Bauhaus beauty or fashion-watch folly? We take a look at the Lilienthal Berlin Zeitgeist Automatik watch.
Lilienthal Berlin Zeitgeist Automatik
When I first heard from the brand, I almost deleted the email – at first glance, it seemed like another of the “mushroom brands” that pop up to sell identikit minimalist quartz dress watches. However, after a dig around their website I realised there was a little bit more – and picked a Lilienthal Berlin Zeitgeist Automatik to review.
The watch arrived by courier a couple of days later, and I was not sure what to expect. When I opened the box and saw the “lifestyle photo” postcards within, I almost packed it up and sent it back as not being for me at all – but I’m glad I stuck with it, as the Lilienthal Berlin Zeitgeist Automatik is actually a very, very nice watch indeed!
The Lilienthal Berlin Zeitgeist Automatik is housed in stainless steel case that, unusually, is bead blasted rather than brushed or polished. It adds a distinct feel to the watch which I liked. It’s 42mm in diameter but wears bigger thanks to the fact is is almost all dial, with very little bezel. The crown is inset into the case, which makes it a bit fiddly to operate, but it does help keep the crown from digging into your wrist, I suppose. I do like the balanced symmetrical look.
Flip the watch over and there is a display case back revealing… a Swiss Sellita SW200 movement. This watch is proud to be made in Germany, and does not pretend to be a Swiss watch by virtue of its movement, which I found rather refreshing. I am not sure I like the black rotor, and a display case back is not so exciting when the movement is an undecorated base calibre but if this were your first “decent” watch you’d probably be very happy with it! It’s a comfortable watch, with a relatively light weight (77 grams) for an automatic timepiece, and the 10mm thickness helps it fit under a shirt sleeve.
Dial and Hands
The dial, like the case, is well executed with clean, Bauhaus lines and a strong sense of depth. The date at 6 keeps things balanced, and I like the way that the inner ring on the dial contains the logo, date and model number.
The hands are white, but still legible against the dial, with a smattering of lume. The light blue second hand adds a dash of colour, which is replicated in the stitching on the strap. All in all, a very attractive look.
Strap and Buckle
Once again, the Lilienthal Berlin Zeitgeist Automatik hits the spot with its leather strap. It’s made from a thick and supple vegetable tanned leather with vintage stitching at the top to match the second hand. It’s stamped with the brand’s “b” logo at the end, which looks great and made me wonder why other watchmakers don’t do the same. The now almost-ubiquitous quick release strap pins make strap changes simple without scratching up the lugs.
The buckle is bead blaster like the case, and full marks to Lilienthal Berlin for leaving it unsigned rather than having a laser-etched logo, which can look a bit cheap.
Lilienthal Berlin Zeitgeist Automatik – Video Review
What I Liked
- Good looks, great build quality
- Great value for a Swiss-powered watch
- The strap is excellent
What I Didn’t Like
- A stamped case-back would have sufficed given that the movement is not decorated
- The hidden crown – whilst a great idea – is a bit fiddly to operate
- I’m not sure about the brand’s market positioning
Lilienthal Berlin Zeitgeist Automatik – the WRUK Verdict
The Lilienthal Berlin brand is positioned oddly – it is hard to distinguish from the dozens of other small brands making quartz dress watches, and their promotional material and packaging choices somewhat cheapen what is a really good watch. I’m proud to have this as part of my collection in preference to Junghans or any other Bauhaus-style brand.
At £475, this watch is priced higher than many of the Kickstarter microbrands we cover, but an equivalent to me is the TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 5 three-hander which has the same movement and yet still costs more to buy used on eBay. Of course, the TAG Heuer brand adds significantly to that watch’s value and I think that Lilienthal Berlin should seriously think about creating a more premium sub-brand for its automatic offerings like this, as Volkswagen has done with Audi. That said, I can highly recommend this watch – if you buy one, you won’t be disappointed.