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 replica watches. 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 fake watches feature 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 copy watches 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.