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Retter Mistral

Want Haute Horologie? Just get a Mistral!

Have you heard of the concept of “Haute Horologie?” From what I gather it refers to exceptionally crafted watches, made by hand, using the best of the most exquisite materials, and showcasing the most intricate and luxurious finishes our enthusiast eyes have ever seen. And Haute Horologie often comes with a hefty price tag which renders these watches either inaccessible or simply silly. I say silly because spending $50K on a watch is just silly, as even though it would be superbly made, you will most likely rarely take it out of the safe. You would be enjoying it from a safe distance. (I for one wear my watches in any and all circumstances.) But what if I were to tell you that Haute Horologie is actually accessible and coming soon? 

The very first time my eyes caught a first glance at the watch we’re going to talk about today, they couldn’t believe what they were seeing. I thought I got the wrong package and that the micro model I was waiting for got sent to another journalist. And upon checking the press kit, I thought maybe the brand forgot a zero when listing the price. Yes, I’m super excited today because I’ve never seen something quite like this one. Indeed, the Retter Mistral is a true work of art demonstrating that micro and independent brands are indeed bold, creative, and that nothing seems to be able to stop them. The Mistral is the second model from the brand and has been two years in the making. 


I’m sure you’re all familiar with the following movie scene: a man offers a ring to his fiancée-to-be, one that comes with a gigantic diamond that looks like the real deal but which is in fact a synthetic gem. It looks real at first glance but not so much upon closer inspection. Then, probably, the future mother-in-law gets upset with her daughter and the wedding is called off. In a way, I’ve felt this way with certain watches I received in the past. They looked amazing in photos and promised horological haven on earth but were anything but spectacular in the metal. Well, the complete opposite is true when it comes to the Retter Mistral: I was very much intrigued by the photos and my mind got blown away the second I opened the box. Reality is much better than fiction, so to speak. 

So I find everything about the Mistal to be exquisite. Starting from its dimensions of 38mm in diameter, 42.4mm lug-to-lug, 7.4mm thick (including the double-domed sapphire crystal,) and the 20mm lug width. Yes, the Mistral is ultra thin and you might already ponder what’s ticking inside. It’s what the brand calls the Retter Cal.2105 which is not an in-house movement but instead a heavily reworked and customized ETA 7001 caliber that beats at 21,600 BPH (3Hz) and comes with 42 hours of power reserve. I’m not a watchmaker so I will read the following from the spec sheet: bead blasted and reworked bridges, silver perlage finish on the baseplate, heated-blue screws, and a tuning of the caliber to run at +/- 10 seconds per day. 

I apologize, friends, as I won’t be able to tell you how much customization has been done to the movement because I’m not sure what the aforementioned means. But I can tell you this: the movement looks superb. And one can admire it all day thanks to a see-through sapphire case-back. What’s neat about this is seeing the gears move when winding the movement each morning, because yes this is a manual-wind caliber. Besides the gorgeous caliber, we also find superb finishing everywhere—and I really mean everywhere—, a good application of SuperLuminova X1 lume on the hands and applied hour markers, as well as a custom-made leather strap that comes from Jean-Rousseau, apparently a big deal strap maker in my country (France.) 


Visually, the Retter Mistral is nothing short of being exquisite. (Did you notice the great number of positive words I’ve been using so far in this review? It is so because the Mistral truly is a sight to behold.) Starting with the dial where we find a multi-step construction which endows this superbly thin watch with a surprisingly high amount of visual depth: from the top we find the angled rehaut on which is printed the minute track, then a silver/matte ring where we find the applied hour markers, the innermost section with its stamped and dual-finished vertical grooves and lastly, the recessed small-seconds sub-dial with its superb high-polished frame. Note that the finishing on the latter echoes the texture found deep within the vertical grooves. 

So there is a lot to see on the dial alone. And while the Mistral is what I would define as being a dress watch, it doesn’t lack visual functionality. First, the presence of lume on all three hands and hour markers denote that Retter wanted the wearer to easily tell the time regardless of whether it’s night or day, and the fully graduated minute track makes it possible to set the precise time. I find that these are details that genuinely passionate brand owners would put into a second model. The arch-shaped hour markers are fully polished, so is the applied logo at the 12, and all three hands. I’ve never seen this type of hand design before and I find the skeletonized portions on the hour and minute hands to be visually striking. 

To create a perfect visual balance, the brand printed its name on the north side of the rehaut and the word “Swiss” on the south side below the small seconds register. Another neat design detail can be seen in the fact that the raised section was cut-out to make space for the sub-register. As I told you, the Mistral is exquisite. Furthermore, the case has an equally well thought-out profile, showcasing a subtle stepped-construction and fully brushed flanks which contrast with the pronounced, angular and semi polished/semi brushed “Cow Horn” lugs. The thin fixed bezel is fully polished and the small push/pull crown disappears within the case flanks. 

Wow, there is so much to see and talk about here. 

The Heart of the Matter

At the heart of the matter is the fact that Retter created a piece of Haute Horologie that the rest of us can afford. This gem of independent horology will be available for pre-order on June 18th, 2024, for the comparatively modest price of $1,595 USD. (It will be limited to 300 units.) While we often hear of some beloved British independent brand that offers high quality horology for a few hundred dollars, I would venture in saying that Retter just blew up that threshold by a large margin. And this is not only due to the exquisite dial construction and case finishing, but also the attention and care that was put in selecting and customizing the movement, finding a quality strap maker to make the perfect accessory for this super watch, all the while remaining below the $2,000 USD mark? 

I don’t understand how Retter can make a living at this pace but I for one am delighted by this creation. 

The strap, which I casually mentioned in passing, is nothing short of superb too: it is made of goat leather with something called Alcantra lining and comes with a custom made flat-padding so that its thickness tapers to match the watch profile. The strap also comes with curved ends that espouse the delicate circular profile of the case, and quick-release spring bars so that you can easily swap it for something else. Something that I don’t think you won’t want to do as the color of the strap perfectly matches the dial and that the leather is superbly soft and pliable. Never have I ever been so enthusiastic about a leather strap! 

And if silver is not your color of choice, you should know that the Mistral will be offered in two additional variants: Midas Gold, Forest Green, and of course the Artic Silver version we took a look at today. It should be noted that thin layers of 18K silver and yellow gold were applied within the vertical grooves of the dial on the Artic Silver and Midas Gold versions, respectively. The Forest Green variant showcases a PVD-coated stainless steel dial that endows it with a dark, almost black, green color. All of this is to show, again, how much attention to the tiniest and finest of details was put when designing the Mistral. Retter did not cut any corners. 


At the end of the day you get a lot of watch for the meager sum of $1,595 USD. Much more, to be exact, than you would normally hope for at this price point. I do mean “meager sum” because in the context of the Retter Mistral, you have with the design, engineering, and attention to detail what you would normally only get in specs with many other micro/independent brands. In other words, either I don’t get why brands charge $1,500 USD for something that is worth much less, or why Retter charges so little for something that is worth much more. And here we get so much for our hard-earned cash that I would advance the following proposition: with the Mistral, Retter is changing the meaning of the words “value-for-the-money” or what we should objectively expect from the micro and independent watch market.

If you fancy what you saw here today, I therefore recommend checking out Retter’s website to know more about this model and the pre-order campaign. 

Thanks for reading. 


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