When you think about it, there aren’t many differences between one racing chronograph and the next. Of course, designs can be different but the basics are there: 2 pushers, 3 registers, a fixed bezel with tachymeter scale, black or silver dials with coloured accents! All of these features feel so familiar that it quickly became the norm… but not for everyone! Some thought that a racing chronograph could be reinvented, reimagined and reshaped to offer something new, different and, in the end, highly desirable. This has a name: the Singer Reimagined Track 1, and today we take a closer look at the Geneva Edition and its superb pale yellow gold case.
Reinventing the racing chronograph… 60 years of non-evolution
Getting rid of the basics of a concept so emblematic as the racing chronograph isn’t easy (at all). This specific category of watches has clear rules and is defined by two of the most iconic watches ever created: the Rolex Daytona and the Omega Speedmaster (and the Heuer Carrera just behind). Surprisingly, both of them are easy to identify and at the same time, they are extremely similar when it comes to specifications and concept: external bezel with tachymeter, black or white dials with contrasting sub-dials on some editions, clean and legible colour schemes, tri-register display, sporty and robust steel cases, two pushers… And all of that was established in the late 1950s or early 1960s – and in all fairness, things haven’t changed drastically since then.
The basic concept of the racing chronograph as we know it today has been largely defined by these two watches, which are still the first two watches you think of when it comes to naming a racing chronograph. Whatever the evolutions, the addition of automatic movements, the new materials, the update of colours, the concept is still exactly the same (a situation that also applies to dive watches, by the way). There must be a reassuring feeling about this concept. When it comes to reimagining such an iconic and entrenched concept, few tried and even fewer succeeded. This is where Singer, true newcomers in the watchmaking industry (at least, as a brand), steps in to break the rules.
Singer Reimagined is the brainchild of three men, with three different backgrounds. One is a car designer with a passion for 1970s racing chronographs, one is an Italian watch designer and the third is a Swiss movement designer and well-known innovator. The main idea of these three gents has been to change the racing chronograph, to bring this essential function back to centre stage, as the star of the show. This is how the Singer Reimagined Track 1 has been shaped.
From Singer to Singer Reimagined
As we explained to you the first time we covered the brand, there’s a strong connection between the watchmaking and the car industries. Car guys are often watch guys and vice-versa. Singer Reimagined (the watch brand) has a strong link with Singer Vehicle Design (the car manufacturer) and both worlds united to create a new watch concept.
Singer Vehicle Design was founded in 2009 by Rob Dickinson with aim of restoring, reimagining and rebirthing the most spectacular air-cooled Porsche 911 – a mix of nostalgia, modernity and boldness that resulted in some of the coolest retro-inspired cars we’ve ever had the chance to see. The idea of Rob with Singer was to offer the best of the vintage design with the best of modern mechanics. In short, what you’ll see is a 1970s air-cooled 911 and what you’ll drive is basically a modern and aggressive tuned Carrera.
With the idea of creating a watch, Rob teamed up with two men with a serious watchmaking track-record: Marco Borraccino (a watch designer, who among other things led the design team at Panerai for several years) and Jean-Marc Wiederrecht (master watchmaker and founder of Agenhor). The idea behind the watch was the same as the cars: under a nostalgic and vintage-inspired design hides ultra-modern mechanics. The final uppercut came from Wiederrecht, who spent several years developing a revolutionary chronograph with the same centre indication that Borraccino had in mind when first sketching the Singer watch… The Track 1 was born, with the idea in mind to change the perception of what a racing chronograph can be.
To better understand the idea behind the creation of Singer Reimagined, take a look at our video with Rob Dickinson here.
Singer Reimagined – A question of display
While most chronographs are first and foremost watches with an additional function added to their dial, the Singer Reimagined Track 1 is first and foremost a chronograph that additionally displays the time. Centre stage is occupied by the chronograph and time is relegated to the periphery of the dial, almost as if it was the complication – in watchmaking, a complication is every function in addition to the hours, minutes and seconds. For Singer, the main focus was to have the chronograph as the cornerstone of this watch and not the opposite.
Besides the “reimagined” idea that serves as a motto for the brand, the concept was to change the way the chronograph is usually read on a watch, this time not with 1 or 2 sub-counters and a central seconds hand, but with all the indications placed right in the middle of the watch with a classic 360° rotation of the hands in a co-axial way. As you can see, the central part of the watch, delimited by the gold tachymeter ring, comprises 3 central hands – one for the seconds, one for the minutes and one for the hours – and they are all geared to register intervals of time. When the chronograph is disengaged, these 3 hands point towards 12 o’clock.
The rest of the dial – its periphery to be precise – is devoted to the indication of the time. Two rings, which rotate clockwise, indicate the hours and minutes thanks to a marker placed at 6 o’clock. As always with such an original display of the time, the brain needs to adapt in order to understand this unnatural way to read the hours and minutes – yet, believe us, the adaptation period is, in fact, very short and time-reading quickly becomes intuitive. On the other hand, the chronograph display is more natural than most of the watches we’ve experienced, as indications are not split into 2 or 3 different sub-dials but grouped on one single axis in a natural way – one rotation around the dial for 60 seconds, 60 minutes or 12 hours. Once again, clear proof that the focus of the Singer Reimagined Track 1 is the chronograph function.
The chronograph function is even more intuitive than most chronographs as two of the indications – the minutes and the hours – are given by jumping hands – meaning that the hand only moves once an interval of time (a minute or an hour) has entirely passed, thus the hand always points to the exact indication.
Singer Reimagined – A question of mechanical Innovation
The Singer Reimagined Track 1 is like the eponymous cars: an air-cooled 911 outside and a GT3 inside.
The idea of repositioning the chronograph at centre stage was the basic concept behind the Singer Reimagined Track 1. This has been possible because each party (Rob and Marco on one side, and Jean-Marc on the other) found an answer in the other’s work. If Agenhor’s Jean-Marc Wiederrecht didn’t work on a new movement on one side and if he didn’t meet with Rob and Marco, this would have been a concept only. Fortunately this time, great minds thought alike…
To have the chronograph displayed on the central part of the movement, Wiederrecht had to employ some serious inventiveness and multiple technical solutions that had never been used before on such a movement. Yet, not everything is entirely new, as the Calibre 6361 or AgenGraphe (the name Agenhor gave to the movement) remains an automatic column-wheel movement. However, all the rest is different or new.
This revolutionary movement is based on a set of snail cams storing energy for an entire minute (or hour) before releasing it precisely when a feeler-spindle drops to generate an instant jump (which further enhances legibility). The system avoids varying forces affecting the amplitude of the movement, resulting in greater precision, as the hands always point to the desired indication. The chronograph heart also allows for the smooth resetting of the chronograph (avoiding the violent shocks of the traditional chronograph). Pressing the reset pusher releases the brake on the seconds wheel and all parts to allow the cams to slip back to their zero resting position.
The second main innovation in the movement of the Singer Reimagined Track 1 concerns the clutch. Two options exist in watchmaking: the old-school, space-saving, sensitive but beautiful horizontal clutch and the modern, space-consuming, mostly invisible but precise vertical clutch – more details in our technical guide about chronographs. The newly developed AgenClutch combines the best of the vertical and horizontal clutch. The coupling is made horizontally, which requires less space. Yet the connection is made by friction between teethless wheels, just like vertical clutches, thus avoiding the chronograph “stutter”. The two wheels are coated with Dianip to optimize the friction coefficient and a system of security wheels prevents them from deindexing. Lastly, a tulip-shaped spring provides active flexibility, maintaining the contact in between the two wheels whilst ensuring that, in case of a shock, the security wheels are still effective.
Finally, this movement is automatic, something that you can’t imagine at first due to the absence of a visible rotor – or micro-rotor – on the movement side. In fact, the movement is classically wound by a central rotor, which is positioned dial-side. This was possible simply because of the central chronograph hands – meaning that the rotor can turn around the central axis (on a standard chronograph, the axis of the hands of the sub-counters would make this impossible). The rest of the specifications are classical: 3Hz frequency and a 60-hour power reserve.
As for the visual part, the movement of the Singer Reimagined Track 1 is a true feast. Complex (477 parts), large, packed with wheels, springs, cams and levers, with almost no bridges to hide the ballet of the parts… In terms of visual complexity, the Calibre 6361 is certainly one of the best examples of “micro-city” manufacturing. The decoration is also extremely pleasant, with thin Geneva stripes, shiny polished bevels on the bridges and levers, straight and circular graining… Everything you can expect from such a high-end watch.
A cool, slightly nostalgic design
Just like Singer Vehicle Design cars are visually old-school and mechanically modern, the habillage of the Singer Reimagined Track 1 is deliberately vintage-oriented. Both Rob and Marco have a fascination for 1960s/1970s watches – think Heuer Autavia or Omega Speedmaster watches with pilot cases – and those were the inspiration when creating the Track 1. But just like the Singer 911, we are talking about inspiration and not just a copy of the past.
The first version of the Track 1, the “Launch Edition”, was sporty and technical with its titanium case and silver/black dial. With the second edition, the “Geneva Edition”, Singer Reimagined brings an even more retro style and adds a discreet touch of luxury. The case is now made of yellow gold, but not any kind of YG. For this edition, they chose a specific gold alloy named 1N. Brands often use 3N yellow gold – a bright yellow alloy. 1N gold was used in the past but usually, it was 14k gold. Here, Singer combines the pale and more vintage colour of 1N with an 18-karat alloy. This specific colour, combined with the brushed finishing applied to the case, results in a unique and cool colour with no ostentation – it feels patinated and aged.
The dial is also different, and now features a full black colour and a redesigned central part – more legible and cleaner than the design used on the “Launch Edition”. The black and gold combination definitely has more presence than the titanium/silver model, yet it maintains a rather sporty and vintage feel. The watch is rather heavy on the wrist and large on paper (43mm x 15mm) but the curved shape of the case makes it very comfortable once strapped on the wrist. The final touch is given by the “bullhead-like” chronograph pushers, which are not only a cool nod to the past but are also practical to use (index finger to start, thumb to reset).
It isn’t easy to bring something genuinely new and different to the table, especially when you claim that you’re on your way to reimagine the chronograph. Yet, Singer did it, with a watch that transpires passion – passion for mechanics, passion for design, passion for beauty. It is one of those rare occasions where you can feel that the people behind the concept are really passionate about their “baby”.
The Singer Reimagined Track 1 is not a bargain – its price of CHF 72,000 (before taxes) attests this – but it has a soul and some true ingenuity. Its movement is ultra-modern and impressive in its conception, and at the same time, the design is full of nostalgia and vintage references – something that is even more present on this desirable Geneva Edition. Altogether, it is a strange cocktail but one that is truly enticing. More details on www.singerreimagined.com.
Teaser… There’s a new version coming soon!