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Review: Wempe Chronometerwerke Power Reserve

It’s understandable to discover that, on awaiting receipt of the Wempe Chronometerwerke, I was a little apprehensive. Store-branded watches have a habit of being mediocre at best, and are often half-hearted attempts to—you know, I don’t even know what they’re trying to do. The Chronometerwerke looked pretty good in photos, but as a photographer myself, I know how much of a misrepresentation a tarted-up photo can be. So out it came, wrapped in a protective plastic film, and I waited with butterflies in my stomach for it to be unveiled. That was the job of Lynn, the Managing Director for the Wempe boutique in London, who was sat opposite me as I tried hard to remember how to pull a polite smile.

The steel markers and silvered dial stand out against one another surprisingly well

As the wraps came off, I was relieved to find that the Chronometerwerke is actually quite the handsome watch. A brief glance over, forms signed, genuine smiles all round (the polite one was saved for another day), and the Chronometerwerke was in my keep for the rest of the week. It wasn’t until I got back to the offices and had a good long look at it under a loupe that I realised just how stunning it really is. I have to say, it came as a surprise—a pleasant one, mind—and there were some double takes going on while I scanned every last detail.

Here’s the rundown: the Chronometerwerke Power Reserve, as the name suggests, has a power reserve indicator to keep a visual count of the 48-hour runtime. Hands are leaf-shaped, markers are applied (a feature unique to this twenty-piece limited edition—the standard Chronometerwerke has printed markers), the dial is silver—it’s a typical Germanic affair. But it’s done to such minute perfection that I was left astounded. The print is knife-edge sharp, the hands and markers sculpted and polished in such a way that always catches the light perfectly, the recesses for the seconds and power reserve hewn with nano-robotic precision. And the dial itself—it shimmers like fresh snow, the delicate texture pure and untainted.

The recessed power reserve indicator measures out the 48 hours of power reserve

And as for the off-the-shelf ETA inside—nope, wrong. There’s not an ETA to be seen here. Or a Sellita, or Miyota, or anything of the sort. Working with the experts at Nomos Glashütte, Wempe have developed a calibre unique to themselves, and it is every bit as wonderful as the rest of the watch. At a glance you see the screwed gold chatons, the blued screws, the compact swan-neck regulator. Look again and you’ll see the skeletonised balance and escape wheels, the bevelled edges, the hand-engraved balance bridge. It’s accurate, too, thanks to Wempe’s chronometer testing facility, which is the only one of its type in all of Germany.

Despite my initial concerns, the Chronometerwerke has turned out to be a real winner. It wears comfortably, it looks great, it’s built well and it has a fantastic movement. In actuality, the only real connection this watch has with the usual shop-branded tickers is the cheap price: all this costs an unexpectedly reasonable £5,235. Bargain.

The CW3 movement is perhaps the most impressive part of the Chronometerwerke

Watch Spec | Wempe Chronometerwerke Power Reserve

Case | Stainless steel Dimensions | 43mm Crystal | Anti-reflective coated synthetic sapphire Water Resistance | N/A Movement | Calibre CW3, manual Frequency | 28,800 vph Power Reserve | 48 hours Strap | Leather Functions | Time, small seconds, power reserve