I had originally fell for this watch when the announcement and initial pictures were released in about 2003. I had the pleasure to try one on about a year later and immediately wanted one.
Incidentally, this watch won numerous design awards when it was first introduced.
One thing I have to say here is: I am a great fan of the work of George Graham. Graham, 1673-1751, was partner to Thomas Tompion, who was referred to as the “Father of English Clockmaking”. Graham was the inventor of the Dead Beat Escapement and later in his lafe had an apprentice called Thomas Mudge, who created the lever escapement which is still used to this day in the vast majority of mechanical timepieces, well over 250 years later. However, I see no real association with George Graham and this collection of timepieces.
I loved the shear audacity of the groundbreaking design of the Graham Swordfish. It was almost screaming in the face of convention, giving it a totally indulgent feel. The build quality and fit and finish were exceptional and this large watch was surprisingly comfortable on my smaller than average wrist. Definitely one for the future, I thought.
Well here we are in the future and my soul was immediately stirred again when I had another chance to try one of these on last week. I had tried some very nice watches on that day but this one simply sang right out to me.
The quality starts immediately upon opening the generic outer cadboard box and finding this solid and nicely finished leather bound box.
The display window on top gives a view of a very nice detail, and a great idea: The inner, leather bound, travel box:
The watch comes with it’s own passport. Just like Breguet, Graham individually numbers each of their watches. It seems, from reading the passport, that my watch had Swiss parenting with English ancestory.
The case back is akin to a collectable coin. The detail is exceptional and highlights that Graham is now part of The British Masters collection.
This next view is the one that will cause the biggest divide in opinions. No prizes for guessing that I love it. However, I appreciate any design is subjective. Freud would have a field day in considering the reasons for me loving this design, because I think I love it because it is so different. Maybe it was because, whilst stood infront of a mirror as a child, I was always trying to convince myself that I was aesthetically pleasing. The hour hand can often be “lost” behind the “fish eyes”. However, a nice little design feature is provided to overcome this potential practicality issue: The end of the hour hand has an aperture through which a small central dial can be seen. This allows the reading of the hour during the times between 2 to 4 O’clock and 8 to 10 O’clock. This takes some getting used to but it is another quirky feature I have grown fond of. My initial concerns that the timereading may become a little frustrating were, I’m glad to say, totally unfounded. The dial has a subtle and wonderful black-to-grey sunburst effect. Very difficult to catch on camera. Here is my amateur attempt.
The use of the Swordfish Eye lenses have no real practical application, other than the 15% magnification of the sub dials, and actually has a detrimental effect on the readability of the time. There again, a Freudian analysis would conclude that I like this because it gives me an excuse to gaze upon this watch for longer. Also, since when did we buy a £3500+ wristwatch for simply it’s timetelling abilities.
As you expect, from a £3500+ wristwatch the fit and finish of the case is exemplorary. There are a lot of little design features on this less than subtle watch. I particularly appreciate the contrast in the brushed satin and highly polished surfaces. I love the fact that, like a true work of art, the watch can captivate me for lengthy periods as I take in the different features and aspects of the well thought out design.
I love these uber-designed crown and pushers. They fit in well with the rest of the watch and are very practical. The crown doesn’t have the conventional cog-tooth type finish. Instead the grip is facilitated by the etched Graham logo within. This also aids in the comfort of the watch where the crown is in contact with the top of the hand (just where my existing callus is from my other watches).
The Swordfish is very comfortable to wear for a large and heavy piece. The diameter is quoted in official Graham documentation as 46mm. However, I measured from the 8 O’clock to 2 O’clock positions and found it to be only (!) 44mm. Here it is on my 6.5″ wrist.
It is a very deep watch and sits high off the wrist. With the addition of the “eyes” this may be a weak point as far as potential damage is concerned.
The lume is not the strongest I have witnessed. However, I do really like the application of it within the oversized 12 and 6 and it does last all night long.
The movement is a highly reworked and tested Valjoux 7750. Itself a very robust and highly rated chronograph movement. The regulation is very impressive: gaining about 2 seconds per day.
All in all, I am extremely happy with my Graham Swordfish. I would recommend anyone to at least try one on if they are captivated by the bold and courageous design.
All words and pictures by Richard Atkins (unless otherwise stated). Please ask if you wish to reproduce any of the material in this article.