The Askania Bremen. The Coolest Watch You Have Never Heard Of
Tick-Tock, Effortless Style With The Askania Bremen
Hard on the heels of Matt’s article about his Wrench & Needle wallet, Chris Ackland from London got in touch with us to share the story of his Askania Bremen BRE-71xX watch and politely asked whether we think as much of it as he does.
In a word, Chris. Damntootin’! What’s more, he kindly loaned us it so that we could personally get to grips with it a shoot a few images.
Askania, for the uninitiated, is a name that has been synonymous with watch-making in Berlin since 1871. The original headquarters were located in the city centre and from which they manufactured timepieces and precision instruments for the German navy. Following the inevitable post-war upheaval of 1945 and beyond, Askania employees were scattered far and wide and the brand all but faded from view.
In its present form, Askania AG was revived in 2004 in the leafy and sedate suburb of Berlin-Friedenau and headquartered just a stone’s throw away from the site of their pre-war works. They are now firmly rooted in the city’s Tiergarten district.
They are a proud European business who still manufacture upon home shores yet, even today, the firm has barely a couple of dozen employees and is available in fewer than a hundred outlets. Plus, of course, their online offering.
The Story Of The BRE-71X
Chris’ Bremen was bought just a year or so after production restarted and in the less than luxurious environs of ebay for the princely sum of just €155. Chris takes up the story;
I remember buying it like it was yesterday. Actually, I was just browsing around on ebay and up comes this listing. I had never heard of Askania before but quickly found out that they were back in business and doing these limited runs. If I remember correctly, the new price was about ten-times what I paid for mine so I was pretty chuffed when I snapped it at the last moment for what was pennies really.
Apparently, it was an unwanted gift!
Until then, I had been wearing a Breitling Cool Water and I do still wear it for posh business do’s but my Bremen is always my first choice when I am in civvies.
The beauty of the Bremen and particularly the BRE-71X model lies in both its simplicity and its sheer chunkiness. With a thickness of a whopping 11mm, it is robust and masculine yet retains a perfectly-balanced understated elegance.
The fluorescent, butter-milk dial measures 42mm in diameter with the Arabic 9 and the 3 being accented for detail in diamond forms which echoes their aviation compasses from the 1930s. The offset date counter is a rare and unique touch, and the only real splash of true colour is in the sweeping red second hand.
This sweeping second hand is what gives the game away. This is no quartz-powered wannabe rather a finely engineered automatic movement which can be seen in all its Teutonic glory through a glass pane on the reverse.
Its scarcity-value also adds to the cachet. Askania have directly confirmed to us that it is a Sondermodel (special edition) and fewer than 200 pieces were ever made. It truly is a thing of absolute beauty and it definitely worthy of a place in To Dye For!
- Movement: caliber ASKANIA , automatic, 25 rubies, power reserve 40 hours.
- Functions: hours, minutes, seconds, date, fluorescent dial.
- Case stainless steel satin/polished, Ø 42 mm, sapphire glass, glass bottom, 5 bar.
- Strap: high quality, vegetable-tanned leather strap with riveting. 22 mm.
- The current Bremen collection: 7 different styles including 3 chronographs
- The BRE-4011: this at €1,750 is the closest to the 71X
- Price: €1,650 to €2,650 inc German Vat / MwSt.
- Replacement straps: from €79 inc German Vat / MwSt.