There are certain watch brands that are unmistakable at first sight. Panerai and Richard Mille come to mind. Chronoswiss is another such brand with its signature regulator displays, knurled cases and large onion crowns. Since 1987, Chronoswiss has celebrated this regulator design and built a brand identity around it. Following up on recent regulator models, such as the Flying Regulator Open Gear and Flying Regulator Night and Day, the relatively young brand of 35 years has introduced a limited edition Flying Grand Regulator Skeleton in steel. The dial has been scaled back to the bare essentials and provides an almost unfettered view of the skeletonised movement. It’s a bold and modern addition to the series.
Regulator displays have a history dating back to the early 18th century. Regulator clocks adopted a non-coaxial face, which separated the time elements (hour, minute and second hands) from the more common central position. These regulator master clocks became references for adjusting newly manufactured timepieces. The minute hand was located centrally, acting as the “regulator” for watchmakers, while the other hands were pushed out of the way. The new Flying Grand Regulator Skeleton follows historical regulator set-ups with a large central minutes hand. Although it’s not uncommon to have a seconds hand in a separate sub-dial on modern watches, hour and minute hands are usually together.
The silver dial has been stripped down considerably with a multi-dimensional theme but remains detailed and sophisticated nonetheless. The Poire Stuart style hands are blued with a red counterweight topping the central minute hand. The hour hand is in a raised sub-dial at 12 o’clock and the seconds are at 6 o’clock, and a minute scale spans the outer perimeter with numerals every 5 minutes. Roman numerals are printed on the funnel-shaped hour sub-dial and numerals span the edge of the seconds sub-dial in 10-second increments. An inverted minute scale is printed within a small sub-dial around the base of the minute hand, allowing its red counterweight to reflect the minutes as well. A cool attention to detail. A narrow strip connects the inverted minute scale to the dial’s perimeter, with Chronoswiss printed on the left and a hand-painted number of limitation on the right. The overall design is an almost futuristic and architectural take on a centuries’-old concept.
The 21-part stainless steel case is fairly large at 44mm in diameter and 12.48mm in height. It has the characteristic Chronoswiss side knurling below the bezel and around the caseback, and a large fluted onion crown. It’s unmistakably Chronoswiss. There’s a curved sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating on the front and flat sapphire crystal on the screw-down exhibition caseback. The top of the case and bezel are polished with a brushed finish on the sides and back, and large, curving lugs attach to a brown Louisiana alligator leather strap with folding clasp. The case is water-resistant to 30m (3 ATM).
The heart of the Flying Grand Regulator Skeleton is a hand-wound Chronoswiss calibre C. 677S, which is a heavily modified Unitas 6498 movement. Chronoswiss does the modifications in-house in Lucerne, Switzerland to allow for the regulator display and openwork design. It has 17 jewels, beats at 18,000vph (2.5Hz), has an Incabloc shock protection system, a 46-hour power reserve and hours, minutes and hacking seconds in a vertical layout. A unique bridge design is seen from the back with an aesthetic that’s far removed from the base Unitas 6498.