Why the Mondaine stop2go is so cool

Marketing summary: The fascinating execution of stop2go, like on the original clock, features the famous red second hand that turns full circle in 58 seconds and then waits at 12 o’clock for the black minute hand to move on, before jumping one marker forwards, starting its next rotation. Two seconds which sometimes can change our life?

I should start by stating that my son bought me this watch because he is going to university next month after 19 years at home. It was his way of saying thanks and my wife also received a Mondaine for her troubles, which have been considerably more effort than mine. This means that I already have a huge soft spot for this watch because he means the world to me and the fact that this came from him makes it a little part of him I can carry around with me.

I think about watches this way, it happens when you are deeply into watches, and to me they carry the memories of times you have spent with them and the things you have done while they are on your wrist. My Tudor Black Bay reminds me of a recent trip to Belgium, our last wedding anniversary when I received it from my wife and the countless other moments, big and small, that have passed while it keeps me on time each day.

My son knew I had a fascination with the stop2go, and you will see why if you read on, even though at first glance it appears expensive for what it is at £500. To most people the design looks almost childlike and arguably quite cheap and I can understand this in a world where Rolex and others stand out for the majority. I know too many people who would rather wear a fake Rolex than a decent Seiko, and who do not understand that fundamentally they are doing it for a reason that doesn’t exist. They want to show their status to others and believe that wearing a Rolex somehow makes them more impressive to others, but I would counter with the following arguments-

1/ Literally nobody ever sees what watch anyone else is wearing unless it is hideously designed, too colourful or too big

2/ 99 out of 100 people do not know what a good watch is. I know people who believe that ’TAGs are the best watches in the world!’ Well, they are not and those who understand watches would argue that a £1,000 TAG is a lesser watch than a £200 Seiko, and they would be factually correct.

3/ Why would you want to impress strangers? This is actually a big question and one that I could write a series of articles about, but it does appear that ‘impressing strangers’ is a big business, possibly the biggest of all. From Range Rovers with personalised number plates (it’s amazing how many of these cars have personalised number plates) to designer handbags to expensive fashion watches and so on. The business of showing off to people you do not know is huge and so is the appetite to gain fake confidence from such material possessions.

4/ So, someone is impressed by your watch- great! Actually it isn’t great because if someone is impressed by a watch for the wrong reasons they are likely as shallow as the person who wants to impress others. Then again, I guess this would make them a good match. Seriously, buy a watch because you like it and because it gives you a tiny bit of pleasure when you check the time. It could be the dial, understanding the movement behind the dial or the case design. It doesn’t matter, buy it because a) you like it b) it is good value (avoid TAG and any other fashion brand) and c) because it suits you. A watch should say something about you and the best way to do this to others is to wear a watch that is you, that is your personality and that is your taste. That works 100% of the time.

Anyway, I digress. The stop2go has quite a lineage and one that many other brands and individual watch models will struggle to match. Here is a snippet from Wikipedia

The clock owes its technology to the particular requirements of operating a railway. First, railway timetables do not list seconds; trains in Switzerland always leave the station on the full minute. Secondly, all the clocks at a railway station have to run synchronously in order to show reliable time for both passengers and railway personnel anywhere on or around the station.

The station clocks in Switzerland are synchronized by receiving an electrical impulse from a central master clock at each full minute, advancing the minute hand by one minute. The second hand is driven by an electrical motor independent of the master clock. It requires only about 58.5 seconds to circle the face, then the hand pauses briefly at the top of the clock. It starts a new rotation as soon as it receives the next minute impulse from the master clock. This movement is emulated in some of the licensed timepieces made by Mondaine.

It was in Belgium earlier this year that I got to witness one of these clocks in real life and my wife and I spent some considerable time just staring at them as they passed the 60 second marker. It is such a simple visual treat and one that never gets old. This is the video I took at the time-

You would think that a simple pause at the top of the minute is easy, but that is far from the truth. Mondaine explain how it was created here and below is a small snippet of what the movement actually is-

A regular quartz watch runs with one motor to gear the hour, minute and seconds hand. The Mondaine SBB stop2go movement needs 2 motors: one to turn the seconds hand and the 2nd motor drives the hour hand and inducts the minutes hand jump. An important hallmark of the Swiss station clock is the smooth drive of the red seconds hand; to convert this to quartz watch a special trick was needed. Instead of moving each second one step forward the seconds hand moves in 4 little paces every second. This makes the impression of a continuous gliding like seen on the Original on each Swiss Station.

And all of that sits in a watch, a reasonably sized one at that. I love mechanical watches and in particular the sheer quality of models from the likes of Tudor, Omega and Rolex, but this quartz movement is a special achievement and one that is unique to this watch. Is that £500 starting to sound a little more reasonable now?

The strange repeated motion of checking the time and then waiting for the second hand to pause at the top may leave me soon, but I suspect it will remain an occasional visual treat that I experience now and then.

I should add that it is deadly accurate, as you would expect from an expensive quartz movement, so you should rarely need to reset the time, which is kind of a shame because this process is also a joy.

Time setting-

Pull the switch element to position 1
The seconds hand moves to 12 o’clock and stands still
Turn the switch element in the wished direction (clockwise or anti clockwise) and keep it in this position until the hands are showing the correct time.
For fine tuning rotate in single pulses on the switch (clockwise or anti clockwise), the minute hand will move step by step.
Push the switch element back to position zero once time setting is completed.

The instructions above are from Mondaine and as you can see we again have a unique feature in this watch. No winding of the crown, no fiddling with different positions, just twisting and letting the movement do the work for you. I especially like the way the second hand jumps to 0 and the design of the crown which is unlike any other I have seen to date.

So, we have a unique movement with a unique time display and a unique crown design and time settings function. There is, however, one more piece of uniqueness in the stop2go, the lume.

Yes indeed, the lume is painted underneath the hands which produces a look that is unlike anything else. As you can see in the image below the end result is lovely, but there is another advantage because it means that the hands never look any different in daylight. The clean look stays consistent throughout the day which can only be a good thing.

And it is this clean look that makes the stop2go, or indeed most Mondaine watches, what they are. The current time is always obvious, always immediate and always clean. There are few visual distractions to get in the way and even the hour and second markers merely add some personality rather than something that would cause you to look away from the time.

With an ultra comfortable leather strap that is of very good quality and a flat sapphire crystal this closes out what is a highly practical watch that ticks every box, apart from the 60th box where it gracefully pauses and then starts again after the minute hand has jumped forwards.

Would I change anything? 30 metre water resistance is not the best and maybe a date window would work well on this watch, but that’s about it. I love this watch because my son gave it to me, but truth be told I would love it anyway. It truly is unique in the watch world and highlights how not all technical innovation has to come through mobile or laptop screens.

Model number A512.30358.16SBB
Function stop2go
Movement (manufacture. Ref.) MONDAINE stop2go cal. 58-02
Movement (type) Quartz
Case size/diameter (mm) 41.00
Case material Stainless Steel brushed
Case back Caseback with Screws
Crown Regular Gasket
Crystal/Glass material Sapphire anti-reflective coated
Water resistance (m/ft/atm) 30 / 100 / 3
Strap/Bracelet material Genuine Leather
Strap/Bracelet finishing Brushed
Strap width at lug (mm) 20.00
Origin Swiss Made

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