Graham Swordfish Steel
Recently, Graham looked to its back catalogue and chose to revive one of its greatest hits. As Angus Davies explains, this Swiss firm has an impressive ability for creating distinctive chronographs, brimming with character.
This detailed review of the Graham Swordfish Steel includes images, specification details and pricing.
I am sat in a Starbucks in central Manchester, watching people pass by the coffee shop’s large panoramic windows. As I watch the city’s inhabitants busily negotiate the congested pavements, I am struck by the appearance of many female twentysomethings. It would seem de rigueur to have bleach blonde hair, a fake tan and so-called ‘slug eyebrows’. It appears that a whole generation of women are choosing to look the same.
This desire for homogeneity is alien to me. I love diversity. The notion of expressing one’s own personality is a benefit of living in a free society. Perhaps, it is for this reason that I admire Graham, the Swiss-based watch brand synonymous with making chronographs. Its watches do not subscribe to convention, exhibiting a distinctive appearance all of their own..
One glance at the new Graham Swordfish Steel validates my opinion. I know of no other watch which shares the same design language. Love it or loathe it, this unique personality of this watch deserves discussion.
Like many horophiles, I always liked the Swordfish and I was surprised that the brand chose to discontinue the model a few years ago. However, now it’s back and, in my opinion, it looks sharper than ever.
Graham offer two versions of the Swordfish Steel, one with red counters and another model endowed with black counters. While the latter version is agreeable, I have always felt the Swordfish is about boldness and I am seduced by the intense gaze of its red counters.
It is unusual for me to fixate on the counters at the exclusion of all other dial elements, but those red eyes are extraordinary. A 30-minute chronograph register is positioned adjacent the crown. Unusually, the counter at 9 o’clock combines two roles, it incorporates a 12-hour chronograph register as well as a small seconds display. With the onset of middle-age I have become myopically challenged, however, there is no need to dust off my bifocals, two magnified lenses sit atop the counters, augmenting the size of the indications by 20%.
The ‘modern’ hour and minute hands uphold Graham’s house style and have featured on several of the brand’s other models. They articulate the time with notable efficiency and sit harmoniously with the aforementioned counters. The lithe central chronograph features a prominent red tip, heightening legibility.
The hours are indicated with crisp white, rectangular batons. Both the hands and indexes have been treated with SuperLuminova, aiding readability in dim light. A chapter ring encircles the dial, proving especially useful when reading-off elapsed seconds.
Regular ESCAPEMENT readers will already know that I have a penchant for bi-compax dials. In my opinion, two subdials confer a notable degree of balance and symmetry that a three counter offering is unable to match.
Measuring 46mm in diameter, the Graham Swordfish Steel exudes masculinity from every square millimetre of its gleaming torso. Its scale may prove off-putting to some prospective purchasers, however, I would urge anyone considering this watch to try it on. The profile of the lugs ensures the watch envelops the wrist, sits neatly under the cuff and looks smaller than its specification sheet suggests.
When handling the Graham Swordfish Steel one can readily discern the impressive quality of the case. Everything is beautifully executed, without the merest hint of sharpness or wayward machining. The brand states that the crown is equipped with ‘2 joints’ to enhance water resistance and the pushpieces feature clous de Paris on their vertical flanks, conferring a sublime tactility.
Graham has indulged wearers with a bewildering choice of straps. Red or black rubber options, featuring a mesh pattern proffer an exquisite textured appearance. The watch is also delivered with an additional fabric strap. Alternatively, a black leather cuff strap or Milanese steel bracelet can be selected. It would seem Graham has covered all of the bases.
An exhibition caseback grants views of the self-winding movement within. The Calibre G1710 contains 34 jewels and its power reserve is sufficient to deliver 48 hours of autonomy. The balance has a frequency of 28,800 VpH (4Hz).
While the Graham Swordfish Steel is unequivocally modern, its movement is enriched with traditional Swiss craftsmanship. The plate is circular grained and the bridges are adorned with Côtes de Genève, while blued screws uphold watchmaking practise.
Graham has chosen to shun the norms of watch design and courageously go its own way. Nobody could ever allege this company of plagiarism, its models are clearly its unique. The Chronofighter’s distinctive trigger is legendary, while the Swordfish will undoubtedly become known for its bewitching eyes.
Sometimes a designer’s creativity can deliver breathtaking style at the expense of functionality. Thankfully, no such allegations could be directed at Graham. The Swordfish Steel lucidly converses with the wearer. Indeed, the design and scale of the indications facilitate ease of read-off.
Appraising the Graham Swordfish Steel with discerning eyes and inquisitive fingers reveals a palpable sense of quality. Moreover, priced at £5,750 (RRP as at 21.6.2019), this watch stands comparison with some watches costing a few thousand pounds more.
Ultimately, all roads lead back to the appearance of this watch. It dares to be different and, by default, its aesthetics will polarise opinion. However, if every watch subscribed to mediocrity, horology would be boring. Personally, I celebrate individuality.
- Model: Graham Swordfish Steel
- Reference: 2SXAS.B05A
- Case: Stainless steel; diameter 46mm; water resistance 10ATM (100 metres); sapphire crystal to the front and sapphire caseback
- Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, chronograph
- Movement: Calibre G1710; self-winding movement; frequency 28,800VpH (4Hz); 34 jewels; power reserve more than 48 hours
- Strap: Red rubber strap with mesh pattern paired with a steel pin buckle
- Price: £5,750 (RRP as at 21.6.2019)