Introducing the Retrograph, a “Shot Timer” from Brew Watch Co.

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Brew Watch Co. is no stranger to Worn & Wound. Founded by industrial designer Jonathan Ferrer, Brew kicked things off with a series of coffee-inspired chronographs, which were then followed by the mechanical HP-1 collection. On paper, coffee-inspired watches may seem gimmicky, and in the hands of a less deft designer they absolutely would be, but Ferrer has a knack for taking inspiration and distilling it down to its essence so that the watches ultimately stand on their own. That remains true with the Retrograph, the latest from Brew.  

Throughout the ‘30s and well through the ‘50s, there were speciality chronographs nicknamed “telephone timers.” These watches featured hash marks at three-minute intervals on the minutes sub-dial. The reason? Calls were paid for in three-minute intervals, and wearers used their watches to time their calls. It’s a simple idea that has carried over through the decades to other watches, with numerous chronographs designed around different sporting events, among other things. The Retrograph continues in that tradition.

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A cursory glance at the Retrograph may not reveal how, but a deeper dive shows a design quirk along the primary minutes/chronograph seconds track. Note the frequency of the marks from 0 to 30. Then jump to the next 5 minutes/seconds where the number of marks increases. Then from 35 to 60, things cool down with marks for every minute/second. Ferrer describes this scale as a “shot timer.” Depending on the preferences of the barista and specifications of the machine, the extraction time for an optimal shot of espresso is anywhere between 25 and 35 seconds, and the Retrograph offers a subtle scale for timing just that. Pretty neat, but for those not interested in the whole coffee thing, it’s discrete enough that it doesn’t overly color the watch.

The rest of the design pulls from the ‘70s, especially from chronographs of that era. The soft rectangular case with rounded edges plays off the boxy sub-dials and date window at six, and it gives the whole thing a pleasant neo-vintage vibe without coming off as derivative. The case measures 38 millimeters by 41.5 millimeters (with a thickness of just 10.4 millimeters), so it wears like an older watch, too. Up top is a sapphire crystal with AR, and inside the watch is a Seiko VK64 Meca-Quartz Hybrid chronograph movement. The case is rated to 5 ATM. 

At Windup, I spent some hands-on time with the new Retrograph, and it may just be my favorite watch from Brew. From the design to the overall execution and finishing, it just looked and felt good. I was especially impressed with the quality of the dial printing (look at the fine black framing of the lume pips at each index on the white dial). There’s zero slop here.

The Retrograph, currently available in three dial colors, is on pre-order direct from Brew’s web store for $350. Delivery is mid-December, 2018. Brew Watch Co.

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Ilya is Worn & Wound's Managing Editor and Video Producer. He believes that when it comes to watches, quality, simplicity and functionality are king. This may very well explain his love for German and military-inspired watches. In addition to watches, Ilya brings an encyclopedic knowledge of leather, denim and all things related to menswear.
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