Junghans, the German watch company with a flair for minimalist watches that embrace the modernist tenets of Bauhaus design, expands its popular Max Bill collection with a chronograph and two three-hand watches in simple black and white.
Two German Institutions
Junghans, the famous German watch company, was founded in 1861 by Erhard Junghans in Schramberg (Black Forest) and by 1903 had become the largest manufacturer of clocks in the world producing over three million timepieces a year. Max Bill, a Swiss architect, sculptor, painter, as well as a product and graphic designer, was commissioned by Junghans to design a kitchen clock, the Exacta of 1957. As a former student at the Bauhaus in Dessau from 1927-1928, Max Bill’s Exacta clock – leading to a 1958 table clock and eventually wristwatches in 1961 – was an expression of purist aesthetics and functionality “as far removed from any fashion as possible”.
Black and white and shades of grey
Max Bill’s design philosophy never gets old and the latest Chronoscope to join the family is decked out in black and white with touches of grey. A bit like a black and white photograph with nuances of grey and silver, the Chronoscope displays sharp contrasts and a sense of atemporality. Sticking to its Max Bill’s minimalist, essential approach to design, restraint is the operative word and all the surfaces feature a subtle, matte finish.
Max Bill Chronoscope
The Chronoscope is Junghans’ version of a chronograph and the 40mm case in steel with a matte anthracite PVD coating displays classic piston pushers to activate the chronograph. The thin bezel offers a generous view of the matte white dial that features a prominent minute/seconds track picked out in grey for the central chronograph seconds hand.
For graphic designers out there, the black Arabic numerals on the dial of the Chronoscope use a specific font that was originally a custom typeface designed by Max Bill for the numbers, logo and inscriptions on his Exacta kitchen clock of 1957. The closest font to Max Bill’s today is the ‘Sequel Rounded’ that was developed with the Max Bill Georges Vantongerloo Foundation in Switzerland.
Two vertically aligned sub-dials – the 30-minute elapsed time counter is at 12 o’clock and the 12-hour counter is at 6 o’clock – feature grey numerals positioned inside a grey track. To avoid confusion, the sub-dial for the elapsed minutes features an ‘M’ and the hours sub-dial an ‘H’. The black numerals corresponding to the hours are treated with an environmentally friendly luminous substance.
The central hour and minute hands are also black with a silky matte finish and grey luminous material. Two separate bevelled apertures, one for the day and the other for the date at 3 o’clock, are counterbalanced on the opposite side with the inscription Junghans Chronoscope. A domed Plexiglas, treated with a special coating for enhanced scratch-resistance, makes the dial appear domed too. The watch comes with a matte grey calf leather strap with a PVD-coated pin buckle.
The Chronoscope is equipped with calibre J880.2, an automatic Sellita SW-500 (a clone of the Valjoux 7750) with a power reserve of 48 hours.
Quick facts: 40mm diameter x 14.4mm height – stainless steel with matte anthracite PVD coating – 30m water-resistance – screwed caseback – matte white dial with black and grey inscriptions – automatic movement with 48h power reserve for hours, minutes, chronograph and day/date functions – grey calf leather strap with PVD-coated buckle – ref. 027/4008.04 – EUR 1,895
Max Bill Automatic
The quintessence of the Bauhaus mandate of ‘form follows function’, you’d be hard-pressed to find any superfluous element on the new pair of three-hand-and-date automatic watches joining the collection. Repeating the black, white and grey colour scheme of the Chronoscope, the two models come in 38mm and 34mm cases with a height of 10mm.
Ideal his/her watch candidates, the Max Bill Automatic couldn’t be simpler. The round steel cases with a matte anthracite PVD coating have an extremely thin bezel allowing a clean view of the matte white dial. Like the Chronoscope, the black Arabic numerals use a period-specific font lending the watch its retro character. The slim black hour and minute hands, along with the numerals, are treated with luminescence. The central seconds hand is also extremely svelte and reaches all the way to the prominent grey seconds/minutes track on the periphery of the dial. A bevelled date window at 3 o’clock completes the scenery.
Again, in keeping with the price point of these watches, the movement is an automatic Sellita SW-300 (a clone of ETA 2824) with a 42-hour power reserve. A grey calf leather strap with a PVD-coated pin buckle completes the package.
Quick facts: 38mm or 34mm diameter x 10mm height – stainless steel with matte anthracite PVD coating – 30m water-resistance – screwed caseback – matte white dial with black and grey inscriptions – automatic movement with 42h power reserve for hours, minutes, seconds and date – grey calf leather strap with PVD-coated buckle – 38mm ref. 027/4007.04 – 34mm reference 027/4006.04 – EUR 1,095 (38mm) and EUR 995 (34mm)
More information at junghans.de.
This post first appeared on Monochrome Watches - An online magazine dedicated to fine watches.