Graham Chronofighter Vintage Bronze
The Graham Chronofighter Vintage Bronze features an array of attributes, attractively packaged in a cohesive and affordable form. Angus Davies, a self-confessed fan of the brand, looks at this latest model at close quarters and shares his thoughts about the Swiss company and what makes it special.
In 1995, the name Graham returned to the watchmaking scene, creating timepieces in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. The company was named after the legendary English watchmaker, George Graham (1673-1751). Today, Graham offers a diverse array of models, albeit the firm is best known for selling chronographs.
Most Graham chronographs reject the customary pushpieces at 2 and 4 o’clock in favour of the brand’s now-legendary trigger. This device stops/starts the chronograph using the thumb which proves an eminently sensible idea as this is the fastest acting digit. By mitigating the interval between observing an event and starting/stopping the chronograph, the indicated elapsed time is more accurate.
The trigger imbues Graham’s chronographs with a distinctive look, albeit the styling may not be to everyone’s taste. However, speaking from personal experience, I can attest that the trigger provides a superb ergonomic interface between the watch and its wearer.
Privately-owned and highly creative
Graham is privately-owned which allows the brand to fully explore its creative side without inhibitory factors such as focus groups and institutional investors. Over the years, the company has unveiled some watches that I have adored. Conversely, there have been occasions when I have viewed a Graham ‘novelty’ and, to be honest, felt an urge to shun its advances. Indeed, despite looking at the Dia de Muertos inspired model on numerous occasions, I don’t envisage a romance ensuing any time soon. However, I applaud Graham for taking risks.
Appraising some models, the brand has a well-developed artistic streak. I doubt it has been influenced by European ‘Old Masters’, however, there is certainly an Andy Warhol/Damien Hirst vibe alive and well in Graham’s design studio. Similar to works of art gracing the walls of a modern gallery, many Graham models cause the onlooker to pause and reflect. There is no winning formula or guaranteed outcomes. When viewing a watch, one observer may be smitten while another may be appalled.
I recall once interviewing Patric Zingg, the company’s charismatic Managing Director. At one point, he remarked ‘when others zig, we zag’. The phrase rolled off his lips, suggesting it was a tried and tested sound bite shared with most journalists. However, his remark clearly demonstrated a mindset. It is obvious Graham renounces the notion of ‘playing it safe’ and is willing to take risks. Last year, I wore a limited-edition version of the Chronofighter Vintage sporting a Union Jack flag. Its generously proportioned dial said ‘Brexit?’ on its small seconds display. It was contentious, bold, some may say brash, but I loved it.
Recently, I had the opportunity to view a bronze version of the Chronofighter Vintage at close quarters. While it still features Graham’s famous trigger, its styling is less likely to polarise opinion.
The Graham Chronofighter Vintage Bronze is available in a choice of differently-hued dials, including black, blue, green and silver. The surface of each dial variant is enriched with a sunbrushed decoration.
‘Modern-style’ hour and minute hands, lined with Super-LumiNova and equipped with narrow-tips, pronounce the time clearly. Golden batons feature on most dial options, denoting the hours except where indications take priority. All models feature large and contemporary Arabic numerals at noon.
A small seconds display, embellished with snailed detail, is positioned at 3 o’clock. This indication assumes a deferential role, sitting adjacent to a comparatively large 30-minute chronograph register. Despite their difference in size, both subdials are very legible.
Two apertures, residing at 9 o’clock, reveal the date and the day. Irrespective of the dial colour, the date and day are depicted in white against a black backdrop. The red tip of the central chronograph seconds hand kisses the minuterie encircling the dial. This proves a winning combination, delivering excellent readability and aiding interpretation.
The Calibre G1747 sits at the heart of the Graham Chronofighter Vintage Bronze. This movement closely resembles the legendary ETA Valjoux 7750, although Graham has effectively rotated it 180°, hence the day and date display sit at 9 o’clock instead of the customary 3 o’clock position.
A few years ago, Graham was a leading protagonist of the ‘oversized watch’ trend. Today, watches have a tendency to be smaller. I sometimes read articles by some industry commentators espousing the merits of small, sub-40mm watches. I have no problem with this per se, but sometimes this is accompanied with a whiff of pretentiousness and watch snobbery. I am an unabashed fan of large watches and find the 44mm case diameter of the Graham Chronofighter Vintage Bronze grants agreeable wrist-feel. Moreover, the scale of this watch provides an expansive dial area, providing each indication with sufficient room to breathe.
Bronze cases hit the watch scene a few years ago. At the time I thought they were likely to be a passing fashion, however, an increasing number of brands now offer bronze watches, nullifying my earlier prediction. Not all bronze cases are the same, some exhibit copper tones while others appear almost yellow. One reason some wearers select a bronze watch is because they wish to witness the formation of patina. Some bronze models will readily assume a green appearance while others will become slightly darker with the onset of years.
I would describe the case of the Graham Chronofighter Vintage Bronze as yellow-toned. I don’t know how the model’s appearance will change with prolonged wear, hence I would advocate that prospective purchasers speak to their retailer about this prior to acquisition.
A potential problem with bronze watch cases is they possess a high nickel content which could lead to some wearers experiencing an adverse reaction. However, Graham has wisely fitted this model with a steel case back, the primary area where the case touches the skin, mitigating the possibility of any allergic reaction.
The Graham Chronofighter Vintage Bronze is supplied on a coordinating rubber mesh or leather strap.
As stated earlier, the Calibre G1747 resembles the ETA Valjoux 7750 or a generic equivalent. This is no bad thing as this movement is known for its reliability and its competitive quality / price ratio.
The oscilating mass is adorned with Côtes de Genève motif. The balance has a frequency of 28,800 vph (4Hz) and the movement contains 25 jewels. Assuming the mainspring is fully wound, the watch will run autonomously for 48 hours.
Graham offer numerous references within its catalogue. However, it shrewdly uses just a few different watch cases, choosing to enlarge its product portfolio with numerous dial animations. This is certainly not a criticism nor a weakness. Indeed, it is actually a strength. By adopting this approach, the brand enjoys greater economies of scale, allowing it to deliver excellent value for money. Moreover, the composition of each model is tried and tested, mitigating the risk of problematic ownership.
By comparison to other Graham models, the appearance of the Chronofighter Vintage Bronze is almost mainstream, save for the trigger. The dials are attractive and inoffensive. The bronze case, whilst large, is not overly cumbersome and affords a comfortable union with the wrist. Furthermore, the appearance of the case is stylish and exhibits a relaxed, casual nature. Put simply, this is a watch I would dearly like to own.
- Model: Graham Chronofighter Vintage Bronze
- Reference: 2CVAK.503A, 2CVAK.U01A, 2CVAK.G02A, 2CVAK.B26A
- Case: Bronze case; diameter 44mm; water resistance 10ATM (100 metres); sapphire crystal to front; sapphire case back.
- Functions: hours; minutes; small seconds; date; day; chronograph
- Movement: Calibre G1747; self-winding movement; frequency 28,800 vph (4Hz); 25 jewels; power reserve 48 hours.
- Strap:Rubber mesh strap or leather strap paired with a bronze pin buckle
- Price: £5,450 including VAT (RRP as at 27.4.2020)