Cuervo y Sobrinos does a fantastic job of bringing back the charm and spirit of a pre-communist Cuba. You probably all know the stories about how Havana was the lively capital of the Caribbean region. One of the city’s most famous inhabitants in the 1940s and 50s was American novelist and journalist Ernest Hemingway. On top of that, the Nobel Prize-winner was a regular visitor of the Cuervo y Sobrinos boutique in those days. To celebrate his writing achievements and enjoyment of the island’s easygoing lifestyle, the brand has released two limited edition Historiador Hemingway Icónico Models. Time to go hands-on with these stylish pointer date models.

It’s been only a week since the review of the stylish Cuervo Y Sobrinos Historiador Cronógrafo 1946. At the same time that we had the chronograph at HQ, we also had a chance to check out the new Historiador Hemingway Icónico models. They are a follow-up to last year’s limited editions celebrating the world-famous writer. The two new pieces were officially presented during this year’s Hemingway Days held in Key West just last week. To make these releases official, they were unveiled under the patronage of John Hemingway, grandson of the celebrated writer. It makes for a compelling story to accompany these two remarkable watches produced in a limited run of 882 pieces.

The story of the Cuervo Y Sobrinos Historiador Hemingway Icónico

The two timepieces are part of a series of three Hemingway timepieces. The third is the Hemingway GMT ‘The Fisherman,’ which is an homage to The Old Man and the Sea, the famous book that Hemingway wrote during his time in Cuba. The two models that we had are stylish pointer date models. A quick glance at the colorful fourth hand might make you think you are dealing with a GMT. But soon, you will see the date ring on the dial’s periphery and the hand indicating the date. It’s a date indication we know all too well from the Oris Big Crown Pointer Date.

The classic way of indicating a date is not something we see often, but it adds charm and style to both watches. So where do these two watches fit in the Cuervo Y Sobrinos collection? They are part of the popular Historiador collection, named after the brand’s most historically significant watch. The Historiador collection consists of various models that are all easily recognizable thanks to their characteristic lugs. I explained in the article about the Cronógrafo 1946 that the lugs, at first glance, take a little bit of inspiration from the famous cow-horn lugs that Vacheron Constantin used for its classic ref. 6087 from the 1950s. But take a better look, and you will see that the profile is different, less curvy, but still defining the overall presence.

The specs of the Historiador Hemingway Icónico

The lugs work well for me with the busier dials from the chronographs and these two Hemingway Icónico models. The combination of colors and graphical elements counterbalances the presence of the characteristic lugs perfectly. Regarding the chronographs, the Cronógrafo 1946 and the sold-out Nino Farina are perfect examples of beautiful vintage-inspired chronographs steeped in the rich history of watchmaking of the 1940s and 50s. So how is that for the Hemingway Icónico models?

The two Hemingway models feature a 40mm stainless steel case 11.75mm thick and water-resistant up to 100 meters. The round cases are graced by style-defining lugs. But where they are defining the face of the watch, when you look at the side profile, they look graceful and both functional in making sure the watches sit comfortably on your wrist.

The right side of the case features the branded crown that operates the time and date setting functions. The left side has a special plate with the limited edition number.

The brown model feels more balanced in its overall presence

The watch comes in two different dial executions. The first model comes with a cream-colored dial with red and blue details. The dial features an applied Cuervo y Sobrinos emblem, Arabic numerals coated with cream-colored Super-LumiNova, and the brand’s logo in a beautiful script font.

The lower part of the dial features Ernest Hemingway’s name in red, just like the 60 seconds indications are red, while the date ring is executed in blue.

The classically-styled silver hour and minute hands are also filled with Super-LumiNova, while the seconds hand provides a subtle hint of color in dark blue. Lastly, the central silver date pointer features a blue tip indicating the date. The watch comes on a light brown strap with an emblem-style deployant clasp.

The classic style has a great deal of charm. Having said that, there is also quite a bit going on in terms of elements and colors. The second model is a bit easier on the eye. It features a dark brown dial graced with gold-colored and red elements. The whole composition feels a bit more balanced.

The date pointer stands out immediately, whereas the blue seconds hand stands out on the other model. Additionally, the red markers on the 60-second scale blend in nicely with the brown dial color. The watch comes on a dark brown leather strap with contrasting stitching and the same emblem-style deployant clasp. As you might have spotted, both models feature the text “In order to write about life first you must live it” in English (at 12 o’clock) and Spanish (at 6 o’clock) on the rehaut.

The Sellita-based Cuervo y Sobrinos caliber CYS 8121

The watches are powered by the Cuervo y Sobrinos caliber CYS 8121. The automatic caliber is based on the Sellita SW221-1. It operates at 28,800vph, has 26 jewels, and has 38 hours of power reserve. The oscillating weight is engraved but not visible as it is hidden behind the case back. It features a special engraved Hemingway logo indicating the special status of the two timepieces.

Operating the movement is straightforward and feels solid. If you unscrew the crown, you pull it out to the first position to change the date with the central pointer date. Pull the crown out to the second position, and you can set the time.

Wearing the Cuervo Y Sobrinos Historiador Hemingway Icónico Models

While there are a great number of details to check out that make both watches great to see, it is all about wearing them, of course. Once on the wrist, the size and overall profile wear very well. I was once again impressed by the great comfort of the case with its eccentric lugs. While not the best in the game, the leather straps are comfortable and easy enough to break in. The butterfly deployant clasps are solid and do a decent job at opening and closing. The brand’s emblem also adds character that not many other brands successfully do.

Once on the wrist, the presence feels more balanced than the first impressions on the wrist might have you think. But where I initially gravitated towards the dark-dial variant, once on the wrist, the lighter cream-colored variant quickly became my favorite. It feels more lively, and the different elements are easier to distinguish. The dark brown dial version might be more balanced overall, but it misses the lively spark the other model does have. So I changed my mind quickly after wearing both watches for a bit.

Final thoughts on the Cuervo Y Sobrinos Historiador Hemingway Icónico Models

Some of you will know that I love the story of Cuervo y Sobrinos. In the review of the Buceador Caribe, I explained why I am so fond of the pre-Castro era of Cuba. It’s a place I would have loved to visit when it was the region’s bustling capital. As that will never happen, it makes movies, books, and watches from Cuervo y Sobrinos special memories of the glory days of Cuba. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of it is romanticizing. But there is nothing wrong with that because there is nothing wrong with a good story.

It’s an easy leeway into the story of these two special editions that celebrate the life and work of one of the world’s most famous storytellers. I love how Cuervy y Sobrinos teamed up with the grandson of Ernest Hemingway, making it more special. When it comes to the watches, I think that they do an excellent job at bringing us that unique retro vibe of watchmaking in the 1940s and 50s. The style has plenty of charm, and the functionality is nicely integrated.

Find its unique place in the watch landscape

A watch like this will likely be compared to the vintage-inspired Oris Big Crown Pointer Date. That is the benchmark for a central pointer date watch in the same price category. At €2,600, these Cuervo y Sobrinos models are slightly more expensive than the Oris. As such, I think many, including myself, will find the Oris a more tempting offer. But if you are looking for something more exotic and a watch with a great story, the Cuervo Y Sobrinos Historiador Hemingway Icónico Models might be an option for you.

In a week in which I could wear the brilliant Cronógrafo 1946 and the Historiador Hemingway Icónico models, my love and respect for the Cuervo Y Sobrinos brand has certainly grown. I simply have a great connection to the Cuban roots of the now Swiss-based brand. While these two models would not be my first picks in the brand’s extensive line-up—the Cronógrafo 1946 and the Nino Farina would be—they do come with the story that I adore. As such, these watches do find a special place in my heart. And for watches to stand out in an overflowing world of new releases, that is quite special.

For more information, visit the official Cuervo y Sobrinos website. Let us know your thoughts on this vintage-inspired pointer date models in the comments section.