I give a lot of thought to what makes up the perfect daily-wear watch. It should be about comfort, legibility, the sort of watch that just becomes a part of you, and makes it the first watch you grab in the morning. I’ve found two of these recently, and want to tell you about the first: The Junghans Meister Driver.
Junghans is a company we know best for the Max Bill line of watches – simple, form follows function, the progenitor of all Bauhaus design school watches. But there’s another side of Junghans, and I’m glad they’ve let it come to light. The Junghans Meister line is a collection of watches focused around different professions: Pilot, Chronometer, and so on. Here, Junghans has put together a beautiful watch focused on the nostalgia for early 20th century automobiles.
Why automobiles? Junghans has a history. In 1892, the son of Junghans’ founder bought one of the Daimler test prototypes. Cars fascinated the Junghans’ and they made clocks for cars, as well as patenting a ‘speed measuring device’ in 1905. The dials for the Meister Driver watches were based on a 1932 Maybach that the current owners of Junghans have in a car collection. All this is to say, this is a watch with a legitimate attachment to driving, and you wouldn’t be wrong to wear it to the Pebble Beach Concours.
What exactly are you getting into when you wear a Junghans Meister Driver? Besides raising the level of elegance and joie de vivre in your life, you’re getting a beautifully rendered polished stainless steel case, 37.7 mm in diameter. This is a good size, larger than most classic watches, but not as gargantuan as modern monstrosities. In the old days, this would have been a large watch, where 34mm to 36mm would have been a large gentleman’s wristwatch. The watch is a pleasurable 7.3mm thin. The strap is a nicely grained gray leather with a polished buckle.
Both buckle and crown are signed. The display back shows off the nicely finished hand wound movement. The crystal is a sicralan acrylic which allows it to have the arching dome above the dial. The lugs extend from under the perimeter of the watch so that there’s no large visible gap between the straight end of the strap and the curved edge of the watch case. It’s not a lungless design, but shouldn’t be; hidden lug watches weren’t around in the 1920s. It’s very well-executed, and it’s small details like this that help call attention to its quality.
The dial hearkens back to those 1920s days without directly copying the numerals. This sort of thing has been tried before. Zenith has made pilot watches with numerals replicating their dials from this time period. Others have made dials based on speedometers, including watches with dials based on the 1964 1/2 Mustang, Porsche, or even the VDO gauges from Volkswagen beetles. The problem is, those hew too closely to the original, when it’s a watch, not a speedometer. Here, Junghans succeed. Another word on the dial: the cream colored numerals and sub dial are vintage goodness, looking as if they’d been white and evenly, lightly aged. The subdial is dished downward and is a stunner to look at as you glance at your wrist half-turned. If the soul of a thing is found through gazingly deeply at it, Meister Driver has the depth.
The great dial, well executed hands and lume, thin and light on the wrist with a decent diameter all make this a watch that’s an easy daily wear. Sometimes I forget it’s even on, and that’s a testament to elegant choices that don’t have to be large lumps of steel. This is a watch from a finer time. Say what you will in favor of larger watches, I have no regrets. The Junghans Meister Driver is available from their US authorized dealer, Junghans Watches USA If you’re a person with refined tastes, you can purchase the watch from junghanswatchesusa.net, .
- Brand & Model: Junghans Meister Driver REF. NR. 027/3607
- Price: priced at $1,290.00 USD
- Who we think it might be for: You like a tasteful watch with retro elements, without it being a period piece.
- Would I buy one for myself based on what I’ve seen?: Yes. Simply, yes.
- What spoke to me the most about this watch: The dished subdial, thinness, and its good lume.
Tech Specs from Junghans
- Case size: 37.7mm (43mm lug-to-lug), 7.3mm thickness
- Case material: steel
- Crystal: domed, sicralan
- Strap: leather, pin buckle clasp
- Movement: Swiss-made Hand-winding movement J815.1 based on the ETA 7001 Peseux