Carl Suchy & Söhne Waltz N°1 Review: A Month On The Wrist
Resurrecting a name from history and establishing it in the traditional world of mechanical watches is no simple thing to attempt, let alone accomplish.
But luck is on the side of courageous: in 2016, Vienna native Robert Punkenhofer decided despite all the possible pitfalls to look to the future with a distinct vision.
I had the opportunity to check out the result of his team’s efforts at the birthplace of Karel Suchý: my beloved hometown of Prague. The owner of the newly established watch company and this watch followed me to the Prague watch exhibition Salon Exceptional Watches, after which the watch remained with me in the Czech capital for more than a month.
For years, there had been only one watch company in Austria, Habring², founded by an incredible pair of watchmakers. This status changed when Punkenhofer followed his dream of restoring the fame of Carl Suchy & Söhne, using both the relationships he developed as Austrian Trade Commissioner in Barcelona and as founder of ART & IDEA, which promotes artistic achievements, painters, architecture, and music.
Thanks to the collaboration with Serbian designer Milos Ristin, based in Zurich, and his compatriot Reinhard Steger in Barcelona, Punkenhofer succeeded in bringing the vision of Austrian architectural purism to the face of a watch simply named Waltz N°1.
He’s found significant inspiration in the work of a Czech-born architect, one of the leading figures of Viennese high society: Adolf Loos. This resulted in the organically curved dial with alternating vertical and horizontal lines disrupted only by the rotating disk representing seconds.
Is this a timekeeper Karel Suchý would have been proud of?
Punkenhofer came to Prague to search for the history and characteristics of Suchyˈs work. Our journey first took us to the House of Clocks at Karlštejn castle near Prague, where several rare pieces of the Suchy family are found in the private collections of one of the biggest vintage timepiece aficionados in the Czech Republic.
This was followed by a visit to the National Technical Museum to see an ornate table clock from the end of the nineteenth century. There are many more such clocks in Czech collections – as well as in Austrian – so Punkenhofer’s mission will likely continue in the coming months.
The visit, however, revealed several design attributes that could one day find their way into another collection of modern watches or table clocks.
One thing we found was that Suchy himself used to put a small disk as a counterweight on the second hand. Could this motif one day be used by the modern brand again?
3 Hz waltz rhythm
The modern watch’s name, Waltz N°1, reveals that it is predestined for gala evenings. After all, it is only 9.3 mm in height thanks to the use of an ultra-thin mechanical movement, itself only 2.6 mm in height.
The thinness of its Caliber 5401 made by Vaucher Manufacture in Fleurier is enhanced by the use of a micro rotor. Factory-applied côtes de Genève decorate the heart of the Atokalpa balance wheel, and the gold-plated rotor was personalized with the same pattern found on the dial.
The main difference between this movement and the version utilized by Parmigiani Fleurier and Hermès is the aforementioned rotating disk for seconds, which was the greatest challenge for independent watchmaker Marc Jenni, who works with Punkenhofer.
One drawback is that the brilliant movement with about 200 parts has only 42 hours of power reserve, so a gentleman wearing a suit for the whole work week will need to use a watch winder on the weekend if he doesn’t want to re-set the watch on Monday morning.
The guilloche dial from Jenni’s Nobletime studio in Zurich is marked with its place of origin. However, the inscription “Swiss made” is not in the traditional position at 6 o’clock, but is rather placed within an index at 9 o’clock.
The dial also proudly proclaims the year 1822, when Karel Suchý opened his workshop on Prague’s horse market (today Wenceslas Square). The reference to Vienna reminds us of the family’s history, which produced clocks and watches in Prague, Vienna, and La Chaux-de-Fonds. The indices respect the concave curved shape of the silver dial.
Carl Suchy on the wrist
A matte steel variant with a polished bezel enjoyed some special events with me: a guided tasting of Canadian Henry of Pelham wines, a dinner in the presence of Michelin-starred chef Christopher Naylor, and the absolutely best gastronomic expedition of my life to the Michelin-awarded kitchen of Albert Adrià’s experimental restaurant Enigma in Barcelona as well as the 2019 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève in Geneva.
My white shirt and jacket fit just fine with the Waltz N°1, but the watch is not certainly for universal use. Forget t-shirts and jeans and don’t even think about shorts and flip-flops. It suits the elegant look of a businessman – so suit up when you wear it.
Interesting is undoubtedly the use of abnormally short lugs to secure the leather strap with a curved spring bar, creating something that looks like an integrated design. There is no gap between the strap and the 41.5 mm steel case, and thanks to that the Waltz N°1 provides a very complex look.
Carl Suchy & Söhne will produce only 22 pieces in this color scheme for €8,495, but you can also purchase alternatives with a white or blue dial, a black PVD-coated steel variation, and a gold case, which is the most expensive piece in the line at €18,945.
For more information, please visit www.carlsuchy.com/collection/waltz-no1.
Quick Facts Carl Suchy & Söhne Waltz Waltz N° 1
Case: 41.5 x 9.3, stainless steel
Movement: automatic Vaucher Caliber 5401 with micro rotor, 3 Hz/21,600 vph frequency, 42-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds
Jan Lidmaňský is a watch collector and journalist from the Czech Republic; follow him on Instagram at @watch_the_food.