Burly with a masculine spirit, the Graham Chronograph Sahara (ref. 2CCAUB02A) watch is an off-road vehicle stuck inside of a luxury timepiece. I first discussed this watch as it is part of the Chronofighter II collection of watches from Graham here. The Chronofighter II is a refined version of the original Chronofighter collection. In the previous article we discussed some of the changes, but let’s just leave it at “this is the Chronofighter watch to want, and there is no reason to look back.”
In its Sahara guise, the Chronofighter comes in a PVD black steel case with khaki tan hour markers and hands, as well as a textile fabric strap that looks like it might have been 1940s tent canvas in another life. I wouldn’t go so far as to call the Chronofighter Sahara “military” in its looks, but it certainly is “outdoors tactical” if anything. As a sport watch I’ve found that it fits the bill for both casual and more interesting outdoors environment duty. To be honest I found myself liking the Chronofighter much more than I thought I would given what I once thought was an awkwardly large and silly chronograph trigger system.
Part of what was new for the Chronofighter II was a more simple and elegant trigger. Mounted on the left of the case it never jabs into your arm or wrist, and ends up looking very cool. I found that it also acted as a “man-magnet” as lots of guys would comment on the watch and express how much they liked it. The trigger is lightweight, built from a solid piece of cut carbon. The carbon texture looks great, and as a chronograph pusher it does work well. Above it is a smaller reset pusher for the chronograph.
Built into the trigger system is the crown for the watch. Purposefully large, it is much easier to operate and manually wind the watch (if desired) than it looks. The pusher for the chronograph is actually in the middle of the crown, and that is what the trigger depresses. Without any wiggle and a solid feel, I would certainly consider the smaller size and refined design and materials of the chronograph trigger system to be an upgrade over the the previous generation of Chronofighter watches.
Inside each Chronofighter is a modified Swiss ETA Valjoux 7750 automatic chronograph movement that Graham calls their caliber G1747. The 7750 is flipped and the 12 hour counter is removed. That leaves the time with subsidiary seconds on the dial, as well as the date (thankfully on a black disc) and a 30 minute chronograph. Legibility is very good with the properly-sized hour and minute hands with their somewhat vintage clock design. I would say that the black-on-black subsidiary seconds hand and dial could be easier to read, but I never paid much attention to it to be honest so I can hardly consider it an issue. If you want to measure the seconds, the very easy to spot chronograph seconds hand is for that. Graham also designs the chronograph minute counter a bit larger than you might expect, which makes it extremely easy to read.
Living with the dial of the Chronofighter Sahara for a while now I can say that I not only appreciate its legibility, but the slick design has become quite beautiful for me. There is nothing overly shiny or polished, and reading it in many different lighting scenarios has proven comfortable. Amusingly, the dial contains a telemeter scale, something that I have not, nor will I ever use. It never bothered me, but when writing this review I amusingly recalled that it was there. Graham’s only suggestion on when to use it is to perhaps measure the distance lighting is away from you based on listening to its thunder. A telemeter uses the chronograph as well as sound to measure how distant something is from you. Graduated to an assumed ambient temperature of 25 degrees Celsius that is.
Lume on the dial is that tan colored SuperLumiNova. I appreciate that it isn’t pale green in color. The lume is pretty good, but there is a mild trade-off given the color of the lume. It glows true and green, but when painted it makes light absorption a bit less. However, there is no lume for the chronograph – so time measuring is in light only. Overall, from a utility standpoint I give the new Chronofighter high marks, and it is good looking to boot with its balanced assortment of dial features.
At 47mm wide, the steel case is not very small, but it doesn’t wear “huge.” The black color helps it look smaller and the snub lugs help make for a good fit. The case is water resistant to 100 meters and has a sapphire crystal over the dial and case back window. What I really appreciate is the black ceramic (versus steel) bezel. It shines nicely adding a higher-end feel to the otherwise utility-focused case, and offers a very high level of scratch resistance. While the case itself is not polished, I found it nicely amusing that the strap buckle is black and polished.
Comfort for the Chronofighter II case is very high for most wrists. While it never bothered me, it is worth noting that the inner parts of the lugs are very sharp. This is part of the design and machining process, but they are on the sharper side. Still, in wearing the piece quite a bit that never bothered me once. I also found the black and tan colors of the Sahara design to be really flattering, making it probably my top pick for the new Chronofighter designs.
The attached fabric strap is rather comfortable, and from a color perspective well-matched. One small issue is that the fabric tends to fray a little bit. You can snip off the loose threads, but I can see that after a few years a strap replacement will become due. I imagine that everything from a NATO strap to a brown alligator strap would look good with the Chronofighter. I’ve actually not seen too many Graham Chronofighter watches on non-factory straps, but imagine that much like Panerai, these interesting designs can be vastly altered with different types of straps.
On the rear of the case is a see-through case back window to review the movement. It has been slightly tinted to go with the black theme. Still you notice that the base 7750 is decorated and has some nice blued screws. Graham watches have come a long way in my mind, from high-end toy style watches with a penchant for sporty exaggerated looks to something that can have a serious and possibly permanent place on my wrist. The brand still produces some pieces with strange color combinations that look best for men with midlife crises who go out and pair one with their new sports car, but more and more Graham watches are settling into mature, refined looks that should have a place on more people’s wrists. Certainly worth a closer look. Price for the Graham Chronfighter Oversize Black Sahara watch is $6,900. graham-london.com
>Model: Chronofighter Oversize Black Sahara
>Price: $6,900 USD
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Someone who has an appreciation for refined sports timepieces but doesn’t want to wear the same thing everyone else is.
>Best characteristic of watch: Sporty looks that grow on you in a well-refined alternative sports watch.
>Worst characteristic of watch: On the pricier side and with a strap that will need to be replaced in time.