Raymond Weil Freelancer Chronograph 7731-SC1-20121
The Raymond Weil Freelancer Chronograph 7731-SC1-20121 shares a strong family likeness with its older sibling the 7740-SC3-65521. However, it contains an alternative movement, different dial layout and the addition of a day display. Most pertinently, it is cheaper than its forebears. Angus Davies looks closely at this recent addition to the Raymond Weil catalogue.
This detailed review of the Raymond Weil Freelancer Chronograph 7731-SC1-20121 includes live images, specification details and pricing.
Every three years or so, I look to replace my car. The process necessities visiting numerous garages, test driving several vehicles and studiously reading glossy brochures. Ultimately, there comes a time when I have to choose the specification of my next car.
My available budget is always a major factor. Invariably, I have to decide whether to select the plushest interior trim or the most powerful engine. Indeed, financial constraints necessitate compromise.
Watch companies usually offer different dial colours, case designs or complications, but seldom do they offer essentially the same watch with different movements. Raymond Weil has followed the car industry model, offering two near-identical chronographs with two different calibres.
In July 2017, I reviewed the Raymond Weil Freelancer Automatic Chronograph 7740-SC3-65521. This watch measures 43.5mm in diameter, features a tri-compax layout and incorporates a Calibre ETA 7753. In addition, it features a rapid date adjuster at 10 o’clock. The recommended retail price of this model is £2595.
The Raymond Weil Freelancer Chronograph 7731-SC1-20121 has a slightly smaller case diameter, measuring just 42.5mm, incorporates the venerable ETA Valjoux 7750 and eschews the rapid date adjuster. These subtle changes have allowed the Genevan firm to offer this newer watch for £2295. On the face of it, this latter watch offers a cost saving over its big brother with seemingly few compromises. With this in mind, I chose to take a closer look at the younger chronograph in order to critique its specification.
Raymond Weil offers the Freelancer Chronograph in a selection of dial colours. Furthermore, the model is available on a leather strap or 5-row steel bracelet. Personally, I am drawn to the stealthy charms of the black dial version with its judicious smatterings of yellow detail.
While the Raymond Weil Freelancer Chronograph 7731-SC1-20121 possesses a tri-compax layout like its older sibling, the topography of the dial is different. The subdials are positioned at 6, 9 and 12 o’clock. This provides sufficient space to display both the day and date via a gleaming aperture at 3 o’clock. The addition of a day display and the optimal positioning of the date at 3 o’clock are two notable benefits of the younger model. The hour and minute hands incorporate luminescent fill and converse with highly polished batons.
The Genevan brand has always been synonymous with affordability. However, the dial shows no signs of penny pinching. The hour track is snailed, delivering a seemly texture to proceedings without marring readability. The chronograph registers, positioned at 6 and 12 o’clock, are framed with silver-toned circlets. The adjacent edge of the small seconds display features two scalloped sections to its rim, deferring to the neighbouring subdials. The surround, framing the small seconds display, is retained with a prominent screw, conferring interest.
The prominent yellow central chronograph seconds hand kisses the minuterie, allowing the wearer to easily read-off the elapsed seconds. The dial of the Raymond Weil Freelancer Chronograph 7731-SC1-20121 is a paragon of legibility.
As stated earlier, the difference in size between the 7740-SC3-65521 and the newer Raymond Weil Freelancer Chronograph 7731-SC1-20121 is a mere 1mm. However, for the majority of potential purchasers, this will make the newer watch more wearable.
Raymond Weil reinforces the sporty credentials of this watch by equipping the model with a black bezel incorporating a tachymeter scale. This specification detail allows the wearer to measure the time it takes for a given object to cover a known distance and, in so doing, determine its speed.
The lug detail is delightful. The inner edges of the lugs, adjacent the strap, taper inwards. It may sound like a small detail but it is one of several design elements which enrich the ownership proposition. The caseband is satin brushed while the lateral edge of the bezel is highly polished. This blend of surface treatments imbues the Raymond Weil Freelancer Chronograph 7731-SC1-20121 with a decidedly luxurious feel.
An exhibition caseback grants sight of the self-winding movement within the watch.
The Raymond Weil Freelancer Chronograph 7731-SC1-20121 is supplied on a black leather strap with a double push button folding clasp. This latter item brims with palpable quality.
As stated earlier, this watch features the Caliber RW 5200 (ETA Valjoux 7750). Whereas the Caliber RW 5010 (ETA 7753) includes blued screws, the newer watch forgoes this. However, Raymond Weil has chosen to retain the perlage on the oscillating mass.
Although a tad industrial, the Caliber RW 5200 (ETA Valjoux 7750) is renowned for its reliability and should provide years of faithful service.
The frequency of the balance is 28,800 VpH (4Hz) and the movement contains 25 jewels. The sole barrel delivers sufficient energy to provide 46 hours of autonomy.
Raymond Weil is considered a luxury brand but it has not lost sight of the real-world. It offers impressive watches at affordable prices. With the advent of the 7731-SC1-20121, the Genevan company has provided prospective purchasers with even greater choice. This new watch forgoes some of the costly details of its older sibling, including the rapid date adjuster and the blued movement screws. However, these omissions allow the Swiss firm to reduce the retail price of the watch by a not inconsequential sum of £300.
This watch features the date at 3 o’clock, making it easier to read. In addition, the 7731-SC1-20121 includes a day display and is housed in a neater 42.5mm case.
When I reviewed the 7740-SC3-65521 in July 2017, I was mightily impressed. However, having appraised the Raymond Weil Freelancer Chronograph 7731-SC1-20121, I would select it in preference. It doesn’t shortchange the wearer, it even adds a couple of useful enhancements, but, most pertinently, it is cheaper. Quite simply, the engine may forgo a couple of bells and whistles, but overall this watch delivers an impressive performance.
- Model: Raymond Weil Freelancer Chronograph 7731-SC1-20121
- Reference: 7731-SC1-20121
- Case: Stainless-steel; diameter 42.5mm; sapphire crystal to front and caseback; water resistant to 10 ATM (100 metres)
- Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds; day; date; chronograph.
- Movement: Caliber RW 5200 (ETA Valjoux 7750); self-winding movement; frequency 28,800 VpH (4Hz); 25 jewels; power reserve = 46 hours
- Strap: Black leather strap with double push button folding clasp
- Price: £2,295 (RRP as at 22.1.2019)