We all look for different things when searching for watches to expand our collection. Some people keep an eye out for resale value, exclusivity, complexity or some exotic material. Others might look for a specific design language or value-for-money. For me, it can be any of those things, but what I first and foremost look for is a watch I genuinely like, to the point I could love it. I don’t often buy watches, but when I do, I know it is a watch bought with my heart. And occasionally, it doesn’t work out, as I experienced with the Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical. One watch that I have been eye-balling ever since it was released is the MeisterSinger Bell Hora. I love the fact it remains true to the brand’s single-handed concept of keeping time while adding a Sonnerie au Passage mechanism at what is to be considered a very fair price for such a complication. So when I had the chance to go hands-on with the Bell Hora Blue & Gold, I jumped at the opportunity, hoping to get an idea if the potential ‘marriage’ could last.
MeisterSinger has been around for over two decades now; it was founded by Manfred Brassler in 2001. The whole concept of the brand is to provide a more relaxed, laid-back take of time. The idea is to not count the minutes or seconds but rather the moments. You might reply to that with a “no thank you, I need 1/10th of a second precision!“, which is all fine, but you’re not going to find that at MeisterSinger. Instead, you will find single-handed watches that will keep you on time, but in less of a rush, with designs that are well thought-out and congruent across the whole portfolio.
In essence, the Bell Hora goes back to a time when pretty much every mechanical timing instrument had just one hand. Tower clocks, table clocks, wall clocks, and even the first pocket watches all came with a single hand. Even more so when you factor in bells or chiming mechanisms that would inform people another hour had passed or to gather for a church mass. The Bell Hora combines it all in a single watch that has become quite a popular model in MeisterSinger’s line-up, despite its higher price point.
The Bell Hora Blue & Gold is technically identical to other editions of the collection, apart from the dial, which I’ll get to in a bit. With a 43mm wide and 12.95mm thick stainless steel case that’s brushed on the sides and polished on the top surfaces, it’s a rather sizeable watch. The bezel that holds the domed sapphire crystal is slightly narrower than the case, making for a sort-of stepped profile which adds a nice touch. The crown on the right-hand side has a nice size and knurling to it, and provides a very reassuring feeling. Next to it is the pull/push piece to put the Bell Hora in silent mode whenever you need it. Pull it out, and a black ring gets exposed, indicating it will not chime. The polished and engraved caseback is fixed with a screw at each lug and reveals the movement thanks to a sapphire crystal insert.
You might think a single-handed watch is rather boring from the front, but be very much mistaken with this Bell Hora Blue & Gold. The dial comes in a mid-blue colour (there’s also a darker alternative in the collection), with gold double numerals at every hour, hence the name of this specific watch. Gold is also found on the bell symbol at 6′ and in the timing track on the outer edge of the dial, which is segmented into 5-minute intervals. The dial is finished with a spiral-shaped groove that runs from the centre of the dial outwards. At every hour, there are digits for the AM and PM hours, a playful and distinctive touch. The simple needle-like hand is finished in stark white, and although it contrasts very nicely, it could have been done in a more ornate design.
Now, in order to understand what goes on from a mechanical perspective, MeisterSinger also sent me a Bell Hora without a dial. As you can see, the chiming mechanism is sandwiched between the dial and the base movement, which is a Sellita SW200 at heart. The chiming module on top is based on the jumping-hour module of the Salthora Meta X (a MeisterSinger I own) and has a large pivoting hammer and a gong that ends in a cochlea-like shape. You can also see how pulling out the button at 2′ stops the hammer from hitting the gong. As the hour progresses, the hammer is ‘loaded’ with torque and released at the exact moment 60 minutes have passed. This also explains the relatively large proportions of the watch, as it requires quite a bit of space. The base movement runs at a rate of 28,800vph and has a power reserve of 38 hours. The finishing is okay, and it is driven by a MeisterSinger-signed central rotor.
MeisterSinger offers a range of straps and bracelets for the Bell Hora, but as standard, it comes with a brown leather strap with an embossed alligator scale pattern and a steel pin buckle. Alternatives are a saddle-leather strap or a Jubilee-style or Milanaise bracelet with a folding clasp. A double-folding clasp for the leather straps is sold separately. Depending on the selected options, the Bell Hora starts at a price of EUR 4,250 and tops out at EUR 4,536. This model, as well as most of the others, is available through MeisterSinger’s e-commerce platform or its retailers.
To round things off, I love this watch. Yes, it’s a tad large (which I can handle), and yes, the single hand might be a bit plain, but I simply love the fact MeisterSinger has been able to create the Bell Hora at this price point. The design of the dial is very nice and has tons of charm, and it’s just a joy to hear that “DING” every hour. I’m just wondering how a smoked dial or even a partially open dial would look, as I think that would be a great option too! And while it’s not the most affordable MeisterSinger (on the contrary, it’s one of the priciest!), it’s admirable they can do this at this price point, considering the fact chiming watches usually cost tens of thousands, if not more! As such, I even dare to label the Bell Hora a value proposition.
For more information, please visit MeisterSinger.com.