Back in July of 2017, I reviewed the Von Doren Askla, a very well done Swiss quartz dress watch from Øyvind Von Doren Asbjørnsen in Norway. The Grandmaster Mark II has now been added to the collection, and it takes the whole dress watch experience to another level. Grandmaster is the highest title possible in the world of chess. The name refers to the application of knowledge and skill a Grandmaster possesses, the title officially starting in 1950.
Powering the Mark II is the STP 1-11, from Swiss Technology Products. Part of the huge Fossil Group, this Swiss made automatic movement is a direct copy of the ETA 2824-2. The movement began development in 2006 and became available in 2008. The STP 1-11 has 26 jewels, operates at 28,800 bph and it has a 44 hour power reserve, somewhat longer than average. It is a hacking and handwind capable movement that in this application is calibrated to five positions. Here it easily meets COSC levels of accuracy.
The Grandmaster Mark II shows off this movement perfectly through it’s flat sapphire crystal back. Finishing of the movement includes geneva stripes and a brushed finish of the rotor as well as perlage on almost all other visible surfaces. Their are gilt filled engravings from STP on the movement as well as what appears to be gray etched watch information and the Von Doren logo on the rotor. The watch is rated 5 ATM for water resistance and it is Swiss Made with design work from Norway.
The movement is installed in a completely polished, smooth, round stainless steel case with a very tastefully engraved screw down case back. The 3 o’clock crown is perfectly proportioned, screw down, flat top, polished and signed, It is 5.5 mm in diameter, smooth operating and gear edged. The sharply downward curved case lugs keep this 43 mm diameter watch close to the wrist. It is not a thin watch (it is about 13.5 mm thick) but it is very comfortable on my 7 inch wrist. Outer lug width is 26 mm, inner lug width is 20 mm and the watch is 50 mm lug to lug. The butterscotch Italian leather padded strap tapers from 20 mm to 17.5 mm and it is outstanding in appearance, detail and quality. The strap has eight adjustment holes, complete stitching on both sides and a carefully perforated round hole mesh pattern on the inner side of the strap. There is one fixed and one adjustable strap loop with a small, polished and etched branded clasp and tang. If this was a sport style watch, I would like the pattern of inner side strap holes facing outward, they are that well done.
The creamy white watch face has twelve identical beveled raised indices, with a subtle guilloche pattern between the indices as well as minute/second markers recessed into the inner ring of the face. The lance style hour, minute and tapered stick second hand are all in a deep shade of blue. The dimensions of the three hands is to me, perfect for this watch. The deep blue color of the hands matches the watch logo, brand name and model name printed on the lower portion of the face as well the raised “Swiss Made” lettering on a raised portion of the guilloche.
This is a high quality, automatic, Swiss made dress watch that does not look too minimalistic nor too busy. It maintains it’s Norwegian design heritage very successfully and it should not be mistaken for more common brands of dress watches. The watch comes with a 2 year warranty against defects and presents itself in a beautiful piano finish wood case with polished fittings and a light leather like lining that essentially matches the face of the watch. In addition to the 300 pieces of this watch that are being offered, there are about 200 pieces available in an open heart face design. Outside of Norway, the current price for the Grandmaster Mark II is 1540 Euros, while the open heart model is 1690 Euros. www.vondoren.com
Bert Kanne is a freelance contributor to MBWW with a love for well made dive watches and chronographs. All photos by Bert Kanne unless otherwise noted.