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Even after more than 60 years, it is as timeless as ever: the Junghans Max Bill MEGA is designed to further perfect the precision of the design icon with a specially developed radio-controlled movement. What’s behind the legendary Bauhaus look and whether this Max Bill model gets my recommendation to buy, you can read in the following review…
My Junghans contest with uhrenlounge.de
This Junghans Max Bill MEGA was provided by my partner uhrenlounge.de. At the end of my review, you will find links to the store of Uhrenlounge, where you can find the Max Bill MEGA as well as many other Junghans models. In July, there will also be a raffle, which I organize together with Uhrenlounge. More information is available in a new YouTube video! Please subscribe to my YouTube channel!
The links to the raffle posts will appear here shortly.
Bauhaus watches: timeless classics
A few years ago, Bauhaus watches became the big trend in the watch industry again. The occasion was the 100th anniversary of the Weimar art school, whose concept still shapes our everyday life. The idea of transferring the functional style to wristwatches, of course, did not come from the relevant influencer brands, namely Daniel Wellington, Paul Hewitt and Co. No, Bauhaus-style watches are as old as the historic Bauhaus itself. To this day, the great legends of the 20th century have survived, and it is impossible to imagine the model ranges of manufacturers without them.
At the traditional manufacturer Junghans from Schramberg in the Black Forest, Germany, the name Max Bill is such an institution. The collection currently includes no less than 14 sub-series. From automatic watches and ladies’ watches to table and wall clocks, there are countless models designed to satisfy the various demands of customers. They all have two things in common: the unmistakable, minimalist design and its inventor. But who was Max Bill?
Max Bill: a multi-talent
Swiss Max Bill lived from 1908 to 1994 and was an architect, artist, sculptor, product designer and a true multi-talent. As a student of the Bauhaus in Dessau, he internalized the design principles of the art school – functionality, clear formal language and intelligently used materials.
The first contact between the watch manufacturer Junghans and Max Bill took place in the 1950s. Bill had been rector of the Ulm School of Design, which he co-founded, since 1956. Junghans commissioned him to design a kitchen clock together with his students. Junghans relied above all on the artist’s versatility. Apart from a few specifications regarding the drive and the materials, the Black Forest company gave Bill a free hand in the design process. Without further ado, the Swiss and his team reduced the dial to the most necessary elements. Good readability was crucial to the quality of the final product.
A radical concept
In 1961, the first wristwatch resulting from this successful collaboration followed. The dominant design features of these first movements still define the appearance of every Junghans Max Bill watch today. A logical structure, clearly separated elements, easy-to-read scales and plain Arabic numerals. What we consider “ordinary” today was revolutionary at the time. Watches were otherwise rather opulently designed. Max Bill’s design had a radical effect.
Visually, not much has changed in the Junghans collection since then. Why should it, after all, the design is timeless. The many technical variants, on the other hand, are remarkable. The Max Bill of today’s watch review is a radio-controlled watch and bears the name suffix ‘MEGA’. A radio-controlled movement is manufactured in-house by Junghans. With a price range of 500 to just over 1,000 euros, the series seems attractive to many customers. The Uhrenlounge kindly provided me with the reference 058/4820.04. Current price: 795,- Euro.
Inside a package, the German watchmaker has embedded a box, made of black leather and bearing the Junghans logo. I open the box, pack aside the protective foils and take the Junghans Max Bill MEGA off its cushion, which is a cream shade like the rest of the lined interior. Where are the papers? It takes me brainiac a little while to figure out the function of the tab in the inner lid. If you pull it, the lid folds down. The manual and warranty are revealed.
The Junghans Max Bill MEGA on the wrist
It doesn’t take long to appreciate the visual qualities of the Junghans Max Bill MEGA. At the very latest, at second glance, you recognize a design that, despite certain similarities, is miles superior to the trendy fashion watches. Stylish and high-quality, that’s how I would characterize the Junghans Max Bill MEGA on the wrist. I suspect there is no watch that could be used more flexibly. Take your best suit, a casual polo shirt or your favorite hoodie. This timepiece always cuts a good figure without looking boring or inconspicuous.
Moreover, this Junghans Max Bill MEGA with its combination of black leather strap and white dial seems perfect for warm summer months. It is compact, lightweight, comfortable and looks very chic on tan skin!
I would even go so far as to characterize the model as unisex without hesitation. Due to its compact dimensions of just 38 millimeters in diameter, the Junghans Max Bill MEGA is also suitable as a ladies’ watch. By the way, what we consider strangely small today was a common size 50 or 60 years ago. Only in the course of time, watches with larger and larger cases were released.
Practical details of the case back
Before this review, I had certain expectations about the quality of Junghans. Now I can say that these were met and live up to the premium claim. Basically, the Junghans Max Bill MEGA consists of a stainless steel case, whose surfaces are mostly polished. Micro scratches can therefore not be avoided. Junghans states a water resistance to a depth of 30 meters.
In 2022, the entire Max Bill collection is in a state of flux. Since March, Junghans has equipped all models with sapphire crystal. Previously, they relied on Hardlex glass, a type of mineral glass. Although this is more in line with the Bauhaus idea, it is less well received by watch fans. Anyone who has purchased an older model with hardlex glass can have it replaced on request.
Junghans does not purchase the multi-frequency radio-controlled movement with the designation J101.65. Instead, it was developed in-house. The lifespan should be around two years. I find the engraving on the back of the case very practical. This was provided with a world map, on which the time signal transmitters are marked, from which the Junghans Max Bill MEGA can receive a signal. Below that, there’s a table. The designations H1-H9 stand for the hour markers on the dial. You can use these to check the reception status of your watch at any time. In crown position A, the pusher must be touched for less than three seconds. The second hand then indicates the reception status for four seconds.
Reduced to the bare essentials: the dial of the Junghans Max Bill MEGA
The dial allows for the best possible readability. The 5-minute/hour indices are longer than the rest and extend to the Arabic hour numerals. Like the hands, they are coated with luminous material and are therefore easy to read in the dark. A date window completes these most necessary functions.
A word about the leather strap: it impresses with its pleasant inner surface and guarantees high wearing comfort in everyday life. Like the rest of the watch, it is kept very simple, which I like.
My conclusion about the Junghans Max Bill MEGA
Boring, a layman would perhaps criticize. The Junghans Max Bill MEGA has no special functions worth mentioning. No breathtaking technical innovations. Not even a futuristic design. And unconventional materials? Missing! So, is the Junghans Max Bill MEGA a kind of bad buy? Quite the opposite, one must praise appreciatively. The minimalist design has nothing to do with unimaginativeness but marks a milestone in the history of the wristwatch. Rarely before has anyone been as radical and rethought the concept of the dial as Max Bill.
The first Junghans Max Bill models contributed to an idea of wristwatch that is now anchored in our collective memory. A white, plain dial, a black leather strap, all focused exclusively on the most important function. Most people have this image in mind when they think of a conventional wristwatch. The pioneering work of Max Bill is partly responsible for this. This must be acknowledged without envy.
Would Max Bill also have chosen the radio-controlled drive? Maybe. It would certainly have been in his sense. For my part, I can only emphasize, that I like the watch more and more with every day. A classic that belongs in every collection. In the store of Uhrenlounge, the model currently costs 795,- euros. You can find all links below!