Junghans Meister Telemeter Chronoscope Review

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A couple of years ago, I had the pleasure of seeing a pre-Basel preview of the Junghans Meister Telemeter Chronoscope. The watch took me off guard with its beautiful interpretation of a vintage style, re-imagined with the finesse only Junghans can provide. In the two years since, it has remained a watch that I’ve thought about, maintaining its position as one of the most exciting releases in years.

As the name indicates, the Telemeter is part of the Meister series, sharing some significant designs traits with others in the line, such as the Meister Kalendar Moon we reviewed just a couple of months ago. But while some things remain the same, the Telemeter is actually a substantial aesthetic departure, and was the first in what have become some more adventurous offerings from the brand. In fact, at this year’s Basel Junghans released the “Driver” sub-line, continuing to push the Meisters into new and exciting territory.

The Telemeter takes the look of vintage chronographs from the early 20th century, with a two-register design, parchment lume, brushed steel dial and red telemeter index. But unlike so many modern re-interpretations of vintage pieces, it doesn’t come across as contrived. Rather, the modern elements of the execution add to the overall look and feel, making for one very attractive watch. Powered by the J880.3 caliber, which is an ETA 2892 with a Dubois Depraz 2030 chronograph module, and coming in at $2,190 this German-made watch is a solid value, albeit not inexpensive, as well.

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$2190

Junghans Meister Telemeter Chronoscope Review

Case
Stainless Steel
Movement
J880.3 (ETA 2892 w/ Dubois Depraz 2030)
Dial
Silver
Lume
Yes
Lens
Acrylic with Sicralan
Strap
Leather
Water Resistance
30M
Dimensions
40.8 x 45.4mm
Thickness
12.6mm
Lug Width
21mm
Crown
6mm
Warranty
2 Years
Price
$2190

Case

If the case of the Telemeter Chronoscope looks familiar, that’s because we’ve basically seen it before on the Meister Kalendar Moon, except this version has obviously been altered to include chronograph pushers, and has slightly differing dimensions. Coming in at 40.8 x 45.4 x 12.6mm, it’s a nice size for a modern chronograph, though clearly much larger than a vintage chrono with similar aesthetics would have been. That said, it works and doesn’t look oversized by any means, and is actually pleasantly thin for an automatic chronograph.

The Meister watches are all about their dials, and the case design does a good job at playing second fiddle. It’s still very elegant, but doesn’t distract at all. From above, you see a slim bezel around the massive dial and slender contouring lugs. The sides of the watch scoop underneath creating a bowl-shaped mid-case, which minimizes the overall presence of the case. On the right side you have oval shaped pushers at 2 and 4, and a thin crown at 3. The pusher design is very attractive, playing off of the vintage source material while also having a nice tactile quality.

Flipping the watch over you’ll find a simple screw on case back with a large display window. Because the watch uses a modular chronograph, the window shows the ETA 2892 base of the movement. While it lacks the complexity of a Valjoux, the 2892 is an attractive movement and has been elegantly decorated with perlage, blue screws and a custom rotor with Cote de Geneve and a Junghans logo.

The watch is capped with a massive domed acrylic crystal with Sicralan coating. This is a signature detail on all of Junghans Meister and Max Bill watches that adds to the vintage look and feel. I personally really like the look of acrylic crystals and think that they have a certain warm sheen that sapphire or mineral crystals with domed shapes don’t get. Yes, they are easier to scratch, but the Sicralan coating is supposed to help prevent that. In the end, you might have to be a bit more careful with your watch, but these also aren’t tool watches that one should be wearing in hostile environments.

Dial

As said, the dial really steals the show on the Telemeter, and is one of the most stunning dials on a recent release. What’s so great about it is that they use vintage graphic elements, but construct the dial in the same modern style as their other Meisters, which is to say with a beautifully domed surface and cup shaped sub-dials. The result is clean and crisp, with sharp edges and perfect printing.

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The Telemeter is available in silver or black, the former clearly being the one reviewed. The surface is the first thing of beauty. It has light circular brushing, which gives it a “metallic” feel, and frankly is a lot more interesting than the ubiquitous sunray dial. To my eye, it almost looks like the dial is made of the case steel, giving the whole watch a visual unity.

There are many indexes on the Telemeter, including the namesake, which at a glance can be overwhelming, but thanks to smart layout choices are quite readable. The hour index is presented most boldly in large arabic numerals with parchment lume filling and thin black outlines. The outlines really make them jump off of the silver dial. Just around them is a finer index for minutes and chronograph seconds in black. It features numerals at intervals of 5, markers per minute/second and smaller markers for sub-seconds.
JUNGHANS_MEISTER_TELEMETER_DIAL_2

The next index out is for the telemeter, which is presented in red on white. The use of white is curious here, as it’s tonally similar to the dial surface thus not standing out much, yet it does help to visually separate the inner dial from the outer elements. Furthering this is the curve of the domed dial itself, which starts to curve down more sharply at the edge of the white area. The red index then jumps out, adding just enough color to the dial. Telemeters are strange indexes to have, measuring distance from a source that emits light and sound. The most clear example of this would be with lightning. When it strikes, one would start the chronograph, stopping it when they hear thunder. The reading on the telemeter would tell them how far away the bolt was in kilometers with some obvious room for human error (reaction times). I suppose this would also work for fireworks, given enough distance.

The last index is a classic tachymeter presented in black. Because of the shape of the dial and the contrasting style of the telemeter index, each of the four indexes feels quite distinct from one another, making the vast amount of information easy to deal with. In the end, you’re likely only going to be using the hour and minute indexes, as well as the basic chronograph functions, so the tachy and tele are really for aesthetics.

At 3 and 9 are sub-dials for the active seconds and 30-minute counter, respectively. As mentioned before as well as in the Kalendar Moon review, the sub-dial design of the Meister watches is really gorgeous. They aren’t just depressed into the dial, rather they are bowl shaped, creating a very sharp edge where they cut down. The smooth curved surface then picks up light, creating attractive gradients and highlights. It’s the kind of modern detail that makes the Telemeter Chronoscope so interesting, and not just a one-liner vintage-recreation.

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The hands are also a departure from the other Meister watches, here having a pointed Roman sword style for the hour and minutes. This gives the watch a touch of a military/pilot feel that while unexpected, works with the overall look of the dial. All of the hands are presented in polished gun-metal. At a glance they might look black, but the color is actually softer and a bit warmer, which looks great. The hour and minute are also filled with the same parchment lume you’ll find on the dial. One last cool detail is that the minute and chronograph seconds hands are both bent towards their tips to follow the curve of the dial. Maybe I’m just a sucker for curved hands, but I love how that looks.

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Movement

The J880.3 caliber powering the Meister Telemeter Chronoscope is an ETA 2892 with a Dubois Depraz 2030 module. This is a common alternative to Valjoux 7750/3s for modern automatic chronographs, especially those with 3-9 registers, as 7753’s seem to have always been a bit less common. There seems to be an on going debate amongst collectors on forums as to whether or not modular chronographs are inferior to integrated ones, with no clear winner in sight. Some people say they are harder to service, others don’t. Some people take issue with the crawling minutes, others (yours truly included) don’t care about that. Though I have not owned a watch with a modular chronograph, my experience with them on review units has been more than satisfactory. They keep good time and the chronograph operates as intended when needed.

The 2892-2030 chronograph features 45-jewels, hacking, hand-winding, no-date, 40hr power reserve and a frequency of 28,800bph. It operates in the expected fashion, with the pusher at 2 starting and stopping the chronograph, and the pusher at 4 resetting it.

Strap and Wearability

The Telemeter Chronoscope comes mounted to a 21mm black leather strap with a slight taper, gray stitching and folded edges. It’s a nice strap, that is pleasantly thin and comfortable. The look is a touch formal, but not too much, which plays off of the general style of the watch. Junghan’s straps tend to be decent looking and well-made, if a bit unexciting. On this watch, I would have liked a bit more personality than a simple black strap, which doesn’t play off of the more interesting elements of the dial. A brown would have been a bit better, picking up the red, but also a strap with texture, like a suede, would have been great. It’s no secret vintage and suede look great together.

On the wrist, the Telemeter is just a pleasure to wear. It fits well and looks amazing. What else can you ask for in a watch? The 40.8mm diameter is pretty perfect as it lets the dial be nice and big, but not oversized, and the 45.2 lug to lug just makes it sit really well. While larger than a chronograph form the early 20th century would have been, as part of the modernizing of the design, it really works. The proportions feel really spot on, with details like the domed dial, domed crystal and sub-dials all being accentuated.

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The silver dial looks gorgeous when you are out and about. It’s a great alternative to white for a light dial, as it has more depth and texture, picking up subtle shades of color from the space around you. The parchment lume adds a nice soft tone to the dial, while the red index adds just a bit of sportiness. It’s a very versatile watch too, with fairly neutral colors and a mix of sport and formal elements that make it look as good with casual clothes as with a suit or blazer. While not loud or asking for attention, it is a striking watch that will garner some looks, especially from other watch fans.

Conclusion

Simply put, the Meister Junghans Telemeter Chronoscope lived up to the hype I had in my head. It lived up to the feeling I had when I first saw it and thought, “wow, this is something special”. It’s just gorgeous. Wouldn’t change a thing. From design to execution, it all comes together flawlessly. Sure, I might like a different strap, but that’s an easy fix, even if the 21mm lugs make that a bit less convenient. It’s certainly something I’d get over for a watch that looks this good.

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As someone who collects vintage, to some extent, and focuses on chronographs, as much as I like modern chronographs I still end up purchasing vintage ones. I just like the looks more. That said, they can be risky and costly to service if something goes wrong. Thus modern interpretations of vintage watches can be very tempting, but most get something wrong. The Telemeter doesn’t. They really nailed the look and feel of the watch, giving you a great early 20th century aesthetic with a modern twist and build. I probably wouldn’t actually buy a chronograph from the 30’s or 40’s because of servicing, so the Telemeter is a great option that doesn’t feel like an alternative. It’s a great watch in its own right. At $2,190, the Telemeter is decently priced too if one to save up for, and certainly has the quality to support the price. So, if you’re looking for a very sexy chronograph with a vintage appeal, your hunt might have just ended.

The watch reviewed in this article was provided by watchbuys.com.
Watchbuys are also an advertiser and sponsor of worn&wound as of the time of publishing this article, 07/06/16. Editorial Policy

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Zach is the co-founder and Executive Editor of worn&wound. Before diving head first into the world of watches, he spent his days as a product and graphic designer. Zach views watches as the perfect synergy of 2D and 3D design: the place where form, function, fashion and mechanical wonderment come together.
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  • Diego Casanova

    Wow, that’s a seriously beautiful watch! really nice vintage look in modern proportions, but… why not sapphire!?! I find it kind of vintage tool watch.

  • JFPisa

    Maaan, a truly stunning watch. Less then 40mm would’ve made it a masterpiece.

  • Adam

    I’ve admired this watch since seeing it announced in some forum or other, and had the pleasure of trying it on earlier this year. It does look and fit on the wrist surprisingly well, and doesn’t seem excessively large at all (my wrists are small-medium, 6.75″). I have been tempted more than once to buy it, but I already have too many!