In March 2009, during the annual Baselworld international trade show in Basel, Switzerland, Cimier has presented its Retrograde Automatic (ref. 5104-SS021) collection. The new line featured a complex-looking dial with retrograde annual calendar and power reserve indicators complementing the usual “three-hander” layout of the base caliber ETA 2892.
As usual, there was a torrential rain of new models at this year’s Baselworld 2009 trade fair and I am quite sure that this Retrograde Automatic collection with a nice power reserve indicator that was presented among new products from such reputable brands as IWC and Breguet didn’t make the brand’s PR representatives feel embarrassed in any way while presenting the watch on their exposition stand.
Made by a rather obscure Swiss brand Cimier that was established in 1924, but is still to become a legend of the watchmaking world, the 5104-SS021 features an elegant, classic design reminding of times when cars were made mostly of wood and steel and were put into motion by huge 6.75-liter engines that offered less torque and horsepower than contemporary 1.6-liter jobs, but still delivered a level of satisfaction that modern motorists can only dream of.
Or, putting it more straightforwardly, I like this unit.
Although its dial is too busy with day, date, and power reserve indicators, and it looks like the watch is completely machine-made, there is something about it that just makes you want to get one.
The hour and minute hands are not very contrasting, even on a version with a charcoal grey rhodium-plated dial, and there will surely be some issues with legibility in certain lighting conditions, but the timepiece nevertheless looks like it was born (or, at least, conceived) 70 years ago, before the Great Depression ruined so many lives and businesses.
On the technical side, the watch is also not particularly brilliant.
The Cimier Retrograde Automatic is powered by Soprod 9094 self-winding movement, which is based on the omnipresent ETA 2892 ebauche with a piggy-back retrograde date and power reserve module put on its front.
Although making the movement harder to service, this solution gives you what many customers are looking for: a set of flashy complications offered at an affordable price.
The movement is protected by a beautifully shaped stainless steel case with domed sapphire crystal and a transparent case back. Measuring 51 millimeters from lug to lug (yet, it is just 42 millimeters wide,) the case looks sort of massive, but in a good way: there is nothing in it from those deliberately oversized models that somehow confuse what they prefer to call “sportiness” with tasteless arrogance. No, even despite its size, this model looks surprisingly elegant and stylish.
The collection is available in two versions -with silvered or rhodium-plated dial- and is water-resistant to healthy 50 meters although some may find the WR rating not adequate for something that looks like a “casual luxury” timekeeper.
At the time of writing of this review, the watch was offered at a fairly affordable price of just below $2900, yet I am not sure how well it will keep its value when you decide to sell it: the brand is not as well-advertised as, say, IWC, but, on the other hand, the watches are not as overpriced either. Well, time will tell.
Build Quality: 5/5
Overall Legibility: 4/5
Nighttime Legibility: 4/5
Value for Money: 3.5/5
Overall Rating: 4/5
Cimier Retrograde Automatic with Power Reserve and Annual Calendar specification
Movement: Soprod 9094 (base ETA 2892,) automatic, Swiss Made
Cadence of balance: 28,800 vph
Movement finish: Perlage, vertical Geneva Stripes, customized oscillating weight with Cimier logo
Functions & Complications: Hours, minutes, seconds, retrograde date, day of the week, power reserve
Power reserve: 42 hours
Case: Stainless steel
Dimensions: 51.00 mm x 42.00 mm
Dial: Silver or rhodium-plated
Water resistance: 50 meters
Strap: Crocodile with folding clasp
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective, double-domed
Back: Sapphire, engraved