New Meistersinger Bell Hora Watch For 2021
MeisterSinger became famous for its first single-handed watch in the early two-thousands. Ever since then, I’ve been a fan. To me, the N°01, the original MeisterSinger single-hand watch, looks just as fresh today as it did 20 years ago. Today, we’re taking a closer look at the new Bell Hora and see if it lives up to MeisterSinger’s charm of simplicity.
I was happy to find the newly introduced Bell Hora made available to us by Meistersinger. Having a hands-on experience with this kind of watch really helps. Being able to see the dial in natural light or to listen to its charming chime is essential. The Bell Hora is, like the N°01, a watch with just a single hand and no further distracting functions shown on the dial. The dial’s cream color and the black hand provide good contrast, making legibility (once you get the hang of the solo-handed display) a cinch.
MeisterSinger Bell Hora ((🔔))
At first glance, however, it becomes immediately clear that the Bell Hora is quite different from MeisterSinger’s regular single-hand watch. Responsible for this first impression difference is the printing on the dial. Of course, there’s the logo and MeisterSinger brand name. But then, not only the 01, 02, 03, etc., hour indications are present; however, below these, we’ll find 24-hour indications — 13, 14, 15, etc. — as well.
At second sight, there’s even more to the dial. Although the egg-shell surface seems familiar, the dial isn’t entirely flat but sports a circular and radial line structure. The radial lines divide the dial into hourly sectors, while there are five circular tracks. The outer two house the 12 and 24 hour-numerals. The minute track is — as we’re used to with MeisterSinger — a five-minute track. And although MeisterSinger isn’t about telling the time as exactly as possible, it provides a decent indication — I’d say almost to the minute.
What about the bell?
Although there aren’t any distracting extra functions or hands in the dial, the Bell Hora does have an exceptional talent. A “Sonnerie au Passage”. And while most of us probably don’t speak or understand French, this term is a rather intuitive one. The watch strikes a bell once it passes the full hour. It’s a function not often found in horology, and when found, it’s only in extremely high-end models.
…exactly on the hour?
MeisterSinger explains: “Exactly on the hour, the watch produces a friendly chime, alerting the wearer to the passing of time without having to look at the dial.” I find this to be an interesting, somewhat off-base development for the brand. MeisterSinger has never been about exact time indication. There has always been a whimsical, laissez-faire aspect to Meistersinger. The idea that the passage of time is to be enjoyed rather than overbearing is a key tenet of the brand. And so it would be fair to ask whether an hourly reminder is necessary. While some may find it incongruous, it is certainly an artful and uncommon addition to the brand’s lineup.
Of course, you can silence Bell Hora’s “Sonnerie au Passage” if you do so wish. If chiming is not desired, pulling out a pusher located above the crown will do the trick. A black ring on the mentioned pusher shows that the watch will remain silent on the hour.
How it’s done
MeisterSinger found a very keen solution for this exclusive complication. Despite using a rather basic automatic movement — the Sellita SW200 — the brand found an additional construction in their own house that could do the job. MeisterSinger converted the jumping hour mechanism of the Salthora to strike a little hammer instead of jumping an hour disc. Subsequently, on the hour, the hammer strikes a little gong. The tension required for actuating the hammer is built up by a snail cam attached to the minute wheel over the course of 60 minutes. Hence, power is not withdrawn suddenly from the mainspring barrel but continually, which only influences the workings to a minimal degree.
…perhaps we’ll see a transparent dial version of the Bell Hora in the future…
The Sellita movement is visible through a glass back, but unfortunately, one can’t admire the hammer and gong construction here. The additional module is placed directly behind the dial and thus isn’t visible from the movement side. But who knows? The Salthora Meta Transparent revealed the dial-side workings on that model so perhaps we’ll see a transparent dial version of the Bell Hora in the future as well.
Dimensions of the MeisterSinger Bell Hora
The MeisterSinger Bell Hora is a substantial watch. It has a 43mm diameter, with a 13mm height. The rather cylindrical shape of the casing, with only the bezel being rounded, further strengthens its appearance. I guess that the size of the “Sonnerie au Passage”, and specifically the size of the gong, has something to do with it.
On the other hand, 43 mm is a regular size for MeisterSinger’s models in general. However, I was happy to see the N°01 being introduced in 40 mm recently. Although more scientific studies exist, it’s mainly a personal opinion if a watch size is a good fit for your wrist or not. But, in my opinion, the Bell Hora is about the max my 18cm wrist can handle. A lug-to-lug distance of almost 50 mm means the strap has to bend down sharply over both sides of your wrist, requiring maximum flexibility of the strap.
Strap and buckle
It took a while for the calf-leather, Croco-print, strap to become flexible. It was a bit stiff when new, and takes a good couple of weeks to break in (bear that in mind when you strap it on for the first time). The vintage saddle leather, or even the Milanaise metal bracelet, might be more immediately comfortable solutions here. The strap is fitted with a folding clasp, which is nicely signed though and uses the two-side push-button principle to open.
Sapphire crystal and 50 meters
It is good to know that the Bell Hora sports a sapphire crystal and is waterproof to a theoretical depth of 50 meters. It means the watch can withstand a pressure of 5 bar, and it — certainly in combination with its sapphire crystal — will be robust enough for your daily activities. That does depend as well on what these activities actually are, of course…
I really enjoyed wearing the MeisterSinger Bell Hora. The “Sonnerie au Passage” complication is lovely and, as said, a complication not often found. So far, I didn’t even mention the sound in this review, but I have to say it’s absolutely gorgeous. It’s soft enough not to be disturbing but hard enough to be noticed. Specifically by the wearer; exactly how you like it. The pitch and tone are spot-on — very classy. Starting the sound file below will give you a hint.
What were my most remarkable experiences when wearing the watch? First, of course, the beautiful chime that — normally — nobody but you notices. It modestly reminds you that you’re wearing a special timepiece. The ease of reading the time was another thing that struck me. Although providing only one hand and 5-minute interval indexes, it quickly becomes common practice and relatively easy to read the time. And I love the soft, cream dial color together with the contrasting black single hand. I can’t emphasize this enough.
Talking about the dial color, don’t get fooled by the pink-ish color shown on this MeisterSinger webpage. It’s wrong. Of course, it depends on the color of ambient light, but in real life, there’s no pink at all. It’s just cream, much like in the pictures we took for this article. On a calibrated monitor, they’re very close to the original dial color. The picture below is taken from the MeisterSinger website. It’ll make clear what I mean:
And what about pricing? Well, Bell Hora’s list price lies between € 3,490 and € 3,780. € 3,490 for the watch fitted with the strap we had in this review, or € 3,780 on the metal Milanaise bracelet. In between — € 3,505 — lies the price for the watch on a vintage saddle leather strap.
I would opt for the latter, expecting this strap to be more comfortable than the Croco-effect one. Further information on MeisterSinger and the Bell Hora is on their website, and you’ll find me on IG @gerardnijenbrinks.