Each limited-edition Aerowatch Les Grandes Classiques Venus 203 (Ref. A 93955 AA01) is powered by one of a few remaining hand-wound Venus 203 calibers that were produced more than sixty years ago in the 1950s. Founded in 1923 by P. Berret, J.B. Berret and O. Schmitz in a Swiss town of Moutier, the ebauche-maker Fabrique d’Ebauches Venus S.A. seized to exist 43 years later in 1966. Although the brand was mostly known for their chronograph calibers (some of them were even supplied to Jaeger-LeCoultre and Breitling,) the caliber Venus 203 that combines moonphase complication with a full calendar has also become a highly sought-after item among serious collectors.
Although it is difficult these days to find a properly working cal. 203 at a reasonable price, the Swiss watchmaker Aerowatch has managed to acquire a bunch of unfinished blank calibers in perfect working order.
The guys from Saignelegier, a municipality, which is, too, located in the famous canton of Jura, have taken the ebauches apart, refinished them using rhodium-plating and decorating them with the traditional Cotes de Geneve motif and installed them into fairly compact stainless steel cases.
Although the movement is only around 26 millimeters in diameter, the body is whole 41 millimeters wide (that’s what said in their press release, although on their web-site the watch is said to measure only 40 millimeters in diameter; go figure,) which is still somewhat too large to my taste.
As you can see on the photos, the watch sports standard layout of its dial with a moonphase indicator at 6 o’clock sharing its space with a small seconds counter, and the upper half of the dial occupied with two narrow “day of the week” and “month” apertures.
As usual, the current date is displayed with an extra-thin and extra-long pointer that, ahem, points at Arabic numerals printed along the chapter ring.
This is not a perpetual calendar, so you will have to manually correct the watch from time to time.
Luckily, the calendar function is operated not via the crown, but via a set of pushers placed on the sides of the body. The one at 10 hours allows you to set days, the other, at 2 o’clock, sets a current month, and the one at 4 o’clock sets the correct date and moon phase.
Although I usually tend to get extremely upset when I see watches with such a generic design, I kinda like this particular module, since in this particular case the watch is deliberately designed around a vintage movement, faithfully following all the technical details in order to recreate one of the most classic designs of the 20th century.
According to their press release, the watch will be released as a limited edition model with a total production run restricted to just 300 pieces.
Sources say that the new Aerowatch Les Grandes Classiques Venus 203 will retail for around €4500. If that’s indeed so, it may be one of the best deals when it comes to a timekeeper powered by a perfectly working movement, which is more than sixty years old.
Build Quality: 5/5
Overall Legibility: 4/5
Nighttime Legibility: 1/5
Value for Money: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4/5
Aerowatch Les Grandes Classiques Venus 203 (Ref. A 93955 AA01) specification
Price: $4950 (MSRP)
Movement: Hand-wound, Caliber Venus 203, 26 mm, NOS, decorated in-house, Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 17
Movement frequency: 18,000 vph
Movement decoration: Rhodium-plated, Cotes de Geneve motif
Functions: Hours, minutes, date, day of the week, month
Power reserve: 38 hours
Case: Stainless steel
Size: 41.00 mm
Lug width: 20.00 mm
Dial: Silvered, sun-brushed
Hour markers: Baton-shaped
Water resistance: 50 meters
Strap: Brown leather strap with personalized steel clasp
Crystal: Sapphire, domed
Back: Sapphire, fixed with six screws