Introducing: The Junghans Max Bill Mega junghans max bill mega hero

Quick Take

If nothing else, I possess something of a soft spot for oddball watches, for the outliers that manage to step outside of the proven format or play with concepts that belie their original creation. From gold watches that probably shouldn’t be gold, to ana-digi Breitlings, to watches like the new Max Bill Mega from Junghans. The Mega is a strange but entirely compelling mix of Max Bill’s well known watch/clock design crossed with a new radio-controlled high accuracy quartz movement – all but entirely hiding its feature set behind one of the best dial designs in the game. 

I say strange because I definitely wouldn’t have expected the Max Bill design to be the home for a new and very tech-forward movement. I think it’s a clever idea that uses the minimalist design sensibility of the Max Bill aesthetic to balance the much more nerdy appeal of the new movement and its many capabilities. No joke, there’s a lot happening here under the skin, or dial, as it were. 

Introducing: The Junghans Max Bill Mega junghans max bill mega 3

38mm wide, the new Mega is no larger than a standard automatic Max Bill. 

Introducing: The Junghans Max Bill Mega junghans max bill mega 2

The Max Bill Mega with a silver dial and rather classic Milanaise mesh bracelet. 

Initial Thoughts

First, the basics. Available in three dials with either a leather strap or a steel Milanaise bracelet, the Max Bill Mega has a 38mm wide and 9.3mm thick steel case with a domed plexiglass crystal (with a scratch resistant coating) and 3 atm water resistance. With a date display at three and a matching crown, the Mega looks like any of Junghans Max Bill-derived designs, until you get to the internals. 

Introducing: The Junghans Max Bill Mega junghans max bill mega 4

The case back of the Max Bill Mega showing the various locations of the time calibration radio signals. 

In place of the usual simple quartz or automatic movement, the MEGA has Junghans’s new J101.65, a quartz movement with multi-frequency radio time setting, a perpetual calendar (no date correction to the year 2400), time zone setting via the crown (without affecting accuracy), and an overall accuracy of +/- 8 seconds a year (or max 0.02 seconds with radio signal calibration). The radio calibration functions not unlike the multi-band feature common to many G-Shocks and uses a one of five possible signals to automatically correct to the most accurate time available. The same movement is also offered in the Meister, which is another of Junghans’s dressier designs with similar proportions but a higher price point than that of the Max Bill Mega. 

In designing the new movement, Junghans focused on ease of use and outright accuracy. So not only will it be possible to set the Mega via the forthcoming smartphone app (slated for iOS and Android in October of this year), but radio calibration is automatic and processed daily and if you travel, the hour display can be updated independently via the crown. It get’s nerdier still, with the movement offering Intelligent Time Correction that actively checks and corrects the display of all of the hands (and the date) to the most accurate known time.  

Introducing: The Junghans Max Bill Mega junghans max bill mega 5

The four available versions of the Max Bill Mega. 

This information works in conjunction with three motors and Junghans’s Smart Hand Motion technology that regulates the movement of the seconds hand to the half second and also allows the seconds hand, the minute hand, and the date to jump instantly to the next value, rather than the normal ticking/sweeping motion of a quartz watch. In a charmingly German sort of way, there is a pragmatic element to this extreme focus that I love. If one is making a movement that can access a highly accurate measure of time, why wouldn’t you make it capable of displaying that accuracy at a very high level. 

I think this such a cool concept and I would love take a Mega traveling and put the functions through a proper test. Assuming the interface (and presumably the eventual app) is simple enough, with a two-year battery, strong everyday styling, and a price point starting at $990 ($1,090 on the bracelet), the Junghans Max Bill Mega should make for an excellent travel watch. But from the jet set to those who are still racking up posts in the high-accuracy quartz forums, the Max Bill Mega is an oddity that offers useful complexity crossed with an elegant and minimalist wrist presence.  

The Basics

Brand: Junghans

Model: Max Bill Mega

Reference Number: 058/4820 – 058/4823

Diameter: 38mm

Thickness: 9.3mm

Case Material: Steel

Dial Color: Matte silver-plated or anthracite

Lume: Super-LumiNova

Water Resistance: 30 meters

Strap/Bracelet: Calf leather strap or steel Milanaise mesh 

Introducing: The Junghans Max Bill Mega junghans max bill mega 1

Junghans’ s J101.65 radio-controlled high accuracy quartz movement. 

The Movement

Caliber: J101.65 (quartz, radio-controlled)

Functions: Automatic radio-controlled time setting, app integration (Oct 2018), jumping time zone setting, perpetual calendar, date.

Diameter: 28mm

Thickness: 3.85mm

Power Reserve: Two years (battery)

Frequency: 32.768 Hz

Jewels: 6

Additional Details: Three motors, bi-directional hand movement, accurate to 0.02 seconds on radio sync or +/- 8 seconds a year in quartz mode. 

Pricing & Availability

Price: $990 ($1,090 on the bracelet)  

Availability: October 2018 

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