The Dornblueth & Sohn Central Seconds is our Minimalist Watch of the Day. (I swear it’s a coincidence that WatchFinder released a video celebrating this watch as I was writing this.) To slip one on your wrist costs $4680. That’s a pretty big hit on the plastic for a 42mm three-handed timepiece that looks, well, minimalist. Especially as the Dornblueth models with a seconds subdial cost $460 less. Why pay more for less? . . .
The first thing to keep in mind: the Dornblueth & Sohn watch is made with all the OCD fastidiousness you’d expect from a German watch at the price. The Central Seconds’ grained, silky matte finished dial is the company’s homage to their nautical deck watches. The hand-applied black print numerals and indexes and Glashutte “railroad track” markings circumnavigating the dial are perfectly rendered and meticulously applied.
The three hands are different in style, identical in their beautifully blued finish. Protected by [slightly] domed sapphire, the dial reminds us that minimalism and legibility are a marriage made in horological heaven. Especially when the watch shelters in a case whose classical form draws no attention to itself, yet proclaims its utility with grace and space.
The movement is the secret star of the show. It’s Dornblueth & Sohn’s Calibre 99.0, a significantly reworked version of ye olde Unitas pocket watch movement. And that’s what your money buys.
Pocket watch movements power a seconds subdial at either the 6 or 9 o’clock position. To modify this bit of engineering for the Central Seconds’ central seconds, Dick Dornblueth fashioned a new bridge above the main plate – a “second story” if you will.
Technically speaking, the watch uses a cantilevered second pinion with a friction spring indirectly driven below the train through an intermediate gear.
Your money buys you a practical and visible connection (through the transparent caseback) to the pocket watch’s heyday – complete with a regulator to micro-adjust accuracy.
More than that, Mr. D. has made it pretty, with heat-blued screws, hand engraved text, Côtes de Genève, a sunray finish on the crown wheel and ratchet and a rose gold treated mainplate. You might also take satisfaction from the fact that Dornblueth & Sohn make 75 percent of the parts in-house.
The video above turned the Central Seconds from the best kept secret in German watchmaking to a sold out sensation. Watchbuys.com is taking names for future availability. Suffice it to say, anyone who appreciates a minimalist watch is bound to be someone who understands the value of patience. Anyway, the black dial version is the bomb and it’s got lume.