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Thread: An Ebel Masterpiece

  1. #1

    An Ebel Masterpiece

    Which may not be to everyone’s taste, of course, and certainly is not perfect.

    Ebel can’t have made more than a few hundred 1911 BTR Perpetual Calendar Chronographs. Still, they never resonated in the market and they had some left over that have been knocking around their retail distribution chain for a good few years. The local Movado store has had three come through over the years, ranging in price from 20 to 30 cents on the MSRP dollar. But given the retail price of just north of $30K, the discounted price was still over my limit. I already have two BTR chronographs, after all, and the grand complication scared me as much as excited me.

    But they finally decide to make them go and the Redhead got a text from our salesperson. She, in turn, instructed me to get my posterior down to the store, plastic in hand. “Yes, dear.”

    So, at what would’ve been a reasonable and still highly discounted price for a regular chronograph, I put in my order for a Ref. 9288L70, Perpetual Calendar Chronograph. It had to be shipped in from another store, and it arrived today.

    The Ebel caliber 288 starts as a 137—the Ebel version of a Lemania 1350. They give it special finishing. The chronograph levers are brushed instead of matte as with the 137, for example. Also, this movement hacks, while the 137 does not. The base movement is certified by COSC.

    Then, they fitted a Dubois-Dépraz perpetual calendar module—the same module that Ebel used with the Zenith El Primero in their original Perpetual Calendar Chronograph in 1984. The module provides a true perpetual calendar—it corrects for short and long months, February, and leap year. The moon phase complication provides more precision than most, drifting off by one day every 122 years. The movement does not correct for centenary leap years, so it will require manual correction in 2100. Somebody be sure to take care of that for me.

    Then, they send it back to COSC for another certification, with the module.





    (The iPhone’s camera is inadequate to this task. But it’s what I have in my hands.)

    The movement number is 389, which provides a clue as to how many of these were made.

    The dial has four subdials.



    The top dial shows months—48 of them in the leap year cycle. Yes, it’s hard to read. Most such movements show 12 months with a separate leap year indicator. But Roland Murphy, who knows the folks at DD personally, tells be this is a classic approach. Who am I to argue with RGM?

    The dial at three has a chrome hand showing date and a white hand showing chronograph minutes. The chronograph hands are white, and the calendar hands are Rhodium.

    At six, the dial shows chronograph hours and the phase of the Moon. And at nine, the dial shows running seconds and day of the week.

    All the calendar settings are directly settable using flush pushers on the sides of the case.

    The case is the standard 44mm BTR case with Ebel polished-pebble brushing. The bezel is polished steel, and the pushers are steel. (The standard BTR has a rubber bezel and pushers.) The crown screws down and the water resistance is rated at 10 atmospheres.

    But one would not swim with this watch—the alligator strap would not like it. Ebel straps are custom, but they are also specially treated and I’ve never seen one of mine absorb perspiration.

    The polished hands against the black dial requires the right light, or the willingness to move the watch a bit, but it not as readable as the version with a silver dial and blued hands. But that one wasn’t on offer at a quarter of secondary-market prices, either.

    The case isn’t thick—perhaps a millimeter thicker than the standard BTR—but the domed rear cover hides that thickness. The watch wears thin for its size, but it has plenty of wrist presence for all that.







    (From a distance, the watch looks smaller. My wrist is about 7-3/4”—smaller than a 18 months and 60 extra pounds ago)



    The 9288L70 originally came with a special box with a built-in winder. Alas, those are all gone. But I never expected it. The watch came in the standard deluxe leather-covered Ebel box from a few years back.



    Most who buy a high-end grand complications watch probably won’t wear it much for fear of damaging it. I’ll wear this one—it’s up to the task. And, despite its age, it comes with the full factory warranty.

    Maybe I’ll die of old age before I have to pay to service it.

    Rick “who now needs to set the calendar” Denney
    Last edited by Rdenney; Jul 17, 2019 at 02:51 AM.
    More than 500 characters worth of watches.

  2. #2
    Member wschofield3's Avatar
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    Excellent find, Mr. Denney, congratulations, and thanks for the detailed information! I'm a fan of the Ebel BTR series having had a GMT, and I wish I still had it.

  3. #3
    El bot. geoffbot's Avatar
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    That's real nice. If had a normal round case it would almost be perfect! But would lose the ebel quirk for sure.
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    Porous Membrane skywatch's Avatar
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    Wow! That's a beauty. I love the idea of complication watches, and this one is surprisingly thin for all that it does. I shy away from the thought of a watch that really needs to be running all the time, but it's so very cool. Congratulations!
    Too many watches, not enough wrists.

  5. #5

    An Ebel Masterpiece

    Quote Originally Posted by skywatch View Post
    Wow! That's a beauty. I love the idea of complication watches, and this one is surprisingly thin for all that it does. I shy away from the thought of a watch that really needs to be running all the time, but it's so very cool. Congratulations!
    Its easy enough to set, as it turns out, not to be that big a deal. Set the time, then, with a stylus, set the date, day of week, month, and moon phase, in that order. The moon phase gets two presses per day from full instead of one. Setting it yesterday was easy



    Just don’t do it between 6PM and 3AM.

    Rick “takes just a minute, particularly without setting the moon” Denney
    More than 500 characters worth of watches.

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  7. #6
    That is a very cool piece, Rick, congratulations. I think I would have trouble reading it, but it's definitely one you'll never see on anyone else's wrist in the wild.

  8. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by mlcor View Post
    That is a very cool piece, Rick, congratulations. I think I would have trouble reading it, but it's definitely one you'll never see on anyone else's wrist in the wild.
    Think of it as inviting one to look closely.

    Very closely.

    For a while.

    Rick “but time reads very easily even in low light” Denney
    More than 500 characters worth of watches.

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