Raymond Weil is an independent family-run brand that so many of us began our watch collecting journeys with, and I recall my uncle’s RW (a simple rectangular model that I just can’t place the name of) as being an object of fascination for me as a child. Lately, Raymond Weil has made moves to go ever-so-slightly up-market, and cater to the $2,500+ buyer, with the Freelance Chronograph, one of its more attractive and versatile offerings. Standing out in the cut-throat entry-level Swiss mechanical chronograph market isn’t an easy task but the Freelancer Chronograph earns a place and is worthy of real consideration.
The Freelancer Chronograph is one of the more wearable and versatile pieces in the 30-piece (or so) Freelancer collection. While there are some sportier iterations out there, I like the clean bezel and internal tachymeter seen in this model. I know there were previous iterations some years ago that had a similar layout, but with a triple-date window (which I can personally say I don’t miss). Seen here modeled by our ownSean Lorentzen is the version with silver dial and black chronograph sub-dial layout.
Measuring 42mm-wide and 13.85mm-thick, the steel case of the Freelancer Chronograph is smack dab in the middle of what I’d say is the contemporary taste range (40-44mm). It’s not the thinnest case out there, but we are talking about a sub-$3,000 mechanical chronograph, so you’ll have to make some compromises here. And hey, it’s still thinner than the Hamilton Intramatic Chronograph, which clocks in at over 14mm-thick despite being a manual-wind. The 100m of water resistance is also solid for a chronograph.
The stainless steel case has alternating brushed and polished finishes, though the blue-dial variant goes in a slightly different but interesting direction by having a steel case that is “titanium-colored” PVD. In addition to adding a matte finish, the PVD coating also helps with scratches and general wear. I think Raymond Weil should consider offering this finish for all the pieces in the Freelancer Chronograph family.
There is really nice circular guilloché serving as a frame between the inner dial and the tachymeter scale on the flange. The nice lumed baton-shaped hands are legible and a respectable length for the dial. A detail I nearly missed but really love is how both the hour and minutes hands taper at the end in a way that aesthetically matches the also-tapered hour indices. This is a subtle design touch but one you don’t see from many entry-level pieces at this price point. While I know everyone doesn’t love a day-date window, the execution here is legible and done with a nice framing. With its white background and black text, it does look better against the silver dial model than it would against the blue just because there’s no color clash.
The brand name is written on the 30-minute chronograph counter at 12 o’clock and it really uses every micrometer of space available in the sub-dial. I do wish the “automatic” text written on the 12-hour chronograph counter wasn’t right in between the “8” and “4” digits but I think I’m just nitpicking at this point.
Turning the case over shows the RW5200 movement, which is based on the Sellita SW500. This automatic chronograph movement operates at 28,800 vph and has a 48-hour power reserve. It’s a solid and reliable movement and, while I don’t have unreasonable expectations in regards to finishing at a certain price point, I appreciate the perlage finishing on the rotor.
Raymond Weil is an independent family-owned watch brand that plays in a very competitive price point. The entry-level Swiss mechanical chronograph market has a slew of options from brands like Longines and Hamilton (both benefitting from being under the Swatch Group umbrella), but the Raymond Weil Freelancer Chronograph certainly merits serious consideration. If your impression of the brand has been formed by its offerings in the lower $1,000-1,500 range, you’re certainly not alone. That said, the brand has been steadily upping its game on these slightly pricier pieces that offer something a little bit different than the usual suspects. Price for the Raymond Weil Freelancer Chronograph on leather strap as seen here is $2,695. You can learn more at raymondweil.us.