I feel like the list of watch brands that are due more credit and acclaim than they receive is continually growing. With the ever perpetuating rise of steel Patek and Rolex models, the incessant flood of limited edition Speedmasters, and other nonsense, more and more brands that are producing legitimately cool watches are being left in the shadows.
Carl F. Bucherer is one such brand. One with huge manufacturing manufacturing capability, and a product lineup that include an impressive number of out-of-the-ordinary complications and caliber designs, CFB has impressed me on several an occasion. The hefty Patravi Traveltec is a stunning beast of a chrono GMT that I wish I had the wrist size to support, whereas the stunning green Manero Power Reserve is just that perfect shade of peculiar, from its unique dial texture to the edgy and very modern design of its peripheral rotor automatic movement.
While the slightly more conventional aesthetic of the Manero Flyback Chronograph didn’t have me jumping out of my seat at first glance, I do love a good two-register and date chronograph when it’s well executed. With a couple of weeks of test time, you’ll find my notes on the Manero Flyback Chronograph below.
In this particular configuration—a rose gold case paired with a reverse panda dial, highlighted with white, red, and gold accents—the Manero Flyback is a little out of the ordinary. The color combination is not something I would have thought to go with, and it’s likely to be a bit much for those with more minimalist tastes. It’s not a combination that works particularly well in stock photos either, but after a moment or three to get used to it, it works pretty well.
Its dial is certainly on the busy side regardless of color selection. In particular its tachymeter scale occupies a reasonable volume of real estate. Contrasting skeletonized sword hands prove to be a smart choice on this one, as reflections of light are quickly caught by its hour and minute hands, whereas the black of its subdial hands make both running seconds and chronograph minutes entirely painless to read.
CFB opted for an ultra soft Kudu leather strap with just a faint punch of red stitching. From a color and comfort standpoint the strap is a home run, but there’s a bit of a collision going on here between the refined and elegant rose gold casing and the casual vibe of its rally-style strap. Personally I think something like a matte gator or just a flat suede strap would have been the way to go.
Unlike several other pieces from CFB, the 1970 caliber powering the Manero Flyback is not a completely in-house manufacture caliber. It is derived from the Valjoux 7750, though with some fairly drastic modification. Its subdial positions have been reconfigured, a column wheel control system has been added (as has the flyback function). The action of its pushers is light and refined, rather than the typical clunkiness that comes with the 7750.
From a finishing standpoint both its case and caliber are equally well executed. CFB didn’t go overboard with finishes on the 1970 caliber, bur rather suck with the tried-and-true Côte de Genève striping and perlage for its bridges, rotor, and mainplate. They did however black polish its column wheel, which is a nice touch that lets the component. The curvatures of its case are quite fluid, with significant and thoughtful beveling abound.
At 43mm across there was some concern about where and how its lugs would land when on the wrist, however the pronounced drop off of the lugs keeps the piece from feeling too overbearing. Even its caseback is thoughtfully decorated with engraved/etched details that surrounding the pertinent caseback information and following the indentations for caseback opening tools.
On the wrist, the Manero Flyback in rose gold is a bit of an enigma. The color combo and finishing of its dial have a very dressy vibe, however its size is less cohesive to business attire. With the height of its domed crystal, the watch measures 14.45mm thick—not exactly “tuck under shirt cuff friendly”. I Did find myself wearing it with more casual pairings as time went on, though I still find wearing a gold watch with shorts and a t-shirt to be a but awkward at times. That said, there are a handful of steel variants of this watch out there (with a more approachable $6,200 sticker price) that I’ve been coveting more and more since wearing the gold model. If you’re keen on the reverse panda dial, a steel counterpart exists. If you want something a little different, there’s also an off grey/blue model that launched a year or so ago as well.
Priced at $16,900, the rose gold Manero Flyback faces some pretty hefty competition, though the niche model is more likely to draw an audience from collectors that are sick of the status quo of the “big box brands” of high watchmaking. Its execution does a reasonable job of justifying its price of entry, but for me the value in its steel counterparts is where it’s at.