A. Favre & Fils "Phoenix 10.1"

Here is an interesting development, A. Favre & Fils have just jumped the scene with the "Phoenix 10.1 and the 10.2. What?!? You have never heard of them? Well, neither have I. Despite the need to legitimate a brand by pasting together several generations of completely unknown watchmakers, the product in itself is quite noteworthy. Unlike many, for me the past only counts as a memory. If the present does not cut it the past will not take you very far in my book. A. Lange is a perfect example of a newly founded modern manufacture that are obsessed with reconstructing their past. Surprisingly, while they have all the recognition from watch enthusiasts around the world, the are still going out of their way to dig in a past to find a legitimacy. A legitimacy that everybody agrees they have forged themselves through hard work since their re-birth. What is most ironic is that the "old" A. Lange was not even close to the level that the "new" A. Lange is in the watch industry today. Anyway, back to the product at hand...

While the front/face needs some work, I must confess that I am quite taken by the back. Very impressive. From the pictures presented we have quite a calibre here. The two barrels at 28,800 alternations could deliver a 5-day power reserve yet it has been cut down to slightly over three, to ensure a linear torque delivery over these 80+ hours. The right move I believe. More than average run'o the mill finishes and a very pleasant architecture. The twin barrels in the rear (that remind me of Jaeger's Duometre or some of the latest A. Lange models) make the behind of this piece very, very sexy. As with all watches I have not held in my hand, my valuation is only based upon what I see. What I see here I like. If I have the chance to see the Phoenix 10.1 at the next Geneva show I will be posting a complete report. This one has certainly awoken my interest.

At the first glance, the rear is stunningly exquisite. I must say that I am sold. Especially the rear power reserve that I am particularly fond of, is very well integrated in the rear. The engravings on the edges are properly placed and well balanced. The case and crown are classic but different enough to not resemble anything else and give a sense of identity. The proportions are well balanced at 41mm wide and 11mm thick yet one millimeter less on the thickness and possibly one millimeter wider would have probably give it a more streamlined/elegant impression.

The face here is where I think that there should be more work done. For some reason it just does not work for me. It is just too blend and the open windows for the date are a bit difficult. On top of that, the circular brushed flat face with very simple indices reminds me of a desk clock that belongs in an office of the early 70's. The hour and minute hands I like but the central second seems a bit in the way. I understand that most people like to have large second hands, but on a watch of this magnitude it should be either non-obtrusive, as a small seconds on the side or simply not present.

All that said, the idea of this date display is not completely wrong and as a new way to tell the day it is very welcome. However, I feel that for it to work it should be taken "several" steps further, either much more aggressive or much more classical. Staying in-between will yield a blend result similar to the look of the latest "Maurice Lacroix" lineup. Since I suspect that the price tag will be "slightly" above those, there might be a problem in passing the message of this rather striking piece. The back and front at this moment do not transmit the same message. In a way it has the very same shortcomings as the H. Moser. For those that such as myself love beautiful movements over everything, I would like to remind you that 99.99% of the time what you see is the front. Watchmakers tend to forget that sometimes. If you neglect that... Houston, we have a problem.

What is quite odd is that their site is quite pleasant and well conceived. Very unusual for the industry. Actually, I just had to go through Roger DuBuis' site and I am still feeling sick. Their site feels like taking LSD while sitting in a roller coaster next to a hairy Bulgarian drag queen performing a Brazilian bikini wax. Very unsettling. On the other hand the A. Favre & Fils site is worth a little detour. Enjoy.

A. Favre & Fils...