Review: the Behrens BHR030 Ultralight 20g

It’s been a long time since I’ve been impressed by a watch box. Normally I don’t pay attention. Often, a review watch arrives in some kind of travel pouch, and ultimately the packaging isn’t important anyway. It’s not why any of us buy a watch, but in the case of the Behrens BHR030 Ultralight 20g it’s a mouthwatering taste of what’s to come. The watch box is thin, curved and sleek, and promises that something special is waiting inside. When the black lid slides back, the watch does not disappoint. As the name suggests, the BHR030 is ultralight and, as you may notice, it is also ultra-thin, curved, and hypnotic.

Behrens is a relatively new name in the watch game, founded in China in 2012, but one that is looking to make a big impact. You’ll note the branding in the top right corner of the watch says “Behrens Inventor” which gives an indication that the brand is forward thinking rather than focussed on classic watchmaking – though the watch itself should have been enough of a giveaway. Nothing about the BHR030 is traditional, and that starts with the case.

The last part of the model name refers to its weight. 20 grams is equivalent to 8 US pennies, which is ridiculously light for a mechanical watch. That’s the weight of the watch head alone though, and with a strap attached that number shoots up to 34g. That’s right, the watch weighs only a little more than the svelte strap it comes fitted with. As you might have guessed, to achieve this lightness the case is made of grade 5 titanium, but that’s not even the best thing about it. At just over 38mm in width, the unconventional trapezoid case shape sets the tone for the watch, offering a large area to showcase the inner workings and to tell the time. And at less than 46mm at its longest from bottom to top (with no lugs), the BHR030 is likely to be suitable for wrists much smaller than mine. The next notable thing about the case is that it is thin – just 6mm right through its whole profile. Finally, the whole thing is curved. While this likely helps it to wear comfortably on the wrist, it also makes it a whole lot cooler. I’ve worn other watches with curved case backs before, including the Orion Calamity and Fears Archival 1930 and both sat nicely on my wrist, though it feels like Behrens have stepped it up another level.


Review: the Behrens BHR030 Ultralight 20g

Grade 5 Titanium
In house BM02
White fluoroelastomer
Water Resistance
30 meters
38.2 x 42.6mm
Lug Width
2 Years

The dial and movement have to be talked about together as they are effectively one and the same. As you hand-wind the in-house BM02 caliber, you’ll see the crown wheel turning the ratchet wheel, moving the power reserve display in the top left corner in turn. The free-sprung balance beats at 28,800 bph in the lower part of the dial, with time-telling split between two separate registers to the left and right. The hour hand begins its 12-hour journey pointing downwards in the bottom left corner, slowly traveling 90 degrees upwards before snapping back again. Similarly, each hour, the minute hand completes its own arc in the right hand side of the dial. Twice a day, both hands will snap back at the same time. From an aesthetic perspective, the combination of industrial gray titanium, polished hands and wheels, and bright red arrows on the two hands and power reserve make for a captivating and exciting watch. And that’s even without mentioning that the movement is also curved to sit within the case. Practically speaking, it isn’t the easiest ‘dial’ to live with, though no one is going to buy a watch like this for function alone.

 Skeleton watches can often be hard to read, and this is no exception. In fact, readability is hampered in two ways. Firstly, the double retrograde display means that your eyes need to search for the hour and minutes registers separately, and with each one spanning a quarter-circle it takes either a slight shift in logic to tell the time quickly, or to read the time directly against the white markings on the sapphire crystal. Secondly, although the bright red arrows on the hour and minute hands are easy enough to pick out, the markings on the crystal aren’t quite as lucid in some lighting conditions as I hoped, especially as the hands drift closer to the center of the dial and above the openwork movement. Over the week I’ve worn the Behrens BHR030 it has become easier and easier to read the retrograde dial registers, but it’s still awkward to get a quick and accurate reading during the last quarter of each hour.

Winding the watch is a joy, mostly because it’s easy to forget just how thin the watch is. Taking it off each morning to top up the power reserve is a tactile treat. Setting the watch is slightly less satisfying though. The two hands can only be moved forwards, and can only really be set against the markers in increments of 5 minutes. Pulling out the crown does not hack the movement, so it’s a case of advancing the hands to a suitably marked out time just as that time occurs. I don’t expect that to be a dealbreaker for someone who loves the design, execution and price of the Behrens, but it’s an eccentricity I could easily live without.

Because everything lives dial-side, the case back is a fairly plain piece of titanium. Marked only with the individual watch’s reference, along with 12 small screws – 6 of which hold the two parts of the strap in place. Due to the thinness of the watch, and slanted nature of the case where it meets the strap, only proprietary straps can be used. The white strap fitted to the watch is made from fluoroelastomer, also known as FKM rubber, and fitted with a titanium buckle. Unlike most FKM straps, this one is much thinner in construction, matching the watch. This also means the strap is both more flexible and more elastic. Like a soft set of tires this gives a really nice feeling, but also leaves me with a slight worry that I might need to replace it sooner than if it was thicker.

The Behrens BHR030 Ultralight 20g isn’t going to be to everyone’s taste. To be honest, I’m not even sure it suits my taste all that well. I’m a sucker for telling the time in unconventional ways, and the double retrograde movement certainly delivers on that front. The watch is a joy to wear too. As you’d expect from a 6mm, 20g watch it simply melts away. There are plenty of watches I’ve worn that tick the ‘comfortable’ box, but this is the first one where I’ve forgotten whether I’m still wearing it and honestly can’t tell until I pull my sleeve back. The case, although simple, appears well finished, as does the in-house movement sandwiched in the slim gap between the curved titanium and sapphire crystal. The fact that this watch retails for substantially less than $10,000 is remarkable.

There is sure to be a small, but passionate, market for such a watch. My own reasons for not falling head over heels for the BHR030 are due to quirks of the watch rather than faults, and yet even though I’m not reaching for my credit card, I am seriously impressed with what Behrens have produced. I will be following their future steps closely. Behrens

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Brad stumbled into the watch world in 2011 and has been falling down the rabbit hole ever since. Based in London, Brad's interests lie in anything that ticks, sweeps or hums and is slightly off the beaten track.