Epitomising the cool ‘no worries’ vibe is the recently launched Bausele Vintage 2.0
Editor’s note: Bausele generously loaned us the Bausele Vintage 2.0 that we are reviewing today. Released recently, it is different to any watch I have personally owned or handled (given it’s a hybrid watch) and although it is not the usual mechanical watch we are used to, it is a handsome, great value for money bargain. We spent about a week wearing it, and here’s our honest hands-on review that details our first impressions, on-the-wrist experience and where it sits amongst a cloud of other hybrid watches. Like all of our work, this is not a sponsored post.
The Perfect Balance Watch
“Old and new make the warp and woof of every moment. There is no thread that is not a twist of these two strands,” said the American essayist, Ralph Waldo Emerson.
The Bausele Vintage 2.0 is pretty much summarised by this quote. It takes aesthetic design cues from vintage and military dialled mechanical watches and infuses this much-cherished persona of yesteryears with the technology of the present day. For the people burdened by the technology-laden busy lives who are looking for an escape out or a momentary breather, or for millennials who are making their foray into the world of Swiss watches but still wish to stay “connected”, the Bausele Vintage 2.0 presents with an excellent option at an incredible price.
The resurrection of old can only be through the existence of the new; by living in the presents’ soul can only the old breathe a new life, one that is a serene mixture of the best of both worlds.
Bausele Vintage 2.0’s timeless looks are coupled with the additional benefits of not charging the watch at all for two years, lightweight design, and peace of mind with a five-year warranty. It allows you to wear the charm of a traditional watch while allowing you revel in modern tech, but as you program it.
First Impressions & Unboxing
The Vintage 2.0 watch collection is currently offered in three dial colour options, blue, black and white. These can be paired with a variety of strap options — black, light brown, dark brown and a stainless steel bracelet for a 100 AUD premium — that feature the ever-useful quick-change mechanism. Besides the stainless steel model we reviewed, there is also an option of a rose gold plated case and matching bracelet. No matter your game, Bausele has you covered.
For our review, we chose the off-white/cream dialled option. Why did I choose the white dialled option? Because I was, and still am, truly bored with dark dialled watches. Nothing to do with Bausele’s offerings, this is across the board; that’s why I really liked Rolex’s new OP 41 in a multitude of colours. Where is the enthusiasm, the light-heartedness, the jovial spirit if every watch is a shade of blue, or like a pendulum going back and forth from a graveyard stone anthracite to the funeral wear black?
Besides, I felt the white colour of Vintage 2.0 best depicted the watch’s warm tones and the sort of a military dial it features. With its clean-cut aesthetics and clutter-free dial face reminiscent of classic 1970s monopusher designs.
That said, the blue with steel bracelet looks far more sophisticated than I would have imagined for something that costs less than 1000 dollars. If I was to buy this watch personally, I reckon the blue with bracelet would present itself to be a very versatile and multipurpose offering.
As far as the unboxing goes, being in Sydney we picked up the watch from the pop-up boutique; we didn’t receive it at work so can’t tell you how swift the shipping process was, but I do know that the shipping, both locally and internationally is free.
The watch itself comes inside an Australian leather pouch wallet that not only feels soft, supple yet sturdy, I appreciate that it can also be re-used. I would personally use it as a card holder as it fits in the jeans pocket.
Bausele used to have larger boxes they shipped their watches in, but neither were they environmentally friendly nor made in Australia. This pouch wallet feels chilled out and relaxed, much like the vibe of the watch and the land it is borne of. Inside there are two cards, most notably their ink and paper are Australian made and they describe basic features about your purchase. What is missing is perhaps a small cleaning cloth. That would be a nice added touch.
Barring the Frederique Constant Classic Hybrid Manufacture — which is the only smart/hybrid watch I could find that actually has a decorated mechanical movement that can be seen through the display case back — usually when you turn over generic smartwatches, the case-backs are plain and boring, covered due to the lack of a nicely decorated mechanical movement to showcase. While the Vintage 2.0 watch also has a closed case-back, it is worthy to note that there is a stamped engraving of the owner Christophe Hoppe’s favourite watch movement, the Zenith Cal. 400Z El Primero column wheel chronograph. A nice touch I must say, given it again harps to the watch’s design that stems out of ‘real’ mechanical watches and not wearable tech.
There is also an extra black strap as part of the package and I prefer the watch on that. The black strap complements the black hour markers and manages to bring in a sense of coherency and an ‘authentic’ vintage vibe to the watch. After wearing it for a while I did feel that it should also have the option of an alligator strap and deployant buckle – maybe it’s a personal preference but I find in watches like these that can be nice beaters, a deployant buckle helps me wear it more often and with ease. The alligator strap should bring in more class that the watch deserves as it can be paired for formal events in that case too. This I think should be an easily added feature should the brand decide to do so, given they already have deployant buckle options in their Oceanmoon collection.
The Long-winded Context
Before we talk more about the recently launched Bausele Vintage 2.0, allow me to introduce some context; Or AKA the journey-from-smart-wearable-tech-to-hybrid-fashion-watches-to-‘Real’-watches-that-are-stealth-smart.
Back in 2015 when TAG Heuer decided to also pursue the smart watch trend, the news ruffled some feathers while garnering praise from some quarters. Even though a whole lot — including some great smartwatch offerings from 2020 — has happened in the world since, both inside and outside the horological world, this debate whether mechanical watches are better or worse off without having smartwatches take some up some of the market share continues to rage on. Purists, traditionalists (and me) love watches because of their mechanical accomplishments. Bluntly put, smart watches are not timepieces, they are tech to be worn, incidentally on the wrists. Coincidentally, I am not averse to quartz watches, and perhaps that’s why I don’t include myself amongst the purists.
But neither the lovers of ‘pure’ mechanical watches nor I can deny the existence and relevance of these wearable gadgets. I mentioned the word relevance above because yes, smartwatches have become relevant.
Bloomberg has a quotation by Jean-Claude Biver that goes: “I’m not just living in the tradition and culture and the past, I also want to be connected to the future. The Apple Watch connects me to the future. My watch connects me to history, to eternity”.
As times change, industries need to evolve too. Enter the focus on smart and hybrid watches. DigitalSpy has an excellent compilation list of “11 reasons you need a smartwatch: From notifications to navigation”. CNN has a feature on how “The Apple Watch outsold the entire Swiss watch industry in 2019”.
Long story short, smartwatches with screens and touch pads and what not are here to stay. But sometimes, as I have been told by friends who have sold they soul to the devil and like to wear them, that they can be too much. A constant second, third screen in front of your face, all day long.
Solution? A hybrid watch.
On paper, this sounds good. One doesn’t have to wear two watches; you don’t have to be that guy — that wears one real, one gizmo on either wrist — and enjoy the best of both worlds. The problem — with their half-digital screens, no crowns, just pushers, no seconds hands — is that more often than not they end up looking too plasticky, too trying to be something they are not. In other words, you want a smartwatch, buy a proper one like an Apple or Samsung. You want a mechanical one, buy a Rolex. This in-between place where perhaps the worst of both worlds exists should be a no-go zone.
And this is how matters have stood since TAG Heuer released its first Connected watch, at least in my opinion. But things were brewing in the watch industry. I have been so immersed in my mechanical watch collecting hobby and then writing about them that I wasn’t aware of a new company revolutionising this aspect of the Swiss watch industry. Live and learn they say. Meet Manufacture Modules Technologies SA (more on them in a bit).
With their tech, they change everything.
“Mixing one’s wines may be a mistake, but old and new wisdom mix admirably,” once said the famous German theatre practitioner, playwright, and poet Bertolt Brecht. The work MMT is doing seems to reflect this sentiment. And to my surprise, for the better.
There are now hybrid watches in the market that can look the part of an actual watch, behave like one, and still boast of a plethora of features that only digital, smartwatches can possess. The beautiful Frederique Constant Hybrid Manufacture is one such example. But for people who are wishing to test these hybrid waters, it also costs a fair bit; the Classic Hybrid Manufacture reference FC-750MC4H6 is listed for 5,029.23 AUD on the official website. And by no means it is an unjustifiable cost, in fact, given it’s the only one of its kind watch, I think it’s great. But for those who are looking for something similar, are there any other options? Perhaps at lower costs, but backed by similar technology?
It is here we would like to introduce you to the recently launched Bausele Vintage 2.0. It powers a whole new world.
Bausele – The Aussie King of Cool watches
Pioneering this trend of Swiss watches meet technology is Bausele, a relatively new player on the market. Established in 2011 by Christophe Hoppe, it has grown into a force to reckon with within the Australian watch industry, being known for producing Swiss made but Australian designed pieces that are distinctive and cool, and as the New York Times puts it, “what could be more distinctive than a timepiece with red earth from the outback in its crown, or a case made with Australian rock?”.
My first brush with their work was with the Sydney Opera House watch that they designed back in 2018. I liked it both as a watch enthusiast and an architect. The dial design drew inspiration from the Opera House architect Jørn Utzon’s original design sketches. The multi-layered dial featured numerous discs that aligned each day at 2.45pm to reveal the design. Why 2.45pm? Because this is the exact time that Queen Elizabeth II opened the Sydney Opera House on 20th October, 1973.
Look, before you go ahead and judge and say it sounds like a tourist watch, let me just tell you, for us the Opera House is a big deal and having a watch inspired by it, especially made by an Aussie company, and carrying a little part of the actual Opera House is an even bigger deal. The New York Times covered it, revealing how “at Bausele, timepieces contain beach sand, red dirt from the outback, tile from the Sydney Opera House and more”. Call me sentimental, but I like the idea of owing a bit of the Opera House on my wrist.
There is something chilled out, laid back about Bausele watches, perhaps because they are born out of a land that epitomises the “no worries” vibe. Serious when needed, and casual fun otherwise, the Bausele Vintage 2.0 is a no frills, no unnecessary fluff watch, that displays just the pure essence of time mixed with the cool of stealth smart tech.
If you look at Swiss made Hybrid watch market, there is a clear direction and idea, that lots of brands such as Frederique Constant, Alpina and Mondaine are employing. Joining the likes of these stalwarts and matching them is the relatively new kid on the block, our own Aussie brand Bausele.
All, or most of these offerings seem to — I cannot 100% confirm that but found this during my research — come from the labs of the same manufacturer, Manufacture Modules Technologies SA or MMT that was established in Geneva in 2015. They produce technologies that these Swiss made Hybrid watches use, such as health tracking, activity monitoring, sleep tracking and source codes for Firmware, iOS App, Android App, and Cloud.
The way their technology sets itself apart is by foregoing the digital touch screen — thank god for that — for laser cut hands that display information in analog form. What this means is that the watch hands rotate / move to indicate features such as notifications of GMT zones. Very stealth, and very modern.
The Bausele website doesn’t exactly say which source they are using, but given there seems to be only one major Swiss company manufacturing the watches these days, and chances are Bausele’s watches use this very tech. In that, not only are they at the forefront of cutting-edge technology, they have also managed to present a watch offering that looks classic but acts futuristic, all for a price point lower then some of these other same source offerings.
Again, this is not a 100% confirmed, but I reckon it is one of the following two movements that the Bausele Vintage 2.0 is using, though my best guess is that it is a mix of the two as the specs of the first one barring the battery life match the Bausele Vintage 2.0.
The calibre MMT-282 or G310 is a 31.6mm diameter and 6.3mm thick analog connected quartz movement that is pretty accurate at maximum running deviation of ±1.7 sec/day and uses the battery reference CR3032. This 3V battery has an average battery life of 4-years. This movement features the options of an activity tracker (step counter that in the Bausele option is in the form of a Kangaroo), sleep monitoring, call and message notifications, worldtimer — my favourite feature on these watches — alarms and activity data backup.
The calibre MMT285-1 is a 30.6mm diameter and 7.4mm thick analog connected quartz movement that is pretty accurate at maximum running deviation of ±1.7 sec/day and uses the battery reference CR2430. This 3V battery has an average battery life of 2-years, when only 2 Bluetooth connections per day are set up.
Whichever of the above two it is, or if it’s completely some other movement, it is encased inside a 40mm diameter and 11mm thick stainless steel case with a lug-to-lug measurement of about ~46mm and lug interhorn width of 20mm and has the following features: worldtimer, activity tracking, sleep monitoring, calls and texts notifications, sleep cycle alarm, get active alerts, and 2+ years battery life.
The Watch Itself
Since this is not a sponsored post, I like always am not obligated to simply praise it from the word go. And frankly, it took me a while to understand where this sits in the watch industry and to really appreciate it.
This is perhaps due to my earlier mentioned love for mechanical watches and disdain I suppose I have for tech wear. Heck, I am someone who hasn’t changed his mobile in over four years (gasp) and still listens to music on vinyl players barring when in the car or when I can’t find a new release on a CD or vinyl. And it was only when I was thinking back to my university days and the kind of watches I used to wear on a regular basis, that the Bausele Vintage 2.0 jumped right at me as being outstanding.
Allow me to explain how – I think it’s a watch very ideally suited for millennials or for others who like the idea of having a Fitbit that’s more like a watch and more classy. Think about it; you are a university student who is just getting into watches, but for obvious financial reasons — haven’t we all been there — can’t really afford an expensive Swiss brand. You would like to have a classic, timeless looking piece on your wrist, while still maintain your status quo as being with it.
Now in my humble opinion the Bausele Vintage 2.0 is a timepiece that looks the part, being inspired by 1970s field mechanical watches: It is simple, elegant, clean-cut; and it doubles up as a smartwatch. It allows you to have notifications, but without being intruded upon every other second. And the latter is the watch’s main scoring point: the wearer can customise what specific notifications they want.
For instance, you are at your Uni, you customise the watch through the app to only notify you when say your girlfriend/boyfriend messages, or your best friend or sibling messages. You now know that when the watch beeped, and showed the notification via the dance of the hands — which is pretty cool by the way and please look at our short video below to see it in action — you know it’s important. Anything else, you don’t have to take out your phone every other second and check the notifications constantly rather than enjoying your life.
As for me personally, I took out my old Armani quartz China-made beater watch that I haven’t worn in ages to compare the Bausele Vintage 2.0 with. Even though I loved that Armani watch, and still do, I do understand that it sits within a mass produced, non Swiss made market, with no significant redeeming quality besides the fact that it looked like a grown-up matured watch to me back then. It didn’t even cost much less back then than the Bausele Vintage 2.0. And that was it, the Armani was a watch that copied the part but did nothing more.
The Bausele Vintage 2.0 beats that watch and then some. In the looks department, it is as good as any 1970s inspired watch. The only 11mm thick case design is suitable for cuffs, and one of the features that evoke the charm of vintage watches is the presence of a recess between the bezel and the case body. Further enhancing this charm are the highly curved lugs. The sides of the case are extensively brushed. If you look at the macro pictures below, you will see how extensive that brushing is, and the watch over its course of time should display fewer signs of wear and tear.
With the minutely grained off-white dial, hand-painted dial and nicely rounded appliqué — very slight — Arabic numerals contrasting in black, blued hands, a brushed surface and case, the watch is subtle beauty at work.
The numerals at 12 and 6 along with the baton hour and minute hands are not painted in black and are all lume filled, adding that extra bit of legibility for darker conditions. I won’t say it’s got the best lume on the planet but it’s pretty alright for what it is. It is the presence of so many minute details that really elevates the appeal of the watch for me.
Aesthetics aside, it is a Swiss-made watch, most likely built by the manufacture of other well-known Swiss hybrid and smartwatches. It’s got a 50m water-resistance, and informs of the incoming notifications without overpowering the user.
The Landscape & Behaviour
One of the best places it scores is the inclusion of the crown at 3’o clock — even though you sadly can’t pull it and use it to wind or change time — and a running (ticking) seconds hand. Unlike lots of other options out there, like the Frederique Constant Smartwatch Gents Classics ref# FC-285NS5B6, Ferragamo F-80 Motion Smart Watch, Emporio Armani Connected Bluetooth Hybrid Smartwatch ref# ART3004, Kronaby SEKEL Alarm Watch A1000-0718, Mondaine Helvetica 1 Regular Hybrid Smartwatch, Fossil Q Neely and Jacqueline or the Fossil FTW1118, the Bausele Vintage 2.0 looks and acts the part of a traditional mechanical watch. I know I said mechanical here, while the watch is quartz. And this perhaps is my main beef with the watch, that it’s not mechanical. But for entrants to watch game, this shouldn’t matter, and besides that, the point I am trying to drive home is that it at-least looks the part.
In terms of behaviour, it is very similar to the Frederique Constant Horological Smartwatch Classics where the smart functions are indicated by four icons around the dial. The Bausele dial also features unique markers at 2, 4, 8, and 10’o clock that indicate new alerts with the hands:
- Crescent moon at 2’o clock for sleep-cycle alarms
- Step counter at 4’o clock, only in this case wonderfully represented by a Kangaroo
- Incoming calls alert at 8’o clock
- Speech bubble at 10’o clock for new message notifications
The app lets you have notifications on the watch from a number of sources, such as Uber, WhatsApp, Messages, Gmail, Facebook, Instagram, among others. We set it to WhatsApp to trial it.
How Does It Work or The Dancing With The Hands Part
The 2’o clock pusher
The pusher at 2’o clock can be set and customised to feature any one of the following options: worldtimer — which we chose on a regular basis — or date or stopwatch. The way the worldtimer works is that you press the pusher at 2’o clock once and the hours hand moves while the seconds hand keeps on ticking to reveal the time for the chosen second time zone for about 3 seconds, and then the hours hand moves back to the current local time. Clean, and ingenious.
The stop watch works in a similar manner: press the 2’o clock pusher, all hands lead to 12 as the starting position; then press the 3’o clock pusher, and the minutes hand starts counting, and to re-set you press the 2’o clock pusher again.
The date is on the periphery, and all you need to do is to press the 2’o clock pusher once and it will go to the date automatically, again for about 3 seconds.
The 3’o clock pusher
The pusher at 3’o clock can be set and customised to feature any one of the following options: activity or sleep tracker. We kept it at activity for the most part.
The Test-drive Results
On Wrist Performance
The Bausele Vintage 2.0 was comfortable from the start; I must admit that Jacqui, the other half of Watch Ya Gonna Do About It — our marketing wiz and photographer — ended up wearing it more often than I did, simply because it was an easy to wear watch and more suited around her lifestyle. This also makes me feel that it is a unisex watch, and something that should work in its favour. Both the straps are comfortable and the pin-buckle was also of a good quality, had a slight heft to it and did not feel at all plasticky or cheap that many watches fall prey to in this price category. I also appreciated that it was subtly branded with the company logo.
Since I spend most of my working time typing, so a watch’s performance against the edge of the inner wrist and the table is always a vital check. The Bausele Vintage 2.0 passed this test with flying colours as well. Colours reminds me, I actually wouldn’t mind the brand releasing some more colour options in this collection, say inspired greens and blues by the Great Barrier Reef for instance.
The Hybrid Functions Performance
The Bausele Vintage 2.0 feels as much at home inside an office as much as it does inside a shopping centre or at the park. Since it features subtle smartwatch functions, I also found it to be an excellent conversation starter, because anyone I spoke to didn’t even contemplate this being a smartwatch.
We liked that the mobile app that the watch is paired to is user-friendly and easy to use. When I installed it on my phone, I did not have a difficult time getting it to recognise the watch, which is a huge bonus because when it comes to technology, it can be a good servant but a bad master.
All of the smart features worked pretty much without a glitch, barring the date function, but we eventually tweaked that one as well.
The worldtime function was my favourite, though another feature I especially appreciated while working was the active alerts feature. It is for the hard worker or the lazy person in all of us. The active alerts function allows you to configure the watch to alert you with a vibration when you’ve been inactive for too long. I found this very practical personally because what I was wearing it at work, typing all day long, it indeed assisted me in taking regular breaks, in turn helping me not to burn myself out.
Watch Ya Gonna Do About It
It took me a while to realise that the Vintage 2.0 was indeed a smart watch; I guess that’s the trick with this hybrid-watch’s design language. It was only after I spent time with it that I embraced the many charms of it. It’s a simple looking watch and to best understand it we figured a video would do it justice.
As much as I like the watch, I will, however, state this: there are two things missing, and what the watch needs is much more raised and three-dimensional, applied appliqués, different colour dial options and a sweeping seconds hand. Give me these and I reckon the Bausele Vintage 2.0 will look and feel like a watch worth way more than it currently costs. Perhaps an idea for Vintage 3.0? That said, for the price of only $750 AUD as it stands today, it is still one hell of a bargain for what it offers: Swiss made, hybrid, traditional looks, Australian designed, and versatile appeal as a beater watch.
As for if the reviewer is going to personally wear it, in his current state of affairs, the answer is maybe. The reason; these days with the virus and all I spend most of my time indoors writing. Whenever I go out I strap on one my mechanical watches and I don’t know if I will wear this for long enough durations to justify its extra features. But my wife would, absolutely. It’s useful to her because when she is at work, she can monitor/screen the important messages/notifications, count her steps for the day and still wear a ‘real’ watch at work that looks professional and nice. And would I recommend this? Absolutely. Especially for anyone who wants the best of both worlds, a timeless ticking watch with basic smartwatch features.
Jacob Hashimoto is a US based artist, who said: “You always want to see people who are just like a little outside of the box. Maybe making mistakes sometimes. Not taking something that’s straight off the runway, but mixing and matching things. Old and new” .
Christophe Hoppe’s work on the Bausele Vintage 2.0 is a testament to this. Only in this case, the work is sheer genius and innately simple, with no mistakes: take a slice of modern tech and put it inside a timeless body that beats like a real watch. It’s a mantra that ticks like clockwork.
To find out more about this and other Bausele watches, please head to their website here. All images are ©Watch Ya Gonna Do About It unless otherwise stated. We would again like to thank Bausele and Christophe Hoppe for loaning us this watch to review.