Introducing The Habring2 × Monochrome Montre de Souscription 1
Collaborations happen often, quite possibly too often. Crucial for a good collaboration is two brands that are a good fit. Today Monochrome and Habring² introduce the Habring² × Monochrome Montre de Souscription 1. It is a perfect example of two brands that are a great match. As a result, the watch tells a great story of the shared love for independent watchmaking. Time to take a closer look at Monochrome’s first collaboration timepiece, the Habring² x Monochrome Montre de Souscription 1.
Ever since the start of Monochrome in 2006, founder Frank Geelen and his team have always expressed a great passion for independent watchmaking. Frank and I had several animated conversations, when I first met him some fifteen years ago, about our love for watches. I remember vividly that Frank expressed his love for small independent brands in detail on multiple occasions. He introduced me to some great small brands that have since become household names in the independent watchmaking world. And that love has always been reflected in the articles at Monochrome that are dedicated to fine watches. It’s become the magazine’s motto, and after 15 years of writing about fine watches, it’s exactly why its first collaboration with the independent brand Habring2 is a great match.
The story of the Montre de Souscription 1
Austrian couple Maria and Richard Habring founded Habring2 in 2004. The brand specializes in watches with unusual displays such as dead beat seconds, foudroyante, and chronograph movements. For their first collaboration, Monochrome and Habring2 combined forces to develop a special 1940s inspired chronograph. Production will be limited to a run of 33 pieces. For the sale of the watch, Monochrome uses the process of subscription. It inspired the name of the timepiece. The “Montre de Souscription” was made famous by Breguet in the 18th century.
The idea of a Montre de Souscription is simple. All 33 pieces of the watch will be sold via subscription. Starting today until 8 July 2021, Monochrome will take pre-orders for the 33 subscription watches. Once the process of pre-orders is closed, Maria and Richard Habring will start working on the production of the 33 pieces. First deliveries of the Montre de Souscription 1 are scheduled for September 2021.
Inspired by iconic 1940s chronographs
Let’s take a closer look at the Montre de Souscription 1. The watch is based on the Habring2 Chrono-Felix. The Chrono-Felix is one of the cornerstone models of the brand’s collection. It features an internally developed and assembled monopusher chronograph movement. Like the regular Chrono-Felix models, the Montre de Souscription features a 38.5mm stainless steel case that is 12mm thick and features a 46mm lug-to-lug.
The watch is equipped with a domed sapphire crystal and a double-sealed crown. The pusher at 2 o’clock operates the start, stop, and reset function of the chronograph. Overall it’s a modest-sized watch that perfectly fits the retro-inspired design. Next to its size, the first thing that stands out is the beautiful brushed finish of the case. It creates the perfect canvas for the dial to shine.
Most of the Chrono-Felix models feature an immaculate, almost minimalist dial design. That’s where the new Montre de Souscription 1 takes a different direction. As Geelen explains:
“One of our goals was to give the watch a distinctive vintage twist. The dial, which recalls the dials of some of the most attractive chronographs produced in the 1940s, features a sector layout, precision railroad tracks, and a telemeter scale. As an all-time favorite of the Monochrome team, the two-tone salmon color dial was unanimously approved.”
Seeing the final result, I must say the design and the execution of the dial look absolutely stunning.
The dial is something special
Salmon dials have a special place in the hearts of many watch fans, but it takes a great design to create something exceptional. And that’s what the guys at Monochrome and Habring2 have come up with. In all honesty, I am a sucker for sector dials. Having said that, it doesn’t mean every sector dial is an immediate winner. The typography used needs to be the right style first and foremost. Secondly, a visual balance of the thickness of the numerals, markers, and lines is essential. Thirdly, it helps to differentiate the different parts of the dial if there is a certain color contrast. Finally, the best sector dials have a certain depth that is created by a great finish.
The dial of the Montre de Souscription 1 ticks all of those boxes. It starts with the two-tone galvanized rose gold color of the dial. Overall it has a really warm feel that looks very stylish. The central sector features bold hours markers and greatly styled Arabic numerals at 12 and 6 o’clock. The hour chapter ring is decorated with a concentric pattern. It gives it a different feel than the central part of the dial and the peripheral track display with their vertically brushed finish. The telemeter scale on the periphery of the dial and the sub-counter indications and minutes are placed on precision railroad tracks.
Furthermore, the dial has a classic two-register chronograph layout. It features small seconds at 9 o’clock and a 30-minute chronograph counter at 3 o’clock. The stainless steel leaf-shaped hour and minutes hands, and the small seconds hand, all feature a polished finish. The two blued-steel hands for the chronograph function are a smart touch.
Habring2 Caliber A11C-H1
Inside the case, we find the Habring2 Caliber A11C-H1. As explained, it’s a monopusher chronograph movement that sets it apart from the more common chronographs with two pushers. The movement operates at a frequency of 28,800vph (4Hz) and has a power reserve of 48 hours. In addition, it is equipped with an anti-magnetic escapement with a chronometer-quality Carl Haas hairspring and KIF shock protection.
The architecture of the movement is based on the Valjoux 7750. This comes as no surprise to the people that are familiar with Richard Habring’s work. During his time at IWC, he developed the split-seconds module adapted to a Valjoux 7750 ébauche introduced in 1991. Additionally, he developed compact flying tourbillon with a titanium cage that was part of the legendary Il Destriero Scafusia that IWC introduced in 1993. It is the most complicated watch IWC ever made that was based on a 7750 movement.
For the A11 family of movements, Habring perfected and optimized the architecture of the Valjoux movement. As a result, the A11C-H1 initially looks like the iconic Valjoux 7750. But most of its components have been upgraded. On top of that, Habring2 produces all the parts in-house or gets them from small independent suppliers. No parts are sourced from ETA anymore, as was the case with earlier executions of the movement.
Optimizing an iconic movement
The idea behind the optimization of the Valjoux 7750 was to create an overall better movement. As a result, the Caliber A11C-H1 is mechanically superior and visually more attractive than the iconic Valjoux. Additionally, it is also more robust and easier to service and repair. Maria and Richard Habring manually assemble all the chronograph components and secure them with pins rather than welding them. As a result, the entire movement is assembled and adjusted according to traditional watchmaking techniques.
Visually the movement also gets a great upgrade. The hand-decorated Calibre A11C-H1 is visible through the sapphire display caseback. The bridges feature circular brushing and beveled edges. The mainplate is decorated with perlage, and the blued screws and the gilded components are nice touches of color. Additionally, the chronograph mechanism also features a beautiful finish with a heat-blued cam that looks very nice. Finally, most of the levers feature a straight-grained finish with polished bevels.
The result is a movement that is a huge step up, both technically and visually, from the trusted Valjoux 7750. The back of the case also proudly features the watch’s name as a reminder of this special occasion. Personally, I love the font type that Habring2 used for the engraving. It fits the overall style really well.
Leather strap and bracelet
The first images I saw of the watch were on a brown-colored nubuck leather strap that features a stainless steel pin buckle. It gives the watch a very stylish overall look. A surprise twist comes in the form of Monochrome’s signature light blue leather lining. It’s a nice little twist that I love. The leather strap is easy to exchange thanks to the use of quick-release spring bars.
Next to the leather strap, you will also get a 7-row beads-of-rice bracelet. The bracelet comes with a folding clasp and features straight end links, and emphasizes the watch’s 1940s looks. I love a good beads-of-rice bracelet. They are incredibly comfortable and add a ton of great style — on the Montre de Souscription 1 it is no different. What I especially love is that you can mix up two different styles. On the leather strap, the watch looks very stylish. The combination of the salmon dial with the brown nubuck strap is spot on. But I have to say that it becomes an exceptional style statement that is incredibly hard to beat with the bracelet.
How the subscription works?
As explained before, the Monochrome Montre de Souscription 1 gets its name from the subscription campaign. The limited production run of 33 pieces will be available via subscription in the Monochrome shop. The campaign starts today and runs until the 8th of July 2021. The price of the Montre de Souscription 1 is €5,950 (excluding taxes). You will have to pay a non-refundable deposit of EUR 2,000 (excl. taxes) to secure your pre-order, with the balance due when the watch is ready to be shipped. The watch comes with a 3-year warranty by Habring2.
As I expressed in my intro text, this collaboration is a perfect match. With their deeply rooted love for independent watchmaking, the team at Monochrome found the perfect partner in Habring2 to create their first collaboration watch. As a result, the Habring2 × Monochrome Montre de Souscription 1 is a winner. I love how the timepiece connects the past with contemporary independent watchmaking in all its aspects.
It starts with the vintage-inspired looks that show the design of classic 1940s chronographs hasn’t lost any of its impact and relevance. The combination of the salmon dial and the sector dial is spot on. The colors, the design, and the finishing show the incredible detail that went into creating this watch. A second aspect is the case size that hints back to earlier times and respects the traditional dimensions of historical timepieces. However, despite its modest 38.5mm size, the watch fits a variety of different wrist sizes.
Obviously, there is also the great movement. By using the architecture of the iconic Valjoux 7750, Habring2 gives a respectful nod to the past. But the updates and improvements make sure that the movement is a perfect example of contemporary watchmaking. So, overall, the Habring2 × Monochrome Montre de Souscription 1 is an absolutely great watch that ticks many boxes. But ticking boxes is not what makes this a great watch. Above all, the Montre de Souscription 1 is a statement of the love for independent watchmaking. That feeling is what makes it a great watch and the perfect first collaboration timepiece for Monochrome after 15 years.
To find out more, visit the Monochrome Shop.
If you want to find out more about Habring2 visit the official website.