Graham Chronofighter Superlight Carbon Tourbillograph

This year, the Graham Chronofighter Superlight Carbon Tourbillograph celebrated its 10th anniversary. A technical tour de force, the inaugural version of this watch combined a tourbillon and chronograph. Recently, the Swiss brand released a new version of this former great, endowed with the same complications, but encompassing cutting-edge materials. Angus Davies explores the latest arrival from the independent company, regarded as a chronograph specialist.

Graham, the high-end watch firm from La Chaux-de-Fonds, has gained an enviable reputation for selling distinctive, eye-catching chronographs. The brand has differentiated its products from competitors’ models by equipping most of its chronographs with an ingenious trigger system, which sits on the left flank of the case. With an intuitive flex of the thumb, the chronograph can be actuated or halted within the blink of an eye.

When timing an interval, the lag between observing an event and starting/stopping the chronograph has a significant influence on the validity of the time measured. Over the years, I have worn several Graham watches and I have always found the trigger system to be an instinctive interface between the wearer and watch, mitigating said ‘lag’.

Approximately 10 years ago, Graham paired a chronograph with one of the most coveted complications, a tourbillon. The model was aptly named the ‘Tourbillograph’. Now, the Swiss marque has chosen to rekindle this former great, creating a new Tourbillograph for today’s watch buying audience.

The tourbillon was invented by Abraham-Louis Breguet and subsequently patented in 1801. The Swiss watchmaker identified that gravity could adversely affect the regulating organ of a pocket watch. By placing the regulating organ within a rotating cage, which in turn revolves 360° every minute, gravitational errors are averaged out. Now pocket watches are no longer popular, the tourbillon, or ‘whirlwind’, has become the must-have wristwatch complication.

By equipping this model with a tourbillon, the luxury firm has looked to the past, while at the same time embracing the future with contemporary styling. The 47mm case is constructed from black carbon composite. Furthermore, the bezel, buckle, dial and trigger are formed of black carbon (3K carbon frame). This stealthy-toned ensemble exhibits a neoteric character and proffers an incredibly low mass. Indeed, the whole of the watch weighs less than 100g.

The dial

The dial’s epidermis is formed of black carbon. This is not the first time Graham has adopted this look. Some years ago the brand unveiled the Chronofighter Superlight, equipped with a vibrant yellow rubber strap. Since the launch of this latter model, the company has released several animations of the watch, each encompassing bold hues. While each timepiece has its own distinctive mien, all versions share a similar featherlight mass.

Graham Chronofighter Superlight Carbon Tourbillograph

On this latest version of the Graham Chronofighter Superlight Carbon Tourbillograph, the hour and minutes are indicated with golden Modern-style hands, lined with luminescent fill. Hours are marked with Arabic numerals, presented in a contemporary font. However, in some instances, the dial eschews indexes where other components take precedence, such as the tourbillon aperture.

A 30-minute chronograph register is located at 9 o’clock. It is snailed and features a combination of crisp strokes and white Arabic numerals. A fine golden ring (5N) frames the register, providing a tasteful means of delineation.

Graham Chronofighter Superlight Carbon Tourbillograph

However, the pièce de résistance is undoubtedly the tourbillon, positioned between 4 and 5 o’clock. The tourbillon aperture is incredibly big, wonderfully showcasing the regulating organ. Thankfully, the large golden bridge with its prominent kink midway along its section, doesn’t impair the view of the rotating cage, escape wheel or 3-spoke balance wheel. The oversized tourbillon bridge is affixed at both ends, enhancing shock resistance. Moreover, the balance wheel is fitted with an Incabloc shock absorber, protecting the balance staff.

Upholding the lightweight credentials of the Graham Chronofighter Superlight Carbon Tourbillograph, the tourbillon cage weighs a mere 0.485g.

Unusually, the large tourbillon aperture grants sight of various wheels normally hidden from prying eyes. The brand explains that ‘the open cage of the tourbillon allows other wheels of the movement to intersect with the Tourbillon’s orbital plane. This in turn allows a wider opening in the dial to see the device at work and integrates it completely into the movement’.

A small seconds hand sits atop the tourbillon and converses with the adjacent golden, seconds track. A white central chronograph seconds hand circumnavigates the dial, kissing a white hued track which is marked with a series of strokes, denoting 0.2 and 1 second integers.

The case

The Graham Chronofighter Superlight Carbon Tourbillograph could never be described as bashful. It measures 47mm in diameter and sports a conspicuous white rubber strap, embellished with a Clous de Paris motif. The brand does offer an alternative strap in a retiring shade of black rubber, albeit this option does little to mitigate the overall exuberance of the watch. Indeed, this watch is not about discretion. It prefers to fanfare its arrival.

Graham Chronofighter Superlight Carbon Tourbillograph

Those readers of slight build may find the sheer scale of this watch off-putting, however, those would-be wearers wishing to make a statement may well succumb to its leviathan-like charms. I must admit that having placed the watch upon my wrist, I did not find it unwieldy or unduly flamboyant. Ultimately, its scale and character will attract devotees and detractors alike.

One thing which is certainly beyond debate is the low kerb weight of the Graham Chronofighter Superlight Carbon Tourbillograph. As mentioned earlier, it tips the scales at less than 100g, an impressive figure by any measure. This exceptionally low mass may lead the wearer to forget the watch is affixed to their wrist and grants incredible levels of wearer comfort.

The patented trigger on the left side of the case upholds Graham’s design language and provides an ergonomic interface with the chronograph’s start/stop pushpiece. Although the trigger is very prominent it does not gouge the wrist or inhibit free movement. A rectangular-shaped pusher, positioned at 10 o’clock, resets the chronograph. It features a Clous de Paris grip, providing a sublime tactile encounter.

An exhibition caseback affords sight of the self-winding movement within.

The movement

The automatic Calibre G1780 is positioned at the epicentre of the Graham Chronofighter Superlight Carbon Tourbillograph. It combines a column-wheel chronograph with a highly desirable tourbillon.

Graham Chronofighter Superlight Carbon Tourbillograph

A column-wheel chronograph is technically superior to a cam-actuated chronograph and is much beloved by purists. The action of the pushpiece at 8 o’clock feels sweeter and the central chronograph commences its circular tour without any hint of tremor.

Graham has also endowed the movement with some additional attributes. The column-wheel features a low-friction coating. Likewise, the oscillating mass incorporates a ceramic coating and proffers anti-magnetic properties.

However, while the movement and the watch wholeheartedly embrace modernity, the Maison perpetuates traditional watchmaking craftsmanship. Various surfaces are embellished with perlage and Côtes de Genève motif while the bridges sport hand bevelled and polished surfaces. Horological goodness is manifest.

The low mass of the aforementioned tourbillon cage mitigates energy consumption. Indeed, the power reserve is sufficient for the watch to run autonomously for 48 hours, an impressive figure considering the thirsty habits of most tourbillons.

The Calibre G1780 is subject to Chronofiable® ageing tests. These tests accelerate the ageing cycle, simulating six months wear in just 21 days. The movement is exposed to various impacts of varying magnitude and subjected to different temperatures during the evaluation period. Only after passing these stringent tests does the movement receive the coveted Chronofiable certification.

Closing remarks

The new Graham Chronofighter Superlight Carbon Tourbillograph pays due reverence to watchmaking’s history and traditional craftsmanship while at the same time employing neoteric styling. Courtesy of its scale, this model grants incredible wrist presence. Its dimensions, white strap, carbon weave details and prominent trigger unabashedly fanfare this model’s arrival when it enters a room.

There are many watch buyers who appreciate attention and like to demonstrate their success with a bold timepiece. Brands such as Hublot and Richard Mille have successfully catered for this clientele for several years and enjoyed extraordinary popularity. However, the price of some watches from these latter marques often pushes them beyond the grasp of many buyers. While the Graham Chronofighter Superlight Carbon Tourbillograph is not a ‘cheap watch’, considering its specification, its price of £22,750 is comparatively accessible and represents impressive value for money.

If you are of sufficient stature and exude an air of confidence then the Graham Chronofighter Superlight Carbon Tourbillograph is worthy of consideration. Are you big and brave enough to accept the challenge?

Further reading

Technical specifications

  • Model: Graham Chronofighter Superlight Carbon Tourbillograph
  • Reference: 2CCBK.B35A.K102K
  • Case: Superlight black carbon composite; diameter 47mm; water resistance 10ATM (100 metres) sapphire crystals to front and back
  • Functions: Hours; minutes; seconds; chronograph
  • Movement: Calibre G1780; automatic movement; frequency 28,800 VpH (4Hz); 34 jewels; power reserve 48 hours.
  • Strap: White rubber withClous de Paris motif paired with a black carbon pin buckle
  • Price: £22,750 (RRP as at 18.12.2019)

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