Schwarz-Etienne is an independent watch manufacture whose origins go back to the early 20th century. If the brand has been flying a bit under the radar, it has a lot to offer. Today we take a look at the Roma Petite Seconde, a watch that feels rather simple at first but, like the rest of the brand, is full of details and packed with watchmaking expertise.
Schwarz-Etienne is part of an independent watchmaking group owned by Raffaelo Radicchi, an entrepreneur based in La Chaux-de-Fonds. This allows a surprising level of vertical integration: Schwarz Etienne manufactures its watches and movements in-house (including production for third-party brands, such as MING) but also its hairspring (with sister company E2O innovations). The group even manufactures CNC machines to produce watch components!
The Schwarz-Etienne Roma Petite Seconde is a classic three-hander with a small seconds indication at 6 o’clock. It is the simplest model of the brand, but there is more than meets the eye with a finely crafted dial and a superb micro-rotor movement.
The dial features different finishes creating an interesting sense of depth. The centre part displays a sunray pattern with the brand name indicated on an applied cartouche. The outer part is grained with Arabic numerals. The small seconds sub-dial is slightly recessed and is decorated with a flinqué guilloché pattern. The Alpha-type hands are blued for the steel version and gold-plated for the gold version. Altogether, this dial is surprisingly lively, but only when observed with attention. Otherwise, it remains discreet enough for daily use.
Available in steel or 18k pink gold, the Schwarz-Etienne Roma Petite Seconde is presented in a well-proportioned 42mm case with a sloped bezel and elongated lugs that are stepped on the outer edge. The crown is engraved with the SE initials. The crystal is slightly domed. The case is entirely polished, offering a classic elegance. The exhibition caseback offers a nice view of the super micro-motor movement.
The Schwarz-Etienne Roma Petite Seconde is powered by the calibre ASE 100.00. The ASE (automatic Schwarz-Etienne) is part of a family of mechanical movements with a modular concept. It started with the MSE (manual Schwarz-Etienne), a twin-barrel hand-wound calibre. The ASE uses the space of one of the two barrels to incorporate a micro-rotor. Compensating for its reduced diameter, the off-centred oscillating weight is thicker than that on a traditional movement. This ensures excellent winding efficiency. Each of the wheels of the gear train is held by its own bridge. The decoration includes hand-chamfered edges, perlage, Geneva stripes or snailing.
Last, the ASE 100.00 is regulated by a variable inertia balance wheel incorporating the SE initials. The balance and hairspring are manufactured in-house.
The Schwarz-Etienne Roma Petite Seconde is presented on a black or brown hand-sewn alligator strap with a colourful lining. The steel version is fitted with a folding buckle, the gold version with a pin buckle. Price is set at CHF 10,500 in steel and CHF 24,700 in pink gold. For more information, visit www.schwarz-etienne.com.