Time means something different during Coronageddon. With fewer places to go and things to do, our schedules lack pre-COVID immediacy, complexity and urgency. The uninvited lifestyle change has dinged the utility of the “standard” wristwatch – and opened the door for a new appreciation of the single-handed Meistersinger No. 1. I can almost hear the watchmaker in question asking, “Really? It took this to give us a shot?” . . .
Even before the word “lockdown” morphed from signaling a potential spree killer to describing social isolation, Meistersinger was selling one-handers as a horological pathway to The Land of Chill. The place where you sing along with that old Chicago song. “Does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody really care?” This from a German watchmaker, no less.
After wearing the Meistersinger No. 1 for a few weeks, I get it.
It’s entirely possible to live your best life without keeping track of minutes and seconds, paying attention only to the hour, noting how close or far away you are from one of twelve demarcations. Also true: it’s a lot more relaxing way to go through a seemingless endless procession of often amorphous days.
OK, I’m a writer working from a cigar store whose children live abroad – not a railway engineer avoiding a head-on collision or an Apollo astronaut timing a 14-second burn.
That said, I’m as prompt AF. I had no problem showing up on time for the few appointments filling the organizational desert that is my current calendar. It took a little adjustment, but so does chiropractic and that’s been a blessing.
The Meistersinger No. 1 is available in 40mm or 43mm. With a super slim shiny steel bezel resting on a matte steel case with short lugs, our 43mm tester looks even larger.
Which is just as well. The “one hand to rule them all” concept mandates jumbo main numerals. While the watch’s Panerai-like wrist presence enables a reasonable view of the minute track, the dashes are too small to read, at least at first glance. Or second. Or third, if you’re old enough to remember Time Tunnel.
The No. 1’s XL ivory dial provides a good idea of whether you’re at, closing in on, or leaving the hour or half hour. And a lousy idea of where you are in terms of five, ten and even fifteen minute intervals.
Asked “What time is it?” your answer’s bound to be preceded by “it’s almost . . .” or “around . . .” At some point, it’s better to hit ’em up with Chicago’s Zen retort.
The No. 1 was Meistersinger initial foray into the world of approximate time. Unlike more recent models – festooned with everything from a big date and rotating bezel to an astroscope – the original designers spared no effort in making the No. 1 as spare as possible. The branding at the top of the dial is as unobtrusive as an NSA algorithm, the model designation at the bottom a veritable footnote.
About that logo . . .
“It’s a fermata,” Meistersinger exec Bryan Westmiller tells TTAW, pointing out that the musical notation’s upside down to avoid looking like a frowning face. “It instructs a musician to either hold a note or rest a little longer. It reflects our philosophy of allowing your perception of time to slow down.”
Yes, well, you don’t want the watch to slow down.
To forestall that possibility, Meistersinger fits the No. 1 with a manual wind Sellita SW 210, an improved clone of the obsolete ETA 2801-2. Meistersinger deploys the Swiss movement in élaborée grade – promising a 42-hour power reserve and accuracy somewhere between +/-7 and +/-20 seconds per day.
The Timegrapher rated our review model at +13 seconds per day. It would be churlish to upbraid Meistersinger for landing in the middle of the specs; split-second accuracy is entirely besides the point.
Hang on. Is running 13 seconds fast per day a feature or a bug? “Perhaps our watchmakers want to make sure you have plenty of time to make your appointment,” Mr. Westmiller joshes.
If you’re comfortable loosening the metaphorical chains to the literal clock, the Meistersinger No. 1 is a comfortable companion. Weighing in at 2.9 ounces, attached to a Hush Puppies-soft brown suede strap, the No. 1 is second to none for stress-free wristwear.
The watch’s total lack of luminosity might be a bit irksome, but should it be? If you’re keeping track of time in the dark, you need to rethink your life. Allegedly.
If you’re single-minded about shopping for an affordable single-handed mechanical watch, the $1495 Meistersinger No. 1 is the one.
The next step “up” – the self-winding No. 3 – costs an additional $500. It offers a transparent caseback, but the Sellita beavering away underneath is no oil painting (as the Brits are wont to say). I reckon the fermata swirling around the No. 1’s caseback is less pretentious and a whole lot trippier.
The Meistersinger No. 1 adheres to the same dictum that applies to the more obscure corners of porn sites: if you don’t understand it, it’s not for you.
If you grok the appeal of less timely timekeeping, the No. 1 is a sensibly-priced, beautifully made ode to the fine art of not giving a you-know-what. It is, in fact, the perfect watch for our times, and, once you get used to it, beyond.
One more thing: the MS No.1 is the ideal smartwatch companion. After a hard day’s work, you lose the office duds (remember those?), put the wrist computer on a charger, strap on a Meistersinger No. 1, kick back and chill. If only we could deduct the cost as a medical expense . . .
Model: Meistersinger No. 1 (Ref. AM3303)
Case: 316L stainless steel
Size: 43mm X 11.5mm
Lug width: 21mm
Lug to lug: 50mm
Crystal: Domed anti-reflective sapphire
Movement: Manual wind Sellita SW 210
Tested Accuracy: +13 seconds per day
Power reserve: 42 hours
Weight: 2.9 ounces
Water Resistance: 50m
Functions: Single hand for hours and minutes
RATINGS (out of five stars):
Design * * * * *
Meistersinger’s minimalist meisterwerk.
Legibility * * * * *
A watch where maximum legibility is inherently sub-optimal. I’m rolling with it. YMMV.
Comfort * * * * *
Light and thin win, especially when attached to a horological Hush Puppy.
Overall * * * * *
A one-hand manual winder that challenges you to chill the f out. The ideal watch for a Coronageddon-inspired lifestyle re-think.
The Truth About Watches is a fully independent website. Meistersinger lent us the watch for review. No other consideration provided.
I am so glad you explained the logo. I always thought it looked like a head with raised arms, like a panicking Aramark logo.
I presume the one-hander market is small and niche. Any maker need only get a longer hour hand and differently demarcated dial to produce one.
Until I started hanging around here, I didn’t even know there was such a thing. Kinda cool. Kinda ???
If I had the money I would buy one of these watches just so I could say to people “hey look I paid thousands for this watch and one of the freakin hands fell off!”
And the joke’s on…?
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