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Belchengruppe 1247 Visuren #22 Watch Review

by Sep 10, 2023Belchengruppe, Limited Edition

A watch brand founded by a designer should be right on the edge of creativity – That’s exactly what seems to have happened with Belchengruppe; they started with a bold, unusual watch case shape and then added different concepts of how time is perceived into their dial design briefs.

Belchengruppe (German to English translation is Belchen Group) was founded in 2020 by Christoph Schnee in Basel, with the aim of bringing together the savoir-faire and innovative spirit of experts in design, construction and watchmaking; together they create products that arouse emotions and show time in a new light.

The newest addition to the brand’s collection, the 1247 Visuren #22, takes this brand concept and uses a dial design inspired by Op Art. 

Founder and creative head of Belchengruppe, Christoph Schnee, explains the idea behind the Visuren #22:

Time, its passing, its individual perception, is the central theme of the brand and we combine this with a fascination for archetypical design. The inspiration for the design of the “Visuren #22” dial was to pay homage to the iconic sunburst as well as the Op Art movement of the 60s.  As with the first “Visuren” design, we referred to the lines of sight between the Belchen Mountains, but this time we additionally wanted to visualise the dilatability of time.

Belchengruppe 1247 Visuren #22

Belchengruppe 1247 Visuren #22

Face & case

Housed in a 40 x 47mm stainless steel case, the Belchengruppe 1247 Visuren #22 has a brushed finish and a very unique appearance; an elongated octagon shape, with sharp angles in multiple directions. The lugs are fairly long and angle downwards, almost giving the appearance of something that should feature in a sci-fi movie.

Designed by Christoph Ruppli, the satin black dial is recessed quite far down below the sapphire and anti-reflective coated mineral crystal, thanks to the deep brushed steel rehaut, which angles inwards and appears to reduce the size of the dial in the case slightly.  There is a series of very thin lines emanating from a seconds sub dial situated at 9 o’clock, which looking closely, is on two levels, the lower of which angles in gently and has a very faint, tight circular guilloche on it.  The lines are made up of 3 white lines, between orange lines; the orange lines actually indicate positions of the hours and also have a layer of SuperLuminova (BL 1375C LE GRADE-A) on them.

A brass base plate was used for the dial and in order to ensure the fineness of the lines also when they are covered with Superlunimova. The only method that offers a sufficiently high resolution to achieve the required finish, is pad printing; if (for example) silk-screen printing had been used, the lines would have been pixelated and blurred.

There is a date window with white date on matching satin background at 3 o’clock, belchengruppe and swiss made are across the bottom and 6 o’clock and the Belchengruppe logo has been polished and applied to the dial at 12 o’clock. 

The hands are flat, sharp and have square ends.  The sub dial hand is white, whilst the hour and minute hands are satin black, with orange ends (the same size of the small seconds hand) and covered with Superluminova.

From the sides, the angles of the case are prominent; the lugs are the same thickness as the main case, but do drop downwards to aid in comfort on the wrist.  The polished crown sits inside a recess in the side of the case, meaning it doesn’t protrude as far out as it could have done.  It has angled engravings around it and the logo is embossed onto the end, with brushed background.

The sealed caseback is very minimalistic; the only things that can be seen are an engraved logo in the centre and a small number is engraved in a small section around the edge, which relates to the model reference number, followed by the watch number in the series.

The watch has been tested to 30m for water resistance, however, there is no mention of this anywhere.

Belchengruppe 1247 Visuren #22 Case Back

Belchengruppe 1247 Visuren #22 Case Back

Movement

The Belchengruppe 1247 is powered by the automatic Sellita Calibre SW290-1, which features 31 jewels, an Incabloc shock system and runs at 28,800 vph.  Featuring hours, minutes, small seconds, quick-set date and hacking seconds.

Owners should expect around 38 hours power reserve once fully wound.

Belchengruppe 1247 Visuren #22 Side & Crown

Belchengruppe 1247 Visuren #22 Side & Crown

Strap

Also in black, the strap is made from thick saddle leather.  There is no stitching around the edges, but there is a single bartack accent stitch in a heavy orange thread on the crown side lugs and one on each side of the buckle.

The pin buckle is made from 1.4404 stainless steel, with a polished finish and the Belchengruppe logo engraved and offset to one side.

Quick release bars have been used for easy changing of straps.

Belchengruppe 1247 Visuren #22 Strap & Buckle

Belchengruppe 1247 Visuren #22 Strap & Buckle

Other stuff

Regular readers will know sometimes I go off on tangents – I had a choice of 2 really in this review – Op Art (Optical Art), or The Belchen.

The brand is named after the five “Belchen” mountains in the Dreiland am Rheinknie, which is situated at the border, between Germany, France and Switzerland, so I decided to go with that.

The Belchen system was thought to have served as an ancient solar calendar for the Celts.  

The centre of the Belchen system is on the southernmost mountain of the Vosges, the Alsatian Belchen (1247m) – looking from the Alsatian Belchen, the sun rising over the other Belchen marks the beginning of spring, summer, autumn and winter.

The Black Forest Belchen (1414m) is 73km to its east, which is only 167 meters higher; the sun rises on the days of the equinoxes (at the beginning of spring and at the beginning of autumn).  On these two days, the sun also sets over the Alsatian Belchen, which can be seen from the Black Forest Belchen.

At the summer solstice, the sun can be seen rising over the slightly higher Kleiner Belchen (1272m) from the Alsatian Belchen, which sits 27 km north east.  At the winter solstice the sun can be seen rising over the Schweizer Belchen (1099m), which is 88 km to the south east.

Local researchers Walter Eichin and Andreas Bohnert discovered and published connections between the five Belchen in the mid-1980s.  Since it is unlikely that these five mountains would be named Belchen independently of each other, they associated the naming of the Belchen with the Celts’ god of light, Belenus.  The holiday Beltanedes Belenus is on 1st May, the exact day of the year that the sun rises over the largest mountain in the Vosges, the Great Belchen (1424m), as seen from the Alsatian Belchen.  Beltane was also celebrated as the Celtic beginning of the year and the beginning of summer.

Further research has taken place since, which indicates some geographical references and corresponding connections to the Celtic holidays Imbolg on February 1st and Samhain on November 1st.  

It is common knowledge that the Celts didn’t leave much written evidence of anything, so it is difficult to prove these facts historically or archaeologically.  However, it is clear that the Belchen system was available to the Celts for the calendrical determination of the equinoxes and solstices and could easily have been exploited with geometric tools of the time (such as the Coligny calendar).  The Celts lived in the region at the time and we also know that they had knowledge of the solar year and the use of Celtic calendars was an important part of their culture.

Belchengruppe 1247 Visuren #22 On the Wrist

Belchengruppe 1247 Visuren #22 On the Wrist

Our verdict

Not many people reading this will know that I actually studied multiple disciplines of design at college, so when I first saw the Belchengruppe case shape, I was instantly intrigued.  Then came the tight lines radiating from the sub seconds dial on this Visuren #22 and the eccentric part of my brain was immediately sold by the futuristic mash up of Op Art and Bauhaus design (that’s what it was in my head anyways!!). 

It is quite seldom that a watch brand releases their premier collection with a new shaped case (especially if their dial is round), however, it is definitely nice to see that there are still some willing to take a chance with something that challenges the “norm”.

The shape of the case does seem to increase the overall appearance of the size of the watch; it definitely looks wider than 40mm.  The angular lugs protrude far out to the top and bottom too, giving a kind of space craft type feel.  The dial is only 30mm across though and seems to challenge the otherwise oversized appearance of the case.  

On the wrist, it has a strong visual presence; the shape of the case and the dial design (with added lumed lines) is definitely a talking point.  I mentioned previously that the lugs are the same thickness as the case, but they do angle away from the dial, following the shape of the wrist.  At 11.2mm deep, the watch is not overly thick, however, the lugs being the same depth as the case, means the thickness actually increases at the lugs and “cuff wars” will likely be “on” in most scenarios.

Whilst the black leather strap, with orange accents definitely matches the dial and overall design, my personal preference would be to change the strap colour, using more of the other colours on the dial.  I think a watch that already makes such a statement could get away with a much louder strap.

Only 50 pieces will be made in this brushed version and at a price of just 2,725 CHF, there is a high chance that they will not be around for very long; even though the design may not be to everyone’s taste.  If you do buy one, it’s not likely you will see another in the room.

The Belchengruppe 1247 Visuren #22 has clearly been led by design, but it should also be noted that the overall build is that of sturdy quality and each element has clearly been carefully considered – I will certainly be following the brand to see where design leads them next.

https://belchengruppe.ch/

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