Monday, April 11, 2011

Review of Victorinox Swiss Army Chrono Classic

At a Glance:

Model # 241151

Brand/Model:  Victorinox Swiss Army Chrono Classic
Movement:  Swiss quartz
Material:  stainless steel case, leather strap
Complications:  date display, chronograph timing to 30 minutes in tenths of seconds increments
Price:  MSRP $450 USD



Plenty of photos follow the review!  Click on the pictures to enlarge.

This is the second Victorinox chronograph I have in my collection and when a deal on this Chrono Classic came along that I could not pass up, I pulled the trigger and lo and behold, I couldn’t be happier.

The Chrono Classic series is a tastefully designed, slightly dressier chronograph that is available on a leather strap or a stainless steel bracelet with several different dial colors to choose from.  It even comes in a two-tone version.  I purchased the brown dial/brown bezel combination; more on this beautiful color in just a bit.

This watch is Swiss Made and features a reliable Swiss ETA quartz movement.  It’s just about the perfect size and should appeal to the “I won’t wear anything larger than a 42mm watch” crowd.

The Chrono Classic has an all stainless steel case measuring 41mm without the crown, 45mm crown inclusive.  The case is brushed on the sides and polished on the top, with the inside of the curvaceous lugs being brushed.  I love the lug detail and it’s one of those little things that can really help make a watch stand out.  Case thickness is 11.9mm.  The crown is nicely sized, with prominent knurls and a nifty etched Victorinox logo.  The crown does not screw down.  The chrono pushers are polished and sport a great looking oval shape.

Lugs are the odd and frustrating 21mm size, which makes it hard to get a replacement strap, if needed.  I hate gaps between a strap and a lug, so a 20mm strap would be out of the question, and selections of 21mm straps are very limited.  The best solution would be to buy a 22mm strap and jam it into the 21mm lugs, which works pretty well in most cases.  Just be forewarned of the Chrono Classic lug size if you’re looking to purchase a model from this series, as Victorinox wants a pricey $60 for a replacement strap.

The caseback is brushed and screws down.  The watch is factory rated for 100 meters of water resistance.

The bezel is a tachymeter style with polished edges and on this model, has a brown insert to match the dial.  I usually avoid watches that have a tachy bezel on them, but alas, I’m lightening up a bit and will consider select styles with this sort of bezel.  I think it depends on how the lettering looks to me and while the lettering on the Chrono Classic’s tachy bezel is a bit large and plain, it has a purposeful appearance and works well overall.

The crystal is a flat sapphire with a three-layer anti-reflective coating on it.  The crystal is free of distortion and the AR coating does not add a weird greenish or purplish hue as on some AR coated crystals.

The dial on this watch is a stunner and in the shade of brown on my watch, resplendent in its bronze-like tones with a subtle sunburst pattern.  At times, this dial will look brown, bronze and even display hints of gold; it’s one of those colors that changes depending on the light and it always looks brilliant.  You really have to see it in person to appreciate it.

The hands are tasteful shaped silvertone with luminous insets.  There are also lume dots on the chapter ring, at each five minute mark.  Lume quality is bright and reasonably long lasting.  The silvertone markers are applied, with the ‘2’, ‘6’ and ‘10’ Arabics being hacked off due to the chrono subdials.  Hacked off Arabics tend to hack me off, but again, I give them a pass on this watch because I like the overall design so much.  Maybe I’m getting soft in my old age as my hair gets grayer.

The main watch seconds hand is in the subdial @ 6, with the chrono tenths of seconds registered in the subdial @ 2 and the chrono’s 30-minute totalizer occupying the subdial @ 10.  So therefore, the chronograph registers in tenths of seconds up to 30 minutes, with no lap timing capacity.  The subdials are slightly inset into the dial and have the now common circular ‘record’ patterning to them, with simple white screened printing.

The somewhat larger size of the subdials is also a nice design element, as they are easier to read without readers, so kudos to Victorinox for making a chrono that functions for the older set.

The hand in the tenths of seconds subdial remains at the zero position while the chrono is running, only when the chrono is stopped does this hand display the tenths of a second time.  This design saves battery power and eliminates what at times can be a cool yet distracting constant spinning of a split-second subdial display.

The chrono pushers have a firm feel and an audible click when pushed, giving the watch an air of quality construction.  All the chronograph hands are simple silvertone affairs with no lume and a straightforward design, nothing fancy here.  Chrono stop, start and reset to zero function perfectly.

A quickset date resides at the 4 o’clock position.  The Victorinox logo is displayed @ 12, with the ‘Victorinox’ name and ‘Swiss Army’ printed below the logo.  The only other printing on the dial is a ‘Swiss Made’ flanking the ‘6’ marker.

The Swiss quartz movement is an ETA, from their ‘FashionLine’ series.  The caliber is G10.211/D4 (indicating the date display at the 4 o’clock position).  This is a 6-jewel quartz movement that Frei sells for $36.95.  I would consider it a mid-priced Swiss quartz movement. 

So far, after calibration to my atomic clock, it has gained almost two seconds in a week, so it’s well within specification, but not as accurate as some of my other quartz movements, both Swiss and Japanese.

Fit and finish on this watch is what one would expect from the house of Victorinox.  A beautifully finished case, clear crystal, and perfect assembly on the dial.  Date alignment is centered properly in the window and quickset date action is crisp and responsive.  No defects or abnormalities were detected under an 8X loupe examination of the dial, case and strap.

The leather strap is simple and harmonizes well with the shade of brown on the dial and bezel.  I also appreciate the matching color stitching on the strap, as sometimes companies over use contrast stitching on watches that really don’t benefit from this style.  The strap on the Chrono Classic is a chocolate brown, smooth matte finish with moderate thickness and no padding.  The strap is curiously not signed ‘Victorinox’ but rest assured, this is the stock strap that is supposed to be on this watch. 

The strap measures 21mm at the lugs and tapers just slightly to 19.8mm at the brushed and signed heavy stainless steel buckle.  There are two wide keepers, one fixed and one floating.  The keepers are almost too wide for this watch design, as they look a bit too bulky on the strap.  They could easily be two-thirds their width and still function fine.

Comfort on the wrist is very good with no wearability problems to note.  Legibility is good under most circumstances.

Presentation is standard Swiss Army, a black outer cardboard box with lid and a flip top rounded inner box with pillow.  MSRP on this watch is $450, street prices vary, but expect to pay from $350 on the high end to maybe $175 - $200 on ‘the bay.’ 

Overall the Victorinox Chrono Classic series is a capable, functional and beautiful quartz chronograph in a slightly smaller 41mm case that will find wide appeal to those wanting Swiss Made craftsmanship, good looks, accuracy and a bit of panache in a watch that won’t break the bank.  This watch is highly recommended.

Pros:  available in a variety of dial colors (the brown is stunning), Swiss Made quality, somewhat smaller size will find broad appeal, sapphire crystal, great looks

Cons:  not much to wish for here, higher water resistance could benefit some would-be owners, strap keepers could be narrower, maybe a bit more lume on the dial?

Verdict:  Victorinox scores another hit with the Chrono Classic series, a watch with quality, value and performance worthy of its Swiss heritage

Thanks for reading and enjoy the pics.

Excelsior!

-Marc

2 comments:

  1. Great review. I just picked this watch up today. I like the style but find the chrono features to either not work or are very confusing. I have downloaded the manuals from the Swiss web page but they are little to no help. Any advice?

    thanks!

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  2. Thanks for the awesome reviews! I know nothing about watches but wanted to get my boyfriend one for his birthday. My gut instinct was to go with a Victorinox due to its brand name reputation and glad to have discovered your technical reviews on the product. Now I know just a tad bit more about watches and I think I'll definitely go with one of the Chrono Classics.

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