Echo/Neutra AVERAU 39 Moon phase “Big Moon” White
 

Echo/Neutra AVERAU 39 Moon phase “Big Moon” White

5 min read
Rob Nudds

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Echo/Neutra

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Reviews

Rob Nudds

Brands

Echo/Neutra

Categories

Reviews

Creativity in watchmaking is rarer than it ought to be. While the challenges of doing something truly new in a saturated industry that, by the nature and function of its products, requires designers to work with a small and restrictive canvas are obvious, a sideways approach to watch design is still possible at an accessible price point, if only one is able to decouple their way of thinking from the norm.

Research and development are perilously expensive — costs that, should a brand shoulder them, will inevitably be passed along to the consumer. Breaking the mould entirely and doing something that requires hundreds of new components (to achieve something like the stunning Mirage model by fledgling haute horlogerie brand Berneron) is simply impossible for makers operating in the highly competitive entry-level price bracket. 

Echo/Neutra AVERAU 39 Moon phase “Big Moon” WhiteEcho/Neutra AVERAU 39 Moon phase “Big Moon” White - Credit WatchGecko

 
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Therefore, playing with how standard complications available in off-the-shelf calibres are presented is one of the best avenues to pursue. And yet, it is seldom seen. When done well, however, you end up with a watch that looks like what it’s doing must have been done 1,000 times before, but hasn’t. “Familiar yet fresh,” is how I would describe the latest effort from Italian brand Echo/Neutra, the Averau 39 Moon Phase “Big Moon” in white, and it’s a great example of how to get the best out of relatively standard componentry.

Powered by the Swiss-made Sellita SW280 moon phase calibre, the Averau 39 “Big Moon” has two very striking things about its design. Firstly, and rather obviously, there is a big moon phase display at 6 o’clock. While that in itself is nothing out of the ordinary, the way the information is displayed is quite unusual. In entry-level calibres of this nature, the moon disc has 59 teeth and advances one tooth per day, with one full rotation of the disc accounting for two 29.5-day lunar cycles. That’s all par for the course but generally, you’d expect to see this information displayed through an aperture that looks something like a stylised crescent moon on its side. A normal moon disc would have two moons printed on it (located directly across from one another) and indicate the phase of the moon graphically with the waxing and waning moon being partially obscured by the concave lower edges of the crescent-moon-shaped aperture.

Echo/Neutra AVERAU 39 Moon phase “Big Moon” WhiteEcho/Neutra AVERAU 39 Moon phase “Big Moon” White - Credit WatchGecko

Here, however, there is no aperture at all. The moon disc is printed to look like (surprise, surprise) the moon. Printed on top of the realistic lunar surface are two red arrows, which in turn point to the stage of the moon, which is printed around the upper edge of the moon disc.

While this is a nice touch in itself, the really smart (and thoroughly satisfying wrinkle) is that the arrow not currently indicating the moon by pointing at the graphics is not inactive. Instead, it points to a literal description of the graphic its opposite number is indicating. The words “New”, “First QTR”, “Full”, and “Last QTR” are printed around the lower edge of the moon disc. 

Although you could barely find two brands further apart in price, this reminds me of the way URWERK uses the non-time-telling indicators on its wandering hours module, having them indicate useless but interesting information such as the distance travelled by Earth through space in 20 minutes and the distance travelled by Earth around the Sun in 20 minutes (in case anyone ever asks you).

Echo/Neutra AVERAU 39 Moon phase “Big Moon” WhiteEcho/Neutra AVERAU 39 Moon phase “Big Moon” White - Credit WatchGecko

 
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It’s what I call “full concept design”. The motivation and execution of this complication and understandable and laudable. I’m pleased it isn’t just another moon phase and happy to see a brand other than Christopher Ward able to do something a bit more modern and certainly edgier than usual at this tight price point.

The second aspect of this design that is notable is the colour of the dial. Although the dial looks like a standard white display, it is actually fully luminous and glows a vivid blue at night. What’s pleasing about this is the crispness of the printing on the fully luminous surface (something even the finest brands in our industry have managed to make a mess of in the past), and the whiteness of the dial during daylight hours. It doesn’t seem to have a distracting hue at all. It is simply a legible, understated visage until the lights get low. At that point, it comes to life.

Echo/Neutra AVERAU 39 Moon phase “Big Moon” WhiteEcho/Neutra AVERAU 39 Moon phase “Big Moon” White - Credit WatchGecko

If you’ve never had the opportunity to handle an Echo/Neutra piece before, you’ll be pleased to know that the cases are very wearable (at 39 mm across, 13.5 mm thick, and a compact 46 mm lug-to-lug), and well-finished for this price point (which is €840 for this piece). The watches carry the “Swiss made” designation, which means a large part of the work takes place in Switzerland, something that might go some way to explaining the precise lines of the case bevelling.

Echo/Neutra has had a lot of success when it comes to experimenting with colour. Rather than choosing wild, attention-grabbing shades, the stylish Italian brand has almost taken the opposite approach, plumping for a strategy that prioritises calm tones delicately accented by flashes of red here and there. My personal favourite watch in the brand’s current lineup is the Cortina 1956 GMT Ivory, which is an almost impossibly relaxing shade of off-white/grey/beige (or, I suppose, Ivory, as the name suggested). 

Echo/Neutra AVERAU 39 Moon phase “Big Moon” WhiteEcho/Neutra AVERAU 39 Moon phase “Big Moon” White - Credit WatchGecko

With the Averau 39 Moon Phase “Big Moon” in white, the soothing tones give way to a more neutral palette, necessitated by the dial’s nighttime alter ego. However, the advantage this model holds over the Ivory GMT comes from its eminent versatility. The restraint of the design lends itself to many straps, looking particularly handsome on black leather options or patterned military bands. I could see this one coming to life on the classic “Bond” fabric strap, with the small hints of red on the dial and seconds hand tying that combination together nicely.

All in all, this is another smart addition to a growing lineup of wearable, accessible watches, from one of the industry’s most prominent Italian makers and a brand that has grown from its humble beginnings to become a mainstay in the entry-level independent market.

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Rob Nudds

About the Author: Rob Nudds

Rob started working in the watch industry for the Signet Group, aged 17. Following university, he undertook the WOSTEP course at the British School of Watchmaking, developing a keen interest in watchmaking theory. After graduating, he worked primarily for Omega and Bremont before leaving the bench in 2015 to become Head of Sales for NOMOS Glashütte in the UK. After three years of managing an international retail network that grew to encompass 17 countries, he began writing full-time.

Since then, he has written for aBlogtoWatch, Fratello, Time & Tide, Grail Watch, SJX, Get Bezel, Borro Blog, Jomashop, Bob's Watches, Skolorr, Oracle Time, and Revolution USA.

He currently co-hosts The Real Time Show Podcast (www.therealtime.show) with his friend and long-time collaborator, Alon Ben Joseph of Ace Jewelers, Amsterdam, as well as working with several brands as a consultant in the fields of brand building, product development, global retail strategy, and communications. Follow him on Instagram @robnudds.

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