Out of all the watches I own, and have owned, my Graham Chronofighter Oversize GMT is the one that gets the most attention and the most comments. Why? Well, just look at it:
For a start it’s a large timepiece even with the current fashion for oversized wristwatches. With a diameter of 47mm and a thickness of 16mm you know you have this hefty timepiece on at all times. Then there is the wonderful burnt orange colour used in several elements. More of which when we come to them. Orange is one of my favourite colours. It is also common in watch designs now, especially dive watches, because it remains legible in badly lit conditions, ie, under water.
But, of course, the main reason this watch is an attention seeker is the unique design of the thumb operated chronograph start/stop pusher.
Not only is this a useful function because the thumb is stronger and can react quicker than fingers (apparently) but by design it incorporates a lever mechanism which translates to less effort being required to push the start/stop button, which is located in the middle of the left side crown.
This mechanism was originally conceived with World War II pilots in mind. Jet fighter cock pits are drafty cold places to be during flight. Pilots were issued with mittens to keep away frostbite from the most susceptible body parts: the fingers. This meant that it was nigh on impossible to operate a normal chronograph with the two small pushers either side of the crown. Having a chronograph that could be start and stopped using the thumb was the answer.
Of course, this is in no way relevant to me. However, I still love the unique look of this design and I also really like the tactile difference that this trigger mechanism gives over all other chronograph pushers. The Reset pusher is of more standard design. However, it is argued that the speed of initiation and accuracy of this function is not so imperative.
This does lead to a non-conventional design. Like all things, the looks of this unique watch are subjective. I have had people tell me they don’t like it. I have also had people tell me they love the looks. This is fine by me. I do not go out to satisfy other people’s desires when I wear my own watches. I actually find this makes the Chronofighter GMT more endearing because it emphasises the bold and daring design. You cannot please all the people all of the time.
Regardless of the love it or hate it aesthetics no-one can deny the quality of the fit and finish that has been utilised in this high end watch. You get the feeling that Graham put a lot of attention into the little details, as well as the obvious ones, so that they had a high end package to house one of their proprietary in-house movements.
The case has been polished to a mirror finish throughout.
The lever pusher has been meticulously finished in a satin finish with grooves applied to aid grip. As I mentioned before this gives a wonderfully tactile experience.
The bezel has been split into two to highlight the difference between day and night of the GMT function. This utilised the beautiful sun burnt orange, mentioned above, for the day time hours. This glorious bezel is further enhanced by the use of sapphire glass. It’s easily the second element to draw the eye, after the lever pusher, and gives the watch a very high end aesthetic.
The case back is wonderfully designed with a cast of the “British Watchmakers” emblem and the number of this individual watch. Number 26: a low production number indeed.
The uber design of the lever pusher is carried over to the dial and the hands. The dial has a smooth black, almost lacquered, outer ring and a central circle made up of finely pitched concentric circles. This gives an optical illusion whereby the light plays on the dial to give a wonderful satin/gloss contrast. The hands are large and beautifully designed in a sword silhouette with plenty of Luminova applied. In fact, this watch has one of the brightest lumes I have ever witnessed. It is regularly bright enough to see even in daylight .
The chronograph is a simple 30 minute affair. This is probably the only negative point I have about the Chronofighter GMT. Most of the things I wish to time (football half time, boiled eggs, NASCAR/motorcycling lap times, etc) are less than 30 minutes in duration. However, there are the odd times I would like to time for longer periods (parking meter duration, etc). However, this is a minor negative point because I have to stop being lazy and reliant on this function so much and simply look at the time as well as starting the chronograph in these instances. This bi-compact layout does allow for the sub dials to be big. The running theme across this whole timepiece.
The in-house movement also incorporates a large date display (a complication in it’s only right) and a 24 hour GMT hand. The large date fits in perfectly with the rest of the bold design elements. In fact I think a smaller single window date display would have looked out of place. The GMT function is useful and I particularly like the skeletonised hand design with the same sun burnt orange tip and loads of Luminova.
The strap is rubber and is the only option for the Chronofighter GMT. Even still , this is very well made and actually allows the watch to be comfortable, despite it’s excessive size and bulk and my lack of size and bulk. For reference, I have a 6.5 wrist. I also think the use of the rubber strap, as opposed to a metal bracelet, gives greater emphasis to the other design elements. The buckle is once again meticulously detailed, nicely designed and almost the size of my belt buckles.
Additional details include a 42 hour power reserve and a 100 meter water resistance. The Chronofighter GMT is also available in an equally stunning British Racing Green. Various other models are available in two tone stainless steel and red gold and solid red gold.
In conclusion: I love this watch. As you may have determined from my humble collection, I like the extraordinary. I like my timepieces to offer something unique. The Chronofighter offers this aplenty. I frequently find myself simply admiring it. Often finding a unique perspective. Yet at the same time it is a very functional and practical timepiece, with it’s great choice of functions and a tough water proof exterior.
All words and pictures by Richard Atkins (unless otherwise stated). Please ask if you wish to reproduce any of the material in this article.