One of the things I love most about mechanical watches is watching the seconds hand sweep around the dial. There is something relaxing about watching time go by. While I am not a mechanical snob by any means, I do prefer them over quartz watches. MeisterSinger throws a wrench in the entire thing, omitting the seconds hand and the minute hand. Every watch in their catalog is a single hand watch.
There are varying complications available. From power reserve complications to moonphases, they have the gamut covered. Minute repeaters are out of budget for most people on the planet, so MeisterSinger did the next best thing: an hourly alarm complication. The Bell Hora features a small chime hidden under the dial that will give you that minute repeater vibe without the hefty price tag. Let’s take a closer look.
On the Wrist
The Bell Hora is a 43mm diameter watch, but I’ll say right off the bat that it wears much larger. The 43mm is almost all dial, but legibility is vital given that you need to be able to determine the hour and minute using a single hand. If this were a 38-40m watch, it would be impossible to determine the time accurately. With that said, the single hand does take some getting used to, and I found myself questioning the time the first few days I wore it. However, it feels like second nature once you get the hang of it (MeisterSinger provides a little card in the box with some time reading assistance).
Another element of this watch’s wrist presence at 43mm is that it gets noticed. I rarely have anyone say anything about the watches I wear, positive or negative. The Bell Hora? Different story. The big blue dual must suck people in because I had several people (friends and strangers) ask me about it. Those conversations became even more interesting once they realized it only had one hand.
This watch creates an interesting dynamic compared to anything I have reviewed or have in my collection. Quartz or mechanical (with 3 hands or more) watches are constantly in motion. While that motion isn’t chaotic, it creates a visual interest that locks you in and keeps you following that motion. The Bell Hora is the anthesis of that. When you look at the dial, there is no motion, and the lack of that motion creates a calming effect. A point in time is captured like a photograph every time I look at the watch.
MeisterSinger Bell Hora Specs
Sellita SW200 (Modified)
Dial & Chime
If MeisterSinger had slapped a plain sunburst blue dial on this watch and called it a day, there would be no visual interest. It would also make the dial look bigger than it already does. Thankfully, they added a pattern to the sunburst dial, which helps break up the dial’s size and create some texture. There is a spiraling circle with lines in between each layer. The spiral complements the one hand theme of the watch perfectly as it spirals out counter-clockwise.
Everything else on the dial is white. The stylized numerals run from 1-24 and move inwards with the spiral pattern. Unless you have no idea what time of the day it is (day/night), this functions ideally to determine the time.
Speaking of the time, I suppose I should tell you how to read the time on this watch if you haven’t figured it out. The hand will fall on one of the five lines between every hour marker. While you won’t be able to give a to-the-minute time with 100% accuracy, you can get pretty close. Each line is 5 minutes, so in the image below, the time is 9:19 (or 21:19). Thankfully, each 15 minute interval line is slightly longer than the rest, which aids in quickly reading the time.
MeisterSinger gave us something beautiful to listen to. One might assume that coming up with a simple chime to ring at the top of every hour would be an easy task. In the words of Charlie Murphy, “wrong. Wrong.” How excited are you to hear the high-pitched beep on your F-91? MeisterSinger developed a mechanical chime fitted under the dial that will let out a single chime to let the wearer know it is the start of a new hour. Check out the video below to hear what MeisterSinger calls the “Sonnerie au Passage.”
The chime is subtle and pleasant. I was writing this review after taking some photos of the watch, and every hour I would hear it ding, putting a smile on my face every time. It isn’t loud enough to be distracting, and the hammer that strikes isn’t heavy enough to be felt while wearing the watch. MeisterSinger did an incredible job balancing the tone to be audible while not intrusive. If you know that you must be completely silent or don’t wish to have the chime on, the pusher at 2 o’clock can be pulled out to turn it off.
Case & Strap
The case is simple but well executed. The sides of the case are brushed, and the top of the lugs are polished. A very fine chamfer runs the length of the case, giving a small amount of definition to the transition between the top and side of the case.
The polished bezel is rounded and thin, giving way to the large dial. It adds a bit of a dressy feel to the watch, and although I wouldn’t classify this as a dress watch, I don’t see any reason why it couldn’t be worn as one.
An exhibition caseback shows off the modified Sellita SW200. MeisterSinger modifies the movement to allow for the appropriate single hand stack and room for the chime mechanism under the dial.
The leather strap has an embossed crocodile print that was relatively comfortable out of the box. However, at this price point, I would like to see an authentic crocodile strap or something like a Chromexcel strap. The deployant clasp is excellent, and I never felt discomfort wearing the watch. Too many deployant clasps are cheaply made and can dig into the skin, but that wasn’t the case here.
This watch made me think about my position on mechanical watches. I never understood the point of buying a mechanical watch if I couldn’t see the seconds hand sweeping the dial. In the case of the Bell Hora, you don’t see that or minute hand. The charm of this watch is entirely in the calm nature of the single hand, and the beautiful chime offered to the wearer every hour. Instead of staring at my watch to watch the seconds hand move, I excitedly anticipated the chime every hour. Wearing a watch is all about your connection with that watch and if it can put a smile on your face every time you put it on. With the Bell Hora, I had a smile on my face every hour.
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