Whenever a brand is celebrating an anniversary, it’s always a surprise what they’ll come up with. An archive full of historical achievements and relevant watchmaking history makes sourcing inspiration for a celebratory collection a bit easier perhaps. And for several brands, 2021 seems to be a joyous year, despite all the global challenges keeping us on our toes. German manufacturer Junghans is celebrating 160 years of watchmaking, and has created a rather compelling limited edition for the occasion; the Junghans Meister Signature Handaufzug Edition 160.
Junghans is one of those brands people tend to easily forget, as it flies under the radar a little – but the idea of sleek, minimalistic designs is part of the brand’s DNA. Despite this, Junghans shouldn’t be overlooked in terms of watchmaking prowess, as history shows the company has been successful in many innovations and developments. Not necessarily in the field of mechanical watchmaking, but Junghans has strived to move forward through technological advancements time and time again.
Situated in the German town of Schramberg, Uhrenfabrik Junghans was launched in 1861 by Erhard Junghans and his brother-in-law Jakob Zeller-Tobler. Initially, the company manufactured clock components such as wooden cases, bronze signs, glass doors and other parts. By 1866 the first clock was produced. In just a few decades the company grew into one of the largest clock manufacturers in the world. By 1903 the company employed 3,000 people and produced a whopping 3 million timepieces a year in multiple production sites in Germany, and two in Paris and Venice.
But it’s not purely about mechanical engineering for Junghans, as by the late 1950s the company started a very successful collaboration with Swiss Bauhaus designer Max Bill. The iconic style of Max Bill can still be seen in many of the watches and clocks Junghans creates today, as evidenced by the Junghans Max Bill Edition 60 set introduced earlier this year.
1936 saw the introduction of the J80, Junghans’ first in-house developed wristwatch movement. This J80 movement would lay the foundation of watches labelled ‘Meister’ by the company, as a testament to the quality. The current Meister collections are direct descendants of the spirit that started in the 1930s. It has graced some of the best movements and watches created in Junghans’ 160 years of existence. Another such historical movement is the hand-wound J620 calibre, which found its way into the Junghans Meister Signature Handaufzug Edition 160 we’re getting hands-on with today.
Styled like a vintage watch through and through, and using this historical calibre, the Meister Signature Handaufzug Edition 160 has an 18-carat rose gold case, measuring 39mm in diameter and 10.3mm in height. The dimensions are slightly larger perhaps, when compared to true vintage sizes, but the proportions are pretty much bang-on. The construction of the case has that typical Junghans’ style, something we also see in present-day watches like the Junghans Meister Worldtimer. A domed plexiglass crystal sits on top of a polished bezel. This bezel has a little edge to set it apart from the caseband and give it a little flair. The caseband has integrated lugs with a slanted profile that’s just lovely to the touch. The transparent caseback is held in place with 5 screws and reveals the movement. The slim crown grips well and offers a bit of reassuring resistance – important on a hand-wound watch.
The matte silver-plated dial has only minimal decorations and is slightly domed for that full-on vintage appeal. It features a dotted minute track on the outside of the applied gold hour indices. Time is indicated by diamond-cut Dauphine hour and minute hands and a needle-shaped seconds hand. The minute and seconds hands are slightly bent down towards the tip to follow the curvature of the dial. The finishing touch to this beautifully restrained dial is the vintage Junghans signature below the 12 o’clock index, and the “Made in Germany” marking at the bottom.
As mentioned, the Junghans Meister Signature Handaufzug Edition 160 comes with the historical J620 calibre. Being a hand-wound movement, it fits perfectly within the style of the watch. The movement has been gilded and decorated with sunray brushing on the ratchet wheel, a straight-brushed barrel bridge, a straight-polished wheel train and balance bridge, polished screws, and even polished, bowl-shaped jewel sinks. It is signed with the Junghans 8-point star and the ‘620’ movement identification. Its dimensions are 25.6mm in diameter and 3.75mm in height. The movement uses 17 jewels and runs at a leisurely 18,000vph (2.5Hz). Considering this movement was developed in the sixties, the 45-hour power reserve is very acceptable by today’s standards.
All in all, the Junghans Meister Signature Handaufzug Edition 160 is a very pleasant watch to handle. It looks very good and sits perfectly comfortable on the wrist. Considering the rich history of the Junghans brand, it has a perfect vintage look that can still be traced back to current collections. Not only by the ‘Meister’ designation but also through some styling elements like the domed plexiglass crystals and the bowl-shaped cases Junghans uses in today’s watches. So in conclusion, this is quite a fitting celebratory piece for Junghans’ 160th anniversary indeed!
The Junghans Meister Signature Handaufzug Edition 160 is presented as a limited edition of 160 pieces, in coherence with the 160th anniversary of the brand. It comes on a padded brown leather strap with an engraved 18-carat gold pin buckle. Each one is numbered individually on the caseback and retails for EUR 8,160.
For more information, please visit Junghans.de.