The German holding Ickler GmbH, the one that sells more affordable Archimede and more expensive Limes watches under respective brands, has recently introduced an update to their dressy vintage-styled Pharo line. This Limes Pharo Cartouche Automatic (ref. U6282C-LA5.1) sports all the familiar strands of the collection’s DNA, but mixes them in better proportions producing, as a result, a watch that not only looks finely crafted but is also affordable almost to everyone.
Probably inspired by (light years) more expensive Breguet watches, the watch features all the usual elements of the legendary timekeepers.
The center of its silver-toned dial, for example, is decorated with a guilloche pattern. Although not as elaborate as that on a “real” Breguet, the “solar” pattern that we see here is still finely executed and goes nicely together with the signature fluted case and the usual “Breguet” hands that are crafted from steel and then heat-blued (a fairly rare use of the time-consuming and relatively expensive technique in this price range that, in my opinion, considerably increases the perceived value of this timekeeper) to achieve that noble color that you can see on the pictures.
Perhaps, the only thing that is lacking here is a face crafted from a more noble metal. Even a so-called German silver alloy that a certain brand from Glashutte loves so much would make this device look a lot more expensive. However, it would also actually become more expensive and Ickler still has a long way to go to sell premium-priced timepieces.
Well, for some persons the level of “inspiration” that Limes demonstrates there may be absolutely unacceptable, but, for me, the watch doesn’t look like a blatant rip-off: it is just a nicely styled homage to the days past when watches were passed from father to son and then to his own son.
Trying to put the timekeeper as close as possible to the industry’s golden ratio (it is widely believed that an ideal dress watch should not exceed 39 millimeters in diameter and must also be thin), the German conglomerate took a relatively compact (yet by no means ultra-thin) self-winding mechanism and packed it into a nicely sculpted body. Measuring just 40.50 millimeters in diameter and exactly 10 mm from top of the flat sapphire crystal to case back cover, this new ref. U6282C-LA5.1 looks great and feels comfortable on a normal wrist.
By the way, while the German brand buys movements from Swiss manufacturers (this one is powered by a Sellita caliber SW200 automatic movement, which, in its own turn, is a “clone” of the good old ETA 2824-2 workhorse, but with an extra jewel in its going train), they still have a decent park of CNC equipment to make their own cases of the highest quality: not a small feat in an industry where such parts are often outsourced to different Chinese factories.
There is, by the way of speaking, also another variation that features a small seconds sub-dial and is powered by a hand-wound ETA movement, but it still the same 10 millimeters thick: perhaps, the German brand decided to cut some expenses and save money on designing a thinner case for a thinner caliber.
At this time, the self-winding version of the Limes Pharo Cartouche is offered at just €780 (German VAT and shipping costs included), so if you are looking for a watch that could would look appropriate with a wedding suit or a business dress, but are still not ready to shell thousands for a Swiss made watch of higher pedigree, you should probably give this timepiece a good long look.
Build Quality: 5/5
Value for Money: 5/5
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
Limes Pharo Cartouche Automatic (ref. U6282C-LA5.1) specification
Price: €780 (MSRP)
Movement: Automatic, Caliber Sellita SW200, Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 26
Movement frequency: 28,800 vph
Power reserve: 38 hours
Movement decoration: Perlage on bridges, basic Geneva stripes on the oscillating weight (circular and vertical patterns)
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date
Case: Stainless steel
Size: 40.50 mm
Case height: 10.00 mm
Lug width: 22.00 mm
Dial: Silver guilloche
Numerals: Arabic, Breguet-type
Hour markers: Dots
Water resistance: 50 meters
Strap: Black or brown leather strap with stainless steel buckle