Geneva-based Cvstos and its Challenge Chrono II watch collection represent a very salient form of modern watch design. Allow me to assert that it takes courage to wear many modern watches with such contemporary designs. A reason that so many people wear traditional designs is that they are stylistically conservative. Older-style designs which still look good today have passed the test of time, and tend to result in rather uncontentious wearing experiences where some people will love your watch, most will accept it, and very few will actively dislike it. With modern watches that are still experimenting with form, wearers must actively accept and may even prefer a lot more of a controversial wearing experience.

This is a good framework for helping to consider both the appeal of something like a Cvstos Challenge Chrono II, as well as why many people might very well not like the design of such a timepiece. When you strap on something this bold, visually intense, and colorful, you are asking for attention. The nature of that attention can greatly vary. So, I think it would be safe to say that people who wear novel or more controversial designs are those people who actively seek attention, or are totally comfortable in handling the consequences of such attention.

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Hublot and Richard Mille together are the poster children of the what I might call the high-end modern watch design “movement.” Hublot isn’t by any means cheap, but it is clearly more accessible than Richard Mille watches that have an average price of well over $100,000. What these brands have in common is a contemporary celebration of the fact that luxury watches are machines. Not just machines, but beautiful ones that can draw parallels to other mechanical worlds such as driving, boating, and flying.

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While Hublot and Richard Mille are two very successful examples of modern design mechanical watch makers, the popularity of the overall segment has attracted numerous players from all sides of the industry, including Cvstos. I spoke a bit more about the Cvstos brand as well as the Challenge Chrono II watches here. I recommend you read that piece for more technical data about the collection, its variants, as well as the Cvstos brand itself.

For now, I’d like to focus on wearing the watch and that overall experience. In short, what you have is an almost unparalleled visual wearing experience, with a lot of welcome personality and refinements, but with also inherent drawbacks and limitations that go with the territory.

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Visit Cvstos’ website and you’ll find yourself viewing many (many) Cvstos Challenge Chrono models. These include both the Challenge Chrono (GT) I and the smaller-sized Cvstos Challenge Chrono II. This review is of a model (in black and red forged carbon) from the Cvstos Challenge Chrono II collection, which has a 41mm-wide case that is 53.7mm long, versus the larger 45mm-wide, 59mm-long case of the larger model. On the wrist, this is a pretty good size for most people unless you have very large wrists.

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The barrel-shaped (tonneau) case is both dynamic and very bold. First Franck Muller and then Richard Mille helped popularize this shape in contemporary watches, and Cvstos for the Challenge Chrono collection helped incorporate the aesthetic into their own brand image. Yes, you can claim that in some ways what Cvstos is doing is using tried and true themes with their own unique blend of the concept. Perhaps originality is not where this watch collection has its strength. Instead, I think what Cvstos brings to the table is a pleasant blend of existing popular elements which they have assembled in a relatively interesting and coherent timepiece collection.

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Wearing the Cvstos Challenge Chrono II, I felt pretty good. The case in this carbon material is both relatively light and, admittedly, very cool looking. I do feel like a bit of a badass with the watch on my wrist. With that said, I can’t always read the time very easily. The first legibility issue is with the richly domed sapphire crystal. I am sure there is AR-coating in there somewhere, but the sheer curvature of the crystal means that there will be lots of glare.

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