Moritz Grossman introduced its first GMT complication at the beginning of 2019, a superbly crafted watch with an easy-to-consult and easy-to-adjust second time-zone. Presented in 41mm white or rose gold cases with three different dial colours, the model we have for our hands-on session is the white gold with an argenté dial. With its relatively simple styling and white on silver colourway, the Moritz Grossmann might not make a huge first impression but let me assure you that the more I handled the watch, and the more I noticed the details and the exceptional finishes, the more I came to admire this watch.
For an independent brand that is just 11 years old, Moritz Grossman has come a long way. A trained watchmaker with stints at Maurice Lacroix, Glashütte Original and A. Lange & Söhne, Christine Hutter secured the rights to the name ‘Moritz Grossman’ in 2008. Like many 19th-century Dresden pocket watch and clockmakers, Moritz Grossmann was a friend of F.A. Lange and was invited to set up shop in the small town of Glashütte.
Grossmann initially crafted high-precision timekeepers and tools and later made pocket watches, astronomical pendulum clocks, marine chronometers, and enlarged escapement models. He would also found the prestigious German School of Watchmaking in Glashütte in 1878. Hutter’s mission was to revive the Grossmann heritage with low-volume refined watches built in-house with hand-finished and assembled movements. The first watch to issue from the manufacture was in 2010 with the brand’s first manufacture calibre 100.0.
BEING ORIGINAL IN GLASHÜTTE
Hutter’s contribution to Saxon watchmaking is marked by a luxurious sense of sobriety and refinement, or what is often described as understated elegance. As one of the youngest players on the Glashütte block, Hutter had to find her own interpretation of what Glashütte watchmaking means and avoid taking the same road as her powerful neighbours A. Lange & Söhne and Glashütte Original.
Moritz Grossmann is a young company that managed to create its own, yet subtle “Glashütte-like” identity, different from its neighbours.
Instead of a classic Glashütte three-quarter plate, Moritz Grossmann uses a 2/3 plate (in the tradition of Moritz Grossmann’s pocket watches from the 19th century) made of German silver also decorated with wide horizontal Glashütte ribbing and a hand-engraved balance cock and escape-wheel cock but with a delightful surprise: instead of blued screws, the screws, which hold the raised gold chatons in place, are not blued but a subtle mauve colour. Instead of an oversized date window, Moritz Grossmann came up with an elegant solution positioning the date on the periphery of the dial and read with a bracket-shaped pointer. Instead of an arched power reserve indicator, Moritz Grossmann relies on a subtle bar-shaped power reserve that changes colour. You get the idea.
The Moritz Grossmann GMT made its debut in January 2019, the first model for the brand with a second time-zone function. Very similar to a previous model with a peripheral date function, the GMT function offers two distinct time references at a glance. Instead of an additional hand in the centre of the dial to point to the reference time, the GMT function on this watch is extremely easy to consult.
On the periphery of the dial is a 24-hour chapter ring with blue Arabic numerals and a mauve (like the screws) arrow-shaped revolving pointer. Believe me, the colours are subtle but distinctive enough to stand out. Local time is adjusted with the central hour and minute hands and instead of numerals, there are baton-shaped hour markers. A recessed small seconds counter at 6 o’clock completes the picture.
“Schönstes deutsches Handwerk”
However, what distinguishes this Moritz Grossmann GMT from the crowd is the philosophy of Schönstes Deutsches Handwerk embraced by the brand. Translated as the ‘most beautiful German craftsmanship’, the watch is finished to a level of perfection and beauty on a par with the consolidated heavyweights in Glashütte. The centre of the solid silver argenté dial features a sunray design emanating from under the hands and contrasting with the smooth background of the 24-hour ring and the interior of the small seconds disc. If you look closely, you might be able to see the mirror-polished chamfer of the small seconds.
The white gold applied hour markers have flat polished surfaces and polished bevels while the gleaming lance-shaped hands are made from stainless steel. Not just any old hands, mind you. Hands at Moritz Grossmann are treated with a lot of respect and it is rare to find a company that crafts its hand entirely in-house. The hands and bushing are manually crafted from hardened steel, ground with a diamond file, and polished by hand to give them their rich 3-D volume and the ‘pointiest’ tips imaginable. The needle-like tip of the minutes hand lets you read the time with absolute precision.
18k white gold case
The 18k white gold case of the Moritz Grossmann GMT has a 41mm diameter and a height of 11.85mm and features a winding crown, a lateral pusher at 4 o’clock and a second crown at 10 o’clock. The second crown at 10 o’clock allows the arrow indicator on the 24-hour scale (second time-zone) to jump forward and backwards in hourly increments without affecting the 12-hour display in the centre of the dial. A ratchet wheel with ratchet spring is used to activate the jumps.
The pusher at 4 o’clock is a restart mechanism. Known as the Grossmann winder with pusher, it allows a precise setting of the time. When briefly pulling the winding crown out, the Grossmann winder switches to the hand-setting mode and stops the movement (a hacking second mechanism). However, on the contrary of standard watches, the crown immediately returns to its normal position but can still be operated to precisely set the hands. Once done, the movement can be re-started by pressing the pusher next to the crown at 4 o’clock, with no possibility to alter the position of the hands (something that can happen when you set the crown back in place, with a little jump of the minute hand). This Grossmann winder mechanism thus avoids the ingress of particles into the case when the crown is pulled out and unintentional alterations of the hand positions when setting the crown back in place.
The entire case is polished and the lugs have a tapered chamfer to create a flowing silhouette which curves ergonomically to fit the wrist. Thanks to the thin gold bezel the dial has plenty of breathing room. As you can see, the watch sits quite high on the wrist and has a commanding presence. Although I prefer the model with the champagne dial and the annealed brown hands, this white gold/silver dial option is a class act. Sober, dignified, refined and yet eminently practical, this is now on my list of top ten GMT watches.
The movement provides Moritz Grossmann with yet another surface to showcase the superb micromechanics of the watch and the lavish artistic finishes. The 2/3 plate is made from German silver plate (as are the movement posts) and is decorated with thick Glashütte ribbing. All the inscriptions are engraved by hand. The ratchet wheel is also decorated with three-band snailing, but perhaps the most distinctive feature of a Moritz Grossmann calibre is the presence of raised gold chatons to house the white sapphire bearing jewels held in place by hand-annealed mauve screws.
The sobriety of the design is only true for external parts… The movement side is far more demonstrative (and we don’t complain)
These raised chatons were inspired by historic Grossmann pocket watches and make it possible to remove and clean the bearing jewels individually without damaging the plate. The gold-plated Grossman balance wheel is held in position with a beautiful cantilevered hand-engraved balance cock and escape-wheel cock. Even the concealed parts of the Grossmann winder with pusher – which can be removed separately – are finished with hand-polished chamfers.
The GMT mechanism is integrated into the movement on the dial side. The balance wheel beats at a frequency of 18,000vph and the watch can store 42 hours of power reserve when fully wound.
This Moritz Grossmann GMT really surprised me. My first impression of it being a relatively plain white gold watch with a practical GMT function was altered as I got to know the watch. The finishes are superb, the GMT functionality is easy-to-consult and even easier to adjust with the additional crown at 10 o’clock, and the excruciating attention paid to the hands elevate this watch to a superior category. Needless to say, the movement is beautiful as are the solutions devised by the brand’s watchmakers to make the watch easy and safe to handle and adjust.
I did wonder, however, why the brand chose an arrow to indicate the 24-hour ring instead of the open bracket pointer it uses on the Date model? The arrow obliterates the numbers although it isn’t hard to guess which one is hidden. And perhaps a longer power reserve would be more in line with a watch designed to follow you around the world when changing time zones and jet lag can lead you to forget to wind your watch.
The Moritz Grossmann GMT model in white gold comes on a brown hand-stitched alligator leather strap with a prong buckle in white gold. The retail price is EUR 29,200. More information on grossmann-uhren.
This post first appeared on Monochrome Watches - An online magazine dedicated to fine watches.