MeisterSinger built its brand on minimalist single-hand watches that eschew the extravagance of a seconds, or even minutes, hand — a signature style that makes these watches instantly recognizable. It’s certainly not the only brand to produce one-handers, but MeisterSinger fully embraces the ethos of simplicity that comes from that one single time-telling hand. Though you will find additional complications, such as moon phase, astroscope day indicator (!), and digital jumping hours in the catalog, MeisterSinger’s calling card is that unmistakeable needle-point hour hand. The MeisterSinger Metris Bronze, reviewed here, has only been in the lineup for a couple of years, but ever since its release, I’ve been eying up this youthful, sporty take on MeisterSinger’s classic design, anxious to give it a spin on the wrist.
The MeisterSinger Metris Bronze is a lovable oddball of a watch — bronze, cushion case, one hand, 200m of water resistance with crown guards …and throw in a cyclops for good measure. If you described the watch to me, I would be perplexed, to put it mildly. OK, if I’m being honest, I’d say that it sounded like a terrible hodgepodge of design elements that couldn’t possibly work together, which goes to show exactly why I write about watches rather than design them! In a sane world, this watch should never have seen the light of day, but I’m so glad it did because the result is utterly charming to look at and a pleasure to wear.
Meistersinger designed the Metris line around a 38mm cushion case with short 45mm lugs and a slim 10.3mm case height. Those dimensions make it easily wearable for a broad range of wrists, and the short lugs are especially welcome for those of us with modest wrists (mine is 6.75”). So, on paper, the dimensions are great, and luckily that translates to a very comfortable wearing experience. For me, the size and shape of the case made for an excellent fit, and the bronze case with stainless steel caseback retains plenty of heft, so the Metris feels solid and reassuring on the wrist.
The Metris lineup has stainless steel and DLC-coated stainless steel watches in a variety of colorways, but the bronze version is the one that captured my attention. Meistersinger doesn’t specify the exact alloy of bronze used in its cases, but the reddish copper in the alloy shines brilliantly out of the box, so I’d guess CuSn8. Since I’ve only spent a few weeks with this watch, a patina has only now begun to develop. But give it a few months and the thin layer of oxidation that forms on the surface of the bronze will develop a unique patina with plenty of personality. That said, if you prefer shiny, getting bronze back to its original state only requires a bit of lemon juice, baking soda, and elbow grease. Or you can go the other way and accelerate the oxidation process and create a heavily oxidized brown and green watch that looks more akin to an artifact salvaged from a shipwreck (not for me, thanks). I, for one, appreciate the natural light patina that forms through wearing the watch every day.
One of the reasons the bronze case works so well on this watch is due to the curves, angles, faceting, and mix of brushed and polished surfaces that play with the light in interesting ways. I’ve always been a fan of cushion cases, and the MeisterSinger Metris’ compact 38mm case size, along with the sweeping lines from the mid-case to the lugs, tempers any suggestion of this being a bulky or unwieldy case, which can sometimes happen with larger cushion cases. At first glance, the crown guards may seem out of place or a strange element to include, but they absolutely fit the lines of the case, and a protruding crown on its own would have been jarring. Clearly, I’m a fan of this case. On the backside of the watch is a deeply engraved stainless steel caseback. Nothing extravagant, but a good choice since stainless-steel won’t turn your wrist green.
For any watch, a legible dial is a must (otherwise, what’s the point of wearing a watch?), but never more so than with a one-handed watch. There’s simply no room for error — you have one hand and no wiggle room for superfluity. Luckily, MeisterSinger has plenty of experience on this front, and the deep blue (almost black) dial is exceptionally clean and surprisingly easy to read. Hours are indicated from 01-12 (sans 6 due to the date) and single digits are all preceded by 0. The two-digit markers lend symmetry to the dial but also help differentiate it from a pilot’s watch. “Minute” markers are present around the outer track with red hour markers indicated at 12, 3, 6, and 9. I use “minutes” in quotes because you’re dealing with a single hand, so each minute mark actually represents a five-minute increment. The time then is signified by that one large, luminous red-tipped needle hand that points toward the outer track.
Most of the time, we ignore the hour hand other than to figure out if it’s between hour X and hour Y, and our eye naturally gravitates towards the minute hand. It does take some time to get used to telling time in a different way. At first, your brain processes the large single hand as the minutes hand, so it takes some time wearing the watch to re-wire your brain to look at exactly where that hand is pointing between the hour markers. It also takes some adjustment to get used to telling the time as 7:20-ish or 4:15-ish. If you’re the type who tells someone the time down to the minute rather than saying “about a quarter after,” it forces you to loosen up a bit — how much do those couple minutes one way or the other really matter in the grand scheme of things? Perhaps, for this last reason more than any other, I think the Metris is a great choice for a weekend or vacation watch.
Cyclops date magnifiers can be divisive in the best of times, and I can’t help but wonder if MeisterSinger is having a bit of fun with us on this one. Hear me out — one-handed watches don’t necessarily require you to squint, but you’re telling the minutes of the hour with 1/12th of the real estate your eyes are used to. So, if you’re buying a one-handed watch, either a) your eyes are pretty good; b) you wear glasses/contacts; or c) you’re not terribly concerned about the exact time. And yet, the brand adds a cyclops for legibility of the date? It’s a bit bizarre. But here’s the thing — it’s one of my favorite elements of the watch. Beneath that circular date magnifier on the domed sapphire crystal is a bright pop of red showing the date and adding a quirky, playful element to the dial that’s complemented by the curving Metris type that follows the lines of the cyclops. It’s a fun and contrarian element, and that’s why I love it. It’s the part that tells me that the Metris isn’t a watch that’s taking itself too seriously (or, rather, that MeisterSinger isn’t taking itself too seriously and was having some fun with this piece).
A final note on colors. The deep, dark blue of the dial is almost black with just a hint of post-twilight blue that plays wonderfully with the creamy hues of the hand and markers. The pops of red play off the red hues of the bronze and add character and life to the watch. Overall, it’s a colorway that is classy but not at all boring. The colors match quite well with the vintage hand-sewn brown strap and bronze buckle, which took little time to break in and mold to my wrist. That said, now that warm weather has arrived, leather isn’t my first choice. If this were my personal watch, I’d probably be shopping for a distressed canvas strap to wear for the summer, though a dark navy NATO or perlon strap could be a nice match.
Inside the Metris beats an ETA 2824-2 or Sellita SW 200-1 automatic movement that features 25 jewels and beats at 28.8kbph (though given the lack of a seconds hand, you’ll just have to trust that) and features a date display and 38-hour power reserve. As mentioned earlier, the date wheel is color-matched to work with the cream and red tones of the markers and hands. It’s a small touch, but a non-matched date wheel under the cyclops would have been jarring. If you’re not used to wearing watches without a running seconds hand, it can be a bit disconcerting when you pick up the watch, not knowing whether it’s running or stopped, but you get over it quickly after a few days of wear.
If you’re shopping around for comparable watches, there’s really nothing else like this watch on the market. Sure, you can find one-handed watches from brands like Defakto, Luch, Schauer, and Botta, and you can find bronze watches from Oris, Tudor, Panerai, and any number of brands, but you really won’t find anything like the MeisterSinger Metris Bronze. It’s a loveable oddball of a watch and an easy conversation-starter — even with social distancing. I don’t think the MeisterSinger Metris Bronze would be my first pick for my daily watch, but it would be an ideal weekend/vacation/retirement watch. A watch to wear when knowing that it’s 7-ish is plenty close enough. The MeisterSinger Metris Bronze retails for €1,990 including VAT. More information can be found at meistersinger.com.