Review: Junghans Celebrates 100 Years of Bauhaus

As a general rule I dislike watch reviews for a watch that is either already sold out, generally unobtainable, or wasn’t made available to the general public.  That being said, I wanted to do a review of the officially “sold out” Junghans “max bill Automatic Edition 100 Jahre Bauhaus” for three reasons: 1.) because the watch is awesome, 2.) it was released just two months ago, so if you act quick you may be able to find one, 3.) this time/date model was so successful for Junghans they decided to release a chronograph version which you can jump on right now if you hurry.  But we are getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s explore why I think you need to know about this watch and also how this model uniquely challenges some of the common notions about Junghans.

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The most famous Bauhaus building, located in Dessau, Germany

The first thing you need to know is a bit of German.  This model is in honor of 100 years of Bauhaus (hence the “100 Jahre Bauhaus” designation).  It features the minimalistic styling cues found on other Junghans max bill design watches with some subtle differences.  If you’re confused as to why the designer, Max Bill’s name is shown in lower case, it’s because his designs typically used typography in all lower case (think of Max Bill like the poet “e e cummings”, assuming if Cummings was an architect, painter, sculptor, product designer, and Swiss).

If you’re scratching your head thinking you’ve heard of Bauhaus, but can’t remember where or why, all you need to know is it was a famous German art school founded 100 years ago that believed in commingling the fine arts with craft, architecture, and design.  It ushered in the era of German modernism which spread across Europe and ultimately influenced subsequent design styles such as Art Deco.  Ultimately, the Bauhaus movement was short-lived with the last school closing in 1933, when it was shut down under pressure from the German government for supposedly being a center of communist intellectualism.  Even though Bauhaus’s heyday was short, it’s impact and ripples are still felt today, 100 years later.  For extra credit, if you’re wondering how to pronounce Bauhaus, just say “Bow-House”.  “Bow” said like you are in front of the queen, not like a “bow” and arrow.  Ok, enough with the history and language lesson, onto the watch!

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I have to admit as with most new watches, I first learned of this watch scrolling through the various stories on the Watchville app on my iPad during that exciting time between SIHH and Baselworld when it seems all the new products are announced.  When I saw the initial pictures and read the specs I was hooked.  I have wanted a Max Bill-designed Junghans watch for a long time but never could quite find the perfect version that spoke to me until now.

What held me back on the majority of max bill Junghans models was the domed acrylic crystal.  I know a lot of watch collectors prefer acrylic since it warms up a watch and the minor scratches it inevitably collects adds to its character, but for my tastes I love rubbing a finger over a sapphire crystal and feeling that innate coldness of the material.  You get that “coldness” with mineral crystal but then you also at the mercy of scratches that are harder to get out than acrylic.  As a boy I used to tag along as my parents went to home design stores and at a young age I realized I always preferred the cold-to-the-touch granite countertops over the engineered polymer-based Corian® ones.  This limited model was the first one I could remember that sported a sapphire crystal, which also has a double-sided anti-reflection coating.  Total height of the watch is a svelte 9.7mm.

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Convex sapphire crystal for the win.

For those not familiar with my personal collection, I collect a bit of everything and never had a blind allegiance to any single one brand, but in fact most of my watches tend towards dive watches.  Overbuilt and simple works for the majority of my days’ activities, but there are occasions where a beefy dive watch with a chunky steel bracelet won’t work.  I’ve wanted a clean minimal watch for those special occasions but in the realm of minimalist watches/dials, I find the landscape sparse.  What brands come to mind? H Moser & Cie, Nomos, Junghans, and, on the mass market side of things: MVMT, Skagen, Movado. Personally I have to struggle to come up with more than five brands that have a consistent minimal ethos.  Another concern I’ve had is some minimal watches, while clean in design, are a snooze-fest.  Too minimal can equal boring very fast.

The printed dial is sparse, but extremely readable.  The length of the markers help determine which are hour vs minute/seconds.  The only thing that is applied to the dial are small luminous pips at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock.  At 12 o’clock is a double pip, a subtle way to tell the watch’s orientation in the dark and a nod to the double pip used on German flieger watches.  Junghans says the matte silver dial commemorates the white walls of the Bauhaus building in Dessau.  To my eye, the dial has the slightest touch of cream color that perfectly compliments another subtle feature I love about this model, the red date wheel.  The ultimate low key flex?  Perhaps.  An insider secret handshake to other Junghans collectors?  Absolutely.  The red date wheel is not the only splash of color, the hands also sport red superluminova lume.  From a distance the hands look to be a solid anthracite color like the watch’s case, but upon closer inspection is when the red lume reveals itself.  And the red highlights are not just to satisfy some arbitrary color scheme but is also in keeping with the theme of the watch.  They mirror the striking red door of the aforementioned Bauhaus building.  Minimal yet striking.

If the watch ever gets too sedate, all one needs to do is turn it over.  The caseback is mineral crystal with a beautiful image of the famous Bauhaus building.  Check out the only splash of color being the red door.  The printed image doesn’t cover the entire crystal however, the windows were left cutout/transparent to allow for the briefest of glances at the movement.  Is this the German equivalent of the mullet haircut?  Business in the front and party in the back?  Regardless, it’s a really nice surprise and treat that the owner gets to appreciate and enjoy alone.

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Can we all agree, Junghans nailed the caseback?

Thankfully the inside of the watch had just as much consideration as the outside.  The movement is the self-winding caliber j800.1 with a power reserve of 38 hours.  The j800.1 is Junghans branding of what is in fact a 2824-2 ETA movement featuring all the normal benefits of an ETA movement; Incabloc shock protection, Etachron regulator adjustment, Nivarox balance spring, and Glucydur balance wheel.  It should provide owners with many years of trouble-free and accurate timekeeping.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to measure and record the accuracy of mine, but in the days I’ve worn it, I haven’t noticed it being off enough to warrant reseting the watch hands.

The entire package of the watch was also a delight, with a grey-colored leatherette box, and the included micro-fiber cleaning cloth was a nice touch.  As I’ve said before, when I first saw this watch and fell in love with the initial pictures, I called my local dealer and put down a deposit and waited a few months for it to arrive.  No insider discounts or special treatment here.  Now that the honeymoon period has worn off I’m still left with an extremely wearable high-design watch that speaks to my love for architecture, art, and design as well as scratches the minimal watch itch.  I originally had concerns of the case being just 38mm wide (40mm including the crown), but it wears big since the bezel is so small.  Heck, I have 42mm dive watches with smaller dials.   I’ve changed the strap a few times this summer to either a red Perlon or black NATO strap and both have paired well, especially this summer.  You can check out some pictures of the watch on different straps over on my Instagram account.

Matching pin buckle on the strap

Of course, not all is perfect. The bad news is this specific watch is currently sold out, though a quick Internet search should yield promising results in locating one.  As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, there’s also another option.  If you love this design, but perhaps want a busier dial or a larger watch, by all means check out the max bill Chronoscope 100 Jahre Bauhaus edition watch which is 2mm larger at 40mm in diameter and has the added usefulness of a chronograph, but otherwise has the exact same color scheme as this time/date only model.

I always chuckled that Junghans’ Instagram tag of choice is #ilovejunghans.  But now I understand why.

Specs:

  • Model: max bill Automatic 100 Jahre Bauhaus; limited to 1,000 watches
  • Reference #: 027/4901.02
  • Diameter: 38.0 mm (not including crown)
  • Height: 9.7 mm
  • Case: Matte anthracite PVD-coated stainless steel
  • Crystal: Convex sapphire crystal with anti-reflection coating on both sides
  • Case Back: Mineral crystal
  • Movement: Caliber J800.1 (Self-winding)
  • Water Resistance: up to 3 bar
  • Strap: Grey calf leather strap with matte anthracite PVD-coated buckle
  • Price: €1225,- (automatic)

Note: the first picture is from Wikipedia, all others are by me. The backdrop of all watch pictures is from the pages of the wonderful book, “Moholy-Nagy: Future Present”, which was the exhibition catalog for the Bauhaus artist, László Moholy-Nagy (1894–1946), for his solo show at the Guggenheim in 2016.

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