We received a Chronoswiss Opus Chronograph Flag review loaner for a fortnight to try out. Here is our report after two weeks living with this legendary chronograph.
As mentioned in our release article on the Chronoswiss Opus Chronograph Flag, the predecessor to the review sample is a darling of the Timezone.com watch forum some quarter century ago (yea, it sounds like a long time, but I remember it like it was yesterday). It was the subject of many dreams as the grail watch of the day.
Chronoswiss has always been known for two design icons: the regulator and the chronograph. Ever since the founding days by Gerd Lang, the brand is somewhat synonymous with these two complications. Indeed these were the first two watches discussed in Lang’s book Signs of the Times. The Ebstein family took over the brand when Lang retired, and continued the tradition while moving the operations to Luzern.
Review: Chronoswiss Opus Chronograph Flag
The Chronoswiss Opus Chronograph Flag is available as of now, priced at CHF 11,400 / € 11,500 / USD 11,400 / GBP 9,800.
The original Chronoswiss Opus was introduced in 1995 and won the “Watch of the Year” by the readers of Armbanduhren magazing for 1996. It led the way as being the first serially produced automatic chronograph which offered a skeletonized dial and movement.
This new Opus was released by Chronoswiss in 2020, and marks a return to its roots. And a welcomed addition to the collection for us.
The case is updated to a larger 41mm from the original’s 38mm, and water resistance increased from 3 to 10 ATM. There are also small changes to the lug dimensions allowing the larger case to hug the wrist better for more comfort. And the sapphire glass is now treated on both sides with anti-reflective coatings, which we are thankful for as we did the photography.
The case, dial and hands
The case remain similar to what it was in 1995. The case middle is basically a matte finished cylinder in steel, with an upper bezel and a lower bezel. The bezel is convex and highly polished with an edge which is serrated to look like a coin edge. This is the same for the top as a well as the bottom bezel.
The dial is where the attraction lies. The layout is typical Valjoux 7750 with a continuous second hand in the 9 o’clock sub-dial, a 30 minute totalizer at 12 o’clock and a 12 hour totalizer at 6 o’clock. The chronograph seconds hand is long and very sleek, with a circle counter weight on on one end and an arrow shape pointer. The chronograph function hands are colour coded in red, which is a nice touch.
The skeltonized dial is in a beautiful metallic blue, and is very nicely pierced to show the movement within, which is also skeletonized. The markings are in white print and offer a very good contrast for great legibility. The main hour and minute hands are also in white, as is the continuous second hand, which is the colour code for the time telling hands. For a skeletonized watch, the legibility is remarkably good.
The movement caliber is printed on a cartouche below 6 o’clock – “C.741S Atelier Lucerne”, indicating that the movement caliber (unchanged from the original Opus) and the Atelier Lucerne presumably meaning that the work is crafted in the Chronoswiss premises in Lucerne.
The lugs are soldered to the middle case, and are straight numbers with a high polish finish.
The movement: Chronoswiss C. 741S
The movement within the Opus Chronograph Flag is designated the Chronoswiss C. 741S, and is based on the ubiquitious ETA/Valjoux 7750 chronograph movement. The movement is cam controlled and is well known for robustness and reliability, and hence its usage the chronograph movement of choice when in-house development is not an option. The movement is not particularly beautiful to look at, but is mechanically excellent. The Chronoswiss version is made pretty with the striking blue of the custom rotor as seen from the case back.
Movement finish is judged to be adequate, and to a functional engineering level, and the watch should prove to be capable of providing years of reliable and accurate service. The chronograph buttons offer the characteristic feel of the 7750 chronographs, where the pusher feel is firm, and start and stop is noticeably harder to engage than reset.
During the fortnight the watch was worn by us on a daily basis, it performed well, with no glitches. We used it to time divers activities, from parking time, to cooking pasta, to roasting coffee and pulling espressos.
The competitive landscape
The space occupied by the Chronoswiss Opus is not as highly competitive as with other arenas. The key criteria of skeletonizing excludes many of the usual suspects, and the field thins. And at a pricing of CHF 11,400, the Chronoswiss is neither very expensive, nor super inexpensive.
Bell & Ross produces a square cased BR-X1 Black Titanium Skeleton Chronograph priced considerably higher at SGD $27,200 (Limited Edition of 250 pieces). It features a glass dial, which allows a view into the movement, but saves from actually doing the skeletonizing of the dial. The movement is a Dubuis Depraz and Bell & Ross collaboration chronograph module.
Maurice Lacroix Aikon Chronograph Skeleton is a possible competitor. Set at a lower SGD 10,400. The movement is similar, but not the same. The ML uses a Concepto modified Valjoux/ETA 7750, and offers a two counter bi-compax layout. The watch is also 44mm in diameter, and though only 3mm by measurement, is considerably larger when wearing. But the biggest difference is the ML has a monochromatic look, which has some aesthetic advantages to some, but reduces the contrast on the dial and makes telling the time and reading the chronograph quite difficult.
A good place to start is the Zenith Defy El Primero 21 is another. Priced at roughly the same as the Chronoswiss for the Skeleton model (SGD 16,600), but it offers a dual escapement movement with the ability to resolve to 1/100s of a second.
This is a very beautiful watch. The combination of the blue, white and red on the dial makes for a very attractive look. These being the most common colours used in national flag is the reason why Chronoswiss call this the Flag model. While we are not fond of the name, we are very fond of the watch. Despite being a skeletonized dial and movement, the legibility is very very good.
The raison d’être – the skeletonization makes it even more attractive without compromising on the legibility. The colour coding for the time keeping and chronograph hands is a very clever move. This separation by colour works very well. And set at a very competitive CHF 11,400 retail price, makes this an attractive proposition.
Photographed in the Deployant photography studio. Fujifilm GFX 50S with GF 50mm f/3.5 R LM WR and GF120mmF4 R LM OIS WR Macro with and without the MCEX18 and MCEX45 extension tubes. Profoto strobes.