When you have US$5,000 to spend on a new watch, chances are Lucerne-based Chronoswiss doesn’t immediately come to mind (unfortunately). It’s a marque that may not even be on the periphery of your watch brand awareness. But if you’re looking for something individual, something unusual, classy, and at the same time satisfyingly classic, the new 41mm Chronoswiss Regulator Classic Blue Steel could be a strong contender.
Founded in 1983, Chronoswiss is a determinedly independent brand with a relatively small but dedicated following, particularly in Germany and Switzerland itself. I say determinedly because at the time Chronoswiss opened its doors the quartz crisis was driving many a long-established Swiss watch brand to the wall; the making of mechanical watches was in full retreat. Starting a new watch company in that climate and offering only mechanical pieces seemed—to many pundits in the watch industry—an act of sheer folly.
The choice of dial readout for Chronoswiss’ bestselling Regulator series is stubbornly quirky too. While incorporating a number of traditional Swiss handcrafted watchmaking techniques, such as guilloché and enameling, the design of the Regulator series is contemporary and quietly contrary.
The regulator complication has been around for 200 years, and it’s a different take on time telling, akin to separating the speedometer from the tachometer in a car. Running on an in-house Caliber C. 295 automatic movement (a base ETA automatic movement stacked with a proprietary module) with a 42-hour power reserve, the upper subdial at 12, with its stout hour hand, reveals the hours in Roman numerals. The lower subdial at 6 o’clock, partially skeletonized to view the inner workings of the watch, reveals the minutes in Arabic numerals. Meanwhile, the central minute hand in lacquered light blue sweeps around the clock, and after just half a day of practice, you can read off the time as quickly as you can with a conventional watch layout. The large minute hand overlaps the hour hand only once every six hours and both the hour and minute hands and the index dots are painted with blue Super-LumiNova so legibility is assured.
For its latest iteration, Chronoswiss has opted for one of the two hot colors currently dominating the Swiss dial color charts, and, as the name of the watch suggests, it’s not green. Chronoswiss claims that blue has made a huge comeback in the watch world, but in reality it actually it never went away.
This is certainly one blue watch, but not a high-end blued steel or titanium watch like we get from De Bethune, but rather a work of stainless steel with practical scratchproof PVD. Blue envelopes not just the dial but the case, the bezel, the crown, the subdial, the hands, the lume, and the strap. The watch may even appear as a monochrome blue at first but upon inspection, there is a cornucopia of blue shades subtly worked into the overall piece, all of which do their bit to make the watch easier to read.
If you’re not familiar with Chronoswiss you won’t appreciate the finer details of the hallmark Chronoswiss design codes carefully incorporated in blue. This includes the stepped case sides and the oversized onion crown, which, as Mr. Flieger Friday himself Bhanu Chopra will tell you, is a nod to latter-day pilots watches. The watch comes on a hand-stitched alligator strap in shades of midnight blue and black. The color process is achieved manually so as to make every strap unique.
The Regulator Classic Blue Steel retails at US$5,065 and is available at authorized details or through the Chronoswiss website.
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