Mondaine Helvetica No.1 Watch Collection by Ape

Photography by Ape to Gentleman

Nearly 30 years after releasing its Swiss Railways SBB Watch, Mondaine, the watch brand Ape featured in March, have released a new collection- Helvetica No.1.


“The watch collection is brand new, yet will appear familiar to most people around the world. The key to being an icon lies in immediate recognition. The Mondaine Helvetica goes beyond mere visual identification; it is instinctive.” -André Bernheim, CEO of Mondaine

The reason for the familiarity- the new collection is inspired by the omni-present Helvetica font. Originally known as Haas Grotesk, Helvetica was created at the Haas Type Foundry near Basel in 1957. The goal was to design a typeface that was “well conceived, discreet enough and tempered, matter of fact, soft and flowing with harmonious and logically structured forms.”


Helvetica also happens to be the Latin word for the adverb “Swiss”, representing neutrality, discreetness, efficiency and timelessness. These values pretty much align with the Mondaine brand in our view. The next step in terms of this collection was for designer Martin Drechsel to transfer the essence of Helvetica to a watch.


Drechsel focused on a few simple areas; the date aperture, for instance, was moved off its traditionally central axis position to fit in with the typography on the dial. Acknowledging both, the font and the first in the collection, he used the Helvetica number “1” for the lugs while the Mondaine logo, in its classic Futura font, is printed on the inside of the sapphire crystal to allow freedom between these two different fonts. Of particularly interest is the strap- a lengthy NATO style affair, with a smart yet rugged and secure feel. The whole collection is understated, yet confident and reassuringly Swiss.


The No.1 collection comes in three weights (or types): Light (26 and 38mm), Regular (33 and 40mm) and Bold (43mm). The initial watch collection consists of 15 models. The steel cases are brushed, polished, or plated with PVD gold or black. Three strap variations are available: Leather, Nylon and Milanese mesh, and are available in retail stores now from £220.

Chris Beastall

Chris is the Founder and Editor of Ape to Gentleman. His interests lie in men's style, male grooming and leading a better lifestyle - through minimalist, basic and clean design.