Chronoswiss Delphis: Taking it to the Next Level
by Martin Green
Taking over the helm of a successful brand is always a challenging endeavor. A new owner/CEO will have ideas of their own and want to perpetuate success. That means steering into the future, hopefully just being ahead of the curve of new trends, or at least not far behind. All this has to be done by attracting new clients without alienating existing ones.
Quite a challenge, all the more when the brand that you took over is called Chronoswiss.
Chronoswiss was founded by Gerd-Rüdiger Lang in 1983. It was a bold move, as the quartz crisis was still shaking the Swiss watch industry to its core, and the mechanical watch was considered dead.
Lang thought otherwise and was proven right.
In 2012, the Swiss Ebstein family bought the brand, placing it in the capable hands of Oliver Ebstein as CEO.
The two most noticeable things Ebstein did with the brand were taking the original designs and giving them a more contemporary twist. He played with colors, textures, and depth. Another thing was that he invested significantly in old-school craftsmanship.
Where Lang had a distinct preference for selecting the best movements available by renowned movement manufacturers, as well as using vintage ones, Chronoswiss has now begun to develop calibers of its own. And the brand also now focuses more on decoration techniques, particularly guilloche.
One watch where this all came together is the Delphis.
What was unique about the Delphis when Gerd-Rüdiger Lang first introduced it in the last millennium was that it used three distinctly different systems to tell each element of time.
The hours are indicated through a window at twelve o’clock. This is also one of the main features of the Delphis, as it is a jump hour.
To add to the excitement, the Delphis features a retrograde hand to indicate the minutes. It does so on a 180-degree arc on the top part of the dial.
Putting both functions at the top of the dial can make the lower part look a bit empty. To counteract this, Lang placed a subdial for the running seconds there.
Oven-fired enamel dials
Fast forward almost three decades and the current Delphis has the same setup of its functions. What has changed is the execution. This starts with the case, which is a stylized version of the original. Its diameter has grown from 38mm of the original Delphis to 42mm for the current generation.
I generally prefer smaller cases, but where the original used to have a flat dial, the latest Delphis takes things into the third dimension and that lifts the watch to a new dimension.
As a big fan of Chronoswiss since the 1990s and a classically inclined watch connoisseur, it is tough to improve any of their models in my view. However, with the new Delphis, Chronoswiss has clearly taken things to the next level.
Both the hand for the seconds and the retrograde minutes have their own beautiful stylized bridges.
Above this is a domed half and, like the dial for the seconds, it features a stunning guilloche motif. Chronoswiss created a different pattern for each version of the Delphis and gave them vibrant colors in oven-fired enamel.
Thanks to the domed dial, the play of light is fantastic. It really makes the dial pop and might even prove to be so distracting that a second glance is needed to tell the time.
To be clear though, the Delphis is a very legible watch. In fact, it might even trump the original version, as the enlarged diameter of the watch allows for a larger window for the jump hour and plenty of space to print the minute and second markings.
The original Delphis was powered by Chronoswiss caliber C.124, which was based on the classic Enicar caliber 165. The current version of the Delphis is powered by caliber C.6004.
This automatic movement is made in-house and offers a power reserve of 55 hours. At 33mm in diameter, it nicely fills the case.
Visible through the sapphire insert of the case back, the movement shows enticing decorations and an oscillating weight resembling the bridge design on the dial side.
A sign of quality
A pet peeve of mine is the poor water resistance of watches that aren’t diver’s watches The reason for this is that making a watch more water resistant requires more effort and cost on the part of the manufacturer.
The Delphis is more a dress watch than a sports watch and is not the most obvious choice to get wet, let alone underwater. However, Chronoswiss really invested in this, as the water resistance of the Delphis is an impressive 100 meters.
You might even want to take it scuba diving, as the light reflecting the colorful grand feu enamel might even entice the fish to check it out.
For more information, please visit https://chronoswiss.com/en/US/products/delphis
Quick Facts SkelTec Azur
Case: 42 x 14.5 mm, stainless steel or 18 carat red gold
Movement: automatic Caliber C.6004, manufacture, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency, 55-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds
Limitation: 50 pieces
Price: $39,800 (red gold Delphis Oracle), $16,700 (stainless steel Delphis Paraiba and Delphis Venture)
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