The relatively small German watchmaking brand Limes finally starts selling its new Limes Pharo Full Calendar Chronograph with Moonphase automatic wristwatch.
Powered by the wide-spread ETA Valjoux 7751 full-calendar chronograph movement, which is both reliable and accurate and is still a mechanism of choice in the $2000-$5000 niche, this dressy, yet sort of generic wristwatch could have been a nice Christmas gift for just about any man, if it wasn’t so overpriced.
The Germans ask about €3000 for this timepiece and, for a watch that looks, well, like just about any other watch powered by the ETA 775x-series caliber made by the Swiss watchmaking juggernaut, this is definitely a lot of money. Or, in other words, buying this watch you are not going to make an investment into the future simply because its collector’s value is close to zero and flipping it when the time finally comes for it to go will probably result in an impressive loss of cache.
However, the German brand seems to perfectly realize the problem and tries to make the exquisitely decorated silvered (or black) dial the main selling point of this watch. While most Swiss timekeepers in this price range will only offer you dials either decorated by expensive CNC machines or simply stamped and painted and/or lacquered, this one is actually done by a living person who, as far as I understand, used an actual engine-turning tool to make the guilloche patterns on each dial.
Although the hand-decorated dial has a hard time compensating for a pretty average stainless steel case (the German watchmaker is always proud to note that the cases are machined in-house by their parent brand Ickler and are not simply ordered to manufacture by a lowest bidder,) nicely printed Roman numerals, a set of standard Breguet-type hands and an almost undecorated movement, I highly doubt that you will be able to find such a beauty among similarly priced offerings from Longines, Maurice Lacroix and other relatively “affordable” brands of Swiss origin.
Ditto the similar offerings from Chronoswiss (their gorgeous Lunar Chronograph CH7523L-FST sells at a recommended price of $7800) and RGM that offers its M160 model with similar level of decoration at a price of $6300.
Of course, the aforementioned Chronoswiss watches come with solid silver dials and slightly modified movements but, to my taste, the Limes Pharo Full Calendar Chronograph with Moonphase is so far the best offering on the market of “generic” vintage-styled timekeepers all things considered. While, if bought for the original price, its “value for money” ratio doesn’t look especially impressive, getting one in gently used condition or buying a new one from an online retailer with a nice discount (I think, guys from Limes won’t like me for this sort of buying advice) may actually make this watch a good (not great though) value proposition.
Build Quality: 4.5/5
Overall Legibility: 4/5
Nighttime Legibility: 1/5
Value for Money: 3.5/5
Overall Rating: 3.5/5
Limes Pharo Full Calendar Chronograph with Moonphase specification
Price: €3000 (MSRP)
Movement: Caliber ETA Valjoux 7751, 31.00 mm x 5.05 mm, Swiss Made
Winding: Automatic (self-winding)
Cadence of balance: 28,800 vph
Functions & Complications: Date, day of week, month, moonphase
Power reserve: 42 hours
Case material: Stainless steel
Case shape: Round
Transparent case back: Yes, sapphire crystal
Case size: 40.50 mm
Case height: 14.50 mm
Dial: Silvered, hand-guilloched (also available in Black)
Hands: Blued “Breguet”-style hands
Water resistance: 50 meters
Strap: Brown or black leather on steel pin buckle
Crystal: Sapphire, double AR-coating