Three times is a charm - Paul Gerber presents his Cal. 42 triple-rotor in a sporty package

Mar 06, 2011,09:11 AM

In my recent teaser post I hinted a new watch developed by Paul Gerber. The key image was this:

While it is always interesting to learn about a new watch by some of the independent watchmaking geniuses around, it gets particularly exciting if the said new creation can be considered affordable (in relative terms). This is where the subject of this post enters.

When I visited Zurich a few weeks ago, Paul phoned me and said I should come, I would not regret... I obeyed and was not disappointed. What I saw was unexpected in terms of design and price-point, but not in terms of horlogerie à la Paul... In his typical whimsical way, he hinted that he had something to show that might interest me. Well, that was a clear understatement!

What he produced was a brass testing case that did not look particularly exciting...

But as we connoisseurs know, the scene plays often in the backyard:

For those of you who are familiar with Mr Gerber's watches, you will certainly be reminded on his Retro-Twin, which features an automatic movement driven by two synchronised rotors:

With his new model, plainly named Cal. 42, Paul goes ahead and adds a third rotor to the game. But more on this later.

In terms of design, I was totally surprised when I saw this case mock-up (produced by 3D-printing) that is a clear departure of the classic, breguesque offering we know from him:

Totally clean, clear lines, nothing embellished or witty as I would have expected! Here now comes Paul's passion for control-line model aeronautics to play. The new watch is designed as a sporty, robust and legible watch. It comes in a 42mm case made of surgical titanium, with 100m water resistance and a screw-down crown. The dial is offered in two versions, the «synchron» model with green numerals (left) and thoroughbred aviator's watch in black & white (right). The script is Paul's own ('I developed it years ago and recently found it on my hard drive...'):

I'll come to the two models in separate posts. First, I would like to tackle the commonalities! The case exudes the confidence of an instrument, with athletic dimensions and robust construction. The case-back, with a sapphire glass allowing to admire Paul's most distinctive hand-writing, is held by 7 screws:

The movement is based upon the trusted and reliable ETA 2824-2. Paul modified that automatic winding system to give it his own, distinctive touch. Building upon the experience he gained with transforming the hand-wound ETA-Peseux 7001 into an automatic movement with two rotors, he wanted to go one step further and introduce an additional, third rotor! Note: this is an unfinished, prototype movement!

The fascinating treat is that the radii of the rotors actually overlap. Despite this, they never touch each other!

How is this achieved? Actually, its pretty simple and straightforward. It becomes obvious once the rotors are removed:

The central wheel (which replaced the original, central rotor of the ETA movement) has a double function. It not only transmits the energy to the mainspring, its also acts as the coordinator of the three rotors: Each of them is aligned in a specific angle towards the neighbouring ones. Furthermore, the shape of each rotor is optimised in order to prevent contact.

The entire changes consist of three rotors (made of 18ct gold each), three custom-made ball bearing (one/rotor) and one additional gear. That's it! Ingenious, isn't it?

Now we come to a last surprise before I post pictorials of each watch: The price! For this entirely Swiss watch (ok, the case comes from Germany) made by the hands of one of the legendary master watchmakers, modified with a unique mechanism, the price is exactly CHF 4'875.-!

I hope you liked this introduction.

All the best,

Technical Data Cal. 42:
· Titanium case
· Case diameter 42 mm
· Indexes and hands with Superluminova
· Front and back sapphire glass
· Date enlarged
· Three 18 ct gold rotors
· Base movement ETA 2824-2
· 25 Rubies
· Waterproof 10 ATM
· Screw-down crown
· Power reserve 38h
· Movement diameter 36 mm
· Movement height 6.1 mm
· Case back with seven screws
· Individually numbered
· Price: CHF 4'875.- This message has been edited by Magnus Bosse on 2011-03-06 09:22:07

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More pictures - Cal. 42 Pilot

 By: Ornatus-Mundi : March 6th, 2011-09:15
Just some more pictures, enjoy. Again, this is a prototype dial. The '3' next to the date window will be removed in the production version: Paul offers also to adorn the seconds hand with any aeronautic motif you'd like. As an example here this tri-plane:...  

Thanks for the writeup

 By: flamenco : March 6th, 2011-21:59
Gerber magic at work yet again. Great minimalist look ! A must have for MIH owners I guess .....

And here the Cal. 42 «synchron»:

 By: Ornatus-Mundi : March 6th, 2011-09:20
what an adept name for the synchronised rotors! The white numerals and the date have the same font size. Also, this is a prototype dial. Meanwhile, Paul will, in cooperation with the dial maker, better calibrate the green Super-Luminova on hands and dial:...  

great offering

 By: donizetti : March 7th, 2011-07:43
by a master watchmaker. Reminds me of the MIH watch in some respects: some idiosyncratic design decisions, but at the price, who could complain? Thanks for the nice and informative report! Best Andreas

many thanks Magnus.

 By: et : March 7th, 2011-12:23
this watch looks quite amazing and follows Mr. Gerber's quest for originality, simplicity and grace. plus i like the green. cheers, elliot

Contact info for Paul

 By: Steve R : September 10th, 2011-20:29
Great watch.... Do you have contact information available to reach Mr Gerber. If so could you send it along my way. Thanks very much, Steve Rammer


 By: Ornatus-Mundi : September 10th, 2011-22:33 Hope this helps! Cheers, Magnus

Paul Gerber contact

 By: Steve R : September 11th, 2011-07:06
Thanks Magnus!

I'm just back from a visit in Paul Gerbers shop....

 By: DonCorson : March 6th, 2011-13:36
Thanks Magnus for this intro to Pauls new watches. I am just back from a visit in his shop this afternoon, more pictures and info coming up soon! Don

Thanks Magnus

 By: aldossari_faisal : March 6th, 2011-13:42
Finally the report on the awaited watches.... then the wait will carry on as im looking forward for the finished movement pics , interesting to be able to have the essence of masterwatch maker Paul Gerber on the wrist in a more durable watch " in terms of... 

humm i would say

 By: aldossari_faisal : March 7th, 2011-08:15
white and off white , white and cream , white on sky blue , white on " faint orange which has hints of beige to it" or faint salmon orange... white on grey... or simply to go lunatic and use combination of colors such as those of LEGO . i know all the lis... 

I like the green. Orange would be my second choice.

 By: RJW : March 7th, 2011-12:01
Just to keep it fun. Regards, Richard.

Wow! the Synchron is great.

 By: jporos : March 6th, 2011-14:28
I really appreciate Paul Gerber going toward a more modern styling ala the MIH watch. Wearing the MIH must have had its effect on him (as well as the Ochs and Junior work). Can't wait to see a video with the triple rotor in action.

Really like that Synchron

 By: RJW : March 6th, 2011-15:14
Would love to see a video of the 3 rotors in action please. Regards, Richard.

Really nice work!

 By: takashi78 : March 6th, 2011-22:22
I think the date window on the pilot has to go, i think it disturbs the harmony of the dial. I like the other one better. Would be interesting to see different dial color options.

Glad to know

 By: aldossari_faisal : March 6th, 2011-23:27
that im not the only one in here with such an opinion. Faisal


 By: monochrome : March 6th, 2011-22:52
I'm amazed to see yet another added rotor, well... actually we could have expected something like this from Paul Gerber. But the price is absolutely incredible. This way Haute Horlogerie is within reach for much more aficionados. Love to see the final fin... 

Thanks for your replies - a few answers...

 By: Ornatus-Mundi : March 6th, 2011-23:37
1.) Preis: Yes, it is incl. VAT. 2.) Colours («synchron»): In principle, many colours are possible, even a 'black-in-black' version could be done. However, Paul's choice for the time is green, and for other versions there would be a significant number of ...  

Thanks again Magnus

 By: aldossari_faisal : March 7th, 2011-00:06
for answering all the questions , from what you are saying i understand that there will be no , nodate pilot watch?! Faisal

As far as I know...

 By: Ornatus-Mundi : March 7th, 2011-02:08
its not planned (at least no communicated to me) yet. For me, one of the charms of independent watchmaking is that these masters (well, most of them ;-) follow their own inspirations and tastes, not necessarily what market research or marketing suggests. ... 


 By: RobCH : March 7th, 2011-02:07
Thanks Marcus! I quite like the green one, love the case design similarities to the MIH, of which I've always been a fan! Might have to put in an order...can't go wrong at that price!

Without the 3 ...

 By: small-luxury-world : March 7th, 2011-10:48
it looks even nicer to me Looking forward to see them in Basel. Oliver...  

it looks perfectly classic BUT

 By: Mostel : March 12th, 2011-19:21
with a watch that adheres to the idea/design of strength, I think Paul's LOGO in the little curve, feels light and lightweight... unserious... it may be that Mr. gerber is a funny/unserious person in real life, but I'd like to see his name written in a st... 

Thanks for this post, Magnus!

 By: Gary G : March 7th, 2011-05:44
Very exciting stuff! I too like the green one quite a lot -- looks like fun, and very clean as well. Unlike some others, I like the calendar window -- seems I look for the date more and more these days... Best, Gary G

Paul just sent me a video...

 By: Ornatus-Mundi : March 7th, 2011-09:46
of the three rotors in action (note: file size (.mov) 15MB!). Note also the finish is much more advanced now: Cheers, Magnus


 By: BDLJ : March 7th, 2011-17:12
....efficient is this triple-rotor? On one hand you may have the equivalent inertia of 3 microrotors, but unless they mesh in perfect synchronicity with the centre wheel, I can enivsage them working against each other in the initial motion...? In any case... 


 By: takashi78 : March 7th, 2011-19:13
Where is the link to download and view the video?

It should load and play automatically...

 By: Ornatus-Mundi : March 7th, 2011-23:19
but you need Quicktime player. Best, Magnus

great report

 By: barge : March 9th, 2011-00:36
Paul gerber makes some very interesting watches, and these are no exception. I am looking forward to seeing them in Basel. For someone living in Zürich, I hope to have a Gerber piece at some point.

Question... what is the advantage of 3 rotors...

 By: bart1 : March 13th, 2011-16:13
over 1 or 2? Thank you, Bart

The pleasure of looking at it... ;-)

 By: Ornatus-Mundi : March 14th, 2011-02:03
Dear Bart, Paul Gerber's watchmaking philosophy is full of wit. He also tries to incorporate mechanisms where there is literally no space. 3 rotors instead of one, doing the same thing, but with much more drama! Cheers, Magnus

thank you

 By: bart1 : March 14th, 2011-02:47

Very Cool...

 By: Tom the Tinkerer : March 24th, 2011-04:13
Thanks for the report Magnus, I've long been an admirer of Mr Gerber, the MIH being a watch that I hope to have one of one day.. I hadn't been aware of his model aircraft hobby.. though I'm more partial to RC helicopters and aerobatic planes, I'm starting...