The anachronistic voyage…
I have doubts if these few lines are of any interest to anybody at all. This is certainly not a bit to “shill” the Endurance by Habring2 (already sold out) especially about the wonderful piece by Watchonista a couple of days ago. It isn’t even a review of the Endurance, but instead about a project that began sometime in early 2019. My motivation in writing these lines is probably more about the journey than the promotion of a personal vanity project (or at least this I would like to believe).
Looking back at other concluded projects, perhaps what annoys me most is that very soon we will see some of the things from the Endurance gracefully used by comercial brands without crediting. Too many times I have seen comercial brands “fish” for ideas in “Indie” territory and never-ever give credit. God knows I signed countless NDA’s with brands and collaborated in many watch projects. Most are grateful and good friends to this day, while others will not even give a “hint” of a thank you. Well, that’s life.
When we set sail
It was some time ago that I though it of interest and value to revive the “Top Second” indication by Mondia. (A brand acquired by, or better say “absorbed” into Zenith in the beginning of the 70’s.) Although far from being a vintage fan, I must admit that there are many watches from a bygone era that I respect immensely. Either because they are unique, daring or are responsible for starting an era.
Amongst my favourite vintage pieces, is undoubtedly the Mondia with its “Top Second” indication. For me, the only room for improvement in the concept is that this indication would better serve its purpose in a watch of a more “active” nature. For instance, a tool-watch where a redundant or quick confirmation that it is working would be more useful indeed. Most important is that this indication could allow to do without the seconds hand (that many times is just in the way) on a chronograph. Aesthetically turning it into a bi-compax design with a 12-hour chrono counter would have been well worth the study. I believe that some have used an alternative design but based on the seconds hand to do just that. Don’t remember who though.
Now, the question was; who could, and most important who would, be able to bring this back to life? The list was short. Richard Habring without a doubt. For several months a back and forth exchange of ideas made this project evolve into the “Endurance”. A journey with not a few disagreements (watchmaker vs. designer) that probably only got to port because of Maria’s intervention.
Why the Endurance?
Did the story find the watch, or the watch the story? I guess a bit of both. From the very beginning, the goal was to make a watch with all the advancements that one could have wished fore in a timepiece a century ago. Something any officer on a polar expedition like the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition would wear in the first quarter of the XX century. It is curious is that just now the BBC informs on a polar expedition to find the ship…
A timepiece upgraded to withstand the cold and indicate that it is working via three redundancies. A classic small seconds hand, a power reserve indication and the newly resurrected “Top Second” indication. Too much? Maybe, but in those days chronometry was absolutely crucial to achieve accurate navigation. The lives of all crew members depended on it. Add a special oil to withstand extreme low temperatures and the HMS (Habring Magnetic Shield) that protects the balance spring against magnetism. These are some of the most relevant upgrades for a watch in such an endeavour.
The cherry on top
Last but not least, the day and night indication… the cherry on top. Not planed initially in the Endurance project yet very much part of the story. What started as a standard slow-rotating 24-hour disk ended up as an instant day and night indication. A significant upgrade to what other more “prestigious” brands and movement with a day and night indications offer. Subtle and only visible through the lumen, the day and night indication instantly “jumps” to open at 6 am and instantly closes at 6 pm.
One might ask, why a day and night indication? Well, in the north and south pole much of the time is ether spent in total darkness or in never ending daytime. One would think that an indication of this would be at least amusing in either conditions. Also, it just looks cool…
A long journey
As said before, after many email exchanges (and even a brief interruption) the Endurance by Habring2 project finally came to life. A VERY limited series of 33 watches (set by the availability of the calibre) that will never be repeated in any way or color in the future. What seemed to be a relatively fast development and delivery by Habring2 became thwarted by a succession of delays due to COVID shutdowns. From impossibilities to service a CNC machine to interruptions due to workplace restrictions. Most surprising was the patience of all collectors that engaged in this project with us from the start.
Trials and tribulations
Perhaps the most testing moment of this voyage was when the first assembled unit came to be OK’ed. Unfortunately with a lumen tone due to different application method/technique than was initially ordered. The result was far from what was intended, at least to me. The temptation to concede and give the Endurance by Habring2 a green light was considerable. In short, deliver in a few weeks, or say “no” and delay the final delivery another 3 months… Needless to say, I did not OK this dial. I knew that I would have never forgiven myself in the years to come if I did. I could not be happier to have taken this difficult decision.
Fortunately an unexpected “bonus” came from this faulty application mistake/error of the Super LumiNova. It looked bad on the indices yet made something very unique in the sphere of the day and night indication. The long sought after solution to have “black” luminous material visible beyond 20 seconds after fully charging is solved. A detail that only “advanced” collectors will understand and enjoy.
And added perk is the unique winding feel of the crown. The internal configuration of gaskets inside the crown had to be redesigned in order to fit the case. A case that despite its size was slight modified to fit smaller wrists. The changes made to the crown contributive to a very enjoyable winding feel of the watch.
Chapter 2 of a story that began a long time ago
The Endurance is the sequel of an anachronism that began with D.Dornblüth’s CT8. Today, as much as any mechanical watch today can be viewed as an anachronistic, the poetry in the concept is what is relevant. Like reading a “paper” book instead of grabbing an iPad. A design based on traditional marine chronometers with a “little” extra to make it more interesting. Even if both watches seem to have nothing in common, they both are based on a similar story.
A story inspired by my father and others like him. Compelled into a civil war at the age of 16 to become a man of the sea until the very end. A time when basic instruments and a more “esoteric” knowledge of the sea where tools for survival. Crucial was not only accurate time but so also barometers and the current state of the moon to predict suden or long term weather changes. Instruments that where almost an obsession amongst those at sea, even when on land in their daily lives.
I often would see my father “tapping” on a barometer as a daily routine to see its tendency in an attempt to predict the coming weather. A routine as anachronic as a mechanical watch. the Today, technology has certainly replaced much of those habits.
To my father… 1919 – 2019