WATCH REVIEW

One Hand, Two Barrels: Meistersinger Circularis


In this article from the December 2015 issue of WatchTime, we size up MeisterSinger’s single-hand, double-barrel Circularis, which boasts a power reserve of five full days. Original photos are by Nik Schölzel.

No watch can function without a movement, so the watch industry was understandably anxious when the Swatch Group announced in 2010 that it planned to curtail movement sales to companies outside the group (it is doing so gradually, over a period of years). The German brand MeisterSinger, like many other mechanical-watch brands, began looking for alternatives to Swatch Group movements. The result was Caliber MSH01, made exclusively for MeisterSinger by Synergies Horlogères, in Bienne, Switzerland.

Last year, MeisterSinger, which specializes in single-handed watches, launched the new movement in a watch called the Circularis.

MeisterSinger Circularis - soldier
Like other MeisterSinger watches, the Circularis shows the time in 5-minute increments.

The movement is 32.7 mm in diameter, making it significantly larger than any movement MeisterSinger has used in the past. The larger size has several advantages. For one thing, it makes the caliber more robust, which is important for a movement that is intended for  large-scale production. A larger movement can also have a longer power reserve: MeisterSinger guarantees 120 hours (five days) for the MSH01. The movement achieves this impressive running time with the aid of two barrels, which are integrated into a building-block system.
The MSH01 is meant to serve as a base caliber. Its design makes it possible to remove individual subassemblies or to rearrange them, thus assuring that sufficient space can be made available for future complications such as a chronograph or alarm mechanism. An automatic version is already in the pipeline.

In accordance with MeisterSinger’s form-follows-function design principle, the MSH01 has received only modest embellishment. Aside from rounded edges and blued screws, it is distinguished by the unusual shape of the gear-train bridge, which is adorned with circular stripes that close toward the center of the movement. (These stripes are the source of the watch’s name.) Large apertures in the bridge highlight the twin barrels, the movement’s most prominent feature. The balance cock is also in full view. The balance spring was made by the La Chaux-de-Fonds company Concepto; Synergies Horlogères sources all components from Swiss companies not owned by the Swatch Group.

Meistersinger Circularis - movement
Large apertures in the gear-train bridge highlight the twin barrels.

The barrels’ serial arrangement enables them to convey energy more regularly than would have been possible with only one mainspring. After the Circularis had been fully wound, our timing machine calculated an average daily gain of 4.8 seconds, which increased to 5.4 seconds per day after it had been left running for 24 hours. Because the dial has no seconds hand, the corresponding values couldn’t be determined in our wrist test.

To achieve the 120-hour power reserve, the mainsprings must first be fully wound, a task that takes a bit longer with this watch because of the two barrels. If you flip the Circularis over while you wind it, you can see the winding motion of the barrels. In our test, the watch finally stopped running after 127 hours. This means that it is no problem to set the Circularis aside throughout a long weekend. It will still be running when you reach for it on Monday or Tuesday morning.

MeisterSinger Circularis - side
The watch has no sharp edges at all, making it very comfortable to wear.

Like other MeisterSinger watches, the Circularis shows the time in 5-minute intervals. The dial has been designed for optimum legibility: the indexes, of which there are 144, vary in length to make them easier to read. The shortest ones divide each quarter hour into three 5-minute segments; slightly longer ones mark two quarter hours of each hour; half hours and full hours are marked by still longer strokes. All of these are cut short at their outer ends, thus freeing enough space along the dial’s periphery for an additional minutes circle, with strokes for each hour’s 15th and 45th minutes. The numeral 30 indicates the 30th minute of each hour, and a dot marks the 60th minute. The smaller inset disk at the dial’s center, featuring 12 markers, accentuates the hours and serves as a design element, filling what would be a void. The outer minutes circle is designed to make the time easier and quicker to read.

The case’s 43-mm diameter makes it one of MeisterSinger’s largest, but the watch fits well on narrower wrists. This is partly because the watch weighs a mere 88 grams. Comfort is further enhanced by the total absence of sharp edges. The case tapers from top to bottom so that, in combination with the very narrow bezel, it looks smaller than it actually is.
Hand-wound Caliber MSH01 is engineered with plenty of good sense and horological expertise. The watch’s price of $5,995 is entirely reasonable for a newly designed watch containing such a movement.

Meistersinger Circularis - front

SPECS:

Manufacturer: MeisterSinger GmbH & Co. KG, Hafenweg 46, D-48155 Münster, Germany
Reference number: CC103
Functions: Hours, minutes (read off hour hand)
Movement: In-house Caliber MSH01 by Synergies Horlogères, two barrels,        Concepto balance spring, 120-hour power reserve, fine adjustment via eccentric screws, circular stripes and graining, frequency = 28,800 vph, diameter =  32.7 mm, height = 5.4 mm
Case: Stainless steel, cambered sapphire crystal with nonreflective coating on the outside, sapphire caseback, water           resistant to 50 m
Strap and clasp: Alligator strap, double folding clasp
Rate results (deviations in seconds per 24 hours, fully wound / after 24 hours):
Dial up         0 / 0
Dial down         +6 / +6
Crown up        +9 / +9
Crown down        0 / +2
Crown left         +9 / +10
Greatest deviation of rate    9 / 10
Average deviation    + 4.8 / +5.4
Average amplitude:
Flat positions        305° / 286°
Hanging positions        286° / 255°
Dimensions: Diameter = 42.7 mm, height = 12.1 mm, weight = 88 g
Variations: Blue dial, silver-colored dial; stainless-steel mesh bracelet (available with strap version for an additional $555)
Price: $5,995

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