Graham Chronofighter Vintage Aircraft Watch

There are brands out there with instantly recognizable designs. Some of these take the form of designs that are simply iconic (say, the Cartier Tank or the Rolex Submariner), and so entrenched with the brand identity that you know who it is. With others, there is a specific design DNA (past just slapping a logo onto things) that carries through each and every model. In that latter category, you have Graham. If you see a giant lever for starting the chronograph, you know who you’re dealing with. Today, we’re talking about one I spent some time with, the Graham Chronofighter Vintage Aircraft watch.
As long as we’re talking about what ties the watches together, let’s hit on some of the specs that you likely are going to be familiar with. First up, you’ve got a 44mm steel case wrapped around the automatic G1747 movement. That movement is driving the handset which, again, looks very similar to what we’ve seen across the line. Even the dial layout will be familiar, with the running seconds showing up at the 3 o’clock position and the chronograph minutes taking up the larger sub-dial at 6 o’clock.
The dial of the Graham Chronofighter Vintage Aircraft is also where things separate this watch from its stablemates. This one really embraces the aircraft inspiration (and in a less cheesecake manner than some of the recent “Pin-up” releases). A close look at the dial reveals a rivet pattern. These are not actual rivets, of course, but it definitely calls to mind what you would see in photos of one of those shiny fighter planes of days gone by. What I found curious (once I caught it) is that the pattern is definitely not centered onto the dial at all. It’s done in a way that keeps other elements from needing to be chopped off, and in the end, I like the off-balance choice. Over the top of that sheet metal pattern, the Graham Chronofighter Vintage Aircraft watch features a gradient dial. While there are four options, we spent time with the blue dial variant (this one seems to be pretty popular, as it took some time for the AD to shake one loose for us to spend time with). This is a particularly dark shade of blue, and I think it works quite nicely with the gradient. I know that blue is certainly the trendy color of the day, but as it’s my favorite color, I did particularly want to spend time with it. One thing they’ve done with the new Graham Chronofighter Vintage Aircraft line is come up with textile (canvas or denim) straps that are color matched to the watch. That is where things broke down for me a little bit with the watch. I mean, yes, it’s blue, but there’s also the fact that I’m wearing a blue jean strap on a $5,450 watch. It just doesn’t fit with the rest of the watch. If they had gone with the full suede (which shows up on the tail around the buckle holes), that would be a much nicer look. Or, you know, I think the beige canvas strap (from one of the other watches) might look quite sharp here, picking up the lume color from the dial. It’s also worth noting that the Graham Chronofighter Vintage Aircraft watch features a buckle made of titanium. A bit odd, given that the case is made from steel, but it’s a minor detail, particularly since the buckle is out of sight most of the time. And, hey, cutting a few grams off the weight? That’s a-ok by me. Because, as you’d guess, the Graham Chronofighter Vintage Aircraft is by no means a small watch. The case, for being 44mm, does wear smaller than you might otherwise expect. And when it’s only half-showing from under your cuff, that’s the impression you get. Once you can actually see the trigger assembly, though, you’re of course dealing with a bigger watch (and it’s smaller than some other Graham options, so there’s that). Or, to put it another way, the case itself is decently compact (considering it’s an automatic chronograph), but you are dealing with some visual bulk. However, if you’re all about that look, I think you’d count that in the plus category. For my time with the watch, I wore it primarily to the office, as that’s where the denim strap best lent itself. That said, I did wear it with a suit and tie (and sport coat) one day, and it worked, though it was a bit more casual than I’d prefer in that particular ensemble. One thing I have never had a problem with on a Graham watch, and do not have an issue with on the Graham Chronofighter Vintage Aircraft, is reading the time. Aside from the interplay of the colors between the hands/indices and the dial, it provides a tight contrast that makes picking things out a breeze. Additionally, even though the day/date windows seem small in comparison to the watch, they’re actually quite legible as well. In short, everything I normally look at to get out of the watch (date and time information) most frequently is all there, ready and waiting. For me, Graham is a weird proposition. I’m generally not much for chronographs, and I tend to lean towards more compact (both in terms of diameter and thickness) watches, but I still feel captivated by the images when a new release hits my inbox. At the end of the day, I am glad I got to spend some time with the watch, and found it a ready and willing companion for everyday wear (I would just recommend checking out some strap options from the brand when you’re in the store). This particular combination of a dark blue dial and beige paint is a classic combo.