Hands-On With The Prim Masaryk L.E. Two unusual one-handers from Czech Republic by Tomas Rosputinsky May 06, 2020 MIN READHands-On With The Prim Masaryk L.E.
If you thought Meistersinger is the only cool one-hander out there, PRIM Masaryk and Prokop & Broz Single Hand will prove you wrong.
When I saw a shot of the Prim Masaryk for the first time, I was at my watchmaker’s workshop. I instantly forced my phone in front of my watchmaker’s face and told him that the new Prim watch looks like it has just one hand. I meant it as a joke. It was only after I looked at it again that I realized it actually really is a one-handed watch. Prim hasn’t had such a watch for seven decades. I had to know more.
Prim Masaryk L.E.
The idea is pretty simple. Most one-handers use the tip of the hand to show both the hours and minutes at the same time. In other words, it is a time ring on the dial that does the trick. Prim Masaryk breaks the stereotype here and hits the ball out of the park. One hand still has two ends, right? While normally the central hand rotates around the dial once in twelve hours, the ring on the shorter part of the hand rotates above the hour numbers printed unusually in the middle of the snow-white dial. The longer part of the hand points to the outside minute track, divided into five-minute intervals. The longest represent the full hour, the middle ones refer to 30 minutes and the shortest ones to 15 or 45 minutes.
I understand that this Prim Masaryk L.E. might be a very polarizing watch. With opinions ranging anywhere between “it is useless and hard to read nonsense” to “what a simple creative blast”. After a week on my wrist, I am definitely leaning more towards the latter. Honestly, it’s been a while since I’ve had so much fun with a modern, fully manual wound watch. And, quite amazingly, after two days I got fully used to the unusual dial and hand.
Another limited edition?!
The Czech watch company with a rich heritage was recently reborn, often surprising its loyal base of customers with very limited collections that usually run to only around 100 pieces each. Last year’s limited edition of Prim Aviatik was priced at a stunning €5,000 and sold out easily. Even though Prim already has independent representation in Japan and its international customer base is slowly growing, Prim limited editions are often tied to local Czech events or historical figures. A pretty bold strategy that I really like, not only because I live close to the Czech borders.
First Czechoslovak President
Venturing outside “usual” historic events such as WW2 or notoriously known musicians, singers, actors, or sportsmen takes guts. Czech Prim has been doing it for years and has started getting international credit for it as well. Besides fine watchmaking, the brand has taken it upon itself to spread the word about local heroes. One of them was the first Czechoslovak President, Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk. To quote Wikipedia, „with the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918, the Allies recognized Masaryk as head of the provisional Czechoslovak government. On 14 November that year, Masaryk was elected the president of Czechoslovakia by the National Assembly in Prague while he was in New York. On 22 December, Masaryk publicly denounced the Germans in Czechoslovakia as settlers and colonists. Masaryk was re-elected three times. On March 7th, 2020 it was 170 years exactly since he was born. The red initials TGM and code number 1850 symbolizing his birth year now make much more sense.
Prim Masaryk’s decency is probably the biggest magnet attracting my heart.
What I really like is the elegance of the dial. Everything could be bigger, but it is not. The 1850 and TGM are no bold statements or striking signatures, they seem much more like technical code. Pure facts. In a symbolic way, this kind of typeface encapsulates the role of a politician fighting for national freedom in times, that we who live in peace and abundance can barely imagine. True political heroes of occupied countries often lived in exile, hidden, looking for very sophisticated ways of striking back. The dial of the Prim Masaryk is nothing but that and its decency is probably the biggest magnet attracting my heart.
A bit of Bauhaus
Anytime I look at the dial, I see simple Bauhaus lines. Everything redundant has been dropped. Watch case essentials remain essential. The 39mm diameter is tastefully dressy, the high polish makes the Prim Masaryk shine with any cuff. Would you expect fancy curly fonts to commemorate the first Czechoslovak president on the dial? Forget it. The sans serif font makes it very up-to-date even for tomorrow’s teenagers.
Unexpected turn of events
Don’t think of the Prim Masaryk as being your wedding (or funeral) watch that you wear only twice a year. Look at the case from the side and you will be surprised by the quite daring and steep sloping lines in a matte finish. If you’d hide the Prim branding, my guess would be that I am looking at some young hot-sh*t Kickstarter release. It is actually a result of Prim’s cooperation with the Olgoj Chorchoj design studio. The giant state sign of the first Czechoslovak Republic is a spectacular piece of art. Especially when there is nothing else. Literally no other line, just one single “Limited edition 001/100”.
Crown and movement
The crown is pretty invisible when you look at it from the top, but it plays a dominant role when you turn the Masaryk around. It has a long, unusual cylinder shape. Frankly, the thin and small crown doesn’t offer the most comfortable winding experience, but considering the Prim Masaryk has a pretty dressy attitude, it‘s acceptable. Other than the crown and dial visual, it’s what’s under the hood that makes me excited. Prim opted for their in-house caliber 93 with 17 jewels, first introduced in 2013. A manual wind movement was the best choice for the Masaryk L.E., highlighting the consistent and strong aura of the watch. Given the renowned reliability and indestructibility of Prim calibers, Masaryk owners get a life-long watch.
The hand looks like a miniature of a wooden prism torn off of some Bauhaus (again!) building.
There is something about it. It isn’t just some random hand. And I’m not referring only to its length and the ring at the end. The hand is super thin when you look at it from the top. If you look at it from an angle, a tall mass starts coming off the crystal. It looks like a miniature of a wooden prism torn off of some Bauhaus (again!) building. The light blue reflections are addictive. The fine leather strap that comes with it is surprisingly gentle and comfortable. Notice the white-red-blue stitching at one side that symbolizes the Czech flag. Another thoughtful detail. Prim Masaryk is light and wears comfortably. Additionally, it looks just fine with a shirt or shorts.
Prokop & Broz Single Hand
It’s been a week and I still don’t have anything to complain about with the Masaryk. I tried to wind the Masaryk again today to confirm its weak spot, but I am afraid we are becoming friends with the crown. Is the €3,500 price tag for the Masaryk justifiable? If you don’t think so, you aren’t alone. I am afraid neither you, nor COVID-19 will stop the Masaryk from selling out quickly anyway. Well, the last standing objection might come from those who prefer the (very similar) Single Hand by Prokop & Broz.
It’s a fact that Prokop & Broz’s Single Hand model (that I didn’t know about before writing this article), has been in production for years. With its 43mm case and a magnifying hour hand, it’s even more of a statement. I spoke to Mr. Prokop and he admitted that he was a bit surprised when he saw the Masaryk in the Prim portfolio. The similarities are undeniable, but the two designs are not so similar that individuals will have a clear favorite between the two.
I haven’t had the Single Hand by Prokop & Broz on my wrist (yet), but it is 3-4mm wider in diameter and has an automatic movement. The Prokop & Broz sits in a slightly higher category and customers have to pay an extra €1,200 to €1,500 on top of the €3,500 that the Prim retails for. Would you go for a custom production watch by a micro brand or for the more established Prim with a presidential story and limited 100 pieces run? If you are asking me, I am afraid I would accommodate both. Learn more about Prim here.
Brand PRIM ModelMasaryk L.E.Reference93-004-497-00-01DialWhite, printedCase MaterialStainless steel 316LCase Dimensions40mm (45,7 mm with lugs)CrystalSapphire spherical with anti-reflectionCase BackWithout view throughMovementPRIM caliber 93Water Resistance5 ATMStrapFine black calf leather strapFunctionsOne-hander (Single hand watch)Price€3,500Special Note(s)Limited edition /100 pcs Watch of the Week
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About the author
During the day time, Tomas is an entrepreneur in the advertising, automotive and IT software industries. At night he turns into a watch enthusiast searching for quirky movements or vintage pieces with strong stories behind. Tomas was born and bred… read more
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