Think of the MeisterSinger watch as the anti-chronograph. Forget about “complications,” the Swiss metric by which all fancy watches are judged. There are no tiny windows that display day/month and leap years, no subdials indicating moon phases and time zones. There is not even a sweep second hand to distract the eye and jangle the nerves. A MeisterSinger has one hand, and one hand only: a solo stark needle that looks as if it were lifted from the pressure gauge on an air compressor. Floating above the unassuming face, the lone arm traverses the dial, marking time in precise but leisurely five-minute increments.
The cult object is also referred to in company literature as “a sundial for the wrist” and “die ur Uhr” (the prototypal watch). MeisterSinger Founder and CEO Manfred Brassler explains that a single-handed timepiece “takes away the hectic pace from everyday life and generates a lasting sense of time slowing down for the wearer.” Though this sounds dubious and gimmicky, during the infancy of mechanical clock-making, when cogs and springs began to be used in earnest, no clock boasted more than one hand. With the onslaught of industrialization in the mid-18th century, minute and second hands suddenly sprouted on watch faces. One allowed factory drones to measure the length of their shifts; the other allowed scientists to parse time while conducting experiments. The mass production of multihand watches soon followed. This proved a great blow for minimalists everywhere.
Enter Herr Brassler, a self-taught designer and Bauhaus enthusiast who made it his mission to breath new life into the single-hand watch. By all accounts, he has succeeded. Since its introduction in 2001, the MeisterSinger line has earned universal praise from critics and amassed a clutch of Red Dot Awards, the Oscars of the European design community. Collectors of expensive mechanical watches, a particularly finicky lot, were likewise impressed. They marveled at the value Brassler was able to offer at such a reasonable cost. Designed in Germany and assembled in Switzerland, the Automatik No. 3 is powered by an ETA 2824-2 caliber, a chronometer-grade Swiss movement typically found in watches costing several times as much. This handsome timepiece, with its brushed stainless steel case, terse graphics, and skeleton back, is a paragon of minimalism — and timeless to boot.
$1,630 at Best of Both.com