Union Glashütte Belisar Chronograph Moon Phase — Hands-On Watch Review
It is not often that we have the pleasure of reviewing a fine timepiece from Glashütte, the cradle of German watchmaking. Too bad, because the place is buzzing with brands worthy of our attention. Swatch Group even has two companies with very similar names. We are reviewing a sports chronograph, the Belisar Chronograph Moon Phase, from the smaller sister’s line up.
Union Glashütte, just like its big sister Glashütte Original hails from the eastern German watchmaking town…Glashütte. They are the only two German brands in the portfolio, with Union more accessibly priced.
Needless to say, this does not mean that Union Glashütte watches lack quality. On the contrary, they are fine timepieces in a more fan-friendly price range. As a matter of fact, the two Glashütte companies often collaborate and share their know-how or production of certain parts. As it is with every brand in the group, they support and help each other wherever they can.
Union Glashütte, just like most brands from the town, is a “new old” company. It was established in 1893 under the name Uhrenfabrik Union. However, the flourishing brand had to cease production some 40 years later on the brink of World War II. For the next 60 years, Union Glashütte was non-existent while East Germany was under Soviet occupation. That was until 1996, when the brand was refounded, first as a subsidiary brand of Glahsütte Original.
Belisar Chronograph Moon Phase
Union Glashütte has an immense portfolio. Under the six main model families, we can find several different timepieces and designs. The Belisar is no exception to this rule. From elegant dress watches to sporty pieces, everyone can find something they love.
Today’s watch, the Belisar Chronograph Moon Phase, belongs to the latter category. While this piece balances on edge between sporty and elegant, I’d much rather call it a sports watch due to some design elements. Don’t worry; we’ll talk about them soon. Union Glashütte offers the Belisar Chronograph Moon Phase in two iterations: matt gray or matt black color. I received the gray version, which I also find more interesting due to its color. I mean, you see black watches all the time. But how often do you see a sporty chronograph in gray? See what I mean?
Let’s start dissecting the watch by looking at the case first. At 44.1mm wide and 15.5mm thick, the Belisar Chronograph Moon Phase is a substantial watch. Even so, if you consider that the lug-to-lug length is 52.4mm. The fact that we have a thin and rounded bezel that focuses on the watch face is not helping optically either. Is the watch uncomfortable, though? No, not at all. It is simply large, and perhaps a bit top-heavy. But when we are dealing with a watch at this size, we can expect a bit of heft. What shrinks it a bit visually are the relatively short lugs, chronograph pump pushers, and the crown. Lastly, the top of the case is brushed; only the sides and the back are polished.
A common feature of Belisar models is the screw-on flanks on the sides of the case. While the screws are visible, they have close to zero impact on the model’s appearance. The same goes for the little day corrector at 10 o’clock. The case back is fixed to the watch case with eight small screws. However, most of the back is not even steel. Instead, the Belisar Chronograph Moon Phase has a huge display window. Just like the front on the front, it is sapphire crystal. Although watches with display backs usually have a poorer water-resistance rating, the Belisar, like a true sports watch, can go down as deep as 100m. And that’s in spite of a push-in crown. Thanks to the open back, the owner can admire the wonderfully decorated automatic movement anytime they feel like it.
While the Belisar Chronograph Moon Phase’s case is elegant, the dial is definitely sporty. To start with, we have at least four layers there. The main dial plate is skeletonized, but it is also not just one single layer. We have raised numerals at 3-6-9-12 as well as a raised scale on the 9 o’clock sub-dial. While the rest of the skeleton dial is flat, you can also find the two sub-dials at 6 and 12 lower than the dial. Normally a skeleton dial would let you see the movement, which you can partially do with the Belisar Chronograph Moon Phase. However, in-between the movement and the dial plate, there is a delicate honeycomb-pattern layer. The fun comes with adjusting the date when we can see the movement in motion as the month or the day wheels turn.
Now that we took a closer look at the dial itself, let’s see what features you can see on it. Well, the first two complications are easy: chronograph and moon phase. The aperture for the moon disc is in the middle of the sub-dial at 6. That is also the 12-hour indicator of the chronograph. We have a 30-min counter as well; you can find it at 12. Inside this sub-dial are the day and month windows of the calendar functions. Centralized are the hour and minute, chronograph, and date pointer hands, as you’d have with most triple date watches. Equally so, the continuous seconds and a 24-h indicator are in the same sub-dial at 9. Despite all of this “commotion”, the watch is legible, and the functions are easily usable.
If a timepiece offers such an exquisite list of complications, it has to have a sophisticated movement. When it comes to the Union Glashütte Belisar Chronograph Moon Phase, that movement is the UNG-25.S1. This is a highly complicated caliber and has updates that make it advanced and contemporary.
Firstly, it has a power reserve of around 60 hours. This means that for two and a half days, you don’t even have to worry about your Belisar Chronograph Moon Phase. That means this watch can be doffed for the weekend in favor of a rugged beater and donned once more for the working week without having missed a beat.
Secondly, the movement is equipped with a silicon balance spring, which means it is more resistant to magnetic fields. Lastly, the UNG-25.S1 is finished, assembled, and calibrated in the Union atelier with Glashütte decoration on the rotor, perlage on the base plate, and blued screws. It is a classy movement for a classy watch.
Straps, buckles, and more
I love straps, and I think they are a crucial part of any watch. You can create the most amazing timepiece but if it comes on a cheap strap, it’s an instant turn off for me. Not in this case. The Belisar Chronograph Moon Phase comes on a super soft and comfortable grey nubuck leather strap with a double deployant buckle.
As both the nubuck and the lining are very smooth, you don’t have to worry about breaking it in. Evidently, it perfectly matches the watch. For all of this package, you have to pay €3,200 (German retail price). Now keep in mind that the Belisar is not a small watch. Still, if you fancy a bit of weight and a few extra millimeters on your wrist, you could do much worse than this timepiece. Not to mention the armada of complications you’ll get with it. It is well worth a try. If you would like to visit Union Glashütte’s site, please click here.