Hands On: Rose Gold Prototype
Every now and then a watch comes along that just grabs your soul. Most recently for me, it was Carl F. Bucherer’s Manero Flyback Retro. No, it doesn’t contain alien complications nor challenge the status quo, but it does have a design and feel that is pure and sublime.
The Manero Flyback Retro is a classic chronograph, upsized and refined to create a visual powerhouse – the perfect alchemy of style and substance. If there’s such a thing as an elegant sports watch, Carl F. Bucherer nailed it with the Retro.
Based on the successful Manero Flyback, released in 2016, the Manero Flyback Retro is the result of relatively minor changes that make a world of difference. This piece is James Dean meets James Bond – the bad-ass renegade of the Manero lineup with a rugged sophistication that pairs as well with a white tee and leather jacket as it does with a tux and bowtie. Just choose your metal.
Wrapped in a classic chronograph chassis, Retro models are reminiscent of ‘chronos’ from the 1950s. Whereas other Manero Flybacks are clean, elegant and solidly classic, the silver registers and complimentary touches of red and white introduce a playful restraint to tantalize the senses.
This Manero’s traditional bi-compax layout has depth and detail, perfectly proportioned and eloquently executed. Even the date is well implemented – large, legible and logically located at the six o’clock position. Collectively, the case, the dial, the pushers – the entire presence of the Manero Retro simply exudes personality. It’s the embodiment of cool.
If the other Manero Flybacks are the doctors and lawyers of the family, the Retros are the rock stars and racecar drivers. Bold and confident, these are the watches that scream, “wear me!” They’re the anti-“safe queens,” the perfect, no-compromise, daily drivers.
Measuring 43mm x 14.45mm, it’s certainly a hearty watch, but not too big. In my opinion, it’s the perfect size. The Manero Flyback Retro is powered by Carl F. Bucherer’s automatic, 25 jeweled Calibre CFB 1970 movement with a 42-hour power reserve.
Time is viewed through a gently domed sapphire crystal with dual sided antireflective coating. The crystal has bold, rounded edges that complement the sculpted curves of the case.
There is also a dual anti-reflective coated sapphire exhibition case back to display the column wheel chronograph movement beating inside. The movement is nicely finished with a mix of perlage and Geneva stripes, courtesy of La Joux-Perret. The blued screws are a nice touch as well.
Kudos for Kudu
The strap for the Manero Flyback Retro is every bit as formidable as the rest of the watch.
Rather than using conventional leather, Carl F. Bucherer opted for South African Kudu Antelope.
Kudu hide is soft, but particularly resilient, requiring no further conditioning or maintenance. Its raw, natural texture is dyed either black or brown to give the strap a uniquely pleasant patina. This finish enhances a rustic character derived from naturally occurring scars and scratches formed as the antelope graze among the thorny trees of the Bushveld.
(For the environmentally conscious, it’s worth noting that the Kudu is not endangered and their numbers are, in fact, carefully managed to prevent over-population of the species.)
In practice, I’ve occasionally noticed scuffs on my Retro strap from normal use. Each time, I simply rub the affected area with my thumb and the strap looks as good as new again. It’s that simple.
Also of note, the rose gold Retro comes with a traditional rose gold buckle while the stainless model has a polished stainless push button deployment buckle.
Pros and Cons
The pros of the Manero Flyback Retro are many and cons are pretty much non-existent.
My only wish for future versions is to see Carl F. Bucherer incorporate their BRILLIANT peripheral rotor system. This is where some of the technical genius of the brand really shines and the mere thought of such an engine inside a Manero Flyback induces flashes of sensory overload.
I can only speculate that this is under consideration if not a concept being actively pursued by the brand. When that day happens..…’mic drop’.
The Manero Flyback Retro harks to classic chronographs with refinements that pay homage to, if not, romanticize a bygone era of watchmaking. It’s a modern classic.
The artisans at Carl F. Bucherer did not attempt to improve upon the sophistication it had achieved with the Manero Flyback. Instead, the brand transformed it into a contemporary yet classic sports watch that is both rugged and practical. If there’s such a thing as an elegant sports watch, Carl F. Bucherer defines it with the Manero Flyback Retro.
Would I Buy One?
With a single glance, the original (steel) Manero Flyback Retro was immediately at the top of my “must buy” list. It checked every box.
After suggestions that Carl F. Flyback create the Manero Retro in rose gold, they actually built a one-off prototype that I was offered (and honored) to purchase.
While it even has the red “Energy Wheel” atop the logo as I had hoped for (as photographed for this article), the brand decided to execute the logo in rose gold for the 18k production pieces, a consistent theme for most of their gold models. Also different on production models are the subdial hands in black rather than gold.
After several weeks of wearing my rose gold Retro, I cannot seem to shake the intense visceral reaction of seeing the steel version for the first time. In writing this article, one thing became abundantly clear: These two are so similar yet different enough that they each scratch a distinct itch and would BOTH be welcome additions to my humble collection.
Fortunately, Carl F. Bucherer is serious about selling the Retro by aggressively pricing the rose gold model at $16,900 USD while the steel version chimes in at $6,200 USD.
In either rose gold or stainless steel, Carl F. Bucherer’s Manero Flyback Retros are contemporary classics. Their solid construction, distinct personalities and reasonable prices make them a great value, a characteristic rarely seen in the world of luxury watches.
Though I review numerous watches every year, I believe the best compliment is when a watch moves me to purchase. In the case of Carl F. Bucherer’s Manero Flyback Retro, I’ll take two, please.
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Author’s Biography – Todd Harrell
Todd Harrell is a contributor to AlphaLuxe luxury lifestyle magazine and a moderator on its community portal – Luxe178.com.
Todd is a former military officer of more than three decades and a decorated combat veteran. With Rolex being a tradition in the U.S. Army Special Forces, as a young Green Beret, Todd aspired to owning his first Rolex – a Submariner. This would become the first tangible evidence of an obsession that would span the coming decades. Having assembled movements from numerous brands, Todd enjoys delving into the technical details while expressing each journey through words and photos.
With a degree in Fine Arts and Graphic Design, Todd’s experience in design, photography, marketing and communications support his creative yet pragmatic approach to communicating about watches.
Todd has had creative input on several watch designs and features for multiple brands, some of which are currently on the market. The details of these achievements remain a closely held secret but he acknowledges at least three pieces in his collection that are the result of these collaborations.
He has moderated for several brands on various forums before joining the AlphaLuxe and Luxe178 community where he hopes to expand his contributions to the world of all thing watches.