In Focus Watches

Exploring Carl F. Bucherer’s Fresh Approach to Watchmaking for Their 135th Anniversary

Carl F Bucherer CFB Capsule Collection

Carl F. Bucherer Capsule Collection

Last year, Carl F. Bucherer celebrated their 135th birthday, and what a couple of years it’s been for the watchmaker. Timepieces like the Manero Peripheral and their full series of cool, blacked-out watches earlier in the year have done a lot to get eyes on a traditional Swiss manufacture that offers surprising bang for your buck paired with exceptional watchmaking.

That, however, is not enough for Carl F. Bucherer. After all, just because you’ve been around for long enough to see the maps change multiple times doesn’t mean a refresh isn’t in order. Indeed, you could argue quite the opposite. Every now and then a serious brand needs to take stock, look at themselves and think: how could we do this better?

Carl Friedrich Bucherer Boutique Lucerne Switzerland
Carl Friedrich Bucherer

Carl Friedrich Bucherer opened his first boutique in Lucerne, Switzerland

Before getting into that though, let’s do a bit of backgrounding. Monsieur Carl Friedrich Bucherer set up his first shop in Lucerne in 1888 and in the brand’s own words ‘established a reputation for quality and originality’. It was a reputation that drew international collectors from across the globe to shop there and, going further than simply selling fine timepieces, Carl Friderich’s two sons trained as a watchmaker and goldsmith respectively, bringing together the two crafts at the store.

That combination was likely the impetus for the brand’s first ladies’ collection in 1919, suffused with nascent Art Deco design. They were also among the first to adopt the humble watch strap as a standard element of a timepiece. It was a different watch world back then. By 1948, the focus was on sports watches with an oversized date – something we’ll circle back to later – and by 1968, Carl F. Bucherer was building certified chronometers that were sold across the world. This put them in the top three Swiss watchmakers making this level of high-precision watch. It was a level of prestige that invited them to become part of the consortium behind the first Swiss quartz watch.

CFB A1000

CFB A1000 manufacture movement

Things were relatively quiet between 1976 and the turn of the millennium, but that changed with the launch of the sporty Patravi collection in 2001. From there it was all go. In 2005, they filed a patent for the monopusher of the Patravi TravelTec and, pushing their horological innovation yet further, acquired the Saint-Croix-based Téchniques Horlogères Appliquées to push their own movements into new realms. The result was the CFB A1000 manufacture movement with a peripheral rotor back in 2008, which has largely formed the foundation of their modern approach to haute horology.

So much so in fact that it’s worth taking a closer look as it forms the foundations from which they’ve managed to build their haute horological renown. The CFB A1000 took three years to develop because, instead of using a centrally mounted rotor or a micro-rotor integrated into the calibre, it uses the rarest type of rotor, the aptly named peripheral rotor.

Carl F Bucherer Manero Minute Repeater Symphony

Carl F. Bucherer Manero Minute Repeater Symphony

It’s mounted around the edge of the movement with a weight that revolves around the circumference on rollers which are themselves on ball bearings for reduced friction and improved shock resistance thanks to the Dynamic Shock Absorption system. It really is a modern reinterpretation and revival of an unusual mechanical device. But Carl F. Bucherer’s exploration of peripheral technology didn’t end there; it’s final form, at least so far, is the Manero Minute Repeater Symphony.

Carl F Bucherer Manero Minute Repeater Symphony Rotor

CFB MR3000 Triple Peripheral movement

Using what they learned in the development of peripheral rotors, Carl F. Bucherer realised that the edge of the case was much more fertile ground than any other watchmaker had considered before. So, joining the rotor they included a peripherally suspending and thus ‘floating’ tourbillon. It’s a fantastic looking timepiece and at a glance (at least to those of us with an eye for these things) is a marked change. But even that isn’t the end of is, as to round off their ‘Triple Peripheral’, they included a minute repeater with a peripherally mounted regulator.

Carl F. Bucherer Manero Minute Repeater Anniversary Edition

Carl F. Bucherer Manero Minute Repeater 135th Anniversary Editions

That all brings us on to the Carl F. Bucherer of today and what they’re doing to celebrate their 135th anniversary. With a solid heritage behind them and well over a decade of very specific horological research under their belt in the form of their peripheral technologies, there’s a lot to commemorate, which the brand is doing not through some anniversary limited edition – though they did do that, too with a landmark trio of peripheral minute repeaters – but with a full brand refresh. At the core of the refresh is a consolidation of all of their watches into three distinctive collections, each with a different personality. Those three pillars are Manero, Patravi and Heritage.

Carl F Bucherer Manero Peripheral
Manero Tourbillon DoublePeripheral

Carl F. Bucherer Manero Peripheral / Manero Tourbillon Double Peripheral

Manero has most recently been Carl F. Bucherer’s flagship. A modern blending of classical watchmaking and sophisticated design, it’s the most everyday, wearable collection. Not that the watchmaking is everyday of course; this is the collection most associated with Carl F. Bucherer’s signature large date and peripheral rotor. It has their various peripheral technologies – rotors, tourbillons, minute repeaters – but also features like perpetual calendars, flyback chronographs, a tour de force of exceptional complications. That those complications are set into beautiful, pared-back and eminently wearable watches says a lot about the brand as a whole.

Carl F Bucherer Patravi ScubaTec Verde

Carl F. Bucherer Patravi ScubaTec Verde

The Patravi on the other hand is built for extremes. This is the home of the ScubaTec in its various depth-defying forms, whether that’s in aid of manta ray conservation or a classic diver with a two-tone diving bezel. It also houses the TravelTec, a chunky take on the timezone watch that’s half the world away from the usual, pilot-centric GMT fare we’ve gotten used to. The specially developed CFB 1901.1 calibre features a patented mono-pusher that allows three separate time zones to be easily set while meeting the most stringent precision requirements, thanks to its COSC chronometer certification.

Carl F Bucherer Heritage Chronometer Celebration

Carl F. Bucherer Heritage Chronometer Celebration

This is also home to some exceptional projects in the realms of sustainability, including Carl F. Bucherer’s work with the Manta Trust, a charitable organization making a sustainable contribution to conserving manta rays and their fragile oceanic habitat. Lastly, if you want colour, you can find it here, bright, eye-catching and immediately appealing.

Finally, we have Heritage. As you’d expect, this is all about diving into Carl F. Bucherer’s archives and extracting some of the most timeless designs from the past. It shares some technical aspects with the Manero, but generally offers elegance above everything else, from the svelte Chronometer Celebration to the superlative Bicompax Annual, a personal favourite in bi-colour and salmon.

Carl F Bucherer BiCompax chronograph 1940s
Carl F Bucherer CFB Capsure Collection Heritage Bicompax Annual

An original Carl F. Bucherer BiCompax chronograph from the 1940s / A modern Heritage BiCompax Annual, 2022

As we see more of this renewed focus you can expect more dramatic shifts towards each of these personalities as time moves on, giving each collection its own distinct flavour. At the very least, it adds clarity to what Carl F. Bucherer is as a watchmaker and what they stand for.

Time will tell precisely what that will mean, but for now it’s good to know that at least one heritage brand is self-assured enough to take a look in the mirror and think about what they can improve. It’s a much better way to celebrate 135 years than a limited edition.

More details at Carl F. Bucherer.

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