July 3, 2017
by Ariel Adams
Those not intimately familiar with the various timepiece models produced by Graham might not even notice at first glance that the Graham Chronofighter Vintage GMT is a new watch. This isn’t the first Graham “Chronofighter,” it isn’t the first “Vintage,” and it isn’t the first “GMT.” Rather, it is a new model that blends a lot of what Graham has already done into a new and decently satisfying package.
Most people even remotely familiar with Graham will probably mistake the Chronofighter Vintage GMT for the previously offered, and soon to be discontinued I believe, Chronofighter Oversize GMT aka the Chronofighter GMT. The two watches have similar profiles, the same functionality (for the most part), and even share the exact same movement. The big differences are in the size and the price.
Where the “original” Chronofighter GMT has a 47mm-wide case, the “new” Chronofighter Vintage GMT comes in a much more wearable (for most people) 44mm-wide case. The Chronofighter Vintage GMT also has a retail price of several thousand dollars less than the Chronofighter GMT. Is 3mm in size enough for such a price premium? Of course not. The larger model is not worth several thousand dollars more. The reality is that the Chronofighter GMT was released as an arguably over-priced (as opposed to over-sized) product, and with the Chronofighter Vintage GMT, Graham is simply getting more realistic about product valuation.
Swiss Graham is one of those controversial “bold dude watches” that I’ve always had a soft spot for. Antagonists of the brand decry that watches like this lack sensibility, or taste, or elegance. I’m not sure if I agree or care about sensibility. In fact, when it comes to a luxury watch I am pretty sure most people, whether they behave consciously or not, are not looking for “sensible.” Rather, they are looking for excess and something that makes a statement, which is a major reason why we like luxury timepieces if we want to be honest with ourselves.
The role that Graham plays is as a retro-styled pilot-themed adventure toy that you can wear on your wrist. A lot of high-end men’s watches are essentially toys, insofar that we can play with them and they let us live out an adventure that does not represent our actual lives. Toys can really be anything that you use to make you feel, if but for a moment, that you are living a different life. What makes watches great as toys is that they have a real history on the wrists of adventurers (such as pilots) with accompanying visual themes to potentially exploit.
So Graham is a men’s high-end toy watch brand that unashamedly promotes their sort of fun, just as many other watch brands do. It is just that some brands suggest a more genteel or gentle form of fun. With a name like “Chronofighter,” Graham wants you to be playing out a more adult yet still boyish army fantasy at all times while wearing this timepiece. If you can appreciate and respect a timepiece for being a toy, and know that you have a place in your life for such items, then that is the first step to appreciating watches just like this.
Graham exists among a relatively crowded space of high-end men’s sport watches trying to help countless guys out there live out their adventure fantasies. Why get a Graham versus a Breitling, IWC, Omega, Rolex, etc.? That is a good question. I think in a perfect world, most watch collectors would have at least a few watches from each of those brands in their arsenals.
Graham knows that it isn’t going lure away first time Rolex buyers from getting that GMT-Master II they have been eyeing for a while. Brands like Graham wait patiently for first-time luxury watch buyers to become second, third, fourth, etc. time watch buyers in the hopes that they are seeking something a bit more risky and polarizing than what they already have. Understanding this is important to appreciating some of the more subtle nuances to watch brands’ sales strategy (and in some instances I use the term “strategy” as lightly as possible).
Knowing this information perhaps helps put the various bright and bold colors you see on many Graham timepieces into perspective. These watches are not only meant to peacock for attention by watch buyers, but also strive to be items which buyers wear to peacock for attention by onlookers. The psychology of wanting other people to notice and/or appreciate the watch on your wrist is the topic for another article altogether.
Graham currently produces four different dial color variations for the Chronofighter Vintage GMT. I thought this reference 2CVBC.G01A that featured a quasi-British racing green (mixed with forest green) in a metallic finish was pretty nice. It is certainly the quirkiest of the models even if the green and military themes go together nicely and logically. Other dial colors options include the reference 2CVBC.C01A in brown, the 2CVBC.B15A in dark gray, and the 2CVBC.U02A in blue. For fashionability, each comes with a matching blue leather strap.
Even though the watches have visually large proportions, the 44mm wide case wears very comfortable – especially on the strap. The complex chronograph pusher array on the left-side of the case extends up your arm, rather than to your hand (assuming you wear the watch on your left hand), and the dial is decently legible. The more you look at the watch you can see influence from Graham’s Chronofighter Vintage collection, which is a modest visual throwback as compared to more modern-looking Graham timepieces. At 47mm wide, the previous model was too large to comfortably wear on my wrist. This 44mm wide case, along with the wrapping curved lugs made for an impressively comfortable fit I have to admit.