And now for something completely different!

It’s not often that you come across something that’s genuinely left-field, but here’s a good example of blue sky thinking: or should that be ciel bleu thinking? Because is a French company based in Paris but making watches in Switzerland, taking inspiration from a number of automotive, marine and aeronautical themes, while interpreting them in a quite different way to everyone else.

We’ve been fortunate to spend some time with a couple of watches that showcase what Reservoir’s ample catalogue is all about. Straight out of the box, these are watches that are very easy to admire and feel a special connection with – for reasons that will become apparent. If we had to choose just one word to describe them, it would be “distinctive” – but in a good, rather than self-conscious, way.

Who is Reservoir?

Reservoir was founded in Paris in 2015 by former banker Francois Moreau, and from the beginning, it was clear that the company wanted to be very different. The central tenet of all the watches is a single hand, showcasing a retrograde minute display that’s designed to mimic a dial in a car, aircraft, or submarine. This is allied to a jumping hour window (which shows the hour digitally – by which we mean a mechanical number, rather than an LCD screen). Finally, there’s a unique power reserve indicator: another retrograde read-out, which looks a bit like a traditional fuel gauge. And no surprise there, because in French, reservoir also means ‘fuel tank’. The company’s logo – a square with a short line coming off each corner – echoes the shape often imprinted onto jerry cans, seen particularly on Jeeps during the Second World War.

365体育网站So Reservoir’s philosophy encapsulates a genuinely successful blend of ancient and modern: something that’s often talked about by many watchmakers but achieved cohesively by relatively few. As the French company put it themselves: “Reservoir takes its inspiration from the functionalities and aesthetic appeal of measurement instruments of days gone by.”

365体育网站You see that instantly with every timepiece they make – and here are two that we got to know a bit better. We’d definitely like to see more in future.

The Reservoir Longbridge Club in 39mm

365体育网站For ‘Longbridge’, read ‘Mini’. The Longbridge factory, near Birmingham in the UK, was the facility that produced the original classic Mini from 1959 until production ceased in October 2000. The Mini was a vehicle that revolutionised the concept of how small cars are engineered and packaged, thanks to the visionary genius of its designer Alec Issigonis. This Longbridge watch is a tribute to the Mini, but for licensing reasons, it can’t use that name: instead it references the iconic factory.

365体育网站The watch comes in a variety of different dial colours with a steel case, and there are few different strap options as well. But what they all have in common is a dial that looks exactly like the big central speedometer of the original Mini: a feature that is so synonymous with the car that BMW even adopted it when they launched the new Mini (producing more than 10 million examples to date).

365体育网站Anyone who has driven a classic Mini and associated it with fun times (and there are many of us, from myself to Princess Anne to the Beatles) will feel an instant connection with this watch, which is a key part of its appeal. Not only are the numbers in the exact font – as far as anyone can tell, anyway – of the original Smiths speedometer, but the fuel gauge (aka power reserve) is also in exactly the same place. It’s like a Mini speedometer that you wear on your wrist.

And now we move onto my favourite detail. There’s a blue and a green jewel set on either side of the power reserve, which precisely echoes the main beam and indicator warning lights found on the original Mini. It’s a charming touch, and while avoiding kitsch in all its forms is a good idea, I did find myself wishing that they would actually light up…

The Longbridge highlights the trio of Reservoir hallmarks talked about previously (jumping hour, retrograde minute hand and power reserve) while the movement is a tried-and-trusted Swiss-made ETA unit. The feel of the watch on the wrist is excellent, and an interesting option is the green dial (delivering an instant association with British motoring) complete with a green leather strap. For that model only, the green jewel is substituted for a red one (an evocation of the Mini’s battery light) so that it stands out. But for the real old Mini look and feel, it has to be a black dial.

Those wanting a larger watch can also opt for the 41.5-millimetre version in rose gold or palladium – which obviously carry a premium price. For the standard Longbridge Club, there are also ladies’ versions available.

Specs:

Case width: 39mm
Movement: ETA 2824-2
Case Material: Stainless steel
Bracelet: Leather strap with NATO option, quick release spring bars for easy strap swap
Complications: Retrograde minutes, jumping hour, power reserve
Price: Starts from
Supercharged classic red zone 43mm

Reservoir Supercharged Classic Red Zone

365体育网站Being in the red zone is never normally a good thing, but we might make an exception for this watch. It’s a limited edition of 250 pieces and much bigger than the Longbridge, coming in at 43mm. This makes it an imposing timepiece, but there’s a coherent story there too: the rev counter, which this watch echoes, is often the most prominent instrument on any classic car as it's crucial to the life and death of the whole unit. That’s why the ‘red zone’ is always marked so prominently – back in the days before rev limiters ensured that drivers can’t do any damage.

365体育网站One again the Supercharged features a single hand for the minutes, as well as the characteristic jumping hour and power reserve displayed in their own separate quadrants. There’s a classic version of the Supercharged (with a white dial and no red zone) plus a sport version (featuring a black dial) as well. The red zone variant has numerals every five minutes rather than 10, and there’s a sport declination of the red zone as well with a black dial. None of these designs are in any way gratuitous, as they don’t detract from the primary purposes of telling the time. In fact, there’s a strong argument to be made that telling the time is even easier here than on a conventional two-hand watch. The red zone version seen here is the busiest of the watches, but perhaps the most loyal to its theme, making it the pick of the bunch.

365体育网站The hand itself is a beautifully thin, almost ethereal, structure, calling to mind the elegant dials seen on vintage pre-war cars such as the mighty Bugattis and Bentleys of the 1920s and 1930s (often with white backgrounds). These cars were also often supercharged – with compressor force-feeding the engine air to deliver more power – hence the name of this unique watch collection.

Not only were the cars themselves enormous back then, but also the dials: another reason for the larger diameter on this eye-catching timepiece.

Specs:

Case width: 43mm
Movement: ETA 2824-2, 37-hour power reserve
Case Material: Stainless steel
Bracelet: Black calf leather strap with NATO option, quick release spring bars for easy strap swap
Complications: Retrograde minutes, jumping hour, power reserve
Price: Starts from

Final thoughts

For those who are into cars and watches – specifically, the classic Mini, or older supercharged vintage cars – these are excellent choices. Reservoir has seized upon a theme and executed it perfectly, delivering quality and value at the same time. For those looking to add something slightly more esoteric to their watch collections, Reservoir is highly recommended.

365体育网站To find out more about Reservoir watches,