SARO-Gem BuonGusto 43
A WatchCarefully Review
by C. Bradley Jacobs
Originally published in iW magazine
Most readers of watch magazines and on-line discussion boards are well aware of the majority of brands of mechanical watch on the market. Every now and then, however, it is exciting to discover a new line of watches from a brand that has snuck under the radar. For this writer, SARO-Gem, of Bettlach, Switzerland is one of these brands. I have only recently been introduced to its products and feel honored to have been given the opportunity by one of the brand’s executives to examine and review their limited edition BuonGusto 43 Jubilé chronograph (Ref. 432231.112028).
SARO-Gem’s roots lie with the von Burg family, current owner of the brand, who have been affiliated with the watch industry for nearly a century. Since 1982, the year of the brand’s founding, they have been building watches using Swiss suppliers exclusively. The name SARO is an acronym of Sapphire Round Over, the idea and processes conceived by company president Rolf von Burg as a method of making and protecting a beautiful watch. During the quarter century since the brand’s inception, they have registered many patents for their processes and have focused on the use of high-quality materials and the most modern techniques, thereby maintaining high quality and reliability. In 2006, SARO-Gem opened, in New York City, their luxury timepieces sales office for U.S. and Canada. According to Rolf von Burg, “Although we always have and always will offer standard models for distribution, our entry into the North American market brings our limited production models to a new audience. SARO-Gem customized watches are unique - customers can choose from thousands of variations because each unit is hand-assembled at the factory.” The company’s current models consist of the Carat, Carat AQ, Integral Dome, Cube, Excellence, and the BuonGusto 43 Jubilee Chronograph line.
The BuonGusto 43 Jubilé is a watch with a multitude of unusual and compelling features including two-tone case elements, diamond hour markers, a gold-flecked night sky dial, and a bracelet capped with patterned scratch-proof tiles. If this sounds like a busy mixture, I understand your reaction because my sentiments lie in the same direction (less is often more, after all) but this watch, with its myriad design elements pulls everything together nicely.
Before elaborating upon what it is that make this watch so remarkably different than other automatic chronographs on the market, let’s examine some of the features that make it worth consideration on the basis of general expectations. The watch is a modern size (43 mm diameter, thus the model designation) and utilizes a bold steel water-resistant (to 50M) case with sapphire crystals front and back. The bracelet features a hidden butterfly clasp, solid 22 mm end-pieces, and several removable links. A smooth-running and accurate 25-jewel Valjoux 7750 Platinum version—the industry standard for automatic chronographs—provides power. The dial features luminous paint for the hour markers and all the hands save that of the small seconds register. The date window is located where the 4:00 marker normally resides and it is nicely framed.
What makes this watch exceptional is a veritable shopping list of interesting features. The model reviewed and pictured herein incorporates a pleasing blend of three colors: silver, blue and black. Beginning with the dial, and working out to case elements and then the bracelet, it is clear that the brand’s designers have taken their objective of creating a distinctive luxury chronograph seriously. The stunning dial is a deep enamel blue, to which gold dust is added to create a night sky effect. Each dial is therefore unique and is carefully baked and printed with finely textured silver lettering. Baguette settings hold the eight diamonds in place; each watch is also accompanied by an appraisal report from the International Gemological Institute which describes not only the watch but also the grade of the diamonds, including cut, color and clarity.
According to SARO-Gem’s US Vice President of Sales, the case is hand-milled and the end-pieces of the bracelet are hand-milled, attached by soldering iron, and then baked to the case. All steel parts are INOX and the black finish on some components of this example is processed PVD. The case construction is modular and allows for gold or steel or color-coated parts such as the case back, chronograph pushers, and the narrow band between the bezel and case to be interchanged at assembly. SARO-Gem’s print and on-line catalogs (at www.saro-gem-usa.com) show a multitude of options available within this model line. Water resistance is ensured by dual gasket rings at the stem and by precision-machined case parts and the entire construction was designed with ease of servicing in mind.
The most interesting element visually is perhaps the scratchproof sapphire tiles that sit atop the thin steel bracelet links. Making these sapphire plates in correct dimensions to fit the bracelet requires roughly 60 steps, and any gold or palladium is added in a vacuum. The example shown here includes inset stripes of 18k white gold whose cresent-moon motif is etched in a separate process. Finally, these tiles are applied with a special glue which can expand and contract long after being assembled--800 pounds of pull force won't remove a plate from the band. SARO-Gem rightly asserts that the resulting radiance and reflection give the appearance of mirror polish with the advantage of being virtually scratch-proof. The company also claims that the use of the sapphire and steel combination allows not only strength and scratch resistance but, based upon customer feedback, dissipates body heat which can make traditional steel bracelets uncomfortable or damage traditional leather or rubber straps. SARO-Gem correspondence indicated that “customers have found a great difference in wearing the watch and attributed that to the band and overall feel.” Also of note is the fact that the removable bracelet links are each numbered sequentially.
The elaborate construction of these components could falsely give the reader a sense that this is a bulky and uncomfortable watch; this is far from the truth. The bracelet is a mere 2.5 mm thick and it tapers in width from 22 mm at the case to 16 mm at the clasp. The watch itself is under 14 mm thick and utilizes a domed crystal and curves on the case sides, bezel and back to achieve an aesthetically very pleasing appearance of trimness. On this particular model, the dark dial and case components also add to the sense of compactness making this a watch easily worn even by watch enthusiasts whose wrists are not bulky. It is a svelte and sexy timepiece.
This example watch was not tested for accuracy, but periodic comparisons with the official US government on-line clock showed no noticeable deviations over more than 48 hours—the timekeeping appears to be roughly within chronometer standards under normal conditions. Luminosity of the hands and markers is excellent. Perhaps the most impressive feature of this watch is the 10-year guarantee which covers the movement, case, bracelet and gemstones. As one would expect for a watch with MSRP of around $8500 US, the packaging is top-notch and each model is individually numbered on the case back. A two-tone leather-upholstered inner box is embossed in gold with the brand name. The cardboard outer box also contained the appraisal, diamond certificate, warranty card and descriptive literature.
This is a distinctive timepiece, aimed at the connoisseur of gemstones and fine timepieces, as well as the watch lover who seeks something unlikely to be spotted on another man’s wrist. The BuonGusto’s combination of stunning dial elements with high-tech construction and scratch-proof components make it unique among its peers in the luxury chronograph market. SARO-Gem US is located at:
1040 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10018
Text and some images © C. Bradley Jacobs, WatchCarefully.com; other images provided by SARO-Gem