Bold, clean graphic design is bread and butter over at Mondaine. The Swiss brand’s hallmark style, best expressed in the Swiss railway-inspired Classic, has expanded in recent years to include the brilliantly minimal Helvetica series. The Helvetica watches are a celebration of that most famous of modern typefaces—a real love letter to typography in general. Now, for 2017, the Helvetica line has been spiced up with the input of one of the world’s greatest living typographers—Germany’s Erik Spiekermann. The new Helvetica Special Edition Erik Spiekermann models offer an attractive reimagining of all three Helvetica models, along with eye-catching new red highlights.First on the list is the Helvetica No1 Light Spiekermann Edition. Ironically, the actual use of Helvetica is kept to a minimum here; the dial elements are more dominated by the long, airy printed hour marks than anything else (especially the eye-catching red mark at 12). The addition of a large, crisp Helvetica Light-rendered Arabic 12 below the index, however, is a focal point for the entire dial and a brilliant counterbalance to the oversized dial text above six o’clock.
The 38 millimeter case design remains unchanged from the standard Helvetica Light, with its clean overall lines and unique lugs incorporating the Helvetica numeral “1” in their shape. Around back, however, the Helvetica No1 Light receives a special case back featuring the engraved signature of Erik Spiekermann. On the inside, this simplistic specialty carries a Ronda Swiss quartz power plant, and is available on brown leather and Milanese mesh starting at $375.
“I have been suffering from Typomania all my life, a sickness that is incurable but not lethal” – Erik Spiekermann
The Helvetica No1 Regular Spiekermann Edition is up next, and unlike the Helvetica Light, this one goes reductive rather than additive with the standard model. Rather than utilize the original’s sizable Arabic hours track, the Spiekermann take instead opts for a much smaller Arabic minutes index starting at 00. This completely changes the visual weight distribution of the dial, moving the focal point from the typography to the special blazing red seconds hand.
The case design remains essentially unchanged, however this clocks in a bit heftier at 40 millimeters. In addition, the Helvetica Special Edition offers a choice of polished stainless or black PVD case alongside either a black leather or Milanese strap. Containing the same Ronda quartz heart as the Light, the No1 Regular one will be available from $425.
Spiekermann saved his best redesign for last. The striking Helvetica No1 Bold Spiekermann Edition is a major departure from the original, but the new look sets it well apart from the pack. The showstopper here, of course, is the outer dial ring. Styled in slate gray with bright red sections at 12, three, six, and nine, this ring feels like a cleaner, less complicated version of Todd Snyder’s celebrated Timex designs. In addition, the ring pushes the Arabic hour markers further inboard, making a potentially hefty 43 millimeter case feel much smaller and more manageable on the wrist. The red theme is carried through the trademark Spiekermann Edition red seconds hand, adding a bit of extra cohesion to the dial. The case, like the standard Helvetica Bold, is a bit more chunky and aggressive than its stablemates, featuring thicker lugs and a modern blackout-only finish. Like the others, the Helvetica Bold Special Edition will feature a Ronda quartz movement, and will be available on black leather for $495. Mondaine