Seven Graham watches you might be interested in this year
I like Graham watches and I've always found them quite unusual and original but I have also found quite unexpected the brand's moving away from the classic approach of their most iconic collection of watches: the Chronofighter. When they first started producing watches many years ago their first creation was a trigger activated chronograph with a classic look reminiscent of the military inspired WWII timepieces used by the pilots of the Spitfires.
They might have looked a bit strange at first sight, a very classic style featuring highly polished cases and watches offered in a multitude of versions or limited editions. Some of these timepieces are, in my opinion, items for collectors, like, for instance, the Graham Chronofighter RAC Stingray (a watch that I've tried hard and unsuccessfully to add to my personal collection but that, unfortunately, has been produced in very limited numbers and has sold as hot cakes.) I was only able to find a brand new one while browsing the Internet and landing on Montredo, the website which is also the owner of the photo shown below.
Watches like the Graham Chronofighter VE Day (one of the very first Chronofighters), the Graham Chronofighter Stuffy LE Sir Hug Dowding and, more recently, the Graham Chronofighter Fortress have represented true limited edition timepieces because produced on a very limited scale. Today, these timepieces are highly sought after and very hard to find. The classic Graham Chronofighter collection (and the RAC, which stands for “Roue a colonne” or “Column wheel”) you have been used to until some time ago has been first updated to become the Graham Chronofighter Oversize collection and it has eventually been superseded by it altogether. Today, Graham's approach is more focussed on the brand's heritage in its purest form and it is best represented by the Graham Chronofighter 1695 at entry level and by the mind-blowing Geo Graham collection on the high end side. The middle market range is well covered by the modern Chronofighters, the Graham Prodive and the Graham Silverstone RS, just to name three of the collections that represent Graham's avantgardist take on watchmaking and Eric Loth's declared passion for car racing.
The Graham Silverstone RS collection was launched a few years ago, with its Skeleton being a super cool bold motoring inspired timepiece, which has seen a third version sporting yellow accents as its latest addition to a portofolio of products that has been acclaimed by enthusiasts since its very first launch on the market. We might well say that this watch is not a sober one or that it is not the ultimate watch, but if you're a true motoring fan and you are looking for something which looks 100% like an automobile racing inspired timepiece you won't find anything better that this (also keep in mind that this timepiece is produced in a small workshop, so it is not a mass produced item.)
Eric's passion for car racing (he confirmed to me me during a conversation that he raced with his Porsche for a long time before eventually giving it up) gave him and his team the idea to come up with real instrument for timing with the Graham Silverstone RS GMT being the brand's last creation. Limited to 250 pieces it sports a big GMT second hand, the big date at 6 and a red push-button at 4 used to activate the Flyback chronograph. The leather strap clearly reminds you of the “cannellè” style that you may find, for instance, on a Daytona from the 70s, a modern Ferrari or, to name a brand that was completely revamped just a couple of days ago, an Alfa Romeo's leather seat.
The question still stands: where has the original Chronofighter collection gone? The change happened a few years ago and the collection is now named Oversize (the current GMT is still part of the original Oversize collection) and its watches have become thinner and lighter since stainless steel has been mixed with carbon fiber and ceramic but without losing the original trigger placed on the left hand side of the case.
The whole collection was subsequently upgraded to become the Graham Chronofighter Oversize Target, whose dial has been substantially replaced by a smoked grey, green or blue see-through glass, the Graham Chronofighter Oversize Black Arrow featuring a wide offering of “cammo” styles (definitely a bit too much for me and not exactly my style) and the Graham Chronofighter Oversize Superlight, where even the case is made out of carbon fiber. This is definitely something that you want to try on your wrist, especially when it comes to the 88 LE Graham Chronofighter Oversize Superlight GT Asia featuring a 47mm black carbon nanotube composite case.
Graham is now on an advanced technological spree and its offering has become more and more appealing (note: the look and feel of a Skeleton RS' ceramic bezel is spot on), but if you also consider how much you still have to pay today for one of the very first classic Chronofighters, I would probably expect a small series of the beautiful RAC Chronofighter to be redited and, why not, equipped with an in-house made movement (and I hope that the same will soon happen with the modern Chronofighters.)
(Photo credit: Montredo.com; Horbiter's proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C. @Horbiter