Hands-On With The Behrens Perigee — An Intriguing Watch With Unique Moon And Hour Displays
Until Fratello’s own Dave Sergeant told me about Behrens, I had never heard of this Chinese watchmaker. But Dave’s enthusiasm for it sparked my curiosity to discover more about Behrens watches. After reading about the special timepieces that the brand has produced, the next step was experiencing one up close. Behrens was kind enough to send us the top-of-the-line Perigee for a hands-on review. This unique timepiece features the brand’s first in-house-produced movement with unique architecture and impressive complications. Time to find out more.
It’s hard nowadays not to find out about small brands quickly. With social media as a driving force behind anything new, brands are fired at you left and right. On top of that, being in an office surrounded by watch enthusiasts makes it even harder to miss brands. It sounds a bit stupid that I missed releases from Behrens until Dave wrote about the B015 NaviGraph last December. But it’s never too late to find out more, and the Perigee is the perfect way to dive into the world of Behrens.
Behrens pushes the boundaries of traditional watchmaking
Dave explained in his review of the B015 NaviGraph that Behrens is an independent watch brand from China. It was started by a group of watch lovers and uses its in-house production and manufacturing facilities to develop spectacular and original designs. The concepts often focus on new interpretations of how to display time. Combined with inspiring conceptual designs, the brand is definitely worth checking out.
What I love about the B015 NaviGraph that Dave reviewed is that Behrens used the Miyota 9015 as the base movement. The brand paired it with an in-house-developed module to create a spectacular four-register layout displaying the time in hours and minutes, a GMT function, and a 24-hour day/night indicator. Using a Miyota movement as the base means that many Behrens watches can stay relatively affordable for what you get. However, with the new Perigee that I had a chance to check out, Behrens walks a new path. The brand’s first in-house-developed manual-winding movement powers the watch. It has a unique time display thanks to the Rubies Chain system and an accurate Moon Track system as well.
The basics of the Behrens Perigee
At first glance, the Behrens B027 Perigee might look somewhat confusing. Because of the black execution, the watch looks very stealthy, but a closer inspection unveils an intricate and intriguing mechanical display of features. For clarity, let’s start off with some basic specs. The Perigee features a 43mm Grade 5 titanium case that is 16.8mm thick including the impressive domed sapphire crystal. While definitely not a watch to take for a dive, the case has a water resistance rating of 50 meters.
If you turn the watch around, you are greeted by a second sapphire crystal that perfectly displays the in-house Caliber BM01. This manual-winding movement operates at 18,000vph, has 26 jewels, and provides a power reserve of 45 hours. The movement is a joy to see with its open-worked bridges and wheels. It’s worth noting here that the watch we have is a prototype unit. So while the finishing here looks pretty good as it is, the production units feature an even better finish. Changes include a rhodium-plated balance wheel for a more harmonious color palette and a slightly more refined brushed finish too.
The crown wheel is not open-worked and features the Behrens brand name. On top of that, you will find the power reserve indicator on the back, slightly above the classic 9 o’clock position. But if you want to witness the true magic that this movement provides, you have to turn the watch around.
The ingenious concept of the Perigee
Without a doubt, the main attraction of the watch is the front — or the front and the sides, I should say. The watch features a large sapphire dome that allows you to see the construction of the different elements in great detail. Now let’s go over the different functions and displays that are mounted on top of the black dial base that mimics the Moon’s surface.
Within this dark backdrop, your eye is first drawn to the blue globe. The domed globe is a day/night indicator, and it turns once every 24 hours. Around the dial’s periphery, you notice the Moon Track. This unique system developed by Behrens tells the position of the Moon in relation to the Earth. It synchronizes with the time, and the small moon runs on a rail around the dial once every 27.3 days. This is the approximate length of a sidereal lunar month (the time it takes for the Moon to return to the same point in the sky relative to the stars). Since the small moon’s position is linked to the time, it provides an accurate representation of our Moon in relation to Earth.
The impressive Rubies Chain system displays the hours
The globe and Moon Track are probably easy to spot as they are the main eye-catching features. The third comes in the form of the time display. As you can see, Behrens developed a chain-driven hour display. The chain links are held together with synthetic rubies — hence the name — to reduce friction and power loss. This makes the mechanism more efficient than it would be with standard chain bearings. Two black skeletonized gears drive the Rubies Chain, which holds the twelve white-on-black hour tags. The blue triangle on the left side of the globe points to the current hour. It’s a wonderfully weird sight to see the chain and the numerals move, especially on the right side when they are upside down. It creates a funky effect.
But that’s not where the fun ends. You will also find a retrograde minute display on the right side of the dial. Its skeletonized execution gives you an unobstructed view of the construction. The panel that indicates the minutes is curved nicely and placed at an angle for extra visual impact. I love the watch’s design details along with its incredible mechanical powerplay. Not to mention, the font that Behrens used to indicate the hours and minutes is modern and perfectly suits the watch’s overall design.
Wearing and watching the Behrens Perigee
I specifically said “wearing and watching” as there is so much more to this watch than just wearing it. The large sapphire dome allows you to see the construction of the unique movement. Additionally, you can see all the different elements in action on the front and the sides. As a result, I observed the watch in action at least as much off my wrist as I did with it on. From every angle, you will find new, intricate details of this unique piece.
Seeing the construction of the Moon Track system is fascinating. When wearing the watch, it is an element that does not necessarily stand out until you focus on it. Its dark colors allow it to integrate nicely with the overall look. The Rubies Chain is also mesmerizing in its construction and how it displays the hours. That’s the element that made me smile the most. It has a quirky character to it that I love. But if you examine how it is built, you are quickly reminded of the impressive technical solution that Behrens created. It really is quite something to see the thought and craftsmanship that went into creating this timepiece.
The Behrens Perigee on the wrist
Once on the wrist, the watch wears nicely. Combined with the black leather strap, the round 43mm case feels classic in its shape. Because there are no substantial lugs, the size is suitable for a variety of wrists, even smaller ones. Surprisingly enough, despite its substantial case diameter and 16.8mm height, the watch never felt big, and I love that. Often with complicated pieces, we see sizes that are only suited for bigger wrists.
Another thing that I adore is the huge sapphire dome that makes it possible to see a large part of the construction of the movement. It adds a lot to the visual impact of the piece. And in all honesty, it makes up for the classical case shape and strap connection. I wasn’t the biggest fan of that classic silhouette when I first saw it, but you have to put the watch on your wrist to get an idea of the visual spectacle that quickly outshines the other elements. Once on the wrist, the fascination for the technical wizardry and the stealthy visual presence take over. Surprisingly enough, they work very well together.
Final thoughts about the Behrens Perigee
An encounter with the Perigee was the perfect first in-person introduction to Behrens. While I do love some of the other timepieces that the brand has made, the Perigee is perhaps the most impactful of all. The realization that the brand has created this unique movement in-house makes this technical tour de force even more impressive than it already is in its concept and stealthy presence. This is why I will be following Behrens closely from now on. I am more than curious to see what will come next!
All in all, it was a great joy to spend some time with the Behrens Perigee, and if you have the chance, I advise you to go check out the brand’s timepieces as well. The Perigee is available for $13,500 through the Behrens website. It comes with a black leather strap with a matching stealthy black buckle. That is a substantial chunk of change more than the previous timepieces the brand released. Even the impressive collaboration with Konstantin Chaykin clocks in at under $10K, so it’s a serious step up.
But if you realize that the Perigee has been designed and developed entirely in-house and you compare that to some of the Swiss brands offering (somewhat) similar complicated watches, you know that the price is very modest. That is something that cannot be said of the actual Behrens Perigee. It’s an impressive timepiece in all its details.
For more information, visit the official Behrens website.