hand, it’s not the kind of crazy display that can be found at MB&F or Urwerk. The Reservoir Supercharged remains wearable and legible – after a short period of adaptation.
So, how is the time indicated on the Reservoir Supercharged? It is, at first, quite a simple watch with only two main indications: hours and minutes. Yet, both are based on an original motion and on mechanics that are more complex than traditional hands. The hours are displayed via a jumping disc, located at 6 o’clock. Large, legible and jumping instantaneously, it is a practical and functional indication – in fact, it is even more intuitive than a traditional hand. The good point is that this disc jumps perfectly on time, without preliminary moves.
Alongside this jumping hour complication, the Reservoir Supercharged features a power reserve indication, shaped like a traditional petrol gauge. Not really a necessity on such a watch, with its automatic movement, it remains a cool additional function that befits the automotive inspiration. The red hand, the arched window, the E-1/2-F inscriptions… everything recalls old-school fuel gauges found on true analogue dashboards.
The central minute hand follows the same thematic dashboard motif and features double-digit minute indications. The retrograde hand travels over a 240-degree arch. By retrograde we are referring to the counter-clockwise motion it performs: when the hand reaches the 60-minute marker, it jumps back to the zero position instantaneously and simultaneously with the hour disc – check out the video above to see it in action.
Reading the time on this watch requires an adaptation phase. Our minds are so used to the 360-degree rotation of hands that having a 30-minute marker positioned at 12 o’clock is, at first, not natural. This is the case with most, if not all watches with a different display. Yet, the large minute hand combined with a clear and well-proportioned minute track feels easy to read after a few minutes. No drama at all, the Reservoir Supercharged Sport is a very convenient and legible watch.
The mechanics – a proprietary module and an ETA base
Powering the cool display of the Reservoir Supercharged Sport is a double-decker movement. The timekeeping part – meaning the storage of energy, the transmission of energy and the control of the movement’s rate – is controlled by the ubiquitous, reliable, tested and proven ETA-2824 movement. Its function is mainly to provide energy and accuracy to the display. As always, it runs at 4Hz and stores up to 37 hours of energy (the display used here requires more energy than traditional hands). The movement is partially visible through the case back and features a sunray-brushed rotor.
Of more interest perhaps is what is placed on top of the movement: a proprietary module, developed by Télôs, a movement design/production company owned by Frank Orny and Johnny Girardin, the men behind the Harry Winston Opus 14 and the Metamorphosis for Montblanc (not the worst references, you’ll admit). This 124-part module is in charge of the display. A series of gears and springs allow for the hour disc to jump precisely every 60 minutes. A spring is gradually charged during an hour and released precisely when the hour hand reaches the 60-minute position. This module is as complex as the movement itself and comprises almost as many parts as the base movement. It represents most of the added value of this watch.
After several days on the wrist, the Reservoir Supercharged Sport proved easy to use and reliable. Considering the retrograde minute hand, adjusting the time can only be done clockwise, yet with a fast gear ratio that allows for adjustments at a glance. The jump of the hour disc and of the retrograde disc are perfectly synchronised and come with a pleasant, highly mechanical “click” sound every hour – at least you’ll know when a full hour has elapsed.
The Case, Dial and Strap
Now moving to the habillage of the watch. The model we had for this review, the Reservoir Supercharged Sport, forms part of the Automotive Collection. There are three different lines offered by Reservoir Watches: Cars, Aeronautics (with dials inspired by dashboard instruments on jet fighters) and Marine (inspired by antique submarine gauges, available with bronze cases). The present model is, to us, the one that seems to be the most coherent with the display. Slightly vintage, inspired by 1960s analogue dashboard instruments, the automotive theme is completely relevant to the jumping hour/retrograde minute display.
Yet, the Reservoir Supercharged Sport is a modern, sporty watch. Its case, made of stainless steel, measures 43mm in diameter and 13mm in height. Not what you’d call a dress watch. Angular and masculine, it offers, on the other hand, pleasant details. The bezel is flat and polished, providing a nice contrast to the fully brushed case. The upper part of the lugs is brushed, while the casebands are vertically brushed. A polished rim creates a demarcation between the central container and the bezel.
As you can see here, the execution is pleasant and made with quality in mind. The case feels solid and is well crafted. Despite the large diameter, the lugs sit low on the case and are relatively short and curved, offering a very decent comfort on the wrist – the Reservoir Supercharged is rather heavy but felt balanced, even on my small 16.5cm wrist. Due to the large diameter of the dial, the watch has a certain presence on the wrist – which befits the sporty concept.
The black, matte dial of the Reservoir Supercharged Sport provides excellent contrast and instant legibility – note that the anti-reflective coating on the crystal is particularly efficient. This model doesn’t feature a date window – some models in the collection do have this feature, some don’t, leaving that choice to the client. Again, the overall look is sporty and masculine, yet with several nice details, such as the applied logo or the polished steel rims around the hour window of the power reserve gauge.
The Reservoir Supercharged Sport is delivered with a black calfskin strap with white contrasting stitching and quick-release spring bars that allow for a fast change of the strap. It is delivered with a triple-folding clasp. I personally don’t like folding clasps, so I would tend to swap it for a standard buckle.
The Reservoir Supercharged Sport is a fresh and cool-looking watch. It certainly doesn’t revolutionise the idea of a jumping hour/retrograde minute display, but it introduces this interesting combination of complications at a much more accessible price range.
The overall watch, whether in terms of mechanics, execution or design is hardly questionable. It looks good, it feels good, it works well and is original enough to tickle our interest here, at MONOCHROME. The best is the price, as this model retails for EUR 3,750. Not cheap for sure, but consider other watches with such a display and you’ll see that this Reservoir Supercharged Sport is more accessible than you thought. More details on www.reservoir-watch.com.