It was while in Dubai for Dubai Watch Week that I got a chance to go hands-on with this lovely Double Impulse Chronometer by Charles Frodsham & Co., an historic English watchmaking company (based in London) most notable in modern times for its clocks. Charles Frodsham himself was a well-respected and active clock and chronometer maker in the 19th century, and today the family name lives on as the company continues to produce timekeepers. The Charles Frodsham & Co. Double Impulse Chronometer watch is a relatively recent addition to the brand’s stable of accomplishments and mixes traditional appeal with a bit of modern character.
The principle technical distinction in the Double Impulse Chronometer watch is made clear by the name of the timepiece, and it is apparently the first wrist watch to make use of a George Daniels double impulse regulation system. The perfectly symmetrical escapement assembly is design to reduce error and thus make the movement’s rate results better (hence the “chronometer” part of the name). What we see in the movement is a balance wheel that sits above two escapements that connect to the anchor. This mechanical arrangement requires no lubrication.
The system has its own shock protection system with very stable bearings and operates at 3Hz (21,600 bph) with 36 hours of power reserve. The hand-decorated and assembled movement requires many hours to produce and is a real highlight of the Double Impulse Chronometer product. The frosted movement bridges are more typical of English (versus Swiss) watch movement design. A gear with a snail-shells style motif along with an applied arrow serves as a power reserve indicator on movement side of the watch. I am rather impressed with the system though I would have liked to see Charles Frodsham & Co. install a larger mainspring barrel on account of the fact that the double impulse regulation system seems to be a power hog and many of today’s wrist watch owners expect at least two days of power reserve in a time-only manually wound watch.
On the dial the movement features just the time with a handsome subsidiary seconds dial. The white dial is produced from ceramic (a good contemporary replacement for enamel) and it has applied hour markers which come in either the pictures Arabic numeral style, or also available in Roman numbers. As you can see, the hands and hour markers are flame-colored on the Double Impulse Chronometer watch. In order to be a bit “different,” Charles Frodsham & Co. uses a lighter flame touch yielding a purple color versus the traditionally seen blue tone for flame treated metal.
Dial elegance is high with a handsome assortment of details, the traditionally designed minute track, the various levels of depth to the face, and, of course, the applied hands and matching hour markers. Note that, given the bespoke nature of every Charles Frodsham & Co. individual Double Impulse Chronometer watch, it can be customized to suit the tastes of the buyer.
The Double Impulse Chronometer case is 42.2mm-wide and 10.5mm-thick, topped with a sapphire crystal (more AR coating would have been welcome). The case material here is actually 22k yellow gold, but the Double Impulse Chronometer watch is also available in 18k rose or white gold, and even in steel.
As a rare hand-crafted luxury, the Charles Frodsham & Co. Double Impulse Chronometer is a slick choice from this boutique brand. Busy building and repairing clocks, while also producing a backlog of Double Impulse Chronometer watches, probably keeps the team busy enough not to have time for developing too many new products. For that reason, the release of the Double Impulse Chronometer is quite special. While not the only artisan watchmaker from England, Charles Frodsham & Co. is part of a rather select club. Price for the Charles Frodsham & Co. Double Impulse Chronometer wristwatch in 22k yellow gold is £74,500. In steel the watch has a retail price of £68,500 and in 18k white or rose gold it has a price of£73,000. The current wait list for Charles Frodsham & Co. was of writing is about three years. Learn more at the Charles Frodsham & Co. website here.