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With the new VANDAAG Schallmauer Automatic, the watch company with northern German roots is moving into higher spheres. For the first time, the collection in pilot chronograph design comes up with a Swiss automatic movement. I took a closer look at the changes to the previous models.
How to build a watch brand
I’ve been keeping in touch with the makers of VANDAAG for a good three quarters of a year now. The Northern Germany based watch company has only been around for a few years. But the know-how about products, manufacturing and contact with suppliers and customers has been there since 2000, when the company started developing watches for other brands. One of the first watches to successfully make the transformation from a service provider to its own brand is the VANDAAG Tiefsee Automatic (Balance) Grey. The diver combines minimalist design with a very good price-performance ratio.
The founding phase of VANDAAG was decisively influenced by another collection – the Schallmauer. What the Tiefsee is for divers, the Schallmauer should be for lovers of pilot chronographs. It was started in the entry-level segment. “We deliberately chose the price segment of circa 250,- to 500,- euros for the start, in order to show there what is possible in terms of design and quality with know-how and the right supply chain,” Tim Ole Benkus, partner at VANDAAG, explains to me. The previous Schallmauer Pilot’s Watches were powered by a Miyota 6S21 quartz movement – to step up with the newly designed models now. “Step by step, we wanted to introduce customers to us and show them what we are capable of. A healthy and credible brand building,” says Benkus, describing the strategy.
Improvements all around
And it seems to be bearing fruit. The great response from customers and the “need” for an automatic chronograph with a Swiss movement has prompted the young company from northern Germany to launch four new and revised versions of the Schallmauer. You can read all the detailed information about the release at the end of this watch review. First, let’s talk about the changes. No, replacing the movement is not enough. With a total of twelve changes, the VANDAAG Schallmauer Automatic is practically a new watch…
The VANDAAG Schallmauer Automatic in Hands On
It’s difficult to say which of the four model variants I like best at first sight. First, there is the blue version on the brown leather strap. A classic color combination that will never go out of style. In addition, the VANDAAG Schallmauer Automatic is available as an all-black version (also a must-have, actually) as well as with black totalizers on a white dial. In fact, I think the model with cream subdials on a black background and with gold colored indices is my favorite. On the brown leather strap, the charming vintage look looks especially good.
Visually, VANDAAG has shown sensitivity for good design in all four models. At first glance, the new Schallmauer Automatic looks much more high-end than its quartz-powered counterpart, although I couldn’t put my finger on it off the top of my head. Fans of pilot chronographs will get their money’s worth from the aesthetics of the classically timeless pilot’s watch. Which color variant is the most beautiful, you have to decide. Take a look at the gallery at the end of this article!
On the positive side, I would like to point out that you can definitely recognize a certain signature in the design of the VANDAAG Schallmauer Automatic. The red date window, for example, can also be found on the VANDAAG Deep Sea Automatic Balance. Details like this make up the recognition value.
On what occasions can I wear a VANDAAG Schallmauer pilot watch? It doesn’t really matter. In everyday life, nothing beats a perfect pilot chronograph. It is thanks to the combination of timeless elegance, style consciousness and functional sportiness that the Schallmauer always cuts a fine figure on the wrist.
Premium-level materials and workmanship
To ensure this, the case has undergone a fundamental overhaul. This starts with the dimensions. Even from a greater distance, with a bit of a hunch, you can quickly see that an automatic movement now operates inside the Schallmauer. Why? Because the case has grown considerably in height and measures a proud 16.30 millimeters including the sapphire crystal. Nevertheless, the good wearing comfort has been maintained thanks to dynamically curved lugs. Thus, the watch still rests snugly on the wrist. The case measures 42.50 millimeters in diameter, and 50 millimeters between the horns. For a pilot chronograph, this is still moderate.
I am impressed by the case finish. The surfaces of the round 316L stainless steel case are both brushed and polished and look fantastic! A quality on a premium level, as one has to acknowledge without envy. The fact that the VANDAAG makers understand their craft and haven’t just been practicing it since yesterday can be seen perfectly at this point.
At the front, cambered sapphire crystal protects the dial from pressure and other external influences. VANDAAG certifies its new Schallmauer a water resistance up to a pressure of 10 bar, so 100 meters depth. That’s easily enough for everyday use, especially for a pilot’s chronograph.
On the back, the case closes with a quadruple-screwed case back, on which you’ll find your engraved production number. Each of the four color variants is limited to only 100 pieces. The spelling of the limitation is not final yet and will be changed for the production model.
The Sellita SW510BHa in detail
A viewing window is found in the center of the caseback. VANDAAG continues its careful choice of materials and equips the VANDAAG Schallmauer Automatic with a sapphire crystal caseback. This showcases the pride and joy of the watch, the Swiss automatic movement. Well, the glass back is not a special feature as such. However, somehow it has become indispensable and simply belongs to it.
It is the Sellita SW510BHa Elaboré, which finally lifts the timepiece into the premium segment and should make it interesting for those, who didn’t have VANDAAG on their radar so far. The Swiss-made automatic movement is usually used in chronographs in the price range 2000 – 4000 euros. Impressive is not only the power reserve of 62 hours, but also the low rate deviation of the quality level Elaboré, which is a maximum of +/- 5 seconds per day. The rotor of the movement has been modified, and its silver manufacturer’s logo is another unique selling point.
With an additional small seconds at 9 o’clock, a 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock and a date window at 6 o’clock, the Swiss automatic movement offers all the important chronograph functions needed for everyday use. The screw-down crown can be used to wind the movement, correct the date and set the hands with stop-seconds in a total of three positions.
Dial, bezel and bracelet of the VANDAAG Schallmauer Automatic.
VANDAAG has lent a hand to the stainless steel bezel and now presents it with a double-sided rotating function as well as a high-quality ceramic inlay. Especially the latter innovation catches the eye visually and is a clear upgrade. 120 cleanly engaging clicks are available for precise time measurements. An indicated minute scale can also be used. A real eye-catcher in the dark has become the triangle above 12 o’clock, which was covered with Swiss Super-LumiNova® BGW9.
When it comes to the dial, VANDAAG does not experiment. The slightly curved surface is marked only by the most important subdials, scales and indices, preserving the minimalist look. The top priority here is perfect readability, i.e. functionality. By the way – while I was talking about the characteristic date window: it’s still red, but now angular instead of round. VANDAAG wants to achieve improved readability this way. Hands and indices of the Schallmauer Automatic shine through the same Super-LumiNova® BGW9 luminous coating as the bezel.
Finally, a few words about the Italian leather strap, available in different colors to match the colorway of the watch. The tapered shape is original. The width between the lugs is 22 millimeters, but only 20 millimeters at the buckle. Material and manufacturing quality are sensational, as you would expect from hand-sewn Italian leather. Accordingly, the wearing comfort in everyday life is also very good. Thanks to quick-change bars, you can replace the bracelet at will.
My conclusion about the VANDAAG Schallmauer Automatic
With the VANDAAG Schallmauer Automatic, the North German manufacturer ventures into the premium segment and delivers a classic pilot chronograph, which has little to do with the previous entry-level models of the same name. The total of twelve improvements have it all and turn the formerly “nice” pilot watch into a real collector’s item, which not only fans of pilot watches should take a closer look at!
The flagship of the timepiece, however, is clearly the price-performance ratio, which is unparalleled. Pilot chronographs with a comparable quality of workmanship and a Swiss Sellita SW510BHa caliber at the regular price of 1,699 euros will not be found. And it gets even better! As part of the current Kickstarter campaign, you have the chance to purchase the watches at special early-bird prices. Staggered there will be 4 times 20 watches to buy at prices between 999,- and 1299,- Euro. Because of the limited number of pieces you should not wait too long! The waiting time after ordering is six months.
Below you will find all further information about the exciting pilot chronograph!