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Trigger Happy: The Graham Chronofighter Vintage 25th Anniversary Limited Edition Chronograph

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The inspiration behind the Graham Chronofighter watch type: An example of the bomb timers made during the 1930s and in World War Two, this piece is a 52 mm time recorder/countdown wristwatch made for the Italian Air Force by Universal Geneve and retailed by Roman retailer Cairelli (pic from monochromewatches.com)




Face-on view of the Graham Chronofighter Vintage 25th Anniversary Limited Edition: All subsequent watch pictures in this topic are of this model (pic from watchilove.com)





The Graham watch company was founded by Eric Loth in 1995 and is named after an English clockmaker and Fellow of the Royal Society, George Graham (b. 1673, d. 1751), who lived in Fleet Street, London. The connection between the modern Graham watch company and George Graham would appear to be one of “philosophy” rather than any concrete link, and Graham watches today are manufactured by the company at their premises in La Chauds-de-Fonds, Switzerland, using Swiss movements, now mainly by La Joux-Perret and based on the Valjoux 7750 ébauche. Initially, the company (which is a sister firm to the modern-day “Arnold & Son”) was titled, “The British Masters”, but the name was subsequently changed to “Graham London”. Following the legend (inspired by George Graham’s invention of an observatory timer in 1725 which could measure down to 1/16th of a second) that the real George Graham was the “father of the chronograph”, Graham now specializes in chronograph watches, majoring in racing-inspired pieces, mostly left-handed with the crown on the left side of the case in traditional British racing fashion.







(Above two pics from monochromewatches.com)




Graham watches are no shrinking violets and many of them are just too bold and extravert in style to appeal to a truly wide audience. This has not impacted negatively on Graham, however, because the company specifically caters to a limited market sector in terms of pricing and market placement and is clearly viable with the following it has gained for its products. The watches are all well-made to a luxury standard and command luxury prices. Of all the Graham watches so far produced, the Chronofighter in its various iterations and varieties is probably the most important as well as being the most recognizable, and this review is about one of these Chronofighter watches - the stainless steel-cased Graham Chronofighter Vintage 25th Anniversary Limited Edition Watch, launched last year in commemoration of 25 years of the Graham watch company. Speaking personally, Graham watches generally are not really my cup of tea, but this particular watch in the Graham line-up does appeal, largely because of the use of a restrained and classic chronograph dial and hands which complements the other, bold, elements of the watch.

On first seeing the Chronofighter wristwatch, in all its models and their variants, the stand-out element is the chronograph trigger, inspired by World War Two bomb timer chronographs that had a trigger system to allow easier operation of the chronograph with the thumb and with gloved hands. The 2020 Graham Chronofighter Vintage 25th Anniversary watch is essentially a reinterpretation of the original 2001 Graham Chronofighter, although at 44 mm, the case diameter is slightly larger than that of the original watch, which came in at 43 mm (not incl. chronograph trigger). Nevertheless, this size is still more manageable for many wearers when compared to the 47 mm cases that feature on some Graham models. Other measurements for the Chronofighter Vintage 25th Anniversary are a thickness of 15.5 mm (incl. the box crystal) and a lug-to-lug distance of 49.5 mm. Water resistance is at a stated 100 metres. Interestingly, the chronograph trigger does not interfere with the comfort of the watch on the wrist even with a total horizontal case diameter including the trigger of 53.6 mm, mainly because the crown and the trigger mechanism are placed on the left-hand side of the case; the trigger can also be worn unobtrusively under a sleeve, with the time being read by pulling up just enough of the sleeve to allow the dial to be revealed without showing the crown and trigger mechanism. The thickness of the watch may seem considerable but the extra heft that this thickness portrays is not detrimental to the aesthetic of this particular watch. In addition, that figure of 15.5 mm includes the somewhat thick-domed and anti-reflective coated sapphire crystal, which reveals a dial that is highly legible and easy to read without problematic glare. The hour, minute and centre chronograph seconds hand, as well as the hour numerals/indices, are all finished with a substantial amount of green Super LumiNova lume.





(Pic from monochromewatches.com)



A rather poor picture of the back of the watch, obscured by the plastic protecting film over the display back. Please note that this back and rotor design is the correct one for production pieces for sale in the limited edition of 25. Another caseback and rotor design is shown in certain other reviews of the watch, and the picture here below is the only one I could post on this topic showing the correct watch back and rotor design (pic from i.ebayimg.com):






The dial of the Chronofighter Vintage 25th Anniversary watch is matt black, with a bi-compax format featuring a running seconds register at 3 o’clock and a 30-minute chronograph register at 9 o’clock. Both registers are in silver with subtle “snailing” to add a bit of visual refinement. For a Graham watch, the dial/hands combination is remarkably simple and refined, and the watch benefits aesthetically from having no extraneous day-date indicators, date windows, or decorative embellishments on the dial. Indeed, this restraint permits one to focus attention on what is the true highlight of the Chronofighter - its unusual crown and chronograph trigger and the unique silhouette of the Chronofighter case.

Mention has been made above of the original Chronofighter model in connection with the model under discussion here. Another difference between the two models is that the original Chronofighter had a solid caseback whereas the Chronofighter Vintage 25th Anniversary model has been given a display back featuring a sapphire crystal. Behind the rear window of the watch beats the G1722 chronograph movement, with some attractive blued screws and perlage to enliven its appearance. The 30J automatic caliber G1722 chronograph movement (based on the well-knownValjoux 7750) boasts both COSC certification and Chronofiable certification - the second of these relating to the durability and toughness of the movement. It beats at a rate of 28,800 vph and has a power reserve of 48 hours. The chronograph trigger mechanism that defines the Chronofighter as a particular type is actually simple to operate. The lower, trigger-shaped lever is pressed to start and stop the chronograph - the depression of which pushes down the button in the centre of the crown. Resetting the chronograph to zero is executed by pressing the circular push-button placed on the side of the case above the crown. The chronograph itself utilizes the centre sweep hand for chronograph seconds, and the 30-minute register.







(Above three pics from i.ebayimg.com)




(Pic from graham1695.com)



(Pic from escapementmagazine.com)



The Graham Chronofighter Vintage 25th Anniversary Limited Edition chronograph watch is in a numbered edition of 25 pieces and comes with a brown hand-made calfskin strap with steel pin buckle. In November 2020, the price was US$6,450, and the RRP/price at Jura Watches of the watch as of the posting of this topic in February 2021 is £5,350. Graham watches do seem to divide opinion quite markedly, and they have been labelled as “boy dude” items and as “toys” produced by what is essentially a “men’s high-end toy watch brand”, one of many players in the men’s sport watches market aiming to “help countless guys out there live out their adventure fantasies” (quotes from Adams, 2017). However, although I have already indicated above my taste preferences in this regard, I do not take the high ground on this question. Many Graham watches do not appeal to me personally, but I can appreciate that others will feel differently towards these more extravert pieces.


REFERENCE: Adams, Ariel, "Graham Chronofighter Vintage GMT Watch Review"; A Blog to Watch, 3 July 2017, online at: ablogtowatch.com/graham-chronofighter-vintage-gmt-watch-review

NOTE ON ILLUSTRATIONS: By far the best series of pictures showing the Graham Chronofighter Vintage 25th Anniversary Limited Edition watch are contained in the review by A Blog to Watch/ablogtowatch.com.  Unfortunately, A Blog to Watch does not allow me to post those pictures on my topic, which has limited my choice of illustrations and especially affects views showing the display back and the movement viewed through it.

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Great stuff Honour. 

Graham actually make many fun watches and their website is a treat. They produce new models every month and it's worth a few minutes of all watch fans time, just to scroll through their website to see what they currently have on offer. 


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