The stampede of right-sized watch continues, and I think we’re all better for it. Don’t get me wrong, there are some watches that need to be big, like grand complications and anything the cast of The Expendables wears. But for years, watch lovers were inundated with oversized versions of every type of watch, from dress to field to pilot to chronograph, few if any of which needed to be so large. The pendulum is swinging back toward rational proportions, though (here’s hoping someone grabs it and fixes it in the right place), and brands like Carl F. Bucherer are responding. In an expansion of its Manero line, the brand released the Carl F. Bucherer Manero Flyback chronograph in 40mm. Reining in its 43mm forebear, the new model presents small refinements and a slew of color options for an eminently wearable automatic chronograph.
The Carl F. Bucherer Manero Flyback has always been a classically styled chronograph with a dash of sportiness, and that hasn’t changed with the 40mm model. Let me say right here that this is more or less the 43mm shrunk down. The changes that have been made are near inconsequential, but the most substantial—obviously—is the case. Now at 40mm-wide and 48.5mm lug-to-lug, the case retains the original’s 14.45mm height. When I got this piece in and shared it with some friends online, I was met with some who thought it was (or would be) too thick. But I can say, after spending time with it on my wrist, that while it is by no means slight, it wears very well for an automatic chronograph. To be sure, compared to some of the 16mm+ monstrosities that brands insist on putting out these days, it’s practically dainty.
The styling of the case itself strikes a balance between elegance and sportiness, with fully polished, rounded sides and a brushed top separated by a polished ribbon chamfer, which gives the case a bit of character. The interior edge of the lugs and the bezel are also polished, and the box sapphire crystal works well with the rest of the case; a flat sapphire would’ve been a bit too modern, while a simple domed option feels like it would be too plain for the rest of the watch. The pump pushers and pull-out crown all work well, the crown winds smoothly, and the pushers have a satisfying actuation. The curve of the lugs does a lot to help this watch wear well, though it’s a bit disappointing that they are 21mm—not ideal for most strap collections, and somewhat perplexing on a 40mm case. The strap itself is a highlight. It’s made from recycled vegan materials and matched to the color of the subdials; the material has a feel of soft canvas or woven polyester on top and leather on the back. It’s attached with quick-release pins and features a secure and quite comfortable folding deployant strap with push buttons integrated into the pin buckle (which features a pin that locks into place). In my experience with recycled and vegan material straps, I’ve been underwhelmed with the comfort and frustrated with the break-in period. The strap on this Carl F. Bucherer Manero Flyback, on the other hand, was easy to size and immediately comfortable on the wrist. No word yet on whether the brand will remake the bracelet from the 43mm model, but here’s hoping.
The new model comes with one’s choice of panda dial with blue, green, or red subdials, or solid black or silver dial (which feature rose gold-toned indices). The dial is kept relatively simple, with a two-register layout with running seconds at 9 o’clock and a 30-minute chronograph counter at 3 o’clock. The strong dose of color against the bright sunburst silver dial offers excellent contrast while remaining sophisticated—this isn’t some 1970s throwback with a rainbow of color on the dial. I’m fond of this red option, as it’s far less common than the blue and green, which have become almost predictable at this point (and I’m indifferent about the black and silver dials). The recessed subdials have a grooved finishing that I wish were a bit pronounced; it’s barely noticeable on the wrist and even in macro shots, one has to squint a bit to see it.
The rest of the dial is straightforward: a tachymeter scale around the periphery, polished beveled arrow markers, and a beveled date window at 6 o’clock. There’s a great sense of balance and proportion to the new Manero Flyback dial, with no numbers or markers being cut off, no floating date window, and all the fonts and markings just right. There are two main changes that have been made to the dial. The first is the removal of a circle tracing the arc created by the interior ends of the indices. This omission cleans up the dial and also removes the frame from the date window, meaning it isn’t made to stand out unnecessarily. The other change is to the dauphine handset. While the subdials still feature the cutout hands from the larger model, Carl F. Bucherer Manero Flyback has filled the hour and minute hands with Super-LumiNova. This ostensibly adds more practicality to the watch, but the lume is mediocre, and, as such, I wonder if it might have made more sense to leave them as they were or replace them with solid, beveled hands.
The new Manero Flyback 40mm sports the CFB 1973, an entirely new module for the brand using a Sellita base movement. The previous 43mm models used a La Joux-Perret-produced movement, but this new caliber ups the ante. With a layout and proportions that suit the smaller dial of the 40mm model, the CFB 1973 has an improved power reserve of 56 hours at 28,800 vph and four additional jewels for a total of 29. Seen through a sapphire display caseback, the automatic movement features blued screws and sparing use of perlage on the plates, with a custom rotor. It also features a blued column wheel for the integrated chronograph, as well as modification to allow for flyback functionality. While LJP makes great movements (and has recently started going toe-to-toe with Sellita and ETA), the Sellita base of the CFB1973 gives assurance of the movement’s reliability.