September 1, 2015
by Rob Nudds
“The only easy day was yesterday,” is the motto of the US Navy SEALs. The watchmaking industry can identify with that. The goal of haute horlogerie is to improve with every passing second. It is not concerned with life and death in a literal sense, but it is responsible for the recording of time, which governs all things. With the release of the Graham Chronofighter Oversize Navy SEAL Foundation Limited Edition watch, Swiss watchmaker Graham honours and supports this famous division of the US armed forces. Watchmaking and the military have a long-standing association, for timing is obviously essential in war, but the conditions faced by those in battle have inspired some functional and aesthetic changes in watch design – some of which persist to this day.
The “hacking” seconds hand was made essential by those wishing to synchronise their watches to the second. The hacking function simply stops the going seconds hand by way of a “stop lever” or “brake” engaging with the balance wheel when the crown is pulled out to the hand-set position. The Graham Chronofighter Oversize Navy SEAL Foundation watch is powered by the G1747 calibre which features a hacking function, 48-hour power reserve, date window at 8 o’clock, a 28,800vph operating speed, and an engraved rotor weight responsible for automatically winding the watch.
The most modish military inclusion on this watch has to be the camouflage dial design. Printed with a pixelated camouflage motif, this watch has the appearance of a stealth tool. In addition to the camo print, the massive, oversized chronograph trigger on the left-hand side of the case is made of carbon fibre, continuing the mottled theme on the outside of the case as well. I don’t dislike this dial design, but was surprised to see it again so soon after the summer release of the HYT H1 Air Black Pixel, which also utilises a bitty print pattern. Maybe it’s a growing trend, but I haven’t seen it around that much to suggest to has become totally mainstream (although, I guess not being able to see it is kind of the idea!).
The 47mm black PVD-coated stainless steel case, again evokes feelings of secrecy and night-time activity, and the absence of dial lume means this watch would not create too much of a visual stir should it be used by an active service professional. It is unstated by the press release whether or not the hands of this watch glow in the dark, but it seems possible that a low-level black lume might have been used to make the watch readable by its wearer, but not too obvious to the enemy.
There is one thing about this dial that I think is really cool, and that is the inclusion of a telemetric scale. A telemeter is a scale that runs around the outside of a chronograph dial in the same way as a Tachymeter (used for measuring speed of an object over a known distance), a Pulsometer (used for measuring heart rate), and various other, less common scales.
A telemeter is used for measuring the distance of an object (in military terms, this is often the enemy), by timing how long it takes the sound from the object in question to reach your location. It can also be used in thunder and lightning to work out how far you are from the centre of the squall. It’s a rare thing to see these days and no less useful than the more commonly seen tachymeter. I like to see the odd scales pop-up every now and then just to remind people they exist. In this case, it’s actually really fitting to have it on a military timepiece, so it gets a big thumbs up from me.
What is also worthy of acknowledgement, is the help Graham hope to provide the Navy SEAL Foundation with the release of this watch. The NSF works tirelessly to support active servicemen and the veterans that served the United States throughout their career. Since the creation of the Navy SEAL unit in 1962, the foundation has been behind the troops on the front line, helping to deal with the personal and collateral effects of conflict. The Navy SEALs must undertake missions in a range of hostile environments: the desert; the jungle; the Arctic tundra. Graham claims that the Graham Chronofighter Oversize Navy SEAL Foundation watch has been put through its paces in all these conditions and is able to function despite the harsh conditions to which it has been subjected.
The watch is gray scale in all areas but for the vibrant colour-pop of the case back. Printed crystals split opinion, but this one takes a tack I’ve not seen before. Rather than a solid print as seen on some of the old Omega military pieces, or the recently released IWC Worldtimer, this image is printed in a series of lines, revealing the movement behind the glass as well as draping it in a fluttering American flag. It may not be a classic look, but it’s a half-way house I very much enjoy. It offers a great deal of possibilities and a palatable compromise. It’s also a smart move as the movement need not be finished to the same high standard as a normal glass case back and might, in fact, benefit from a more uniform finish such as media-blasting so that it doesn’t cast unwanted glare through the gaps in the colour printing. Given that the G1747 is based on the Valjoux 7750, there is nothing of horological note here, but as many will agree, it’s still nice to see the movement regardless of its novelty. I like this mode of presentation and regard the case back as the highlight of this watch.
The Graham Chronofighter Oversize Navy SEAL Foundation is water resistant to 100m and is carried on a carbon fibre-reinforced rubber strap. It fastens with a “Clous de Paris” ceramic black buckle. There will only be 500 pieces made available, and for every one purchased, Graham will make a donation to the Navy Seal Foundation, which will go towards funding warrior support and family service programs, tragedy assistance, survivor support, educational opportunities, and legacy preservation. Price for the Graham Chronofighter Oversize Navy SEAL Foundation is $8,050. graham1695.com