‘Beyond the blue horizon, Joy is waiting for me’ – Introducing the new Carl F Bucherer Manero Flyback for 2020, now in — what a surprise — (horizon) blue
This review is going to be like a see-saw: on one hand, I will be praising the new Carl F Bucherer Manero Flyback to bits given I love it in its new blue avatar, and on the other hand, I am not too impressed by yet another blue watch from the horological world and the fact that Carl F Bucherer (CFB) has done nothing to change those (non-legible) hour and minute hands in the four years that these watches have existed. Don’t get me wrong, by themselves, the Dauphine skeletonised hands are fantastic looking but on this (and some other CFB dial options) they just don’t provide for enough legibility. And when you are looking at a chronograph, legibility is kind of important.
That said, back to our see-saw part, the horizon blue colour used is truly amazing and does give the new Carl F Bucherer Manero Flyback for 2020 a lot of pizzazz.
The Mesmerising Horizon Blue
There is a 1930’s song composed by Leo Robin, Richard A. Whiting, and W. Franke Harling, that was first performed by Jeanette MacDonald in the 1930 film Monte Carlo. The new Carl F. Bucherer Manero Flyback reminds me of some of its lyrics: “Beyond the blue horizon; Waits a beautiful day; Goodbye to things that bore me; Joy is waiting for me”. Just like the song, ‘beyond the blue horizon dial; Waits a beautiful watch package; Goodbye to chronographs that bore me; Horological joy is waiting for me’.
The shade of blue used is a sort of soul-searching blue; not present before in the Manero Flyback family, it brings an added touch of contemporary style that meets vintage flair.
There’s another quotation I would like to venture at this point. “The health of the eye seems to demand a horizon. We are never tired, so long as we can see far enough,” said Ralph Waldo Emerson, the mid-19th century American essayist and philosopher. It is that kind of a blue, in which you immerse your gaze, never getting tired.
You would think I am impressed by the new blue dialled addition. You would be correct, I am impressed. But that said, overall looking at the watch releases from 2020, I am also fed up of the colour.
But, but Blue, again!
Man, I give up; it’s the season to be blue I guess. First, it was the blues brought on by Covid-19. Then Australian winter came, and as someone who is affected by seasonal mood swings, the cold weather has left me somewhat blue. And then the watches, just blue, blue, blue. Don’t get me wrong, usually blue is my favourite colour, but damn, a bit of variety never hurt anyone. In the recent past I have reviewed the Omega Constellation Gents’ Collection 41 in blue, the TAG Heuer Carrera 160 Years Montreal Limited Edition with blue counters, Tudor Black Bay Fifty Eight Navy Blue, Genus GNS1.2 TD, Romain Gauthier Insight Micro-Rotor Squelette, Breitling Superocean Heritage ’57, Christopher Ward C60 Sapphire, Patek Philippe Calatrava Ref 6007A-001, Jaquet Droz Paillonnée watches for 2020, LM101 MB&F x H. Moser and Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Memovox Timer. And now the new Carl F. Bucherer Manero Flyback, again in blue. These timepieces are all blue to varying degrees. It’s not like these are the only ones I have reviewed, but I honestly feel there has been an overload of blue. So please excuse my writing today if it reflects some sort of lack of enthusiasm.
It’s not that I don’t like new Carl F. Bucherer Manero Flyback, it’s just that I wish they had released it in a different colour, and perhaps added something new to the mix, say a new set of more legible hands. Or a smaller case size.
The Good and the not so Good
The Carl F. Bucherer Manero Flyback first made an appearance in 2016. This oversized chronograph, at least for my 16.5cm wrist, quickly became one of the watches I wanted in my personal collection. It’s been four years since, but various other acquisitions have seen this one always slip away. I attribute it to a large case size of 43mm and the lack of legibility. Will the new 2020 version be any different? Usually, I would say read the review to find out, but I can say it from the onset, no. Why do I say that given I have been in love with the collection for over 1000 days? It offers absolutely nothing new. Unless you consider a steel bracelet. As disappointing as that is, given I was looking forward to the brand’s 2020 novelties, there is still hope, for Carl F. Bucherer is announcing all of its new releases from August 26 to August 29th this year.
So why am I reviewing the new Carl F Bucherer Manero Flyback if I am slightly disappointed with this specific one? After all, here at Watch Ya Gonna Do About It we only review watches we would personally like to wear. So why this exception?
Well, I may not be too pleased with this specific release, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love the collection in general. Also, if we had reviewed a Manero Flyback before, I probably would not be reviewing this release. But reviewing this gives me the opportunity to talk about one of my favourite chronograph collections ever, the Carl F. Bucherer Manero Flyback series.
Besides, I said I wasn’t impressed by yet another blue dialled watch that’s not any different than its predecessors except given the colour segue; that doesn’t mean that others, and you, our readers, would not appreciate it. And if I hadn’t reviewed so many other blue watches this year, I would have raved and raved about this, because in all honesty, it is a beautiful watch. There you go, the see-saw aspect to my reviewing today is afoot again. I think I sound like a young heart going ‘she loves me, she loves me not’.
Anyway, yes, I like the new release. And also yes, I would have liked any other colour than blue (with different set of hands). So without further adieu, let’s head straight into it. Presenting the new Carl F Bucherer Manero Flyback for 2020 in two variations, both in blue.
The Context (and the part I am most excited about)
My interest in the Manero family of watches began with the introduction of three new versions of the Manero Flyback at Baselworld in March 2017. Even though the collection started in 2016, the 2017 variants got my attention. Out of these, my favourite was and still is, the reference 00.10919.08.93.01 with the blue-grey dial. Big, bold yet understated, it redefined elegance in chronographs. This stainless steel version’s standout feature is the execution of the chameleon-like dial, that appears to change colour from grey-blue to dark blue depending upon the angle and amount of light caressing it.
The dial architecture that carries over in the new 2020 release is busy but not too busy, with a somewhat three-dimensional aesthetic to it, brought on about by the inclusion of a flange at the edge of the dial and the slightly recessed counters. This beautiful dial and polished case is paired with a grey alligator-leather strap that completes the sexy look, oh ever so graceful.
But as much as I have want to buy these, the combination of shiny stainless steel hour and minute hands with matching appliquéd indices just doesn’t do it for me. I know they are trying to match the hands with the indices, which in theory is great, but in my humble opinion, the execution lacks brilliance. Which is a shame because the rest of the watch is full of refinement and finesse.
In 2017 they also released a gold version with gold hands and indices, and those have no issues whatsoever with the legibility. They just happen to be out of my price range and given the new 2020 versions are in steel, we are limiting ourselves to comparing with the steel variants of these watches. To give credit where due though, the reference 00.10919.03.33.02 with a black dial encased inside an 18K rose gold case with golden hands, red touches and silver sub-dials is one of most handsome chronographs I have even laid eyes on. Period.
Anyway, coming back to the stainless steel options, since March 2017 I have been looking for a variation of this one, that would have different hands and even perhaps numerals instead of indices. This interest turned into a full-fledged affair by November 2017, when the brand released their advertising campaign with the slogan: “Wherever time takes you, Lucerne travels with you”. Targeted at young global citizens, they featured their own design language of classically round cases with a diameter of 43mm that not only turned some heads — I am going by the comments and discussions on forums — but also got relatively good feedback from reviewers. The latter we always should take with a pinch of salt, but the former is usually a good reflection of the state of affairs.
Then at Baselworld 2018, the brand introduced another variation, a black dialled version reference 00.10919.08.33.01 with black counters. Due to the strong contrast of steel hands on a black dial, and the sunburst effect of the main dial vs the matt counters, this version even though it retained the hands and indices of the 2017 version, provided with much better legibility.
Then in May 2018, they announced a steel version of the rose gold reference 00.10919.03.33.02 that I talked about earlier. This is as close to buying a CFB Manero as I have gotten, but a part of me still wants that blue-grey coloured dial with better legibility.
If only CFB can either replace those lancet-shaped, polished steel-coloured hour and minute hands or at-least in-fill them with lume, they would have an absolute winner on their hands. And my money.
The Variations & Inspiration
Four years and eight variations later, we now have the blue dialled Manero Flybacks. Released in two variations, they feature the same dial but come on varying strap/bracelet options. My preference of the two, the reference 00.10919.08.53.01 features a 3-D effect blue textile strap woven from a radiant blue thread. The other option, probably more preferred by watch enthusiasts due to the popularity of steel bracelets, the reference 00.10919.08.53.21, comes on a well-executed, flexible nine-link metal bracelet.
Their press release calls the inspiration behind these blue dials to be the colour of the horizon and the cosmopolitan spirit of the brand and its wearers.
Says Sascha Moeri, CEO of Carl F. Bucherer: “This cosmopolitan spirit is part of our history; it is something that has inspired us since the very beginning, and something that is still an integral part of our philosophy today. In 1888, CarlFriedrich Bucherer laid the foundation not only for our brand but also for a cosmopolitan, international corporate culture. His sons, Carl Eduard and Ernst, travelled the world, studied abroad, opened the first branch in Berlin in 1913 and expanded to South America just a few years later, and yet always remained loyal to their home in Lucerne”.
The Manero Flyback is powered by an automatic movement with the flyback mechanism that allows the timer to be reset and restarted with just a single push.
The movement used — calibre CFB 1970 — is an automatic flyback chronograph movement. The 30.4mm diameter and 7.9mm thick movement is comprised of 25 jewels and beats at the frequency of 4Hz (28’000 A/h) allowing for a decent 42-hour power reserve.
Worth noting that is not an in-house movement per-se, but a modified base ETA 7750 with an added flyback function. It has been specially modified for CFB by La Joux-Perret to include the flyback function and features decent decorations, including an oscillating mass adorned with Côtes de Genève motif and perlage on the bridges and mainplate. In-house or no in-house, for the price range — 5’500 to 5’900 EUR — these watches sit in, the movement with a column-wheel chronograph and the finishings are not only justifiable but I think the brand could have even asked a bit more for this beautiful package, which if my memory serves me right used to be the case when the watches first came out in 2016. They used to cost a dearer 7’900 CHF and while that’s a fair bit of increase, I don’t see why the brand can’t command that price again.
The movement is encased inside a 43mm diameter and 14.45mm thick stainless steel case topped with an anti-reflective coated double-domed sapphire crystal with on both sides. Water-resistant to 30m (3 ATM), the case nicely marries polished and brushed surfaces.
While the movement is decently touched up, the real star is the two-tone brushed and opaline watch face. The horizon blue dial shows the functions of hours, minutes, central chronograph seconds hand in white, small seconds at 9’o clock, a 30-minute chronograph counter at 3’o clock, a tachymeter scale, and a date window at 6’o clock.
Watch Ya Gonna Do About It
Carl F. Bucherer is a relatively young brand on the market. Even though they are a part of the bigger and very well established and respected Bucherer brand, on their own, CFB is young. Given it’s got this unique dynamic that flirts with the meeting point of vintage with new, their watches thankfully reflect that very essence.
Whether be it the stunning Heritage BiCompax Annual from 2018, the distinctive and environmentally conscious Patravi ScubaTec Black Manta Special Edition, or the recently released black beauty the Carl F. Bucherer Patravi ScubaTec Black, their watches have a certain X-factor about them.
Take for instance the new Carl F Bucherer Manero Flyback. On one hand, it’s got the contemporary sizing of 43mm and colour to match. On the other hand, it synchronises that so effortlessly with the vintage-inspired mushroom-type pump pushers, curved lugs and clearly defined bi-compax sector layout with sunken sub-dials. This vintage and motor sports-inspired timepiece also has a perfect blend of brushed and polished surfaces with satin-finished lugs and polishing on the sides, bezel and pushers.
With the design language, they have really nailed the retro meets contemporary, and sports meets dress watch look. It’s just so bloody spot on; if there ever was a prize for the best watch that marries the above four qualities perfectly, I would be hard-pressed to think of any other offering. And then the price point, oh la la. Everything about the Manero Flyback speaks to me, and I am in love with it both as a watch critic and a watch collector. And that’s hallowed grounds, because not every watch that I appreciate as a reviewer I would per se want to add to my own collection. Manero manages to transcend that.
Before we wrap this up, let me also bring to attention two wonderful aspects of the Manero Flyback range: it doesn’t have the text ‘automatic’ on the dial, and the date window is not at 4.30. When it comes to symmetry and balance, the dials are executed spot-on. And a lot like the Omega CK2998 from 2018, the box section sapphire crystal sits recessed atop a bezel that overlaps with the top of the case protruding.
Continuing on my see-saw, ‘foot in both the camps’ approach or a love-hate relationship one might say with this watch, I really have to call out the elephant in the room one more time. It’s been four years and CFB hasn’t really done anything about it. And with all due respect, if we as watch reviewers don’t point out the flaws but simply praise every single watch that gets released, we aren’t really doing our job. Watch Ya Gonna Do About It is not a glorified billboard for brands as a lot of other watch review sites. We like to call a spade a spade and hope for the best.
Which brings me to wonder if brands read watch reviews or go through comments on social media. I don’t get it; the brand has such a fabulous looking chrono at a great price. Yet, somehow they haven’t taken into consideration a plethora of comments online about the legibility of these dials. There’s one thread on Timezone just for reference. My intention is not to name and shame so if you seek more examples, you will have to scourge the online world yourself. But coming to the point I am trying to make, steel hands without lume simply just don’t work, at least not in the case of these watches. Heck, that’s the one thing I was waiting for them to change so I could finally buy myself a Manero Flyback. Now, this could be just a personal peeve, but my watches need to legible. I should be able to tell the time straight away. Plus, a chronograph that’s not legible is an oxymoron in itself. The whole point of a chronograph existing is that it can be used for timing, often things where legibility and timing are of the essence. So if Carl F. Bucherer is reading this, please, please improve the legibility of these pieces, for then they would be one of the hottest chronographs in the market, at any price point.
Other than this, the new Carl F Bucherer Manero Flyback is a handsome blue watch that when compared to a similar aesthetic legend, say the Patek Philippe Chronograph 5172G, manages to still stand on its own merits at a fraction of a price. And I think this is where it scores the most.
Sylvia Plath, an American poet, novelist, and short-story writer is quoted as saying: “Now and then, when I grow nostalgic about my ocean childhood – the wauling of gulls and the smell of salt, somebody solicitous will bundle me into a car and drive me to the nearest briny horizon”. The new Carl F Bucherer Manero Flyback for 2020 not only allows you to see the blue horizon on your wrist, but it also lets you experience the joy someone might feel when vintage watch nostalgia blends perfectly with contemporary existence, thereby defining the Manero Flyback’s indispensable quiddity.
For more information on the new Carl F Bucherer Manero Flyback and other Carl F. Bucherer watches, please head to their website here. All images used are courtesy © Carl F. Bucherer