Back with their second watch is French brand Fugue. I had the pleasure of reviewing their first watch, the Chronostase and I’m pleased to see some common themes echoing through their latest model which is now live on Kickstarter. The Fiction One is the first in what is planned to be a series of watches inspired by literary genres. While it’s difficult to predict where this might lead, it is easy to draw the parallels between the mystery novel and the mystery dial of the Fugue Fiction One.
Hands-On With the Fugue Fiction One
Mystery dials are nothing new. The first mystery clock was concocted by illusionist and former watchmaker Jean-Eugène Robert-Houdin in the mid-19th century and has been implemented in watch form by many famous names including Jaeger-LeCoultre, Longines and most notably Cartier (read more about the ‘complication’ here). Some mystery dials are incredibly elegant, others downright funky. The Fiction One falls somewhere between.
The Fiction One’s case appears fairly conventional at first glance, but on closer inspection the continuous flow from lug tip to lug tip echoes the lines of their previous model. In the case of the Chronostase that structure and silhouette was a by-product of the modular case. That same form is hinted at here, though the dimensions and transitions are much more traditional. In reality, it’s only if you’ve worn one of Fugue’s modular watches that you’ll appreciate the continuity of design, but it shows that the brand has a clear identity that they are looking to establish.
Both the dimensions and finishing of the case show the same level of restraint. With a diameter of 38mm, lug to lug length of 46mm and a combination of polished sides and very light vertical brushing on top, the unassuming case lets the dial draw the focus.
Sapphire is on both top and bottom, with the rear of the watch also including a quote from Agatha Christie: “Time is the best killer”
Two versions of the Fiction One are available, labelled as Light and Dark. I’m looking at the Dark version here which features a smoked fumé dial, split into three distinct areas. The central area is a light metallic grey, as is the outer chapter ring with alternating numerals and lumed dots at each five minute marker. Sandwiched between them, and separated from the central disc by a polished set of parenthesis (another design feature which looks to become a signature of the brand) is the section which has the smoky fumé effect. Although it’s only a relatively small area, this dial shading works just as well as the hands at promoting the ‘mystery’ theme of the watch.
The bold and rounded shape of the hour and minute hands deliberately show off the fact that they don’t appear connected to the cannon pinion or hour wheel. Like any good mystery all secrets are revealed. In this case a bookmark included with the watch shows the constituent parts and assembly. The hour hand is painted on to the central dial disc, and the minute hand on a transparent disc above. I find the effect to be pleasing without being too distracting.
The light dial version of the Fiction One features aqua coloured lumed areas, and a much more subtle fumé effect.
Inside the Fiction One is the Sellita SW200-1, a Swiss caliber based on the ETA 2824-2. This automatic movement gives 38 hours of power reserve and, in Elaboré grade as used here, accuracy of +/-7 to +/-20 seconds per day. Although the Sellita beats at 28,800 bph you won’t notice that here, as there is no running seconds hand on the dial. Another piece of functionality offered by the SW200-1 in standard form but missing here, is a date window.
Personally, I don’t find the lack of a date too troublesome and it certainly helps with the overall aesthetics. Fugue have also removed the date setting crown position. The lack of a running seconds does change my wearing habits a little. I find that I tend to give it a few extra winds, or strap it on for an hour or so, before setting the time so that I know for sure it’s running. It’s also difficult to set the time exactly with no seconds hand to hack and no minute markers on the dial. These are small matters though that don’t impact my enjoyment of the watch.
Normally I don’t expect too much from the strap supplied with a watch. I care about the quality of the bracelet if a watch comes with one, but straps are easily replaced and the right choice can drastically change the whole look and feel. I’m very impressed with the calf leather strap fitted here though, and it has to be one of the most comfortable straps straight out of the box that I’ve tried. It reminds me of a well-loved, and well used pair of shoes but I’ve yet to spot any markings or spoiling that would suggest anyone has been wearing this one before me.
The strap itself is fairly simple—black leather with a slight crease at the edges and very little taper—but it suits the watch well. The lug width is 18mm if you felt the need to switch the strap out, but I suspect a fairly plain strap is going to work best with this dial. The Light version of the watch with aqua coloured accents possibly offers more opportunity to switch it up.
While looking back at their previous model I used the words “I’ll confess – I’m a sucker for something a little different and the Fugue Chronostase certainly ticks that box without being too extravagant”, and I can’t help but think that this summary can equally be applied here too. The mystery dial is playful yet tasteful. Even the packaging ties in fully with the literary theme, yet doesn’t feel overly gimmicky to me.
The earliest tiers of the Kickstarter campaign started at €195 which is astonishing value and unsurprisingly sold out quickly, and with the remaining pre-orders coming in at €395 (~$465) that still feels pretty good. The Kickstarter campaign is live now, and delivery is expected to commence in February 2021.