Habring² Chrono-Felix Top-Second: Maestro of Clever Complications
There have been a handful of master watchmakers who have created some kickass cool complications either based on readily available movements, or with simplified in-house movements. Kurt Klaus used a module on top of Valjoux 7750 to create IWC Da Vinci perpetual calendar, with all the adjustments made through the crown. Paul Gerber designed the movement with alarm function for the world’s first automatic Fortis chronograph, and later developed the triple rotor under his own brand. Then there is Ludwig Oechslin’s calendar complication based on Valjoux 7750 for MIH watch, and work of Jean-Marc Wiederrecht to create lateral, linear, jumping and retrograde hours based on ETA 2892 for Romain Jerome’s Spacecraft.
In present time, Habring² is the undeniable maestro of clever and cool complications. Their COS chronograph that features start-stop-reset function that is controlled entirely by the crown. Doppel 38 is a compact and slim, manual winding split-seconds chronograph (rattrapante). Erwin is fitted with a jumping seconds complication where seconds hand “jumps” every second, similar to a quartz movement. Foudroyante-Felix model features a combination, or in this case, a contradiction of slow jumping seconds and continuously “flashing seconds” or Foudroyante that measures ⅛ of a second. I will return to the flashing seconds complication while discussing their latest Chrono-Felix Top-Second. The Habrings have also added a five-minute repeater that chimes the hours and five-minute intervals, and a perpetual calendar to their well round collection of clever complications. The cleverness is not only the in the function of the complication, but in the design of it as well.
Before I delve into the latest their complication, I want to state that having known the Habrings for some time, they are super down to earth and a caring couple. These characteristics reflect in their watchmaking as well. They make an honest watch without high-end finishing, but still deliver respectable finishing that can be admired from case back. They offer the watches at a reasonable price for the various complications, with majority of them being under 10k euros. Finally, the Habrings always package their watches in a simple wooden box stating, “made with love.”
Chrono-Felix Top-Second is the latest clever complication from Richard and Maria Habring. So, what exactly is the Top-Second complication? Swiss-based Mondia watch company developed Top Second complication in 1960’s, but both the complication and the watch company went dormant (Mondia was acquired by Zenith), except for the vintage pieces that can be had for few hundred dollars. The basic concept is a flashing dot on the dial which alternates between a red and black color to indicate that the watch is functional.
Technically, the solution is brilliantly simple. The flashing red dot is created by a tiny spinning propeller with two blades that completes one full rotation in 2 seconds. When the red-painted blade passes under the hole, it generates a “flashing” effect every second. The propeller gets its power from an additional wheel in the train. From a wearer’s perspective, this is one the of most entertaining complication.
In my opinion, Habring has greatly enhanced the “flashing” complication over Mondia in their Chrono-Felix Top-Second. First, unlike Mondia, the propeller completes the rotation every 5 seconds. This makes for a better visual of flashing red dot every 2.5 seconds, rather than dizzying speed of flashing every second. To translate this into music tempo language, it is like going from a high-beat Presto tempo to a more pleasant tempo of Allegro. Although, the Habrings have their own take on this, “The exciting question remains, what the proud wearer of this model can do in 5 seconds (2 x 2.5 seconds) until the little propeller has turned in each case. Of course, the new Felix model measures the short time, as a chronograph should. But on top of that, the 5-second rhythm can help with time management.
At least that’s what motivational coach Mel Robbins says when she recommends an inner countdown if you just don’t feel like doing some unpleasant task. This is what does the trick: For example, you decide to make an unpleasant phone call that you’ve been putting off again and again. Then you count backwards: 5,4,3,2,1 and dial the number on your smartphone. Supposedly, the 5-second countdown activates the so-called prefrontal cortex. This brain region is responsible for conscious decisions.”
The other enhancement Habring made is integrating the flashing within the number 9, thereby making it seamless part of the dial rather than a separate display as it was in Mondia watches. Habring also eliminated the running seconds at 9 o’clock with this complication.
Now for the “Chrono-Felix” part of the complication where the Habring has combined the Top-Second complication with a mono-pusher chronograph with a 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock. The fact that these complications were executed in a Pilot’s watch dial, it really resonated with me. I am a Pilot’s watch enthusiast and I already admire Habring’s Erwin Pilot’s watch. To me this was the one-two punch KO with two cool and clever Pilot’s watch complications. It is noteworthy to mention that Habring did implement the Top-Second complication in 2022 for a special 30-piece limited edition created for CronotempVs collectors. Top-Second in that case was implemented within the sub-dial along with a separate day-night indicator.
Movement-wise it is their in-house developed and manually wound caliber A11FC. It features Amagnetic escapement with Carl Haas balance hairspring in chronometer quality with 48-hours power reserve. The movement finishing is very respectable with polished bevels, decorative ribbing, perlage – all done by hands.
What I personally like about my Erwin Pilot’s watch is the restrained 38.5mm case and height under 10mm. Chrono-Felix Top-Second has the same 38.5mm diameter and case height of 11mm. That is impressive for this dual complication piece.
It is refreshing to see how Richard and Maria Habring think out-of-the-box to keep us interested with their clever complications. In a way this showcases their technical brilliance in solving complicated problems in a simple way. In the current watch collecting environment, a lot of prominence (both admiration and value) is assigned to finishing technique. I think there is ample opportunity for appreciating the technical genius of Habring well into the future.
Habring² Chrono-Felix Top-Second
Movement: Hand winding A11FC caliber, Carl Haas balance hairspring in chronometer quality, 48-hours power reserve
Functions: Hour hand, minute hand, Top-Second indication at 9 o’clock, mono-pusher chronograph with a 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock
Case: 38.5mm x 11.00mm stainless steel, water resistant to 30m
Dial: Black lacquered with white printing, rhodiated hands with SuperLuminova
Strap: NATO style green strap
Price: Euro 8050 inc. VAT.
MORE STORIES ABOUT INDEPENDENT WATCHMAKING
FROM THE SHOP
|Movement||Self-winding caliber FBN 229.01 with natural escapement; 72-hour power reserve|
|Functions||Hours, minutes and small seconds|
|Case||40mm; stainless steel; water resistant to 30m|
|Dial||Verdant green, with sector track; applied, white rhodium treated gold Arabic numerals and hour markers|
|Strap||Brown calf leather with Alcantara lining, stainless steel pin buckle; additional Milanese bracelet in stainless steel|
|Limited Edition||Limited edition of 15 pieces|