· Moderator Emeritus
From Berlin with Love
A „new" microbrand from Berlin
From Berlin with Love
A „new" microbrand from Berlin
I have to admit that the title might be a bit misleading. FineWatchesBerlin is not really a „new" micro brand and it is already known to those watch aficionados who had the chance to visit FineWatchesBerlin at the Aurochronos Festival in Lodz or at the Watchtime Düsseldorf event in Autumn 2019. Nevertheless, it is a young brand.
And there's another circumstance I should mention. They are from Berlin but „FineWatchesBerlin" are not made in Berlin. However the design comes from Berlin, any proud resident of Spandau would say, hey Spandau is not Berlin, but this is is local color and only those living in Berlin and/or Spandau know what this is about, I'll leave it at that.
Fine WatchesBerlin is a start-up as a family project. Watchmaker Wilfried Liefer and his lovely daughter Mia-Phyllis Liefer are running FineWatchesBerlin.
Wilfried is a „Spandauer" for over 40 years, only two years ago Wilfried and Mia made the leap into the start-up scene. The two founded the watch design company "FineWatchesBerlin" in Wilhelmstadt, a district of Spandau, whose name derived from Kaiser Wilhelm I. On the occasion of the emperor's 100th birthday the former Potsdam suburb received its current name in 1897.
As I already mentioned the watches are not manufactured in Berlin, but in the Far East, China. According to the founding duo, eight suppliers are working in accordance with the strict specifications from Spandau. The production is supervised and coordinated by an external specialist on site. "Cooperation between Spandau and China is running smoothly thanks to modern means of communication", explains Wilfried.
The Spandau-based company also wants to improve the world with its products - at least by a little. €50 for each watch they sell goes to the aid organization "Hands with Hands", which is committed to the construction of schools and orphanages in Nepal and grants microcredit to women.
FineWatches Berlin are little known to many, I hope this will change soon. The idea of „FineWatchesBerlin" has a long history until it became real. The idea to design watches lies somewhere in the past of Wilfried Liefer. He worked as a goldsmith for many years until 2002 and ran a long-established jewelry store in Spandau, one of my favorite shops.
When in charge he offered smaller watch brands that were not yet well known at that time, the opportunity to present themselves to a larger audience: Jörg Schauer, Alain Silberstein, Nomos, Chronoswiss and Jacques Etoile were among them in the 1990s.
Liefer has always had an eye for something special, something different. He let himself be infected by the passion, enthusiasm and courage of the young, aspiring watchmakers and was happy to support them. Now he has taken this step with his daughter himself.
"The response from consumers and experts is very encouraging," says the designer, looking confidently into the future.
Mia and Wilfried decided not to go the „most obvious" way via kickstarter or other externally financed projects, they were funding the project from private funds.
"We want to remain completely independent - in all areas. It is important to us to realize our dream one-to-one and not to be subject to the financial interests of others, "says the daughter, who brings in her expertise as a marketing professional. Such financing is quite unusual in the days of kickstarter, crowdfunding and Co. and testifies to the self-image of the two entrepreneurs.
One should also mention the successful packaging: handmade from rapidly growing bamboo wood, a reusable box with magnetic closure has been created. It reminds a little of Grandfather's cigar box, in which all kinds of treasures found their place in my childhood.
The first watch which was launched had a familiar sounding model name, all Berlin residents know very well, the „Teufelsberg Schwarz 1".
The name of the watch comes from a man-made hill in Berlin, Germany, in the Grunewald locality of former West Berlin. In times of the cold war, there were listening devices of the US installed on top of the Teufelsberg.
Other models with color nuances were added to the Teufelsberg 1 Black very quickly. Nowadays FineWatchesBerlin offers the following variants
Teufelsberg Black #1
Teufelsberg White #2
Teufelsberg Silver #3
Teufelsberg Rosé #4
Valentina LE Red
Valentina LE Blue
Apart from the different color design of the dials, of course the key data of all Teufelsberg models are identical:
Stainless steel three piece case with a diameter of 40.5 mm, height 11 mm, L2L: 48,5mm, lug width 20mm, polished, water resistance 5atm (splash-proof), almost unnoticeable engraving „FineWatchesBerlin by W.Liefer" on the left side of the case.
The „Teufelsberg" weighs only 75 grams, so very comfortable to wear.
The design of the small seconds is mirrored on the head of the crown by a white circle on blue base.
The lugs are drilled and fitted with non functional blue crews. A nice design gimmick which is not needed at all since all watches are fitted with quick release straps. However, the blue of the screws matches the blue of the crown. Someone must have been thinking for some time on this play of colors.
Sapphire crystal (top)
Screwed display back with sapphire crystal
Double-layer dial with embedded/recessed small seconds at 4/5 o'clock and applied indices.
The small seconds sub dial is fitted with a hand in red. Only the Valentina LE Red is fitted with a black seconds hand. Whatever dial color you chose, readability isn't an issue.
The Hands are filled with luminous compound, so are the dots above the indexes and numerals. That being said, the watch is not made for night owls if you know what I mean.
Nicely decorated Miyota 8218 automatic movement with engraved rotor („From Berlin with love") Blued screws, (machined) stripes on rotor bridge and balance cock. The 8218 is a 21 jewels movement, beating at 21,600 and provides a power reserve of approximately 42 hours.
Originally, accuracy is said to be within -20 to +40 seconds per day, which is on the lower part of the scale, but FineWatchesBerlin are keen on a better performance and so the movement is adjusted to keep +7- 5 sec/d. The movement can be hand wound but does not hack.
All watches are fitted with handcrafted leather straps, 20 mm lug width, quick release system, stitched with matching yarn colors. The pin buckle is engraved with a small iteration of the crown logo.
Made of bamboo with magnetic closure.
„Bauhaus" has been on everyone's lips in the watch sector for a long time now. And so it is not surprising that Fine Watches Berlin has been guided by the Bauhaus design when designing their first watch „Teufelsberg". A selection of details emphasizes its simplicity and formal appearance.
The „Teufelsberg" is a versatile watch, offering a classic and all at once sophisticated design.
Bit again, the Teufelsberg is not satisfying the purist (traditional) Bauhaus requirements but it is a nice Bauhaus inspired watch for sure. As a plus, the „Teufelsberg" is playing with Bauhaus colors, sometimes more sometimes less.
Johannes Itten, who gave lectures at the Bauhaus from 1919 to 1922, gave us a color sphere comprised of twelve colors (three primary, three secondary, and six tertiary) that shows the relationship among colors, as well as gradations of saturation. This is especially aimed at the Valentina LE Red and Valentina LE Blue.
The „Teufelsberg" models set a new standard to what we thinks and understand Bauhaus is about. A „Teufelsberg" does not follow the pattern of traditional Bauhaus watches but offers eye candy details for the beholder.
It has large Arabic numeral hour markers only on the 3, 6, 9, and 12 o'clock positions added by 8 markers. Both, markers and numerals are applied, not printed.
Wilfried and Mia once have been asked to describe FWB in only 4 words and here are their answers.
Wilfried: FRESH - STRIKING - BAUHAUS - TIMELESS - PURE - MECHANICAL (designer language ?)
Mia : FROM - BERLIN - WITH - LOVE (female logic ?)
To sum it up, the „Teufelsberg" by FineWatchesBerlin is a very nice watch with some proper details. It is elegant and sophisticated at the same time and you feel the love to details it is made with. If you are looking for a perfect everyday watch which can be worn „casual" as well as „formal" you might have found it. Do I recommend it? ….Yes!
Thanks for reading. If there's any question left don't hesitate to ask.