The New Alexander Shorokhoff Neva Is A Poetic Expression of Watchmaking
Editor’s note: Watches & Wonders 2021 digital version may be over, but the ‘in-person’ W&W week is just starting. And we are also slowly diving deep into the releases and going hands-on with as many of the novelties as the two of us here can. But there is more to the watch industry than the W&W 2021. For the German-Russian side of the world, here’s our preview and the Gut Reaction Review (Grr…) of the new Alexander Shorokhoff Neva. For our other detailed hands-on reviews, please head to our dedicated reviews section here.
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and a river knows no boundaries when untamed. But both are gentle when calm. Serene.
Calm waters flow coolly, unperturbed. Then a silent drop. Could be a pebble, could be rain. And it creates a quiet ripple. A ripple that forms myriad shapes. And you witness the beauty of nature unveiling.
Meet the new Alexander Shorokhoff Neva, where this magical moment in time of nature unravelling itself is stunningly encapsulated on a dial whose guilloche is nothing short of an artistic impression of ripples in water.
At this point, you may be asking, what is Neva? For those who may not know Neva, it is the name of a 74 km long river in Russia that flows from Lake Ladoga into the Neva Bay of the Baltic Sea, passing through Saint Petersburg. It is also one of the key elements in the famed Russian poet Aleksandr Pushkin’s poem ‘The Bronze Horseman’.
And the intrinsic beauty of this river has what’s drawn Alexander Shorokhoff to create this timepiece. As for me, its review has been inspired by the imagery the ‘The Bronze Horseman’ poem inspires.
Coming back to the review, so my gut reaction to this timepiece was quite poetic; it was to simply stare at the dial of the timepiece, allowing it to mesmerise me.
On paper, the new Alexander Shorokhoff Neva features a 43.5mm diameter case with an intricately guilloched dial that evokes the spirit of flowing water. Inside it beats the hand-engraved calibre AS.3105 that provides for a decent 42-hour power reserve.
But watches are more than mere objects or descriptions on a sheet of paper. They can often be seen as a source of joy, of reflection, or a piece that ties you in with some physical or psychological bond. They are reservoirs of memories.
The AS Neva is one such offering that for the brand takes inspiration from the Neva River, and for me, from Pushkin’s poem.
The poem has the following verse: “The Neva-river’s dressed with rocks; Bridges hang o’er the waters proud; Abundantly her isles are covered, With dark-green gardens’ gorgeous locks…”
This new timepiece can be summarised by paraphrasing the above: “The new Alexander Shorokhoff Neva’s dial is dressed with guilloched ripples; Curved “N” shaped seconds hand at 9’o clock hang o’er these ripples proud; And the dial is covered, With dark-blue eclectically-shaped hands…”
The new Alexander Shorokhoff Neva is a poetic expression of what watches can be.
Alexander Shorokhoff presents two variations of the Neva: the case is either finished in stainless steel with blue hands and a genuine crocodile leather strap in light blue water-like shade strap ref. AS.NEV01-1, or a blue IP coated version featuring a white strap ref. AS.NEV02-1. Both the references are limited-edition releases of 49 pieces only, retailing for the 1’950 AUD for the former and 2’050 AUD Euro for the latter.
They both feature the same movement, the hand-wound calibre AS.3105. The interesting part about this calibre is that its base is no longer reproduced today, and as such makes it a rarity. The calibre AS.3105 is based on the Russian Poljot calibre 3105, which in turn is derived from the Swiss Valjoux calibre 7734 minus the chronograph function.
The movement caters to provide for the basic functions of central hours and minutes, a small seconds counter at 9’o clock, and a date aperture at 6. The AS.3105 provides for a decent 42-hour power reserve as well.
Like most of Alexander Shorokhoff’s work, the movements have gone through modifications and decorations. The Russian Poljot calibre 3105 has been completely overhauled, re-oiled, adjusted and tested, along with featuring partially hand-engraved — or cloud-cut — and finished bridges. The screws have been polished and blued, and the movement is on display through the exhibition case-back.
The movement is encased inside a 43.5mm diameter and 11.5mm thick brushed and polished case with a one-sided anti-reflective and cambered sapphire front and 50m water resistance.
Talking about the case and the dial, and the quality of these watches, I am pleased to say that I have some prior experience with the brand. Recently, we got the opportunity to go hands-on with two of the timepieces, Kandy and Levels, and both Jacqui and I were very impressed by the overall quality, the hand-engravings, and the finishing of the dials and cases.
On the dial, the blued hands provide the necessary colour contrast, while the punched out hour markers help distinguish themselves from the guilloche, all elements providing for enhanced legibility.
The watch dial retains the stereotypical ’60’ at 12’o clock, an element unifying AS watches across the board. The azurage counter at 9 nicely distinguishes itself from the guilloche heavy main dial, and it is the inclusion of small details like this that really elevate the brand’s work.
There is also a fair amount of symmetry and balance to the dial, with the small seconds counter at 9 countering the AS branding at 3, and the ’60’ on top mirroring the date window at 6.
Part of me wants the hands in a dark-green colour, simply to mimic the “dark-green gardens’” imagery described by Pushkin in ‘The Bronze Horseman’ quote we used earlier.
While we have written in detail about the brand before, it is also good to talk about it for those who may not be very well aware of it and its achievements.
Alexander Shorokhoff was founded in 1992 by the namesake engineer and architect. It is an independent watch brand based in Germany and uses the tagline “Art on the wrist” as its design mantra. They have three collections at the core: Vintage, Heritage, Avantgarde, and the timepiece we are reviewing today is part of the Vintage collection that takes old movements and relaunches them somewhat.
Their watch faces include works of art such as actual hand paintings, guilloche dials, enamelled dials and skeletonized dials. They have been the recipient of many design awards, including the German Design Award 2018, German Design Award 2019 and German Design Award Special 2021.
“Calm and powerful, simple and beautiful, emotional and accomplished: The new NEVA by Alexander Shorokhoff”.Even the brand’s press release poetically summarises this new release
That’s All Folks!
Allow me to wrap this up with another quote from the same poem.
“The Neva wave’s regal procession, The greyish granite – her bank’s dress”, reads another line from the ‘The Bronze Horseman’.
In a testament to this statement, the dial of the new Alexander Shorokhoff Neva is the main star, with its cool silver dial reflecting the imagery of the ‘greyish granite’, and the guilloche pattern that of the ‘wave’s regal procession’.
There’s peace and quiet on the dial. Light falls on it, and then there’s motion. Motion is life. Life is time. Time, present and past is what the Neva tells. What more could you ask of a watch? To look at it is to be in the presence of serenity.
To find out more about the new Alexander Shorokhoff Neva and other AS watches, please head to their website here. All images unless otherwise specified are ©2021 Copyright Alexander Shorokhoff Uhrenmanufaktur GmbH. Make sure to check out our reviews of other Watches & Wonders 2021 releases here.