One of the first names that come to mind when thinking of Regulator-style watches is Chronoswiss. Having produced the world’s first serially manufactured wristwatch with a Regulator style display in the 1980s, Chronoswiss, as of today, boasts an exhaustive catalog of Regulator watches to suit almost everyone’s taste and style. Recently, I got an opportunity to go hands-on with the Chronoswiss Open Gear Resec Wave, a new watch that represents the modern and artistic implementation of the Regulator concept. And here are my impressions.
The Case and Strap
I have relatively large wrists and enjoy wearing watches such as Panerai that offer some wrist presence. So, when I strapped the Chronoswiss Big Wave to my wrist, it immediately felt at home. Measuring 44mm wide and 13.35mm thick, the case on this watch is crafted from stainless steel and wears true to its dimensions. And while the lugs curve downwards and hug the wrist well, they extend out quite a bit from the case, making this watch more suitable for people with medium to large wrists. The case is beautifully finished and displays a nice mix of finely brushed and polished surfaces. The case also exhibits some signature Chronoswiss design details such as the knurled bezels both on top and bottom and the large onion-shaped crown. The case is water-resistant to 100 meters, which means that you can perform some light swimming with the watch tied to your wrist.
The watch comes attached to a hand-sewn blue Hornback crocodile leather strap. The strap certainly looks and feels high quality; however, I do feel that is a little on the thicker side. I also found the strap to a little too stiff out of the box, and it also remained that way during the limited time I had the watch. That said, I will not say that this is a deal-breaker, as I feel this strap would become more pliant with regular usage.
It is no clandestine that the dial is the most important aspect of a wristwatch. Funnily though, one glance at the dial of a new watch is all it takes for our brain to decide whether a watch is going to be a part of our Horological dreams or not. “Stunning” was the word that came to my mind when I first saw the pictures of the Open Gear Resec Big Wave. But pictures can be deceptive, so I controlled my excitement till the time I got my hands on the watch. Thankfully, nothing changed when I finally got the opportunity to handle this beauty, and rather it looks much more beautiful in person. Depth, texture, color, you name it, and this dial delivers. One of the first things that grabbed my attention on this watch is its rich Royal blue color. And, while the color is a gorgeous shade of blue, there are a couple of details that make this dial a visual delight.
First is the layered architecture of the dial and second is the intricate guilloche pattern. Like in a typical regulator watch, the hours, minutes, and seconds have been segregated for accurate tracking of time. However, what makes this reference stand out is the implementation. For instance, look at how the hour and seconds subdials instead of being recessed on the main dial, have been placed above the dial, enhancing its three-dimensional nature. Underneath the elevated hour disc, you can see some exposed gears and bridges that lend the dial some visual complexity. But the real joy as far as timekeeping is concerned lies in the retrograde second’s function. Instead of completing a full circle of 60 seconds, the second’s hand travels from 0 to 30 and then jumps back to the start position. As for the minutes, you get a nice tapering hand, that travels across the minute track printed on the tall flange. Interestingly, the flange features grooves at intervals of five to house white cylindrical tubes of superluminova, which in conjunction with lume filled hands makes sure that visibility in low light situations is never an issue. Overall, in terms of legibility, I did not face any difficulty in reading the time.
Coming back to that hypnotic and intricate Guilloche base. As the name of the watch suggests, the base dial features a wave pattern that has been engraved using the traditional Guilloche technique. Now, when I say traditional, I mean that the pattern has been executed by hand, by a skilled artisan, using a Rose engine lathe, and has not just been stamped. The outcome is truly stunning and pictures on the internet don’t do it justice. And, just in case you feel I am exaggerating the beauty of this dial, I would like to mention that I wore this watch one day at a dinner party with my friends and I had almost every friend of mine ask which watch was I wearing.
Powering this watch is the automatic caliber C.301. This movement is based on the reliable ETA 2895 and features an in-house retrograde running seconds module. It operates at a frequency of 4Hz, comprises 33 jewels, and provides an autonomy of around 42 hours. In terms of decoration, you get to see some nice perlage, Geneva striping, blued screws, and a skeletonized blue rotor. While not the prettiest movement out there, it is always good to look at a decently decorated mechanical movement.
The Chronoswiss Open Gear Resec Big Wave is a great-looking watch that is soaked in tradition and modern in its execution. The watch offers excellent build quality and feels like a premium product. Priced at USD 9,400, this is certainly an expensive watch. And while there are a lot of watches from the Big guns that fall in this price bracket, I can’t think of any direct competition given the unique complication on offer. So, in case, you desire a luxury Regulator style watch, Chronoswiss is the way to go, and given the variety on offer, I think there would be something that tickles your fancy.