Despite the assortment of colours within the Chronofighter Superlight Carbon range and the variety of engravings on the sapphire glass of the Chronofighter Graffitis, that I reviewed separately recently (please see links below), the Chronofighter Vintage is the most eclectic family of watches that Graham produce.
I think we can all agree, given the wristshots in the reviews highlighted above, that the 44mm diameter of the Vintage range suits my athletic wrist better.
Speaking of athletic………………
The Pulsometer is the most beautiful of the Chronofighter Vintages. That is if you can call a watch with a mechanical appendage beautiful. Although, I think there’s an inherent elegance to an object that is akin to a Transformer about to do its thing, or a strong, and watch shaped, magnet that has been wafted over a cutlery drawer.
The whole idea of the Chronofighter Vintage Pulsometer appeals to me. Most might mock the incongruous nature a chronograph with no minute recorder. However, that would be missing the point of the Pulsometer because it has been designed to simply take your pulse, or some other person’s, who allows you to fondle their arteries. I have always been fairly active. My Father ran marathons across the globe and played squash at club level into his 60s. He seemed to take this all in his stride. He was wonderfully stoic, my Dad. I think this attitude rubbed off on me. Although, I have to say I never got the concept of running for hours on end. I like to actually appear to be getting where I’m going, which is why I cycle a lot. I’m quite proud of the fact that I am 50 and so is my standing heart rate. My phone has a Health App. The only part of it I use is the heart rate monitor, whereby you place your finger over the camera lens and it accurately states the amplitude of your heart at any given moment. It really does. It’s like some kind of witchcraft, or something. Anyway, I’m slightly addicted to this. I want to know what my heart rate is when I’m sitting still (between 48 and 54, according to records), how high I can get my heart rate whilst cycling (186, and about ready to pass out) and how fast I can recover from this bpm (about one minute, although my legs disagree). I have friends and family members who are similarly addicted to their step count on a wrist worn gadget or their phones. For some this has got to the point where they will be walking round the living room of an evening trying to make the count up to 10000, or whatever non-sensical goal they’ve set themselves. I’ve never understood this because I’m pretty sure you’re not going to suddenly become morbidly obese if you only manage 9878 steps in a day instead of 10000. However, it has been scientifically proven that a low heart rate is good for you. Hence, my frequent checks. So, to cut a long story short (oh hold on, that was a long story, sorry) I did use the Chronofighter Vintage Pulsometer for its intended purpose during my time with it and took great pleasure in doing so. I appreciate that not everyone is like me but I’m sure there are enough stylish doctors in the world to make up the remaining 249 of the 250 limited edition run.
There are also 250 pieces in a stunning sunburst blue dial on leather strap and an elegant silver dial on light tan leather strap.
Reference 2CVCS.U14A – £3750
Reference 2CVCS.S01A – £3750
Regardless of this, I’ll hark back to the grace and sophistication (within this present company of other Chronofighters) of the Pulsometer and restate that it is a beautiful and desirable timepiece. There could be an argument of simply letting the seconds hand run infinitum and turning the Pulsometer into a regular three hand style watch if you merely adore the paired back aesthetics, relatively speaking. I realise there is already a running seconds subdial at the 3 O’clock position but it is so austere, to the point that there are no markers, that it can only really be used as an indicator that the movement is running. This singular subdial is pure elegance and totally harmonious with the rest of the design philosophy, even if this remarkably discretionary gauge is bordering on subterfuge.
You’d think the Pulsometer would be in constant conflict with itself. Do I want to be a refined and elegant classically styled timepiece or a utilitarian, functional tool watch with the world’s best chronograph trigger mechanism? Even still, the package works as an entity. The shamelessly hedonistic Chronofighter Vintage Pulsometer is one of the greatest juxtapositions in horology.
The Chronometer Vintage Nose Art collection, on the other hand (errm, wrist) commands immediate attention wherever it goes with those spectacular, ever-so-slightly sexist and vivid ‘Nose Art’ graphics.
Nose Art is the decorative painting on the fuselage of an aircraft, usually at the front, as the name implies. This practice was augmented in World War 1 by the Italians and Germans. The most famous being the characterisation of a mouth underneath the propeller by the Germans. This eventually evolved into the shark mouth that we are all more familiar with, utilised by the Luftwaffe and RAF alike in World War 2.
For great examples, check out
WW1 German Roland C.II
Messerschmitt BF110 of the Luftwaffe
WW2 Tomahawk with the RAF’s version of the shark
AVG Pilots flying Curtiss P-40’s
Nose art on the B-24 Liberator “Gambler’s Luck”
Consolidated B-24 Liberator “Solid Comfort”
The American Airforce started with the iconic Shark (see above) but soon progressed this expression of free will to the Nose Art, celebrated by Graham Watches.
Regulations of Nose Art were never particularly tight and more artistic variations emerged through out the second World War that were designed to lift the morale of the troops.
Incidentally, the first AVG (American Volunteer Group) was called the Flying Tigers, which is also commemorated elsewhere in this article with their own small number Special Edition timepieces in either steel or bronze.
Adorning the dials of this unique and special Chronofighter Vintage Nose Art series is a bevy of beauties including Lucia, featured throughout this article, Belle, Kelly, Sally, Chloe, Linda, Lilly, Anna, Nina and a special festive model for Christmas called Merry. Trying to maintain monogamy with easy access to this harem of exceptional ladies is no easy task.
You pays your money and you takes your choice. Not that I am suggesting that Graham is some kind of horological pimp.
As mentioned above, the original notion of these pin-ups, if you will, was to boost the spirits of troops in the second world war. It could be argued, although we now exist in times of greater pleasure, prosperity and indulgence, that these gorgeously realised models of morale are just as appealing and worthwhile as always. These are no femme fatales. Some might argue that these dials are the creation of a bigoted misogynist. But I would counter argue that each of these dials is a celebration of the fairer sex and how we, as men, are dependant on them for who we are and, more importantly, how we feel.
Choosing to place inappropriately dressed females on a dial could have been perceived as gratuitous and yet, because of the high level of detail and finish, an element of vintage inspired chic pervades. These beauty queen depictions could have easily become cartoonish if attention was not heeded to their presentation. Graham Watches have realised this, and each lady is captured in the greatest of detail in a high gloss finish, reminiscent of metier d‘arts cloisonné enamelling, that elevates these graphics to a mural-like artform.
For those of us who may not want to upset our better halves, and continuing with the Art theme, Graham has created a further set of Chronofighter Vintage Limited Editions with cool dial motifs. Appropriately called the Chronofighter Vintage Special Series, we are presented with a celebration of various subjects including dragons, tigers, bears, sugar skulls, the Golden Junk (with an applied 18K gold depiction of a Chinese junk boat), Brexit (yes, really), the Flying Eagles plus those that fell during Operation Overlord and D-Day. Again, these are lavishly presented to an incredibly high standard. Look out for clever design inflection on the Arabic 12 on some of the dials.
The standard Chronofighter Vintage sits comfortably in between these two time keeping dichotomies. You get all the stylish sophistication of the Pulsometer with all the functionality of the various Art models.
With any Graham Watch purchase you are consistently guaranteed wrist presence. The Chronofighter Vintage is the most discrete member of this group, but you are still assured visual gratification on a par with the rest of the catalogue.
In certain light the black dial sparkles like a celestial map, adding a wonderful contrast to the warmth of the rose gold hands and vintage faux patina of the dial decoration.
Two further examples are available. One more in steel with a superb sunburst silver dial and a full bronze model with stunning velvety olive green dial.
Reference 2CVAS.S03A – £4250
Full Bronze – Reference 2CVAK.G02A – £5150
Apart from the lack of chronograph minutes counter on the Pulsometer, all the Chronofighter Vintage watches have an identical specification.
The 44m case is comprised of surgical grade stainless steel or bronze alloy (CuSn8, as used by the naval industry). It has a water resistance of 100m which helps protect the Graham Calibre G1417 (G1718 for the Pulsometer), with a vph of 28,800, 25 jewels and an Incabloc shock absorber. The watches are certified Chronofiable®. This brutal test subjects each watch to 20000 shocks ranging from 250 to 5500 m/s² (25.5 to 560.7g), to angular acceleration, to moisture and to temperatures ranging from 0°C (32°F) to 57°C (134.6°F) and puts the chronograph functions through 3000 operation cycles of start-stop-reset. The domed sapphire crystal has antireflective coating.
The movement can be viewed through a sapphire glass exhibition case back.
The hour hand, minute hand, chronograph seconds hand and hour markers are all painted with Grade A Superluminova®.
The Chronofighter Vintage Pulsometer out after dark
The sheer depth of Graham Watches’ triumphant Chronofighter Vintage family is uncommon for any watch brand but is particularly peculiar with the Graham Watch catalogue because they take up over half of all models available. However, as always, there is a caveat with this statement because most of the Vintage Nose Art and Vintage Special Series all come as a very small numbered Limited Edition. You are guaranteed exclusivity with any example(s) you decide upon.
There is a fine line between offering a wide selection of a luxury product and over-egging the pudding. Graham have managed to create a massive 21 Limited Edition models from one platform, including the glorious Pulsometer. The justification for this comes from the incredible diversity on offer. There is one or, in my case, multiples that will capture the imagination of anyone. Each one of these idiosyncratic entities will become veritable conversation starters and are made to such a high standard that they will be cherished through generations.
The case design is a graceful amalgamation of class and utility. The concave bezel is distinctively classical in design and yet couples effortlessly with the outlandish chronograph trigger mechanism. This, in itself, has a more sophisticated design than the Chronofighter Oversize series which allows this marriage of style and practicality with triumphant efficacy.
The only real trauma is choosing which of these heterogenous individuals to choose. It would be remiss of me to conclude here without stating my personal favourite. That is nigh on impossible across the entire Chronofighter Vintage group so I will use an element of poetic license to divulge that I would choose Lucia from the Nose Arts, the dragon from the Special Series, the silver dial Pulsometer and the full bronze Chronofighter Vintage……… I think…….Nope…….Give me a second………