The Isle of Man motorcycle Tourist Trophy race is statistically so dangerous that it has earned the moniker, “The Most Dangerous Sporting Event on Earth.” With risk, there is danger, and without risk, there is no winning. There is a distinct mentality for those who race motorcycles, likely a defiance of maternal caution, and for those who win, an additional propensity to discount danger. Unleash a two-wheeled cauldron of raging, testosterone-fuelled competitiveness on the Isle of Man, and you have a time trial race worthy of a limited edition watch. Speed, Danger, Winning. You need the right chronograph for that, and Graham, official timer of the race, honours the daring racers with the Chronofighter Oversize Superlight TT.
The 47mm Graham Chronofighter Oversize Superlight TT is big and wears big. The contrasting black and white dial with a touch of racing red, coupled with the watch’s size, eliminates visibility issues, except for maybe the small date window. The gargantuan numeral twelve is noticeable across the room. Instead of shouting, “Hey, look at me!” and making a garish first impression, this watch embodies a bad boy cool, an unflinching confidence, which doesn’t grandstand, but definitely stands out.
A solid black bezel is an unusual candidate for a memorable feature, since you might consider it a nondescript aspect of the watch, blending in with a black case; but the ceramic used in the bezel and buckle of this watch add an unmistakable brilliance. From all angles the ceramic shines with reflections. This watch is good looking and knows it.
Being a limited edition of 200 watches and tied to a specific motorcycle race, the Chronofighter Superlight TT might be a niche watch, a purchase for only the most die-hard Tourist Trophy fan. This chronograph exudes the Isle of Man, but so much of the watch transcends its specific genesis, that like a cool motorcycle jacket, it conveys a sense of style across genres.
The left side chronograph trigger, replete with its stylish carbon pattern, relocates chronograph functions away from the wrist. The Graham left-sided trigger system, designed for aviation, is a signature characteristic of the brand and a helpful feature for motor-sport. Chronograph operations, though not particularly laborious, do require some advance forethought and subsequent muscle memory for quick operation. How will the hand hold the case to push the button? The ergonomic advantage of the trigger system makes chronograph operation troglodyte friendly; the right meat paw grabs the case, and the trigger is perfectly positioned for the thumb with four fingers providing plenty of stabilizing grip. Like a quick draw in the American Wild West, the trigger makes chronograph operation fast.
Idiosyncratic to the Chronofighter Oversize Superlight TT is its chapter ring. Normally, we would look for a tachymeter, and there is one, but this one is calibrated for one lap in the race (37.73 miles / 60.7 km). In addition, the chronograph 30 minute counter sub-dial highlights the race record of 17 minutes in yellow (lap record time, 131.578 mph / 211.75 kmh established by John McGuinness). The skeletonized minute counter hand is made to reveal the yellow record. If you attend the race, this watch lets you time each lap, looking for someone to beat the record.
A domed sapphire crystal with AR coating provides spacious viewing of the dial. The snailed sub-dials are generous in scale. The dial is black; the small seconds hand, skeleton minutes counter, seconds numerals on the inside of the chapter ring, and chronograph seconds hand are red; the hands and hour numerals are Superluminova white. The classic motor-sport white/black/red colour scheme is interrupted only by the yellow of the lap record.
Despite the size of the Chronofighter Oversize Superlight TT, it is truly Superlight – wearing is believing. Graham makes the case from a carbon nanotube speckled composite, and by using a weight-saving advanced material, the watch’s lack of weight is surprisingly disproportionate to its size. Carbon nanotube, as opposed to carbon fiber, resembles a bunch of hollow straws grouped together as a rope and having walls with the thickness of an atom. The carbon’s hollow construction provides the wow-factor of the watch’s weightlessness. The watch weighs less than 100 grams.
From carbon nanotube to ceramics, the real story with this watch is its materials. There is much more happening with this watch than its TT theme. A limited edition of 200 watches is insufficient for what is a drool worthy watch; the world needs more. The production Chronofighter Oversize may have the same ceramics, but the cases are steel, coated with black PVD; only the limited edition Superlight TT Isle of Man, Baja 1000 and GT Asia have carbon nanotube cases. We want more.
The crown falls victim to the trigger system as a trade-off. Having the crown under the trigger aids the rapid engagement of the chronograph, but when you need to use the crown, you have to make peace with the cumbersome trigger. On the other hand, looking at the bright side, the crown is protected by a fortress. In addition, the left side location is crucial for trigger operation, but managing a left sided crown does require dexterity.
Our least favourite aspect of the watch is its strap. The black canvas, techno-fabric strap with red contrast stitching continues the light weight and alternative material theme, but a leather or rubber option would feel more substantial. There was an issue with the cut holes, which could have been cut cleaner. A material with a higher quality feel might better complement the space-age case.
The Graham Calibre G1747 powers the watch, which, with its familiar cam system, is recognizable as a re-worked Valjoux 7750. The movement has 25 jewels, 4 Hz with 48 hours of power reserve, and an Incabloc shock absorber for rugged deployment. From the trigger to the large square rubber re-set button, operation is crisp and without play. A smoky, possibly too smoky, sapphire see through caseback, affixed by six screws, has the Isle of Man TT triskelion logo across the glass. Below sits one of the most responsive rotors seen, a bionic rotor on slick ice, which spins with the tenacity of perpetual motion.
Without being die-hard fans of the Isle of Man TT, we are huge fans of this watch. If only it were a permanent Chronofighter Oversize option. Until then, this watch bestows its wearer with authentic attitude. Riding boots, sunglasses and leather jacket not included.
The Verdict: Pro and Con
- The phenomenal lack of weight
- The shiny ceramics
- Black color
- Caliber G1747 chronograph movement
- Unique trigger system
- The strap – needs a black leather or rubber strap with red contrast stitching
- See-through caseback too dark
- Crown Operation – but this is a necessary trade-off with the trigger system
More info: www.graham1695.com