Earlier this year, Ariel and I set off to attend the Couture Watch Show, held at the Casino Wynn in Las Vegas, and it was here that I had the chance to meet Leonid Khankin, CEO of Ernst Benz and also to go hands-on with some of the brand’s limited edition watches. From the wide variety of watches that the brand had on display, it was a bold, bright blue dialed watch – specifically, the Ernst Benz Chronoracer Sport or “Chronosport” – that caught my attention. So coming up now is a selection of hands-on images and a personal take on this vibrant limited edition.
At 47 millimeters wide, the Ernst Benz Chronoracer Sport is a hefty watch, although it is also available in a 44mm wide version with a black DLC case. The combination of “normal” steel and the blue dial did make this version stand out the most, so for now, momentarily, I ended up scrutinizing the larger version. Altogether, there are four versions that exist in this collection, with the key differences being the color of the indices painted on the baby blue dials: they can either be black, or orange with a black outline; while three out of the four watches have been black DLC coated.
As noted, the 47mm wide stainless steel case, to which the brand refers to as The Great Circle, lives up to its name – certainly more fitting for someone with larger wrists than mine, at 6.75″. The case is all brushed, including the bezel, the lugs and the side, which further enhances the already highly masculine size and overall design – baby blue dial, arguably, notwithstanding. Despite the massive size, the watch looks “light” and proportionate, thanks to the amply sized hands and indices.
The popping light blue base color of the dial really is highly unusual – it was my first encounter with a watch that featured this color – and yet it looks cool in the metal, without appearing to be trying too hard. For fans of historical motor racing, the color scheme may be familiar: Ernst Benz notes that the inspiration is coming from that industry, certainly referring to the famous Gulf painted Porsche 917K and others. This color palette of course may not be for everyone, but it sure is a nice design element that takes a few steps away from the traditional white, silver or black colored faces. In fact, this color is the centerpiece of this release that makes it special – and also what made me pick this one up from a box of at least a dozen other pieces.
Another unusual detail is that the dial has the unique number of the watch in the limited edition, a nice detail that implies not only the case but the dial also are uniquely treated in a limited production run. More imminently apparent is the combination of bright yellow lumed indices and hands, which offer a high contrast and good legibility – with that added fun element which, again, may not work for everyone.
I, however, can’t help but like the cheerful blue dial, and while I have never been a fan of the so-called “poire squelette” styled hands, here they work rather well with the indices and the overall style of the Ernst Benz Chronoracer Sport, lending it a field watch inspired flair. There actually are two different hues of yellow on the dial, with the “Limited Edition” script and the seconds hand standing out, being more “orange” than the other elements. The wide, circular dial and its color scheme is put into contrast by the dark brown and orange leather strap, made from wide and thick pieces of alligator leather that will hold the rather heavy watch safely in place.
The movement inside is the ETA 2836-2 which, beyond the three-hand layout, offers day and date indications – although it is at times like these when one wonders how the face of the watch would look with a solid dial without any apertures. Unsurprisingly, the wide case offers plenty of real estate for a full sapphire caseback that provides a comprehensive view of the movement that is the basic, workhorse ETA movement dressed up with a customized rotor. It runs at 4 Hertz and offers 40 hours power reserve, which are, again, typical ETA specs.
The Ernst Benz Chronoracer Sport is water resistant to 50 meters, and here, I wish it packed a bit more of a punch – the AR-coated sapphire crystal, the large brushed case and the overall field-watch atmosphere would be nicely complemented by a 100 meter water resistance rating, although the alligator strap surely is not made for diving or swimming. Despite this minor shortcoming, the Chronoracer Sport is unmistakably Ernst Benz – and such consistency is always impressive when coming from a smaller, independent brand – as it is bold, masculine, and is not without a little twist that renders it more exciting.
The Ernst Benz Chronoracer Sport (Chronosport) Limited Edition is a numbered production run of 50 pieces and in this configuration, with the brushed steel case and alligator strap is priced at $3,725. ernstbenz.com