Inside, Then Out: Zeitwinkel’s Fresh Angle On Horological Genesis
Where do you start when designing a watch? The dial? A distinctive case shape? An “homage” to a vintage rarity? All of these things, yes, but who on earth starts making a movement first, with no idea how the final watch will look?
We’ll tell you who: a university professor and high-end watch industry veteran – the co-founders of Zeitwinkel. When Ivica “Maks” Maksimovic and Peter Nikolaus first got together with the intention of creating watches honouring “the purest traditions of Swiss watch manufacturing”, they started with the movement, diligently sourcing components for their in-house design from trusted partners dotted throughout the Jura mountains, rather than hubristically going it alone. As Peter pointed out in an interview back in 2014: “We can make a wheel – but then we’d have to throw it out and go buy one that would actually work in our watches.”
In a world where origins are either lost in the shadows of time or are blurred with smoke and mirrors, this transparency is refreshing, as are the watches themselves. Not only that, for such an authentically conceived Swiss-crafted watch powered by an in-house movement with such out-and-out character, the value proposition is almost unbelievable. Maks and Peter share a deep personal conviction that their discerning buyers deserve nothing less than the very best and they have the duty to bring it to the market for them, shunning all the usual marketing brouhaha.
Though they’re based in the mountain village of Saint-Imier, technically this is a Swiss-German hybrid – with beautifully engineered German cases, German silver being used in the movements, and the configuration of the dials bearing a distinct “Saxon” flavour, with their big dates and off-kilter power reserve. The name itself is obviously German too – “zeit” means “time” and “winkel” is “angle”. The so-called “time-angle” is, in contrast to this rather clumsy English construct, a rather romantic allusion to the time expressed by the shadow falling across a sundial at noon; a notion steeped in timekeeping’s most formative heritage.
Despite having started this enterprise in 2006, it took until 2010 for Peter and Maks to have two movements that they were happy to present to the watch world. The calibres ZW0102 and its variant the ZW0103 are elegant, crisp pieces of engineering, with hand-finished Côtes de Genève stripes, perlage “dots” and chamfered edges. Both are automatics with a useful 72-hour power reserve.
Once they had that sorted, Peter and Maks had to clothe their movements, so to speak. Playing on the sundial theme, each collection is named after different “time angles”, from the two-handed 312°, to the handsomely complex 273° – the brand’s flagship watch with patented big date and power reserve indicator at two o’clock.
It may not have been the most obvious way to start a brand, but Zeitwinkel proves that if you approach watchmaking from a different angle, the sun will surely shine favourably.