May 23, 2023
by Nick Lehner
Chicago-based watch brand Farr + Swit says it believes in not only selling quality watches, but the experiences that one has while wearing them. The brand clearly wants you to be having fun when its newest release is strapped to your wrist. The aptly named Solar Chrono Vice Edition uses neon colors on its dial to evoke the 1980s. The three-dimensional teal grid pattern gives the feeling of racing West in an 80s video game, while a neon pink and yellow sun goes down.
Between the dial motif, straight-edged chronograph second hand, and tachymeter scale, this chronograph gives off racing vibes. It doesn’t reincarnate the livery of any actual race team, but rather it’s a watch you’d wear to a neo-vintage car show like a Radwood event.
Farr + Switt has used fun lume applications on its other models, and the Solar Chrono continues this trend. As you’d expect, Super-LumiNova C3 green Grade X EF is used on the hands and markers. Additionally, the brand logo, chronograph hands, subdials, and even the date aperture are luminous (note that the date disc does not actually glow). The teal ring around the outside of the dial is also illuminated with C9. The thinner lume applications don’t stay bright for as long as the hands, but the appearance is very cool when stepping in from the outside. The lume on the hands and markers is quite bright, so you can always read the time at night.
Despite how busy the dial looks, it has quite good legibility during the day, too. Matte black metal outlines around white centers help the large hands to pop out against the colorful background sections. Although the dial is large, the outer space is occupied by a tachymeter scale and that teal chapter ring. The result is that the hands look appropriately sized, which is not always the case with larger-sized quartz chronographs. Interestingly, the applied metal markers are polished silver. While they don’t match the hands, they reflect light at certain angles, giving the dial even more visual interest.
The Solar Chrono case is mostly brushed, with a polished bezel that appears to be a separate piece. Although the bezel is not extremely thin, this watch is mostly dial (which I’m sure was the intention). It also leads to the case looking a bit bigger visually than its 42mm diameter suggests. At 12.5mm, it is not too thick considering that it’s a chronograph movement plus a solar panel, but the slab sides give it a substantial appearance.
My expectation is that people interested in a watch with a neon dial won’t shy away from it for being too big, however. Due to the curved down lug shape, it still wears quite comfortably and does not feel top-heavy at all. Additionally, the lug holes are drilled close to the case. This, combined with a cutout on the underside of the case, nearly eliminates any unsightly gap between the strap and the watch.
Farr+Swit also designed the watch to be easy to use. The signed, screw-down crown and chronograph pushers are large and easy to operate. A flat sapphire crystal with an anti-reflective coating is installed, and a screw-down caseback (complete with engraved rim design) helps provide 100m of water resistance.
While the original Solar Chrono came with a military-style nylon strap installed, the Vice Edition ships with two quick-release StrapHabit straps. A teal FKM rubber strap and a black sailcloth strap with magenta accents allow owners to change the look. Farr + Swit also includes one of its 5L Dry Bags with all watch purchases.
As the name implies, the Solar Chrono is powered by a solar quartz chronograph. Farr + Swiss claims it is a Seiko meca-quartz movement. While this version doesn’t feature the snap-back reset of other meca-quartz watches I’ve reviewed, it has a sweeping chronograph seconds hand and a lap timer function. Farr + Switt says it will run for six months after only five hours of sunlight. It has running seconds at 6 o’clock, and a 60-minute counter at 12 o’clock.
If you had described its dial to me without showing me a picture, I would not have expected it to look cohesive. In the metal, however, I found the watch very fun to wear, and a very functional timepiece. It’s surprisingly legible with solid specs, and the novelty of the design does not take away from its usability at all. As my collection continues to grow, I’m finding myself more and more appreciative of watches that are fun and unique, and always ready to grab and go. While you can find other microbrand chronograph watches at lower prices, many of them don’t have this level of detail on the dial. The solar capability is a nice touch, and it comes with two straps too.
The Farr + Swit Solar Chrono Vice Edition is limited to 85 units. While this test piece is not numbered, production models will be. They are now available for pre-order and are priced at $535 USD. Deliveries are expected in mid-June 2023. All models come with a two-year international warranty if the watch is registered. To learn more about the brand, please visit farrandswit.com.
>Brand: Farr + Swit
>Model: Solar Chrono Vice Edition
>Price: $535 USD
>Size: 42mm-wide, 12.5mm-thick, 50.5mm lug-to-lug
>When reviewer would personally wear it: Doing something fun on the weekend, to car shows, and at night because of the lume.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Someone who enjoys neon colors and wearing something unique.
>Best characteristic of watch: The use of color and lume on the dial.
>Worst characteristic of watch: The case will wear a bit big for some, especially those with smaller wrists.