Junghans recently announced their series of 2021 releases, and among them is an impressive box set consisting of three limited edition Max Bill watches that will only be available as part of the set. If you’re at all tuned in to the Max Bill line, you know that these watches follow a fairly regimented, minimal design language based on the Bauhaus style that is so often associated with Bill’s work. There’s real excitement, though, in seeing how small iterations here and there can radically change the impression of these watches – it’s a lesson in how small details can shape a design.
The Max Bill Edition Set 60, as it’s officially known, was created to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Junghans Max Bill wristwatch. The set includes three watches that provide roughly the same information, but rearrange elements on the dial to present that information in different ways. Of course, they all work within a style that will be familiar to watch enthusiasts who have enjoyed these watches in the past. The dials are stark white, and the hands are long and thin, and point to hour and minute tracks defined by printed black lines of different lengths, which creates an intuitive basis for telling the time at a glance.
First up is the Max Bill Automatic, a simple time and date model in a 38mm case that’s been PVD coated. Like the other watches in this set, the hands are anthracite in color (to match the case) and filled with orange lume, which gives the Automatic and the rest of the watches here a clean but modern look. The Automatic runs on the Junghans J800.1 movement, which is a modified ETA 2824-2 with 38 hours of power reserve and a date at the 3:00 position.
Next is the Max Bill MEGA Kleine Sekunde. At a glance, this looks like a fairly run of the mill Max Bill watch with a subsidiary seconds dial at 6:00 replacing the sweep seconds hand of the Automatic. This watch, however, is powered by caliber J101.66, which is a relatively new (introduced in 2018) radio controlled caliber functioning off an atomic time signal. That means that it’s essentially always accurate and capable of updating itself across time zones when linked to the Junghans MEGA app (you can read much more about this innovative movement right here). It’s also an incredibly discreet perpetual calendar, and comes in at the same wrist friendly 38mm size as the mechanical version.
Lastly, what might be the standout watch for many in this set: the Max Bill Regulator. As you’d suspect from the name of the watch, this one features a time only display in a regulator style layout, with a centrally mounted minute hand, a small register for the hours at 12:00, and a running seconds register at 6:00. The regulator layout is deeply tied to the history of watchmaking, having been used by clockmakers as reference tools in the earliest days of mechanical horology. Here, it functions to break down the Max Bill design aesthetic to its core components, and also links it to an earlier period in watchmaking history.
Taken together, this is a set that pays homage to the essence of the Max Bill watch and is aware of its history, but also looks forward in interesting ways. It underscores how versatile Bill’s design language is, and how it can be applied in new ways, and with new technologies. While it’s a shame that these watches won’t be available separately (especially that Regulator) they make a compelling and coherent set, and make sense when viewed in context with one another. The box set itself looks to be very nicely executed in colors complementing the watches, with an image of Max Bill on the inner slipcover.
The Max Bill Edition Set 60 is limited to 1,060 pieces, and has a retail price of €4,060. Availability is expected in July. Junghans