The New Carl F. Bucherer Heritage BiCompax Annual Is A Finely Distilled Watch That’s Been In The Making For 7 Decades
Editor’s note: This is a Mind (stats), Body (design features) & Soul (what’s special) review of the new Carl F. Bucherer Heritage BiCompax Annual watch. For our detailed hands-on reviews, please head to our dedicated review section here.
What is it: The new Carl F. Bucherer Heritage BiCompax Annual reverse panda limited edition timepiece for 2021
Who is it for: Even though the concept of bargains is an oxymoron in the world of horology, the new Carl F. Bucherer Heritage BiCompax Annual LE is for those who love the idea of picking up exquisitely finished timepieces that feature a big date complication alongside the annual calendar function and a chronograph for a bargain price
When released: March 18, 2021 as a limited edition release of 888-pieces only
Where: Global release but unsure about Australian availability. Retailing for the same price as their previous 2019 iteration, $7’200 USD
Why: As we wait to see what the brand from Lucerne has in store for us this year, here’s looking at the teaser into the Watches & Wonders 2021, the new Carl F. Bucherer Heritage BiCompax Annual (reverse panda) for 2021.
And besides, who in their right frame of mind doesn’t want a nicely executed reverse panda watch in their collection?!
How does it do: I gotta be honest; I am in love with big date display windows. Usually the master of this art is the German manufacturer A. Lange & Söhne. But a relatively less known player here in Australia — the brand Bucherer has been in the watch industry since 1888 and came to a new life in the form of Carl F. Bucherer in 2001 and is well known in other parts of the world — is sure giving them a run for the money.
If you scour the internet, check out the forums and speak to other watch enthusiasts, you will realise that there is a definite gap between the ‘admiration and supply levels’ of big date complication timepieces. And when you find a decent big date watch, the high costs can be a deterrent.
Case in point: with the rather high-end costs of A. Lange & Sohne watches, there is definitely a market for watches like the Heritage BiCompax; not only does the CFB offering looks ravishing, it is also available at the amazingly competitive price point Carl F. Bucherer is positioning it at.
The most impressive feat of this new CFB release is that it doesn’t appear to be a poor man’s version of a Lange; it is very much it’s own piece, with its distinctive identity, and as far as I am concerned, stands tall on its own merits.
The references 00.10803.08.32.01 (leather strap) or 00.10803.08.32.02 (rubber strap) are produced in limited numbers of a total of 888 watches (an ode to the brand’s founding year of 1888). They feature the calibre CFB 1972 which is an automatic-winding outsourced but manufacture modified movement. The brand hasn’t informed us as to exactly which movement they have modified, but if I am not wrong, it is either a Dubois-Depraz module over ETA 2892 or ETA 2984-2. The movement measures 30mm in diameter and 7.3mm in height, comprises of 47 jewels, beats at the frequency of 4Hz, and provides for 42-hours of power reserve.
The most impressive part about the movement is the rather unique execution of the annual calendar complication.
Usually, an annual calendar watch takes into account the 30 and 31 days cycle automatically as long as the watch is wound up. So the wearer doesn’t have to worry about changing the date every alternate month. That said, it can’t handle February, given the 28-day cycle. So once a year or annually, the wearer has to change the date physically once at the end of February, hence the name annual calendar.
But the calibre CFB 1972 of the new Carl F. Bucherer Heritage BiCompax Annual ensures that the wearer doesn’t have to worry about changing dates in the month of February. That said, the only time the wearer has to change the date manually is when taking into account leap years, so once every four years. This way, the Heritage BiCompax Annual sits somewhere between a traditional annual calendar watch and a perpetual calendar watch. And again, for the price of only $7’200 USD, I personally reckon that’s a bargain.
The calibre 1972 is encased inside a 41.0mm diameter and 14.15mm thick stainless steel case that features on top a double-domed sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating on both sides, and a sapphire crystal case-back. The timepiece is water-resistant to 30m (3 ATM).
I personally like the mix of brushing — on top of lugs and case sides — and polished surfaces — flanks and lug corners — that add a certain nuance to the case design. The highly polished bezel complements the polished pushers at 2 and 4 nicely, and the fluted crown with the brand logo completes the richly designed case aesthetics.
The wide-variety-of-wrist-sizes-friendly 41.0mm diameter case frames the beautiful dial, which is the star of the show here. The black with silver-coloured counters watch face shows the functions of central hour and minutes, chronograph seconds hand, small seconds at 3’o clock, minutes counter at 9’o clock, annual calendar at 4.30, large date at 12’o clock and a peripheral tachymetre scale.
I have said this before and I will say it again; I am fascinated by big dates. In fact, anyone who has read my reviews can attest that I have a soft spot for big date windows. Made more mainstream and rather famous by Lange, these in my opinion are the best set of complications a watch can have. My favourite execution so far, which I am also fortunate to own, is on the Breguet Marine 5817ST.
And given I have this complication (and execution) in my collection, for a while I didn’t think I would be getting enamoured by another big date timepiece. But impressed I am. Not to sound too much like a fanboy, I really dig the execution here on the new Carl F. Bucherer Heritage BiCompax Annual reverse panda for 2021.
Come to think of it, one of my favourite watches of 2019 was the Carl F. Bucherer Heritage BiCompax Annual LE in steel featuring a handsome panda dial. This 2019 addition to Carl F. Bucherer’s Heritage collection — launched in New York in 2018 as an ode to the 130 years rich history of the brand — saw a watch that not only made me sit up and downright stare, but also made it hard for me to ignore this brand anymore. I say ignore because they don’t really have a presence here in Australia, which is a shame really given I admire the work they are doing.
The 2019 Heritage BiCompax Annual came in two versions: champagne-coloured dial on a steel case with rose gold accents featuring a cognac brown calfskin leather strap; or full stainless steel case sporting a silver-coloured dial with black totalisers on a textile strap. It was the latter version that spoke to me the most.
Speaking of context, the Heritage BiCompax Annuals aren’t exactly standalone offerings, but rather a finely distilled product that has been in the making for over seven decades.
They have been inspired by their vintage BiCompax watch from 1950s that featured a similar sporty yet elegant design, though it measured in at (the era-appropriate) 34mm diameter. And the 1950s sports racing nostalgia is oozing from every aspect of the new Carl F. Bucherer Heritage BiCompax Annual reverse panda limited edition timepiece for 2021.
I love the way how CFB’s Heritage BiCompax Annuals look, but being an architect and a sucker for symmetry, the somewhat imbalanced 4.30 placement of the month indicator slightly bothers me. Given annual calendars can also feature day of the week displays as well, I have taken the liberty of photoshopping the brand provided press image to create a mock-up that presents the timepiece in a more symmetric layout. I hope this doesn’t offend their design team, for like I have said, I do really love the looks of the watch as it is, but to make it even more perfect, I believe this additional aperture at 7.30 really tops it nicely for me.
Present Day – Lead up to Watches & Wonders 2021
The new Carl F. Bucherer Heritage BiCompax Annual reverse panda for 2021 is another testament to my belief that ever since Sascha Moeri took over the reigns of Carl F. Bucherer as CEO in 2010, the brand has been going from success to success.
The legibility of the dial is thankfully amazing, and for a watch with a few complications, it is impressively executed as well. The two symmetrically arranged — azurage and sunken — silver-coloured chronograph counters are positioned on the horizontal central axis on the deep-black galvanised dial, nicely framed by a tachymeter scale. Further complementing the entire package is the use of the black calfskin leather strap with silver-coloured stitching and stainless-steel folding pin buckle. And as I said earlier, I am partially in awe of the annual calendar execution here, that takes the different month lengths of 28, 30, and 31 days into account.
There have been a decent number of reverse panda timepieces that have rocked my boat in the past, whether be it the Heuer Autavia 3646, Heuer Carrera 2447 NST, Rolex Daytona 6239/6262, the first Omega Speedy Tuesday LE, or even some options by Zenith and Breitling; but the new Carl F. Bucherer Heritage BiCompax Annual reverse panda features that rare quality that harmoniously combines vintage notes with modern aesthetics.
The new CFB Heritage BiCompax Annual is a breath of fresh air; in a watch industry that is currently obsessed with either fauxtina or dive watches, this is one example of vintage-inspired timepiece executed to perfection. This retro-cool timepiece may just be the way to start off 2021 on a high note.
For more information on these watches, head to their website via the link here: Carl F. Bucherer. All images unless specified otherwise are © Carl F. Bucherer. Make sure to check back from April 7th onwards for more CFB Watches & Wonders 2021 news.