Brüggler Chronograph

So how was 2017 for you? Maybe it was a banner year and you are ready to celebrate. Or perhaps it was a crap year and you are ready for a fresh start in 2018. Either way, I can't imagine a better way to end one year and start the next than by buying a new watch. If you are on board then let me suggest something a little different from my usual fare. How about a custom chronograph by Brüggler of Zurich, Switzerland?

Bruggler Chronograph
Michael Brüggler and his wife Katerina created their company to produce high-quality, low volume, individually tailored Swiss timepieces and did not take any half measures along the way. As a result, these watches are not cheap, starting from CHF 4,200 (about $4,310 USD) for a quartz, and CHF 5,600 (about $5,747 USD) for an automatic. Tack on enough options and you can hit $11,700. For my review, they arranged for me to try one owned by a stateside associate. This anthracite and blue automatic is his personal watch, and as such, it bears the dings and scars of regular wear. 

There are essentially only two Brüggler models. The JP 17-545 quartz is a Swiss made Ronda 5040.D movement with 13 jewels, gold plating, and a 54-month battery life. The HB 28-929 automatic is a 21 jewel, 28.8k bph ETA 2892-A2 Top grade mated to a Dubois Dépraz 2222 chronograph module and regulated to within 0 -to +6 seconds per day, which is well within the -4 to +6 COSC standard. Both of these movements are top-notch, but my preference lies with the automatic. There is nothing wrong with a Ronda 5040, but I cannot imagine spending over four grand on a watch with the same movement used in about a dozen sub-$500 watches. Go for the auto. 

Bruggler Chronograph wrist shot

Now, the quartz does have the advantage of being thinner so its case is 11.2mm thick as opposed to the 12.5mm automatic. Otherwise, the models are identical, sharing the same shape, layout, and specifications. The case is conservative but perfectly executed. The edges are crisp and the overall proportions are perfect, offering enough presence for a man's sports watch without being bulky or oversized -- something my 6.5" wrist can appreciate. Both versions are 40mm wide and 49.5mm long with a 20mm lug width and fitted with a sapphire crystal that is AR coated inside and out. The watches have bun-shaped, signed, screw down crowns and are water resistant to 200m.

Bruggler Chronograph side

These are three-eye chronographs, with hour, minute, and seconds registers. The subdials are recessed, textured, and can be ordered with different color rings and centers. Applied markers and lozenge hands are standard and both are lumed. The bezel may be ordered with or without an engraved tachymetre index, or it may be set with precious gemstones -- 11 of them to be exact, including 4 different color diamonds. If you choose a date window, it will be at 4 o'clock, out of the way of the markers and registers. An applied Brüggler logo stands in for the 12 with the brand name printed below it. The only other text on the dial is the discrete "Swiss Made To Measure" wrapped on either side of 6. When they say "Swiss Made," they mean it as every part of the watch is manufactured and assembled in Switzerland. 

Bruggler Chronograph

Now, when I say that there are only two models, I'm talking about the base units. From there, the buyer may delve into Brüggler's Watch Creator to choose from a dizzying array of color selections for every element on their watch. You can always choose from one of the preconfigured models, but where's the fun in that when you have 258 nonillion combinations to play with? I have spent an unhealthy amount of time fooling around with that configurator. 

Case finishes include brushed stainless, brushed with polished edges, anthracite DLC, gold, rose gold, platinum, and titanium. I'm partial to the brushed/polished combination for the way it highlights the bevel down the case sides and the inner ring on the bezel. The review watch wore the DLC coating. Brüggler used an Argor DLC that boasts 5,300MH (microhardness), which is 3-4 times stronger than most PVD coatings. Still, as you can tell from this watch, even the toughest coating can only go so far. Smack it against the right surface, and you will go through the coating, but it will resist most common bumps and scratches with ease.

Bruggler Chronograph

I love the dimension on the dial. The markers have a nice height. Brüggler's site offers sunray dials, but the sample had a speckled texture that provided a similar same play of light. Black and blue gave the review watch a brooding scheme that was brightened as the light caught the shimmering deep blue dial and textured subdial centers. Don't like dark blue? No problem, you've got 27 other colors from which to choose. A similar palette awaits you at the stations for the bezel paint, subdial centers and rings, and second and subdial hands. Like lume? Good. You've got 18 choices. The dial's layout is a clean, straightforward design. I'd say it is legible, but that is entirely up to you. If you choose a high contrast combination, then all the elements will pop. If you prefer triple black or beige on white, not so much.

Options for the hands are more limited, just gold, blued steel, rhodium, or nickel (which appears nearly black). The same options are available for the markers and logo. Bear in mind that you cannot choose a different style handset or markers on the Watch Creator, but additional options like bespoke branding are available upon request. 

Bruggler Chronograph clasp

Strap options are every bit as varied as the rest of the watch. Brüggler offers numerous colors of leather, canvas, and Caoutchouc rubber like the blue band on the sample. Link bracelets that match the case are available as well. The Caoutchouc strap is of the cut-to-fit variety so given that this was someone else's watch, I did not give it a proper wear, but it is quality rubber, fitted to the case and equipped with a signed, push-button clasp with micro adjustments. Also included was a sample of the leather, which was supple and well constructed.  

Bruggler Chronograph rubber strap

I rarely discuss packaging in my reviews because frankly, I don't care. I figure I'm buying a watch, not the box, but in this case, it is well worth a mention. It is glossy white and brushed silver with a push button catch, and emblazoned with the Brüggler logo. Inside, are lined and fitted sections for the watch, straps, and booklet. It's an impressive display. The booklet caught my attention right away. Thread bound and linen backed, it contains the usual owners manual and warranty information (4 years), but also the test results for accuracy and water resistance and it is signed by the watchmaker, as well as a maintenance guide and enough room to document the next 85 years of service. Is it overkill? You bet it is. Still, when you are spending this much on a watch, everything should feel special. 

Bruggler Chronograph full kit

I suspect the average Brüggler customer is no stranger to fine watches, has more than a few in his or her collection, and has some definite ideas about how their next watch should look. If you are that person, and you are ready to start your year with a very special treat, head over to Bruggler.com. In fact, even if you are not, head over there anyway and play with the Watch Creator. The review watch could be duplicated for about $6,200, but why would you do that? If you are buying a custom watch you should have some fun and make it your own. Brüggler will oblige. ⬩

Bruggler Chronograph lume



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