Technik 4X: the vision of an independent watchmaker

Wrist Watch

It is unlikely that many of us will buy an Andreas Strehler, Romain Gaultier or Christophe Claret watch: they cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, are made in a few copies, and orders are scheduled for years in advance.

But you don’t need hundreds of thousands of dollars and years of waiting to experience the work of an independent watchmaker with a special, unusual vision. Meet Hans Peter Grödel and his Technik 4X watch!

Master Grödel. 50 years in the watch world

Hans Peter Grödel is a Swiss watchmaker, engineer and designer. For almost 50 years he developed components for European, Japanese and American watches, and also participated in the creation of the Sector brand. In 1999, together with his brother, he founded the Formex company and began creating watches, inspired by auto and motorsports.

For Formex, Hans Peter came up with a number of innovative solutions. For example, a spring-loaded case that “floated” relative to the lugs fit comfortably on any hand and could absorb shocks, and a “motorcycle watch” with a rotating case made it possible to set a comfortable viewing angle, even when the hand rests on the steering wheel. Grödel is also sometimes called one of the forerunners of the instrumental style, which became popular in the 2000s thanks to Richard Mille watches.

In 2015 Formex was sold to a new owner. Thanks to this, Grödel finally had time to develop his idea for a completely new watch, and in 2021 he introduced his own brand, Technik 4X.

Technik 4X. More than ecology

Any Technik 4X watch immediately catches your eye with two separate dials and two crowns. Of course, Grödel is not the first to implement two time zones using separate calibers - we can, for example, recall the Epos 3400 with two ETA 2671:

But usually two calibers mean two mechanics or two quartz. And Grödel combined an automatic caliber with a solar-powered quartz caliber! Technik 4X is committed to sustainability. The “solar” battery is changed several times less often than conventional batteries, and the automatic caliber is generally “charged” by the owner’s movements - the Powered by Clean Energy inscription at the bottom of the dial does not let you forget about this. Additionally, the watch is made from recycled materials and the box is made from recycled cardboard.

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But is ecology the main thing here? After all, for the sake of environmental friendliness alone, it is more rational to choose any mechanical watch with a second time zone - you don’t even have to replace the battery. No, it seems that Technik 4X has something else more interesting: a new, very personal look at watches.

Let's say, Andreas Schlächter came up with the remontoire, Romain Gautier came up with the fusée, and Christophe Claret came up with the chronograph. Their ideas did not bring a dramatic improvement in performance compared to the conventional production Rolex. But their watches are chosen not for the sake of dry numbers of characteristics, but for the sake of something more: the handiwork of a master on each watch, the beauty and novelty of the ideas embedded in the caliber. In this, Technik 4X is conceptually reminiscent of them (adjusted for the price range of Master Grödel’s watches): the brand’s DNA is not utilitarianism, but a different look and an original personal choice.

Technik 4X feels connected to the world of watches and the history of Grödel himself. For example, the outlines of the cases remind me of Konstantin Chaykin’s Wristmons series, and the Skeletor long bridge with mechanisms hanging in the void is the Golden Bridge watch, invented by Vincent Calabrese in the 70s for Corum.

The steel body, to which the lower lug section is attached with four screws, looks like a throwback to the shock-absorbing Formex bodies invented by Grödel at the turn of the millennium. And the combination of mechanics with a battery-electric motor seems to rediscover the theme of “auto sports” watches of the 2000s - but through the prism of the 2020s, when hybrid engines became a global trend.

Technik 4X range

Technik 4X identifies six models - but in fact these are six versions of the same model, differing in design (plus different colors for each version). In Skeletor, the plate with two movements hangs in a void, and the space above and below it is transparent. The Skeletor Pro features metallic stripes on the rear window, reminiscent of a "teak deck". The Radiator has a dial in the form of metal “blinds”, and the Radiator Pro has these blinds filled with phosphor and glows effectively in the dark.

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In Globe, a plate with mechanisms hangs above the globe, also applied to the rear window. And in the limited edition MOP (Mother of Pearl) it is decorated with mother-of-pearl.

Structurally, the watches are similar to each other, and they are equally convenient to use. Uncluttered dials, sapphire crystal with 10-layer anti-reflective glass and “super luminova” (Swiss luminescent coating) on ​​the hands ensure good readability, even in the light or in the dark. The second crown looks more archaic than the synchronized second time button, the push-button second belt setting in the Japanese Multi-Motor Quartz, or the light setting in the Longines Conquest VHP GMT. But it’s easier to use - everything is intuitive.

The watch is large (44,5 mm) - more likely to fit a man's hand than a woman's. But they are not thick (11,45 mm) and have short lugs, so they fit comfortably on the wrist. The weight is also comfortable - 138 grams on the steel bracelet and less than 90 grams on the included nylon strap.

The company should be praised separately for the straps: the standard width is 20 mm, standard fastening and a quick-change system allow you to play around with straps from third-party manufacturers. And thanks to the 50 m water resistance, you can safely wear the watch at home and not be afraid of drowning it when washing your hands.

Hybrid under the hood

All Technik 4X have the same mechanisms, and Grödel was wise in their choice. The mechanical part is handled by the NH05B, a miniature automatic caliber from the Japanese company Seiko, which is usually used in women's models. It has a full-size rotor, but given that the small movement is built into a large overall plate, from behind the “transparent” versions of the Technik 4X look like more expensive watches with a micro rotor. This impression is further enhanced by rhodium plating and Geneva waves on platinum. For example, this is what Skeletor Pro looks like:

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In terms of characteristics, the caliber of stars from the sky is not enough - just a workhorse. There is a date, manual winding and a stop second to accurately set the time. The power reserve, according to various sources, is 40-50 hours, and the average daily error is from -35 to +55 seconds per day (knowing Seiko, we can say for sure: these numbers are reinsurance, and in reality the watch is much more accurate).

Epson's solar caliber VS17A is part of the Seiko group. The accuracy is within ±20 seconds per month. To fully charge the battery, 4 hours in the sun is enough, after which the VS17A can walk in the dark for six months. The watch will warn you when the energy is running out: the second hand will begin to jump through divisions. In theory, the battery will last 8-10 years, in practice - most likely, much longer.

Results. Advantages and disadvantages

+ Unusual watches from an independent Swiss watchmaker at a reasonable price.
+ High quality (look at the clean lines of the cases and carefully crafted dials).
+ Common calibers can be repaired/replaced without problems even after the warranty expires.
+ Very easy to use second time zone.
+ Original design that will attract attention.
~ Development of a Swiss engineer, mechanisms of a Japanese company, Chinese production (in fact, that’s why the price is reasonable).
— Two small dials are less readable than one full-size one, and not everyone needs a second belt.

In other words: for those who prefer non-trivial watches and know why they need a second time zone, Hans Peter Grödel's Technik 4X will be a very interesting option.