Introducing: The Ultralight And Super-Thin Behrens BHR030 20G
It’s been nearly two months since Watches And Wonders, and we’ve all heard and read plenty about all the fantastic watches from the usual suspects. We all know what Rolex, Tudor, and the other big boys launched in March. Some of you may not have known that another show was running at the same time as Watches And Wonders, called Time To Watches. It featured many smaller independent brands. I visited to meet with a few of them, particularly one of my up-and-coming favorites, Behrens. Rather excitingly, Behrens announced its new novelty for 2023 during the show, the BHR030 20G.
Given how impressive the project is, I was surprised to see very little other coverage across the watch media, so I thought it worth introducing to you, the Fratelli. Without further ado, let’s look at the Behrens BHR030 20G. It’s worth noting that the watch in these photos is a non-working prototype. The project is still in its early stages, but Behrens obviously wanted to share what it’s working on with the watch community. The brand confirmed to me a few upgrades are underway compared to what you see in the images here. The brand plans to refine the contrast between the hands and markings for enhanced legibility. Additionally, expect some minor parts/finishing upgrades too. So, what’s so special about the BHR030, I hear you ask? Well, this watch is incredibly lightweight. Ultralight, you could say.
Ultralight by name, ultralight by nature
If you asked me for an exact number, how does 20g sound? That’s not including the slimline rubber strap and buckle, but it’s still pretty damn impressive. I can confirm from having worn the watch that you instantly forget you’re wearing it. The fluoroelastomer rubber strap is the perfect choice as it only enhances that superior level of comfort. These numbers may seem impressive, but let’s add some context. Richard Mille’s RM 67-01 weighs 32g (including strap and buckle). Even the crazy RM UP-01 Ferrari collab weighs 30g (also including the strap and buckle). Behrens is in some pretty good company here. By the way, it’s worth taking a minute to watch the brand’s launch video below. The video shows more details of the watch from the side and internally than I was able to capture at the show.
As of today, the lightest watch on record is made by an independent French watchmaker named Valentin Remontet. He made a watch named the Ultralight, which weighs 17g with the strap and buckle. While the Behrens prototype that I tried on does not beat this record, keep your eyes on the horizon. Behrens plans to release a second version of the BHR030, which will take the crown by a not-insignificant margin.
The model shown in the images here uses titanium for the case and the movement. However, Behrens is developing a second model, the BHR030 11G, for which the case and the movement use a proprietary carbon composite the brand calls “SPSCF Carbon.” This special carbon version is scheduled to come in at around 11g. Add on the rubber strap and buckle, and it should end up tipping the scales at around 16g. This would make the 11G the world record holder for the lightest watch. This is certainly impressive stuff, but for the average collector, it’ll all boil down to wearability.
The BHR030 20G is inspired by traditional Chinese culture
One of the first things you’ll notice about the BHR030 is its asymmetrical case. Inspired by traditional Chinese culture, the concept came from a historical tool called hu. This is a type of flat scepter originating from China, where they were commonly used as ceremonial tablets for recording important orders and instructions from the emperor. The hu were made of different materials depending on the holder’s rank, but they were all very thin and often curved — two key tenets shared by the BHR030.
…these are pretty much unicorn dimensions.
The BHR030’s asymmetrical trapezoidal case measures 42mm long on the longest side. The 38mm diameter means it is nice and compact too. The watch measures just 5.2mm thick as well. For many people, and in a time when smaller watches seem to be the preference of many collectors, these are pretty much unicorn dimensions. They’re great on paper, and I am pleased to report that they hold up to that expectation on the wrist. I genuinely did not want to take this thing off, even if it wasn’t working.
The Behrens 20G doesn’t lose sight of a watch’s true purpose — wearability
Some of these insane concept watches lose sight of the fact that they’re still meant to be watches at the end of the day. We get watches so thin and fragile that they’re not built to withstand everyday use. The BHR030, however, is meant to be worn as you would any other watch. OK, not a dive watch as the water resistance is only 30m, but this is a more-than-able companion for all regular daily wear.
Taking a closer look at the BHR030 20G, you’ll notice that the watch dial is not really a dial at all. What you are looking at is the movement itself. Behrens did away with a dial and printed all markings directly on the movement or the underside of the crystal. A dial only adds weight and is, therefore, an unnecessary additional part. To display the time, Behrens uses two retrograde displays, with one for the hours and one for the minutes. The balance wheel sits proudly at 6 o’clock, and then a small power reserve indicator is tucked away at 11 o’clock. The power reserve is a handy feature as this is (obviously) a hand-wound timepiece. With a power reserve of around 38 hours, it’s certainly good to know when the juice needs topping up.
The curved movement is watchmaking prowess on display
My final point of note about this pretty spectacular watch was the ergonomic shape of the case. That may not sound like much to write home about, but considering that the watch is just 5.2mm thick raises questions about how the movement will fit inside the case. Movements are flat, right? Not in this case (pun intended). Behrens developed the in-house caliber to follow the same curved plane as the case. Each of the BM02 in-house manual-winding movement’s connecting gears features a slight angle difference of 15 degrees. The curved architecture of the BM02 allows it to fit inside the super slimline case and allows the watch to hug the wrist gracefully and be a delight to wear.
…the Behrens BHR030 20G is one of the most genuinely unique and creative concepts I have seen in a long while.
I don’t know if it’s apparent from reading this short introductory article, but this watch blew me away. Sometimes people unfairly overlook a brand like Behrens because it’s Chinese. Of all the news coming out of Geneva in March, the Behrens BHR030 20G is one of the most genuinely unique and creative concepts I have seen in a long while. The brand is trying to break records and still produce an incredibly wearable and functional timepiece at attainable price points. This is the kind of thing we should be talking about and hearing about more often.
Why the Behrens BHR030 20G is an attainable grail
Typically, such technology and horological wizardry come with a hefty price tag. If a Swiss brand made this watch, we’d easily be looking in the mid-five-figure range. Somehow, Behrens plans to launch this watch under 10K, and by some margin at that. Expect the price of the BHR030 20G to be around US$7,500 when orders open in late October of this year, with production already underway. I think you’ll agree that it’s pretty impressive and aggressive pricing. Production will be limited annually to 180 pieces, so if you’re interested in owning a BHR030 of your own, I’d look to get in touch with the brand soon to register your interest.
Given all the engineering that goes into making such a watch, the price should be higher. If it were, Behrens would likely be able to shake the old-fashioned and negative connotations of being a “Chinese brand” — as sad as that may sound. Only time will tell how watch collectors will react and embrace the BHR030. But if it’s anything less than with open arms, then I’ll be disappointed. I make no secret of my admiration for this watch, and it has shot right up there on my current watch “wish list” as an attainable grail. The 20G is a watch displaying high levels of watchmaking prowess and mechanical engineering at a price that is more inclusive than the likes of Richard Mille et al. If you’re into ultra-modern sports watch design, this could be one for you.
Please keep your eyes peeled as I hope to have a hands-on review of the 20G later this year so I can really dissect the watch in more detail. Until then, I can only go on my first impressions, which were incredibly encouraging…