Graham Chronofighter Vintage Limited Stingray
The Graham Chronofighter Vintage Limited Stingray is the latest creation from the Swiss brand celebrating its 25th anniversary. The dial, inspired by the past, features eye-popping hues. Its design may be considered contentious but it is courageous, thought-provoking and will inevitably evoke different thoughts in different minds. Indeed, this is a watch that could easily be thought of as wristworn ‘modern art’.
In 2019, Graham, the watch brand from La Chaux-de-Fonds, revived its Swordfish model. This watch features two prominent eyes, each magnified and positioned above two registers. These eyes prove highly practical, augmenting readability, a beneficial trait for those of us with age-related myopia.
Like many of Graham’s models, the design of the Swordfish polarises opinion and inevitably provokes discussion. Indeed, Graham doesn’t do bland or mundane, its designs are courageous and this is the main reason why I love the brand.
I would liken the experience of seeing a Graham, to visiting an art gallery and viewing a Jackson Pollock or a Damien Hirst. The work of both artists may not be to everyone’s taste but each creation elicits thoughts and has the capacity to resonate with some, albeit not all, audiences.
This year, the Swiss company has returned to its marine-inspired naming strategy, releasing the Graham Chronofighter Vintage Limited Stingray. This model features a bi-compax layout and the brand’s love it or hate it trigger device on the left flank of the case.
When I first saw the watch, I did not think of graceful cartilaginous fish. Instead, the dial hues and typography made me think of America in the 50s and 60s. Indeed, one glance at the dial evoked thoughts of diners, neon signage and car instruments of the day. Thankfully, my thoughts were not too outlandish and, as I later discovered, proved similar to the actual inspiration for the model’s creation.
Eric Loth, the Founder and Principal Partner of Graham, was in Miami in the early 2000s, walking down Ocean Drive. While there, he spotted a yellow Corvette Stingray parked adjacent a blue Art Deco hotel. The rounded walls, neon signs and cheerful hues of the hotel and, of course, the Stingray provided much inspiration. His ideas were noted to paper and the inaugural Stingray was subsequently released.
This year, Graham celebrate its 25th anniversary, releasing an array of new models including this reissue of the Chronofighter Stingray, limited to just 25 pieces.
Yellow, modern-style hour and minute hands sit above a black snailed dial. Six plump, yellow circular indexes are positioned in the upper and lower dial sections. The two registers preclude the use of similarly large hour markers elsewhere.
The right hand side subdial features double-digit Arabic numerals presented in a vibrant shade of turquoise, while a red hand articulates the running seconds. The counter is framed with a gleaming silver-toned circlet. Positioned opposite, adjacent the aforementioned trigger, is a 30-minute chronograph register. Turquoise, red and white hues collaborate to impart meaning with the white track allowing the wearer to read off 1-minute intervals. Again, the subdial is framed with a matching, silver-toned circlet. A series of horizontal metallic lines span the area between both registers.
The central chronograph seconds hand is silver-toned, features a splash of yellow luminescent coating along its form and sports a prominent red tip. The dial is framed with a minuterie, marked with crisp, succinct white strokes and Arabic numerals.
Looking at the dial, it is very difficult to avoid regressing to the post-war optimism of the 50s and society’s adoption of what was considered modern-styling at the time. To my eyes, the Graham Chronofighter Vintage Limited Stingray exhibits fun and positivity.
The case of the Graham Chronofighter Vintage Limited Stingray upholds the styling of all the Chronofighter models. Measuring 44mm in diameter, the stainless steel case could never be described as unisex. This is unashamedly a man’s watch.
Over the years I have written countless articles about the Chronofighter’s trigger system, a device unique to the Swiss brand. In terms of ergonomics, I cannot think of a more sensible means of starting or stopping a chronograph. By using the thumb, the time used to operate the chronograph is shorter. This ensures the measured elapsed time is closer to the duration of the observed event.
In terms of styling, the trigger is large and bold. Personally, I find its individuality endearing, albeit I appreciate not everyone will share my viewpoint. By locating the trigger on the left side of the case, nothing inhibits free movement of the wrist.
A glassbox sapphire crystal is positioned front of house. Its domed design exhibits a retro appearance, reinforcing the model’s period inspiration. An exhibition caseback affords views of the self-winding Calibre G1722 movement.
The watch is presented on a black calf leather strap, featuring joyful turquoise stitching, and is paired with a steel pin buckle.
The Calibre G1722 movement has a frequency of 28,800 vph (4Hz) and contains 30 jewels. Assuming the watch is fully wound, it will run autonomously for 48 hours. The movement has passed the Chronofiable® tests which simulate ageing, confirming its reliability.
Over a 12-month period, I will place numerous watches on my wrist. Some will not be to my taste and will be set aside. Other watches are attractive but fail to stir my soul. Graham has made many watches that I have liked, some I have loved and a few that I have loathed. However, I have yet to pick up a Graham watch and not experience some form of emotion. Graham’s watches solicit opinion. Previously, I mentioned two legendary artists. Their work won’t appeal to everyone but everyone will have an opinion about their creations. Likewise, the same applies to Graham’s watches.
The Graham Chronofighter Vintage Limited Stingray fulfils all practical considerations, including legibility, construction quality, robustness and precision. But, in my opinion, it is the way the watch looks that sets it apart from others. It causes the onlooker to think and form an opinion. Just like a painting on the wall of an art gallery, the observer stops, appraises and contemplates the meaning of the composition to them, ultimately forming a view.
When I look at the Graham Chronofighter Vintage Limited Stingray I am transposed to a different place and a different time. My interpretation of the styling may be different from Eric Loth’s, the man with the original idea, however, I don’t think that makes my opinion less worthy. The beauty of art is that we all view objects in different ways and once that object is unveiled it takes on a life of its own. One thing is certain, Graham makes wristworn ‘modern art’ and for that reason alone, I will always be a fan.
- Model: Graham Chronofighter Limited Stingray
- Reference: 2CVES.B05A
- Case: Stainless steel; diameter 44mm; water resistance 10ATM (100 metres); sapphire crystal to front; exhibition case back.
- Functions: hours; minutes; small seconds; chronograph
- Movement: Calibre G1722; self-winding movement; frequency 28,800 vph (4Hz); 30 jewels; power reserve 48 hours.
- Strap: Black calf leather paired with a steel pin buckle
- Price: POA (price on application)