While five-figure luxury watches often steal the show when it comes to flashy new materials meeting yet flashier looks, life hasn’t exactly stopped in the low four-figure range, either. Enter the Edox CO-1 Carbon Chronograph, a $3,890 watch with a carbon-ceramic-resin case, 500 meters of water resistance, helium escape valve, rotating dive-timing bezel, screw-down pushers and crown, and gold-colored movement.
Yep, Edox has really thrown everything but the kitchen sink at its CO-1 collection and, rather magically, the end result has become one of the better 7750/SW500-equipped offerings out there right now. There are so many 7750/SW500-equipped chronographs in the $3,000-$5,000 (and up…), it’s an immensely competitive microcosm of popular entry-mid-level luxury watches. Not surprisingly, many of them have a distinct OEM feel (OEM meaning “original equipment manufacturer” — the case, the dial, the hands, the clasp, the strap all having the same sort of generic design, as all are sourced from one renowned supplier or another). Although there might not be anything wrong with those from a quality perspective, what I personally look for is a unique design brewed from the age-old ingredients of a triple-sub-dial layout, a crown and two pushers, and a big, bulky case.
As much as it is a pleasurable kind of public service doing watch reviews, I just can’t review boring 7750/SW500-equipped watches anymore. They draw the will to live out of me. By contrast, a potentially well-made (won’t know until it’s in hand), creatively designed watch at a fraction of the price of the “big names” of the luxury industry — that can get my heart racing because it’s something I’d much more comfortably recommend to friends and family. Why? Because they are a whole lot less likely to grow tired of it in the foreseeable future — which is preferable since these aren’t exactly leaders in value retention. Make a bad call and you’ll either take a loss or struggle to sell and before moving on to the next one. So, a strong pre-selection phase is important to me.
Carbon fiber cases have come a long way over the last decade or so. Just the other day, I saw a listing for an early forged carbon Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore, and it looked like a two-month-old potato that’s been in a car crash. Because the regular “checkerboard” carbon is a total pain to use for watch parts and watch cases, it’s become a priority to figure out how to make neat-looking forged carbon cases — the industry and its suppliers eventually succeeded with affordability tumbling down all the way to $865, at some point. Meanwhile, other types of carbon have also been tested and altered for the specific use scenario of luxury watchmaking, including a great variety of multi-layered carbon solutions.
According to the brand, “the case of the Edox CO-1 Carbon Chronograph is made out of a newly engineered material much more resistant to scratches and general wear than normal carbon. Made of ceramic layer forged in resin with strains of black carbon and glass fibers, it gives a distinctive color and texture.” Personally, I’ve never had an issue with scratches and wear on other types of carbon fiber watches, but what I can appreciate is the distinctive striped look and the various colors provided by this unnamed type of carbon that Edox sourced for its CO-1 watches.
The benefits of carbon, as you probably already know, are that it is very light and yet extremely hard and durable, and that it combines with a unique, sporty aesthetic with a comfortable wearing experience (due to lower weight, better thermal conduction — no ice hockey puck feel when putting it on in the cold, and no allergic or other skin irritation that I am aware of). Carbon does have a lot to offer to the end-user, balanced out by a hell of a manufacturing procedure when compared to soft 18k gold or even 316L steel. Because carbon is so hard, and because these types of layered carbon materials are that much harder yet again, they pose a real challenge when it comes to machining the base material to the exacting and refined shapes of a watch exterior. Drilling and cutting tools need to be much more regularly replaced because they just eat through them like it’s nobody’s business, and special holders often need to be developed to enable the CNC machines to force their ways through the material once one half of the case is already done. A lot of this knowledge I soaked up when visiting Richard Mille’s ProArt facility and when chatting with engineers working at carbon case suppliers of the industry — but I have no reason to doubt these apply to Edox’s multi-layer affair all the same.
To the touch, the carbon case of the Edox CO-1 feels a lot like sanded wood before any lacquer was applied to it. It’s matte and apparently untreated so you can feel the microscopic pores of the material. Unlike a great many steel-cased sports watches out there, the case of the Edox CO-1 Carbon Chronograph has no sharp edges anywhere, not even on the underside or at the edges of the lugs. So just because the surface is untreated and because you can feel its porous surface, don’t think it makes for an uncomfortable tactile experience — quite the opposite, in fact.
Despite the cartoonish, layered material, a closer look reveals that the tolerances to which it has been machined are as good as they are on the best cases on any watch up to at least $10,000. The bezel sits perfectly flush and has virtually no side-to-side wobble, the holes drilled for the screws holding the straps (+1 extra point for those) are flush and sharp and the high-polished (another neat detail) screws set into the left side of the case also sit perfectly flush. They look like two screws have somehow grown and escaped from within the movement, It’s rare to see such nuanced details on a $3,890 watch. Seriously, big kudos for including these.
I like to tap front sapphire crystals with the nail on my index fingers to feel out how solid they are. On cheap(er) watches it’s an easy and reliable way to find out if a sapphire crystal was used or some cheaper alternative, while on 500M diver’s watches it’s fun to feel the brick-like nature of the extra thick piece of sapphire that they had to use to get to this water resistance rating. Take a regular watch with a sapphire crystal, tap it, then tap a proper diver — it’s like regular glass versus bullet-proof glass — a fun and literally invisible detail that testifies to the underlying robustness of a 500M diver.
At 45mm-wide, 16.8mm-thick, and 50mm lug-to-lug, the Edox CO-1 Carbon Chronograph is a hefty watch. It’s the nature of the beast: 99% of all 7750/SW500 equipped watches are thick as hell because the base movement is thick, to begin with. Add 500m WR, a helium escape valve, a rotating bezel, and screw-down everything into the mix, and the CO-1 is as compact as it can be. It’s fun how you can feel the weight gravitate towards the center of the watch: the case itself is super light, while the thick movement, the thick sapphire crystal and all the inner engineering (metal inner core, metal caseback) are everything but that.
The resulting wearing experience is a pleasant one save for this stupid double-folding clasp that I think nigh-on every entry-/mid-level luxury brand uses exclusively because it looks more expensive than a regular tang buckle. Having worn countless dozens of watches equipped with this exact clasp, each and every one of them has always left their mark on the underside of my wrist — the mark of discomfort, that is. I genuinely believe that all things unchanged, just with a regular tang buckle, the Edox CO-1 Carbon Chronograph could be one of the most comfortable 7750/SW500 equipped watches out there.
Watches with deeply and neatly integrated straps and bracelets tend to carry their heft around better, with more or less fully mitigated wrist wobble (unless you are being really vigorous with your motions). The rubber strap tapers neatly and has a concave flipside, leaving a bit of space between your skin and some of the strap. The benefit of this is that there is less of a sweaty ring around the wrist, as it tends to be with wide rubber straps and yet wider watch heads. I wish an OEM rubber strap maker would finally figure out how to do the three vents that Richard Mille has on its straps because those really elevate wearing comfort to a new level.
Legibility is mediocre under some circumstances and great in others. Despite the dark theme, it’s only in pitch-black darkness when illegibility becomes an issue. As long as there’s a bit of light, the shiny frames of the hands and indices will enable you to read the time without wearing night-vision goggles. The lume is as bad as black lume normally is: There’s a glistening of luminescence that is barely visible and goes away fast. The lume of the bezel pip is noticeably brighter and longer-lasting than anything on the dial which is a bit off-putting at times — or so it is for the lume nerds among us. Then again, under all other circumstances, the CO-1 proves what Hublot proved long ago: All-black watches can be conveniently legible, a lot more so than watches with shiny, skinny hands over shiny dials and terrible crystals (major, major brands still fall into these errors, to date). The weapons-grade sapphire crystal on the CO-1 sports an anti-reflective coating that allows the black design to be easily appreciated — we have seen on a watch 8-times more expensive how badly a lack of AR affects one’s chances at appreciating a sporty black design.
The movement is the Edox Caliber 011 that Edox says is based on the Sellita SW500 – kudos for sharing that information on the website’s product page. A 7750-based construction means a thick 7.9mm height, 48 hours of power reserve, an Incabloc shock resistance, and a 20-second daily accuracy rating tolerance. Frankly, I was at first a bit baffled when seeing this wide range of tolerance, but that sense of bafflement was quickly overthrown by the realization of just how incredibly rare it is to see a brand in this price point provide this “worst-case scenario” rating. Others (basically all others) using 7750/SW500 movements just remain blissfully quiet. It goes without saying that actual, real-world accuracy should be (and by every chance will be) a whole lot better. Still, you can always find other 7750/SW500 equipped watches with chronometer certifications if that makes you feel any better about your purchase. The piece sent to me remained reasonably accurate; I never had to reset or adjust it due to excessive inaccuracy.
Last but not least, and this is not something I regularly share in my reviews, I was pleasantly surprised just how neatly the history of Edox is shared on the brand’s website. It should be a bit more open about the private ownership of the brand and how it got more or less resurrected in the 1980s (and the 1950s), but it’s a good summary of important previous Edox watches and achievements, nevertheless. The point is that Edox is one of the more established and successful independent brands in this segment, a fact that may not be on everyone’s radar.
In summary, the Edox CO-1 Carbon Chronograph is a very solid proposition, even at its $3,890 USD price point. Its high-tech case, impressive detailing and quality, decent wearing comfort, and only minute shortcomings make it a purchase I can recommend to anyone looking for a slightly flashy modern sports chronograph. With 500 meters of WR, rotating bezel, helium valve, screw-down everything, neat strap, and cool dial, it’s a lot of bang for the buck — even if that’s plenty of bucks. It’s available in a variety of case and dial colors and you can learn more at the brand’s website.
>Model: CO-1 Carbon Chronograph reference 01125-CLNGN-BUNN
>Price: $3,890 USD
>Size: 45mm-wide, 16.8mm-thick, and 51.5mm lug-to-lug distance.
>When reviewer would personally wear it: Everyday, non-formal occasions.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: The one in the market for a cool modern sports chronograph that isn’t just about looks.
>Best characteristic of watch: Novel materials meet beautifully detailed execution. Fun and nice to wear.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Wish it had a simple tang buckle and at least one color variant with bright/regular lume on the hands and indices.