Watch Review: Jungahns Max Bill Quartz

Max billNo, I don’t think I’m going to become one of those people, but as I recently explained, I’ve decided to stop wearing my Apple Watch. What I did realize in 18 months of using that device was that I actually like having the time on my wrist. I hadn’t worn a watch for more than ten years, and it’s interesting to see that I now feel that I should wear a watch.

I don’t know if I’m going to get sucked into the analog watch thing, partly because it’s very expensive. But I do like nice things, and I appreciate nice styling for devices like this. I’m not a fan of the big, clunky watches with dials and buttons, and, after looking at lots of watch websites, I settled on the Junghans Max Bill. (Amazon.com, Amazon UK) I decided to go for the quartz version, rather than the automatic, mainly because of cost: I wasn’t sure that I wanted to spend that much on a watch. The quartz model lists here at £475, but I got it from First Class Watches, who currently has a 20% off sale on everything.

The Max Bill series is a minimalist watch named for its designer Max Bill. A student of Walter Gropius, he was one of the leading post-Bauhaus designers, and started working for Junghans in 1961. Look at the delicate lines on that watch face, and the subtle balance between the larger hour numbers and the smaller second numbers at the outside of the dial. It’s available in a number of colors, with and without numbers, but I like the functional simplicity of the black on white. (Though there is also a brown on anthracite that is very attractive.) Junghans also makes a chronograph, which is one of the lightest looking watches of that type, but it seems a bit busy to me. My only criticism is that the date is hard to read. It’s recessed enough under the dial that it’s only readable when there’s plenty of light, as you can see in my photos.

Now it’s time for the obligatory on the wrist photo. Here’s how it looks on my arm:

Max bill on wrist

I have large wrists, so the watch’s 38mm dial is the perfect size for me. It’s very thin, at only 7.9mm, which is a big change from the clunky Apple Watch. While the photo above – shot with an LED light illuminating my wrist – makes the dial look very white, as does the photo from Junghans at the top of this article, it’s actually a bit off-white in normal light. It’s the color of heavy cream, which makes it look less sterile than stark white. I’ve tweaked the colors in this photo to approximate how the dial looks to me.

Max bill on table

The watch comes with a very attractive 18mm calfskin watchband, which, as you can see above, is a darker brown than the one in the Jungans photo. It’s thin and supple, and will break in fairly quickly.

This is a comfortable watch, light enough for me to forget its presence, simple enough to not stand out, but it’s understated design makes me more comfortable than watches with lots of buttons and dials.

So, for my first tentative foray into the world of analog watches, I’ve selected a staid, enduring design that fits with my own way of thinking. I’m very happy with this watch, and I hope this doesn’t turn into an expensive hobby.

42 thoughts on “Watch Review: Jungahns Max Bill Quartz

  1. Hello Kirk. I read about your move away from the Apple Watch a couple of days ago and your move into the Junghans Max Bill quartz. It’s a great design with all of the qualities you’ve listed as per size, weight and simple form follows function. I have several hobbies such as gardening, music live and recorded, theatre and films and, you guessed it, watch collecting. I got my 1st hand-winder when I was 8. I still have it and though it’s a boys size, after a recent inexpensive service, it runs great. I have about 30 or so modern watches and around 70 vintage timepieces. It’s by far my most costly hobby, and my most enjoyable. I buy watches, but have never ever sold one, so that’s why I have so many. A good quality book on watches is what I think you should get for yourself and if you grow the interest there are inexpensive but wonderful vintage watches around. Try the UK Antiques Atlas web site under the watches category and you’ll find true mechanical watches, automatic and hand-winders quite affordably. I hope you enjoy your watch. It’s fun, and it’s wrist jewellery that’s functional for a man. I did try the Apple Watch series 1 & 2, but so soulless and another beeping, pulsing gadget that I just don’t need so I never went down that path. When smart watches get smart, really smart, maybe. Have a great New Year.

  2. Hello Kirk. I read about your move away from the Apple Watch a couple of days ago and your move into the Junghans Max Bill quartz. It’s a great design with all of the qualities you’ve listed as per size, weight and simple form follows function. I have several hobbies such as gardening, music live and recorded, theatre and films and, you guessed it, watch collecting. I got my 1st hand-winder when I was 8. I still have it and though it’s a boys size, after a recent inexpensive service, it runs great. I have about 30 or so modern watches and around 70 vintage timepieces. It’s by far my most costly hobby, and my most enjoyable. I buy watches, but have never ever sold one, so that’s why I have so many. A good quality book on watches is what I think you should get for yourself and if you grow the interest there are inexpensive but wonderful vintage watches around. Try the UK Antiques Atlas web site under the watches category and you’ll find true mechanical watches, automatic and hand-winders quite affordably. I hope you enjoy your watch. It’s fun, and it’s wrist jewellery that’s functional for a man. I did try the Apple Watch series 1 & 2, but so soulless and another beeping, pulsing gadget that I just don’t need so I never went down that path. When smart watches get smart, really smart, maybe. Have a great New Year.

    • I say, “Hey Max, what temperature is it?” And then I wait…

      To be honest, the Apple Watch’s temperature wasn’t accurate (with third-party apps or not).

    • I say, “Hey Max, what temperature is it?” And then I wait…

      To be honest, the Apple Watch’s temperature wasn’t accurate (with third-party apps or not).

  3. I enjoy the diversity of your topics, Kirk, and I always learn new things. This article stimulated me to look at more watches than I have paid attention to for years. For my tastes, your choice if quite attractive, although I would prefer not to have the extra numbers around the perimeter. For me, they are unnecessary clutter, and one set of numbers, for the hours, is what I like.

    Individual tastes vary, and I was amazed, during my half-hour search of web watch retailers, at how many styles don’t appeal to me. They tend toward the poles of overly cluttered and overly minimalist. Those must please the majority of buyers.

    I was surprised to read how thick your watch is. Much less than the Apple watch, of course, but it looks thinner to me in your pictures. It’s about the same as 30-year old Casio that I pulled out of my drawer, and measured. However, it’s thickness fits with what several retailers call “thin”, or even “ultra-thin”. I did run across a Bulova that is 5.9mm thick, and at $75, I am considering it. It’s not as attractive as yours, but maybe I can find it in a more classic face design. http://amzn.to/2iMgIAD

    Thanks for getting me started in thinking about watches again.

    • The Max Bill series has a full range of options. Here’s a more minimal version, closer to your Bulova:

      http://amzn.to/2iMsafG

      However, it’s a lot more expensive.

      As for thickness, remember that it’s the body and the crystal. Mine has a fairly rounded crystal, which is designed to work well with the nearly bezel-less body. Some watches have flatter crystals, so are thinner.

      Spend some time, and you’ll see that watches range from ultra-minimalist with no numbers or hour markers at all to grossly overladen devices with dials, numbers, and buttons. There’s something for everyone. 🙂

      Here’s a nice Skagen that is similar to the Bulova (though with a black dial): http://amzn.to/2iflIRn

  4. I enjoy the diversity of your topics, Kirk, and I always learn new things. This article stimulated me to look at more watches than I have paid attention to for years. For my tastes, your choice if quite attractive, although I would prefer not to have the extra numbers around the perimeter. For me, they are unnecessary clutter, and one set of numbers, for the hours, is what I like.

    Individual tastes vary, and I was amazed, during my half-hour search of web watch retailers, at how many styles don’t appeal to me. They tend toward the poles of overly cluttered and overly minimalist. Those must please the majority of buyers.

    I was surprised to read how thick your watch is. Much less than the Apple watch, of course, but it looks thinner to me in your pictures. It’s about the same as 30-year old Casio that I pulled out of my drawer, and measured. However, it’s thickness fits with what several retailers call “thin”, or even “ultra-thin”. I did run across a Bulova that is 5.9mm thick, and at $75, I am considering it. It’s not as attractive as yours, but maybe I can find it in a more classic face design. http://amzn.to/2iMgIAD

    Thanks for getting me started in thinking about watches again.

    • The Max Bill series has a full range of options. Here’s a more minimal version, closer to your Bulova:

      http://amzn.to/2iMsafG

      However, it’s a lot more expensive.

      As for thickness, remember that it’s the body and the crystal. Mine has a fairly rounded crystal, which is designed to work well with the nearly bezel-less body. Some watches have flatter crystals, so are thinner.

      Spend some time, and you’ll see that watches range from ultra-minimalist with no numbers or hour markers at all to grossly overladen devices with dials, numbers, and buttons. There’s something for everyone. 🙂

      Here’s a nice Skagen that is similar to the Bulova (though with a black dial): http://amzn.to/2iflIRn

  5. Reading this article and the first few positive comments on this post tells me this blog is difting away from my interests.
    I guess it is christmas, maybe I should lighten up?

    • Yeah, maybe you should. 🙂

      I’ve had plenty of Apple and iTunes related stuff recently. But I’ve always written about books, music, theater, and non-tech topics.

      • Haha.
        Aah, so buying a near £500 watch must be a non-tech topic. Got it.
        Can’t wait for the matching cufflinks post!
        😉

        • Well, I’m not writing about it as technology.

          Don’t expect anything about cufflinks; I don’t own any shirts that could take cufflinks. I might start writing about some of my pens soon, though… 🙂

  6. Reading this article and the first few positive comments on this post tells me this blog is difting away from my interests.
    I guess it is christmas, maybe I should lighten up?

    • Yeah, maybe you should. 🙂

      I’ve had plenty of Apple and iTunes related stuff recently. But I’ve always written about books, music, theater, and non-tech topics.

      • Haha.
        Aah, so buying a near £500 watch must be a non-tech topic. Got it.
        Can’t wait for the matching cufflinks post!
        😉

        • Well, I’m not writing about it as technology.

          Don’t expect anything about cufflinks; I don’t own any shirts that could take cufflinks. I might start writing about some of my pens soon, though… 🙂

  7. It’s nice watch. I had similar thoughts and reached a similar conclusion a year ago, though without going through the process of trying a smart watch first.

    I took minimalism further than you have. I wanted no second hand (if I need seconds I can use the stopwatch and timer functions on my smartphone) and I wanted no date because (a) I’ll inevitably have to set it one day and that’s tiresome, (b) it detracts from the uncluttered face I wanted and (c) I see the date every morning when I update the manual day & date display in our kitchen and my brain succeeds in retaining that information for my remaining waking hours.

    So like you I ended up with a slim, simple watch (though a different brand and different colours). I haven’t bored you and your readers with a brand name, a photo, or a description of colours because that’s not why I’m writing. Basically I just want to agree wholeheartedly with your conclusions about the function of a device on one’s wrist. Thanks for being ‘brave’ in the world of electronic technology by saying where it isn’t necessary.

    Regards,
    Peter

  8. It’s nice watch. I had similar thoughts and reached a similar conclusion a year ago, though without going through the process of trying a smart watch first.

    I took minimalism further than you have. I wanted no second hand (if I need seconds I can use the stopwatch and timer functions on my smartphone) and I wanted no date because (a) I’ll inevitably have to set it one day and that’s tiresome, (b) it detracts from the uncluttered face I wanted and (c) I see the date every morning when I update the manual day & date display in our kitchen and my brain succeeds in retaining that information for my remaining waking hours.

    So like you I ended up with a slim, simple watch (though a different brand and different colours). I haven’t bored you and your readers with a brand name, a photo, or a description of colours because that’s not why I’m writing. Basically I just want to agree wholeheartedly with your conclusions about the function of a device on one’s wrist. Thanks for being ‘brave’ in the world of electronic technology by saying where it isn’t necessary.

    Regards,
    Peter

  9. do you still wear this? it’s gorgeous! if you wake up at night a few hours in, does the luminous paint still shine enough to read?

  10. do you still wear this? it’s gorgeous! if you wake up at night a few hours in, does the luminous paint still shine enough to read?

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