Value Proposition: Dornblüth & Sohn 99.2(1)ST
The Germans have a thing for tradition, amongst a more broad fixation with efficiency and currywurst. I am not sure I would consider any modern watchmaker to be more traditional than D. Dornblüth & Sohn. Sinn may be more Germanic in their construction philosophy. Lange may be more Germanic in their finishing execution. IWC may be more Germanic in their (ahem) historic provenance and materials innovation. Not one of them rival Dornblüth in painstaking dedication to old-fashioned craft machining. A tiny independent finishing movement bases to a ridiculous standard with machines that should be museum pieces, the Dornblüth family seem to savor the difficulty of the old way. The result is as visually moving as it is outright reasonable.
Value proposition is not a term one would normally associate with a manufacture that has an annual production under 200 pieces. Dieter Dornblüth was a watchmaker working in Saxony who was moved deeply one day by a gothic pocket watch that had come in for repair. It so inspired him to lay out an architecture and design for a wristwatch, one which he would make. Day to day operations ran away from Dieter and the plans were tucked away. Forty years later, Dieter’s son Dirk had become a fully qualified watchmaker himself. For Dieters 60th birthday, the pair actually built the watch by hand, to specification, using traditional machines only. That watch and watchmaking style has inspired a small range of pieces from their shop ever since. Despite this painstaking effort, the manufacture is able to offer their watches at truly reasonable price points due to their careful movement selection and low operating overhead.
This is accomplished through an ETA architecture, though the family decorates their ébauche within an inch of its life. There are screwed gold chatons, snailed wheels, blued screws, and a hand-engraved balance cock. Dials are blanks ground and finished by hand. The recess is cut out completely with a brass petite seconds secondary plate. Though I feature secondary market watches around here, the factory offers a wide array of optionality for its clients, from materials to indices. This steel 99.2 features a characteristic set of options, with its slightly oversized running seconds/power reserve two-register layout, hand-blued handset, and white dial.
This example sports little surface wear and that’s about it. It comes on an aftermarket strap as the original has been well-worn. The watch comes without box or papers and no mention is made of service history since its 2010 manufacture, though a year-long warranty is included from the seller.
Find this 99.2 here from Subdial for 4300 GBP.