There are some watches that are particularly unusual and pragmatic, the ultimate modern interpretation of the idea of “form follows function” paired with minimalist design codes that seem to be immortal. I don’t remember how I first came across the MIH Mechanik 2—I mean, I had never heard of the brand or its founders before—and however it happened, I was immediately charmed by its clear purpose-driven design. The Mechanik 2 is the type of watch that packs a lot of features and complications although its design would indicate otherwise. It's the result of a rare horological project created by various experts in the field and which stems from, to make a long story short, a museum. In any case, I became so fascinated by this timepiece that I wanted to tell you about it.
The Origin Story of MIH and the Mechanik 2
MIH stands for Musée International d’Horlogerie (International Museum of Horology in English) and is a brand that was created in 2005 by Ludwig Oechsli, a watchmaker and former curator at MIH, in La Chaux-De-Fond. Oechsli partnered with industrial designer Christian Gafner and watchmaker Paul Gerber to create their first model, the Mechanik. Things have changed a little bit since and Gafner led the redesign of the original model which we are taking a look at here today: the Mechanik 2. In addition to the three aforementioned people, MIH had also seen the involvement of a few other prominent experts in the field of horology, all of which had participated, in one capacity or another, in the creation of the first model.
The Design of the Mechanik 2
To be honest, what drew me to the Mechanik 2 is its minimalist design. Although the word “minimalist” can mean everything and anything today, here I’m using it to describe a pared-down design. Where the dial and case only come with what is essential and nothing else. Being a watch, the Mechanik 2 comes with three hands, 12 painted hour markers, a simple minute track, and an aperture at the 3 o’clock which indicates the day, date, and an AM/PM indicator. The matte black dial contrasts superbly with the stark white hands and indices, making reading the time a breeze. The day, date, and AM/PM indicators are easy to see as well, given that they are printed in white on a black date disc. Everything fits perfectly and nothing is superfluous.
The case comes with a simple profile, showcasing short and rounded lugs, and circular case, and a matte sandblasted finish all around. The latter works well with the matte black dial and the simple dial layout. The Mechanik 2 comes with a black rubber strap that shows no grooves or texture, again matching with the overall modern and utilitarian design language.
The Mechanics of the Mechanik 2
Despite its plain and simple appearance, the MIH Mechanik 2 comes with lots of features. Within its reasonable case—42mm in diameter, 45mm lug-to-lug, 13.7mm in height—the Mechanik 2 comes with a perpetual calendar and a chronograph function. According to more savant writers, this watch is equipped with a heavily modified Valjoux 7750 caliber so that the Mechanik 2 could operate as a linear perpetual calendar which only needs to be reset once a year. It also comes with a 30-minute chronograph totalizer present under the 12 o’clock marker. I particularly like the discreet integration of this feature on the dial and how the perforated sub-register visually matches the overall minimalist design of the watch.
Despite its incredible mechanics and looks, the MIH Mechanik 2 retails for what seems a reasonable amount of money: CHF 6,420 or roughly $7,406 USD. I know, I should use the word “reasonable” here with caution as $7,000 is a lot to spend on a watch for many of us watch enthusiasts. With that said, the price doesn’t shock me given what went into designing the Mechanik 2, including a heavily modified Valjoux caliber, a superb construction and finish (at least, as far as I can tell looking at the press shots,) and a unique modern heritage and its original connection to a museum dedicated to horology. Should you be interested in the MIH Mechanik 2 and find yourself with $7,00 lying around, you can actually pre-order the watch here.
Featured image: www.hodinkee.com