Habring² Felix

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10 years for a proprietary watch movement

Presented to the general public for the first time in 2004, Maria & Richard Habring and their Habring² brand are set to celebrate their first anniversary in 2014, 10 years down the road and, of course, with an anniversary model. That in itself is reason enough to celebrate! The founders, however, have added an extra ingredient: the first movement developed completely in Austria, where it is also largely manufactured and assembled and goes by the name of A11 ("A" for "Austria" and "11" for the start of its development in "2011").

Proprietary movements were usually the reserved domain of large brands with investors or a parent company and the corresponding financial backing. Habring² is therefore probably the first truly small manufacturer to take on the technically and financially demanding challenge. Whilst similarly structured small brands fall back on industrially produced, older or more recent basic movements and give them a new look by fitting the wheelworks on their own bridges, the A11 is by contrast a completely new design in every aspect, produced in small numbers by Habring Uhrentechnik OG and a few small partner companies in Austria, Switzerland and Germany. They are all united by a common company structure: that of the family-run business.

The A11 will successively replace the wheelwork of the Valjoux/ETA 7750/7760 previously used by Habrings in all of their watches. As of this autumn it will bestow the coveted premium title of "manufacture" on all Habring² chronometers. The A11, however, lends a new dimension to the term within the watchmaking segment; after all, chronometers equipped with this movement will not only house the handiwork of a selective, small series assembly, but also individually manufactured components. Anchors assembled by hand, hairsprings counted and curved by hand and wheel/pinion combinations assembled by hand are but a few examples that differentiate hand-made Habring² watches from those of well-known industrial "manufactures".

Although the production of all components in small series will see the moderate prices rise somewhat, it will equally result in an outstanding price-performance ratio. And this is where Felix enters the scene:

Felix the fortunate

Felix is the new starter model by Habring² and fortunate because it celebrates the first anniversary of the Habring² brand. Although it shares the same base with its siblings, it differs through the omission of the Habring² module system. Whilst all other Habring² watches were and still are configurable and extendible at any time – including after their purchase – Felix does not share this characteristic. Its movement, the A11B (B for Basis), represents the simplest mechanical method of measuring time – albeit with the utmost precision. Felix – and its siblings – never need fear the chronometer certification. Felix concentrates on the essential. It forgoes the former and familiar extendible screwed case and is therefore leaner than its siblings. A diameter of 38.5 mm and a remarkable case height of only about 7 mm make it an exceptionally attractive contemporary. Its near ascetic appearance is underscored by a fine-grained, silver-white dial with a discreet print reduced to the bare minimum and black-oxidised thread hands. Only two dial designs are available: with either an Arabian or Roman "12" and, on request, without the characteristic second at 9 o'clock.

But it is not only Felix' heart that stems from the Alps: its case originates from the same region. Produced in the mountains of Carinthia, its raw material stems from the Böhler smeltery in Kapfenberg, Austria's internationally renowned specialist for highest quality stainless steels. Felix sports the typical Habring² serial number between the lugs at 6 o'clock which, in contrast to its siblings, is consecutive.

Felix’ gold version is another first. Felix is as bright as a button and has therefore waived the overly soft metal for its case – for technical reasons, among others. However, the value and grace of gold are not lost on Felix. And so every "Felix Gold" edition contains a Philharmonic coin whose weight of 31.103 g and 24 carat corresponds exactly to the weight of its case in gold. This makes the "Felix Gold" the first "gold watch" with real investment value, especially as the coin is billed at its current value on the day of purchase and can be sold at any time without reducing Felix' practical value. In a best case scenario Felix would therefore generate the cost of its maintenance through the increase in the value of gold forecast for the long term. It is committed to sustainability – just as its parents.

Felix is available at a price of € 4,450.

Calibre family A11

Since 2007, all Habring² models have been based on the wheelwork of the ETA/Valjoux 7750/7760. Due to the widely-publicised withdrawal by ETA – and to safeguard their own production – it seemed only logical to Maria & Richard Habring to create an equivalent replacement under their own steam.

This task also included the escapement, balance wheel and hairspring in addition to the entire wheelwork, winding mechanism and hand adjustment mechanism. Whilst their competitors attempt to close the gap to the previous ETA prices – with the help of industrialised processes and large, generous investments in machine pools – the Habrings have struck a different path: "We are making use of our small business structure and will in future focus on adding even more manual value to our watches."

The Habring² team is currently perfecting the manual assembly of anchors, the counting of hairsprings and the manual production of movement wheels. Counting and curving enough ready-to-use hairsprings to last a month takes around a full working day.

The design of the A11 had to be close to that of the previous base to enable the inclusion of all of the functional modules created over the past years like jumping second, the bidirectional automatic winder and the unique Chrono COS. A11 – available as a hand-wound model in its basic form – is, however, by no means a clone of the Valjoux 7760, but rather boasts a range of detailed developments that still feature the previous interfaces to the functional modules. For instance, the A11 features improvements to the wheelwork, the motion train and the escapement as well as a more elaborate decor.

In addition to the previously mentioned A11B (for "Felix" and "Time-Only") the following variants of the A11 will flow into the existing Habring² collection as of 2015:

A11D ("Time-Date"); A11S (jumping second); A11SD (jumping second with date).

Previously ETA-based function modules such as calendar, power reserve display and second time zone will be dropped from the collection after the few remaining components in stock have been used up or will in future be replaced by proprietary developments.

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Manufacture movement Habring² A11B:

  • Diameter 30 mm; height 4.2 mm
  • Hour and minute hands; small second at 9 o'clock
  • 28.800 alternates per hour (4Hz)
  • Hand-wound with 48 hours' power reserve
  • Tangential screw fine adjustment
  • Anti-magnetic escapement with a Carl Haas hairspring in chronometer quality
  • KIF shock protection pursuant to DIN and NIHS
  • 18 rubies
  • Elaborately refined by hand with polished edges, decorative engravings, perlage, etc.
  • 50 service-relevant single components (99 parts in total)

Case:

  • Stainless steel, three-part, 38.5 mm diameter
  • Waterproof to the depth equivalent of 30 metres
  • Spherical sapphire crystal
  • Double-sealed crown, sapphire crystal caseback
  • Consecutive engraved serial number between the lugs at 6 o'clock

Dial/hands:

  • Silver-white granulated metal dial with black print
  • Polished, black-oxidised steel hands in thread form
 
  • Diameter 30 mm, with an adapter for date 36.6 mm; height 7 mm (A11S), 7.9 mm (A11D and A11SD)
  • Hand-wound with 48 hours' power reserve
  • Tangential screw fine adjustment
  • Anti-magnetic escapement with a Carl Haas hairspring in chronometer quality
  • KIF shock protection pursuant to DIN and NIHS
  • 24 rubies (A11D); 21 rubies (A11S); 25 rubies (A11SD)
  • A11D and A11SD with fast date-adjust
  • Elaborately refined by hand with polished edges, decorative engravings, perlage, etc.
  • 66 (A11S); 81 (A11SD) oder 78 (A11D) service-relevant individual components

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