Of Carl F. Bucherer’s two major male-oriented timepiece collections, the Manero and Patravi, it is the former that perhaps most closely exemplifies the watchmaker’s recently adopted “Made of Lucerne” ethos – a phrase referencing its hometown, the Swiss city of Lucerne, whose medieval architecture and historic, gilded landmarks evoke a sense of both luxury and tradition. I spent some time with the steel-cased, blue-gray-dialed version of the Carl F. Bucherer Manero Flyback, which combines elegant aesthetics with practical functionality.
Bucherer added a splash of color to the Manero collection’s signature sport-luxury chronograph wristwatch, the Manero Flyback, in 2017, adding new dials and case materials. I had a chance to review one of the most handsome of these models, with a blue-gray dial and a harmoniously accessorized gray alligator strap, to see if this distinctly modern variation retained the original’s relatively sober elegance.
The stainless steel case of this Manero Flyback measures 43 mm in diameter – certainly contemporary dimensions, though its bezel makes it appear a bit more understated in size – and sports a mirror-polished finish on its thin, slightly sloped bezel as well as on the sensuously curving sides that flow into the lugs. A contrasting brushed finish adorns the lugs’ front surfaces. At a fairly slender height below 15 mm, its ergonomic shape hugs the wrist while sliding easily under a shirt cuff.
This shiny finish is also applied to the mushroom-style chronograph pushers and on the fluted crown that they flank, which is emblazoned on its rounded surface with Carl F. Bucherer’s pinwheeling circular emblem. A flat, box-type crystal rises slightly above the bezel, a nonreflective coating applied to both its sides.
There are a lot of details to cover on the Manero’s dial, but let’s pause to note the very distinctive coloring – a matte, cobalt-blue-tinted gray that sets the stage for the white printed elements and the silvered, rhodium-plated indexes and hands. It is a dial color that is, thus far, still rarely found in Carl F. Bucherer’s portfolio, and in fact in most brands’ collections, despite the growing popularity of gray tones in the watch world. And its pairing with a similarly colored alligator strap ensures that the watch is very compatible with many gentleman’s dressier ensembles, which tend to include shades of grays and blues.
The hour indexes are applied triangular wedges, doubled up for the 12 o’clock marker. A white-printed tachymeter scale, a vintage-inspired element derived from historical chronographs’ role in motorsports timing, occupies the outermost edge. A seconds/minutes track, punctuated by 1⁄4-second hash marks, spans the circle inside the tachymeter. These indexes are perfectly situated so that their flat outer edge lines up with the white outer border of this circle and their pointed tips barely brush against the inner border. At a close glance, one notices that the opaline finish on this circle has a more polished finish than the main center part of the dial, and catches the light differently.
Two subdials placed in parallel with each other at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock, are sunken slightly below the level of the main dial and sport a very subtle snailed finish. The 3 o’clock subdial is a 30-minute totalizer for the chronograph, and the 9 o’clock subdial is a display for the running seconds. Both subdials use the same pleasing serif numeral font as the main dial’s tachymeter scale, both are framed by concentric white circles with printed scales, and both use a white openworked lance-shaped hand, the same style used for the hour and minute hands. The central chronograph seconds hand, also varnished in white, is thin and tapered with a diamond-shaped counterweight that subtly recalls the shape of the other hands.
Design purists may take issue with the use of white for both the chronograph hands and the running seconds hand, as many timepieces visually differentiate the timekeeping from the stopwatch functions by these subtle uses of color. Furthermore, the rhodium-plated hands against the gray dial does not always make for the most easily legible arrangement for reading the current time; it’s fine in bright light but in low light the main hands can get lost, pushing the white chronograph hand (and to a lesser extent the white subdial hands and white date window) to the foreground. Perhaps the visual emphasis on the chronograph displays was the designers’ desired effect, though it’s difficult to know for sure.
Behind a sapphire window we find the Manero Flyback’s movement, the self-winding Caliber CFB 1970, which after a bit of digging we discovered is a base ETA 7750 chronograph caliber modified for CFB by La Joux-Perret to include the flyback function. Driven by a column wheel, and operated by the two mushroom-style pushers, the chronograph is easy and fun to operate, responding to a light press of the index finger and capable of making multiple time measurements in quick succession, since both chronograph hands – the center-mounted seconds counter and the small counter of the elapsed-minutes subdial – can be reset to zero while the stopwatch is still running. The movement has 25 jewels and stores a 42-hour power reserve when fully wound. Winding up that mainspring is the job of the gold rotor, decorated with côtes de Genève and swinging across a micromechanical landscape of plates and bridges embellished with perlage, framing a balance beating at a brisk 28,800-vph frequency.
The shiny gray alligator strap is the color of elephant hide and, to me, one of this watch’s most appealing elements. The stitching on the top surface is tone-on-tone gray while the stitching on the tan-colored underside matches that surface. The securely double-folding clasp is polished on nearly all its surfaces, except for the notable exception of the teardrop-shaded sides of the main buckle, which are satin-brushed. The round Carl F. Bucherer emblem is etched into the bridge of the buckle. The clasp operates with a double push-button release, which on my test model was rather stiff and required a firm push of the thumb and forefinger.
As previously noted, my review model of the Carl F. Bucherer Manero Flyback proved an aesthetically pleasing accessory on the formal and semi-formal occasions during which I wore it, perfectly completing an ensemble of gray suit jacket and powder-blue shirt as well as one of a navy jacket and crisp white shirt. Since the release of this model and its brethren – which included two rose-gold models as well as one with a very striking Champagne-colored dial – Carl F. Bucherer has introduced a more sporty and more retro-styled version of the Manero Flyback, which might be more suited to casual wear and thus more amenable to some tastes. For old-school elegance coupled with contemporary flair, however, this watch may well fit the bill for many. As for this watch’s bill, it is $6,200 – above the $5,000 threshold that some might restrict for themselves when considering a chronograph with an outsourced movement, but arguably quite fair considering the exquisite finishing on both the engine and the chassis and the chronograph’s well-executed flyback function.
Manufacturer: Carl F. Bucherer, Bucherer AG, Langensandstrasse 27, 6002 Lucerne, Switzerland
Reference number: 00.10919.08.93.01
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, chronograph with flyback, date
Movement: Caliber CFB 1970, based on ETA 7750, modified for CFB by La Joux-Perret, automatic, diameter = 30.4 mm, height = 7.9 mm, 28 jewels, 28,800-vph (4 Hz) fre- quency, 42-hour power reserve
Case: Stainless steel with polished and brushed finishes, sapphire crystal with nonreflective coating
Strap and clasp: Gray Louisiana alligator leather strap with stainless steel pin-lock folding clasp
Dimensions: Diameter = 43 mm, height = 14.45 mm