RESERVOIR Sonomaster Chronograph

The new Reservoir Sonomaster Chronograph takes its inspiration from measuring instruments widely used in the world of sound or Hi-Fi.

Its two retrograde hands faithfully reproduce the hands of VU meters usually employed in high-end analog stereo amplifiers. In addition to two bi-retrograde hands (date and seconds at 120°), Sonomaster features central seconds, 30-minute counter at 12 o’clock, 12-hour counter at 6 o’clock.

VU (Volume Unit) meter was developed in the 1940s to measure all manner of electronic signals, including the sounds going into a mixing desk or tape deck in a recording studio, the strength of a radio broadcast signal, the power output of an amplifier or the sound pressure levels in the listening space (also referred to as “volume” or “loudness”).

The action of a VU meter’s needle is the same as a retrograde hand in a watch: the needles do not ascribe a 360 circle, as do conventional watch hands, but swing back-and-forth.

Various hi-fi manufacturers have personalised their VU meters to render their equipment instantly recognisable, with veteran brand Luxman opting for a golden glow, EAR Yoshino using kidney-shaped apertures over their meters, D’Agostino’s massive round meter features a Breguet-style hand, while McIntosh is world-famous for its blue-lit VU meters.

In addition to real-time hours, minutes and seconds, the Sonomaster Chronograph features a central sweep seconds hand for the stopwatch function, a 30-minute counter at 12 o’clock, a 12-hour counter at 6 o’clock, and the date. A window for the latter would add clutter, while the desire for symmetry, which is missing in chronographs with sub-dials at 6, 9 and 12 o’clock and a date window at 3 o’clock, remained paramount.

The 43mm diameter 316L stainless steel case comes with brushed finish. The crown is inspired by amplifier control button, and push buttons take inspiration from bass and treble buttons. The hands are treated with Superluminova.

RESERVOIR has carefully cultivated a unique, family look for its retrograde models. All employ retrograde minute hands completing an arc from what would be, on a convention al dial, 8 o’clock to 4 o’clock.

The visual balance is assured by the hour appearing in a window above the 6 o’clock position, while below it is a retrograde power reserve. Despite the need to deal with more functions, the Sonomaster Chronograph could not depart from the established RESERVOIR design language.

With the hours and minutes of the Sonomaster Chronograph addressed by conventional hands, and with the 30-minute and 12-hour counters using traditional sub-dials, it was noted that there was ample “real estate” on either side of the divide. Two half-moon-shaped areas were free to accept the date and real-time seconds, creating what RESERVOIR has called a “Bi-Retrograde” display.

For maximum readability and to create a fresh aesthetic in a horological context, RESERVOIR looked beyond the confines of the watch and automotive industries, the latter a much-favoured source of inspiration in horological circles.

Instead, they found the solution on the front panel of the iconic vintage hi-fi amplifier, such as the legendary Luxman M10 Mk II power amplifier. This high-end audio equipment features two massive VU meters, with black needles against cream dials, accented with red segments to indicate the “danger zones”. Thinking laterally, RESERVOIR turned the dials on their sides, to be read vertically.

The dial on the left provided retrograde seconds, its scale marked 0-30, with the needle – or hand in this case – flying back every half-minute. The dial on the right was chosen for the date display, its indications marked 0-31, with a retrograde fly-back return at the end of the month. Both counters feature red segments to respect their muse, though there is no danger present.

The same background colour scheme employed by Luxman was retained as well for the Sonomaster Chronograph, the cream providing vivid contrast against the fine black scale. Both retrograde counters are sunken into the main dial, the added depth this creates further recalling the physical presence of VU meters set within an amplifier’s front panel.

The new RESERVOIR Sonomaster chronograph is sportier than the range’s precursor model, with a case and a bracelet made entirely of brushed 316L steel.

This 43mm stainless steel watch is powered by the new RSV-Bi120 watchmaking caliber: a bi-retrograde manufacture chronograph movement with automatic mechanical winding, and column wheel (base LJP-L1C0).

The open case-back reveals the automatic column wheel chronograph movement with a generous 60-hour power reserve.

The Reservoir Sonomaster Chronograph is available with two dial styles: Silver with Black and Black with Beige.

Technical details

Model: Reservoir Sonomaster Chronograph

Ref. RSV04.SN/136.SI.BA (Silver & Black)
Ref. RSV04.SN/136.BL.BA (Black & Beige)

316L stainless steel case with brushed finish
Diameter: 43mm
Crown inspired by amplifier control button
Push buttons inspired by bass and treble buttons
Domed anti-reflective sapphire crystal glass
Tachymeter bezel
360° Opened case-back
Water-resistance: 50m / 5ATM

Color: Black & beige/ silver & black
Hands with Superluminova

Caliber RSV-Bi120: manufacture bi-retrograde chronograph movement, automatic mechanical winding and column wheel (base LJP-8310)
60 hours power reserve
Frequency: 28,800 alt./h
Swiss Made

Chronograph (central second, 30-minute counter at 12, hour counter at 6)
Bi-Retrograde date and seconds at 120°
Hour and Minute

316L stainless steel bracelet with butterfly folding clasp

Available to order online and through a prestigious network of 70+ high-end stores and specialist retailers in 20+ countries

6,150 €TTC
5,600 £ including taxes
6’750 $ w/o taxes