It isn’t easy for just anyone to become a watch manufacturer. It takes determination, know-how and a passion for watchmaking to claim that dwindling slice of the sales pie not consumed by the larger conglomerates. But fortunately there are those taking big strides, while putting their own spin on modern horology. Eugen Wegner is a brand recently revived by Jonas Bley – the great-great grandson of Eugen himself – who is looking to drive the watchmaker forward. Jonas has brought three new watches to the table: the Hevelius (39mm time-only), Phoenix (time and date), and our primary focus today, the Eugen Wegner One chronograph.
The Eugen Wegner One is the most complicated of the trio, a heritage-inspired chronograph that evokes classic design in today’s marketplace.
In 1897, the brand established its first workshop in Gdańsk, Poland. Eugen Wegner, an award-winning young watchmaker from Germany, quickly gained a reputation for creating high-quality timepieces. With the help of his wife, his creations became highly sought-after throughout the region and demand for his work grew. A few decades later, Eugen Wegner’s first-born son entered the business in 1920 after spending some time in South America with fellow competitor Hans-Ulrich of Wempe. Utilising all he’d learned overseas, Wegner’s son managed to successfully introduce the production and servicing of marine chronometers to the company’s portfolio.
Under his influence, the brand began to specialise in making precision-engineered chronometers that were eagerly snapped up by those working in Gdańsk’s shipping industry and local dockyards. This would continue until the 1960s, when difficult conditions led to the brand’s disappearance. Fast forward to 2017, Jonas (Eugen Wegner’s great-great-grandson) teamed up with a team of friends, designers and watchmakers to develop the first Eugen Wegner watches of the modern era.
The Eugen Wegner One Chronograph takes inspiration from the same Eugen Wegner pocket watch from 1909 that inspired the time-only Hevelius model, but adds mechanical complexity without losing sight of the original design cues. The 43mm case is made of high-polished stainless steel, but wears smaller than most 43mm watches due to its broad lugs that curve down. This maintains wrist presence without extending the watch too far across the wrist. At 13.6mm thick, the watch is not too tall from crystal to crystal – especially considering the Valjoux 7750 caliber within (more on that later). Offering 50 metres of water resistance, the watch is not something I would personally swim with, but will not necessitate a mad dash out of the rain during a downpour.
The dial is white lacquer on a brass base, and utilises classic German watchmaking to guide its look and finish. Similar to watches from A. Lange & Söhne, the dial has a stepped inner circle that contain the registers of the chronograph and date complication within the sub-dial at the 6 position. The elapsed minutes, hours, and running seconds registers are executed in railroad style (at 12, 6, and 9 respectively).
The complications are all indicated by thermally blued steel hands that are slender and classic-vintage in form. The hours and minutes of the time take up the real estate outside of the stepped inner circle, with hashes throughout to represent each of the minutes and vintage-styled numerals to represent the hours. To make greater space for the complication, the 12 and six hour numerals are slightly cut off – but done in a tasteful and unobtrusive manner. At three, the dial boasts proudly the name of the brand, and the year it was founded.
The watch is paired with a milk-chocolate brown leather strap with white stitching to match the lacquered dial. In a subtle flourish, the underside stitching is actually blue, which I can only assume is a small touch to match the thermally blued screws of the movement visible on its rear. Something I personally love and appreciate due to its luxurious feel and better fit is its deployment butterfly clasp. Butterfly clasps are typically more compact than their folding peer, as well as more secure thanks to the twin triggers that release the fasten. They take up less real estate under the strap, which in turn creates less fixed length. This results in a much more form-fitting watch around the wrist – and with ample loopholes to choose from, it will be easy to find the perfect fit.
Inside the Eugen Wegner One is the well-known, and unfortunately less seen, Valjoux 7750 caliber that Eugen Wegner has regulated to a highly accurate ± 7 seconds per day. An automatic movement with 25 rubies, a vph of 28,800, and 48 hours of power reserve, the 7750 – decorated and finished in-house – provides everything one could need from a watch engine. Not only is it super reliable, but it is an attractive movement due to the embellishments performed by Eugen Wegner. This includes thermally blued screws and a rhodium-plated rotor finished with nice Geneva stripes and a gold-plated oscillating weight.
Clearly, there are a lot of quality watches now offered at this price point, but the Eugen Wegner One stands out with its clean and crisp white lacquer dial and well-executed thermally blued hands. For those unable to purchase an IWC Portugieser, but dying to add a similar aesthetic to their budding collection, the Eugen Wegner One makes for a quality alternative to hold you over – or even fill the void entirely.
Eugen Wegner One pricing and availability
The Eugen Wegner One is available now for pre-order or, more accurately, pledges, via Kickstarter – with a delivery timeframe of June 2021. Price: €1400