In recent times, the enjoyment of mechanical watches at fair prices with amusing complications has, it must be said, increased. Watches such as the Maurice Lacroix Aikon Mercury with its ‘free hand’ system or the Konstantin Chaykin Joker present this growing trend. These very watches offer an amusing alternative to the more conventional investment for in-house supremacy amongst more mainstream brands.
This is exactly the market into which the new Chronoswiss Flying Grand Regulator Open Gear ReSec fits. When I first received the press release for this watch around its Baselworld 2019 unveiling, I was intrigued by the ambiguity of combining a complication as functional as the regulator dial with the purposelessly delightful addition of retrograde seconds. From my perspective, this matched the current thinking behind Chronoswiss perfectly. In short, I was immediately caught.
The External Design
“…Teutonic sense of order…”
Within moments of speaking to those working for Chronoswiss, one gets a clear sense that the quintessential design aesthetic of the brand is present in all of their watches. This is evident in the ReSec’s case which is given sharp upright flanks and a cylindrical mid case. This is brushed vertically with brilliant finesse whilst the lug tops are adorned with polished curves. This Teutonic sense of order is finished with double-ended screwed bars for the utmost security on the wrist.
With that being said, none of this watch is shared with the brand’s older pieces; something which becomes apparent when the watch is put on the wrist. Most immediately, the sheer size of the piece is evident as, at 44mm by 13.35mm thick, the lug tips come very close to the edges of my wrist at 53mm apart. Yet here is the catch, the watch is not uncomfortable as, with the guidance of Chronoswiss’ designer Maik Panziera, the caseback has been flattened, the lugs turned down and the fluting on Chronoswiss bezels of old has been moved to the side to balance the appearance. The onion crown has followed the same enlargement as the case, thus providing ease of use and a 100m water resistance. All in all, it doesn’t look or feel hefty, an impressive achievement.
“…the most eye-catching is the blue variant.”
In Mr Panziera’s words, Chronoswiss is looking to “technical watches” to combine their traditional side whilst appealing to the wearer with a keen interest in creating something new. In this endeavour, they have presented this new model in either 18K red gold for the price of CHF 19,950 or stainless steel for the price of CHF 9,900. Whilst the gold model is (clearly) the most luxurious, the steel model is perhaps the one to pay attention to if it is the future of Chronoswiss which you would like to see. These have been given the usual set of bright colours from red to green in black DLC cases, but the most eye-catching is the blue variant.
For this model, Chronoswiss have built on their smaller blue coated case components used since the early 2000s and treated the entirety of their case with a blue DLC finish of baffling saturation. Now, this bold aesthetic adopted by the brand is a bit too much for my personal taste, but it cannot be denied that this is something totally new and a key to Chronoswiss expanding its aesthetic language.
The Dial & its Details
“…the dial is the focal point of this watch…”
The brightness of this particular model is carried over to its dial which can, momentarily, distract attention from the scale of what has been achieved. To make sense of this fascinating but carefully ordered dial I would like to begin with the base which features a hand guilloché surface. As a result, a unique and imperfect pattern is achieved. Above this, the regulator functions of the dial, separated in keeping with clocks traditionally used to regulate watches, are shown with the hours at 12 o’clock, the minutes in the centre and the retrograde seconds at 6 o’clock.
It is no exaggeration that the dial is the focal point of this watch, something which close inspection only confirms. The hour ring is conical and minutely brushed as it hovers above bevelled bridges to hold its gear train. Meanwhile, the minutes represent the most conventional aspect of the dial and extend to the edge with surprising attention to functionality thanks to significant luminescence and a red tip. With these hands, Chronoswiss has also introduced the ‘Trigono’ hand shape which gives a more technical appearance to the widely seen Breguet hands of old.
Those Remarkable Seconds
“…brings the addition of mechanical drama.”
The seconds, however, truly are something else. Where complications are concerned, retrograde seconds or ‘ReSec’ in Chronoswiss’ vernacular, are a more uncommon feature due to an inherent lack of functional purpose. In some ways, this makes them very well suited to Chronoswiss watches as their function brings the addition of mechanical drama. This function, filling the bottom the dial, travel 120° every 30 seconds before jumping back to zero and beginning again. This complication is placed upon an open worked floating bridge with brushed and matted finishes and with bevelled edges.
“…decorated with both Geneva striping and perlage to give a thoroughly ornate appearance…”
Driving these unique complications is an ETA 2892-2 which is decorated with both Geneva striping and perlage to give a thoroughly ornate appearance topped off by an open worked rotor to match the case colour. Whilst the movement is attractively decorated, I feel that the eye is really meant to be drawn to the dial. This really represents the ‘living’ part of the watch thanks to the retrograde seconds. The choice of movement itself strikes me as a very good one. Developed from Eterna movements of the mid-20th century, it allows the watch to retain a reasonable thickness by being significantly slimmer than other similar automatic movements. Upgraded to 33 jewels, fitted with a module to provide the dial functions and given a chronometer grade balance, this movement has been rebranded the C. 301. Otherwise, the movement runs at the 28,800 vibrations per hour, although this is hardly relevant considering the very creative seconds complication.
As a whole package, this watch will not appeal to everyone. With its significant size and profoundly bold aesthetic, this is a watch which does not fit with the norms of the industry. However, with this watch Chronoswiss has created a product for a very specific and potentially very loyal clientele of those to whom the importance of mechanical quality and design panache in more important than in-house movements. As a product in its own right, I find it to be handsome, well made and unique, especially in its all-blue form.
For further information, take a look at my video review of this watch, and my interview with Chronoswiss’ CEO, Oliver Ebstein.
Pricing: Stainless Steel Variants: CHF 9,900 (LE of 50 pieces each) / 18K Red Gold Variant: 19,950 (LE of 50 pieces)
- Dimensions: 44mm x 13.35 x 53
- Material: Stainless Steel / Stainless Steel with Blue or Black DLC Coating / 18K Red Gold
- Crystal: Domed Anti-Reflective Sapphire Crystal
- Dial: 42-piece Regulator-style dial, flying bridges, openworked gear trains, retrograde seconds, luminous ceramic columns to match luminous ‘Trigono’ hands, hand-guilloché dial base
- Water Resistance: 10 ATM / 100m
- Movement: Calibre C. 301 (ETA 2892-2 with modifications): automatic, open gear regulator module, 42-hour power reserve, 33 jewels, 4Hz, custom open worked rotor to match case the configuration, decorated with striping and perlage
For further information, head over to the Chronoswiss website.