Hello everyone, and welcome to another Singaporean review! On this shiok Sunday, I’m reviewing the best selling Ultramatic watch from German/Swiss watch microbrand, Manufaktur Waldhoff.
The Ultramatic is undeniably Manufaktur Waldhoff’s flagship model – it’s a tourbillon watch! Yet, unlike most tourbillon watches, the Ultramatic is priced relatively affordably at well under $1000 USD. Let’s see if it’s any good!
Manufaktur Waldhoff Ultramatic – the Brand
I’ve previously reviewed the Manufaktur Waldhoff Capital, in which I covered the brand in detail. If you would like to learn more about their brand story, do read the article here!
Manufaktur Waldhoff Ultramatic – Build Quality
For the price, I have to say that the specifications of the Ultramatic is stellar.
Firstly, the Manufaktur Waldhoff Ultramatic utilises a flat sapphire crystal. As aforementioned numerous times in my previous reviews, I’m a huge advocate of sapphire crystal due to their inherent scratch-resisting properties. Personally, I always look for sapphire crystal in my modern watches as it adds greatly to the durability of the watch. Furthermore, there’s also an internal AR coating on the underside of the sapphire crystal to prevent the bulk of nasty reflections! Elsewhere, the WR rating for the Ultramatic is stated at 50M, which should render it safe for most everyday activities – just don’t bring it to the pool!
Undoubtedly, the key calling card of the Ultramatic is its tourbillon movement. It’s not just some generic Chinese “tourbillon” movement one sees in some of the other affordable tourbillon watches – this is a Peacock 5212 Co-Axial Tourbillon movement! As I’ve mentioned in my review of the Atelier Wen Hao, Peacock is one of the bigger Chinese movement manufacturers, known for supplying ebauches to the Swiss. As such, their movements are known to be subjected to high quality control, with all movements tested before being sent out. Some specifications for the movement: it’s automatic, beats at 21600 bph, has a power reserve of 40 hours, features 29 jewels, and of course, a co-axial tourbillon (which Manufaktur Waldhoff claim is individually handcrafted). For the uninitiated, the tourbillon is essentially a complication whereby the escapement and balance wheel are mounted on a rotating cage in order to negate the effects of gravity (which could significantly impact a movement’s accuracy, especially in pocket watches). For more information on the horological masterpiece that is the tourbillon, do read this fantastic article that I found here. Whilst it can be said that the tourbillon today is much more form than function, it is definitely still a horological work of art, one that is absolutely mesmerising to look at.
There are a lot of online watch brands out there that advertises their watches as “tourbillons”, when it’s nothing more than a jazzed up open heart. A legit tourbillon (as seen in the video above) should rotate 360 degrees, completing one full rotating in a minute. It is this mesmerizing beauty of viewing the balance wheel being spun in a rotating cage that many pay 5, if not 6, figures for.
Given that the Peacock 5212 Co-Axial Tourbillon movement is a Chinese one, I’m sure many would be concerned/wondering about its accuracy. I’ve put the watch on a timegrapher, and I’m pleased to report that the movement is actually within COSC standards (-4s/d), with 0.0ms beat error! The amplitude looks really healthy as well. That’s incredible, and speaks volumes of Manufaktur Waldhoff’s quality control.
Whilst it is laudable that Manufaktur Waldhoff has managed to incorporate a high quality tourbillon movement in the Ultramatic, they inevitably had to cut corners to keep the price down – and the strap is an obvious victim. The strap here is the same one that came with the Capital – it’s Genuine Leather (the lowest quality tier for leather), has a cardboardy inner lining, and the embossing on the strap looks cheap as well. It does come with a nicely finished deployant clasp, but overall it’s unfortunately a sub-par strap. Whilst I could forgive the strap quality on the much more affordable Capital, I definitely expected better on a ~ $900 USD watch. I promptly swapped out the default strap for a handmade alligator strap, and I must say the watch instantly looked much better! Definitely go for a third party option on this one.
To top things off, there’s also lume on the Manufaktur Waldhoff Ultramatic! However, it’s not Swiss Superluminova, but rather Swiss TriTec. As such, it’s rather average in its luminosity. Furthermore, only the primary and sub-dial hands are lumed – the indices are not. However, given that the Ultramatic is billed as a dress watch, it’s by no means a deal breaker. It’s definitely not a key selling point of the watch, but it’s there if you need it.
Overall, the specifications of the Manufaktur Waldhoff Ultramatic punches way above its sub-$1000 USD price point due to one key reason – its automatic co-axial tourbillon movement. To my knowledge, it’s the most affordable automatic co-axial tourbillon watch in the market!
Manufaktur Waldhoff Ultramatic – Design
Whilst it’s easy to get lost in the magic of the tourbillon, the design of the Ultramatic is no slouch either!
The dial of the Ultramatic is meticulously executed. Firstly, there’s depth to the dial. The dial is incredibly layered, with recessed sub-dials as well as a raised outer sector which features applied indices. I particularly like the texture of the sub-dials – the left sub-dial (indicating the power reserve) is skeletonised, while the right sub dial (indicating 24 hours) resembles a globe. The texture continues at the top, whereby a striking sunray pattern (which plays brilliantly with light) emanates from the brand logo. As I mentioned way back in my review of the Arcturus Lion City 1, I’m a sucker for watches with depth and texture, and the Ultramatic definitely possess both!
Put the Manufaktur Waldhoff Ultramatic under a loupe and it shines even further. The various details of the dial pops, and it is clear that it is finished to a high standard – indices are aligned to the printed numerals, text is printed clearly, edges are bevelled, brushed and polished nicely. Nevertheless, the key draw of the dial, the aspect which immediately draws one’s eyes is undoubtedly the co-axial tourbillon at 6 o’clock. Manufaktur Waldhoff knows it too – the tourbillon takes up almost half the dial! It’s certainly a sight to behold, viewing the intricately crafted tourbillon movement works its magic. It also adds so much depth to the watch as well! An open-worked balance wheel can’t hold a candle to the majesty of the tourbillon.
Nonetheless, nothing is perfect. If I were to change anything about the dial, it would be the (in my opinion) superfluous text. As I stated in my review of the Monsieur Ranomo, I’m not a fan of text on the dial that states the obvious. In the case of the Ultramatic, the word “tourbillon” appears on the dial not once, but twice, which in my opinion is overkill. I know that it is a tourbillon – the huge rotating balance wheel at the bottom gives it away. I highly doubt that anyone buying the Ultramatic would not know that it is a tourbillon. The meaningless text is not a deal breaker, it just feels a tad amateurish. One would never find the word “tourbillon” on a Richard Mille/Patek Phillipe/Audemars Piguet watch, for example. In addition, I’m not a fan of the 4 screws present on the dial. It adds a utilitarian look to the watch, which feels out of place given that the Ultramatic is meant as a dress wheel. Omitting the screws would have led to a cleaner, sleeker look.
Moving on, the stainless steel case of the Ultramatic is rather simply finished, consisting mainly of polished surfaces. It does however feature an interesting coin-edged texture, very reminiscent of the aforementioned Arcturus LC1. There’s also a signed crown, grooved for better grip when hand-winding the watch.
The caseback is rather spartan as well, mainly consisting of some relevant specifications of the watch. It does however feature a sapphire exhibition caseback, through which one can view the well finished tourbillon movement. There are blued screws, and a wonderful custom rotor with perlage decoration. Definitely one of the better finished movements I’ve seen in sub-$1000 USD watches till date!
The Manufaktur Waldhoff Ultramatic is on the large side of life at 42.5mm wide, but it just about fits my scrawny 7 inch wrist. It is also a tad thick at 13.5mm, but it’s beefier than usual dimensions (for a dress watch) is to be expected given the incorporation of a tourbillon movement. Overall, it’s not the most svelte dress watch in the market, but it’s not overly huge either – the Ultramatic should wear fine for most people.
All in all, I think the Manufaktur Waldhoff Ultramatic does a lot of things right. Unlike most other affordable tourbillon watches, the Ultramatic does not skimp on the design. There’s depth, there’s differing textures, and the entire watch is mostly finished well with a bevy of finishing techniques used. I wish Manufaktur Waldhoff toned back a tad on the superfluous text, but as a whole it’s still a very compelling design.
Shootout: Manufaktur Waldhoff Ultramatic vs Lenvino Tour 02
If you’re looking at affordable tourbillon watches under $1000 USD, one of the most credible alternatives would be the Lenvino Tour 02.
In terms of specifications, I would say that the Manufaktur Waldhoff Ultramatic edges out the Lenvino Tour 02. Whilst both watches utilises sapphire crystal, the Ultramatic’s Peacock 5212 co-axial tourbillon movement features additional complications (such as a power reserve indicator and a 24 hour indicator) and is also automatic. In contrast, Lenvino’s Seagull TY800 movement is time-only, and is manual winding. Furthermore, the Ultramatic also possesses Swiss Tritec lume, though that is unlikely to make a difference in daily usage.
From an aesthetic point of view, the Ultramatic clearly trounces the Tour 02 for me. The Tour 02 comes across as bare-bones – the sandblasted dial is spartan, and the raised minute track is generic. Furthermore, the painted hands ruins the watch – it makes the entire watch looks cheap. In contrast, the design of the Ultramatic comes across as polished. There’s definitely much more thought poured into the aesthetics of the Ultramatic, therefore resulting in a watch that has more depth and texture. It is better finished as well, and feels a class (if not multiple classes) above the Tour 02.
Given that both watches can be had for a similar amount, my winner would definitely be the Manufaktur Waldhoff Ultramatic given it’s better specifications and design.
Conclusion – so the Manufaktur Waldhoff Ultramatic “shiok” or not?
Hell yes. I mean – it’s an automatic tourbillon watch for under $1000 USD. As I mentioned earlier, the Manufaktur Waldhoff Ultramatic is (to my knowledge) the most affordable automatic tourbillon watch in the market currently. Yet, unlike most other affordable tourbillon watches, the design of the Ultramatic is no slouch either. It’s intricate, detailed, well-finished, and chock-full of depth and texture. Altogether, it’s a great value proposition.
For those interested, the promo code “WAHSOSHIOK” would grant you a whooping 30% off all Manufaktur Waldhoff watches! After the promo code, the Ultramatic would cost just $909 USD/ ~S$1255. While that’s still a substantial amount, it places a well-made tourbillon watch within the reach of the masses. Given that the cheapest Swiss-made tourbillon costs almost 20 times of the Manufaktur Waldhoff Ultramatic, that’s quite a remarkable feat!
View the full range of Manufaktur Waldhoff watches here.
- Case: 316L stainless steel
- Size: 42.5mm diameter
- Dial: Metallic multi-layer with applied index and hydraulic compression
- Hands: Diamond cut hands with Swiss TriTec luminous
- Thickness: 13.8mm
- Crystal: Sapphire with Anti Reflective coating
- Caseback: Exposition caseback
- Movement: Peacock 5212 Co-Axial Tourbillon movement with automatic winding, 29 Jewels
- Frequency: 21,600 bph
- Power Reserve: 40 hours
- Functions: Hour, minutes, seconds
- Strap: Quick-release spring bar (easily interchangeable) with solid Deployment Buckle
- Strap width: 22mm measured at the lugs
- Strap material: Genuine calf leather
- Buckle: Solid steel with pin
- Weight: 100.5 gr
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