Inspired by Stereo: Hands-On with the Reservoir Sonomaster Chronograph

French watchmaker Reservoir is known for taking inspiration from various functional and aesthetic measuring instruments. Ranging from the Kanister Collection, which drew inspiration from the marriage of automobile aesthetic and timekeeping, to one of the brand’s more recent dive watch releases, the ​​Hydrosphere Bronze “Greg Lecoeur” Edition, which draws influence from underwater pressure gauges.

Following this trend, this year Reservoir took influence from an unexpected source, working to channel the world of sound and Hi-Fi in one of its most high profile launches to date via the Sonomaster Chronograph. Featuring two bi-retrograde display that mirrors power measurement scales or VU meters from analog stereo amplifiers, the watch highlights the creative thinking at the Paris-based brand via its sustained and novel effort to implement measuring devices into its design work. The model was originally launched in March via a black and tan “Vintage” option, with the design since expanding to further include a silver and black dial “Modern” colorway alongside an all noir “Black Thunder” iteration. We went hands-on with the black and tan variation this past summer.

On the wrist, the Sonomaster measures 43mm in diameter, wearing somewhat prominently as a result of its novel caliber inside. The steel case is stylized with a flat crown and matching chronograph pushers, each inspired by the feel of control buttons on an amplifier. Completing the detailing of the case is a tachymeter bezel, solidifying the model’s chronograph functionality, while a brushed finishing is applied throughout. Available on either a triple-link steel bracelet or a black leather strap, we reviewed the latter option, with the band secured via a deployant clasp that adds a touch of elevation to the otherwise large wearing, sporty timepiece.

Underneath a curved sapphire crystal, the Sonomaster Chronograph, as mentioned, features a bi-Retrograde display, with two partial half-moon-shaped areas for the chronograph seconds and date contrasting the main dial. The space between the parallel registers creates space for a 30-minute chronograph counter and a running seconds sub-dial placed towards the 12 and 6 o’clock positions, respectively. A visual trademark of the sound measuring equipment that inspired this watch is a slim needle that operates against a scale, which Reservoir mimics in its pin-thin hands. Emphasis is placed on the functionality of each deliberate register, made cohesive with aesthetically retro overtones, while an intriguing layering effect resulting from the many different scales help add to the general appeal and eye-catching aesthetic of the timepiece.

Regardless of the inspiration drawn from various avenues and applied in its many watches, Reservoir keeps one thing consistent across its collections: its distinct use of retrograde indicators, being used as a mechanism of both visual utility and as a reference to traditional analogs. Like other Reservoir watches, the retrograde hands of the Sonomaster are equally as charming, though differ from previous designs from the brand via their reservation for the chronograph functionality and date indicator, rather than for the regular timekeeping as seen in most other executions by the brand. In the chronograph seconds window, the hand snaps back to reset every 30 seconds with such precision that if you blink, you just might miss it, with the date each night doing just the same at the end of each month. Not only is the function visually engaging, but the application of the retrograde style in the Sonomaster exemplifies a key signature of the young brand, once more hammering its unique position and appeal in the marketplace.

Inside the model is the new caliber RSV-Bi120, a movement based upon La Joux-Perret caliber L1C0 and specially developed to meet the uncommon design needs of the Sonomaster Chronograph. The automatic mechanism was created as a Reservoir exclusive, with the unique bi-retrograde chronograph functionality equipped with a column wheel mechanism and capable of a 60-hour power reserve. The power reserve is notably longer as compared to other Reservoir timepieces, with retrograde displays often drawing increased power for operation as compared to non-retrograde, traditional timekeeping displays. This helps the model serve not only as a talking-point novelty, but further as an everyday wearer, with it capable after some effort of learning to read the unique display to serve as a ready grab-and-go timepiece.

The Reservoir Sonomaster Chronograph is available now via Reservoir directly as well as through various authorized retailers globally, with pricing marked at $6,350 when equipped on a leather band, and $6,750 on the steel bracelet.

To learn more, visit Reservoir here.

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