Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Review of Revue Thommen Bicompax Flieger Chronograph

Model # 16064.6832

At a Glance:

Brand/Model:  Revue Thommen Bicompax Chronograph
Movement:  Swiss automatic w/ Swiss chronograph module
Material:  stainless steel case and bracelet
Complications:  chronograph timing to 30 minutes in one second increments
Price:  street price around $500 USD


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

I have been upgrading my collection as of late and looking to acquire certain Swiss Made pieces that strike my fancy, but still represent a good value.  My love affair with Revue Thommen fills the bill.  This RT Bicompax Flieger Chronograph has a classic simplicity and functionality that makes it a superb watch, along with enough exclusivity that you can be sure the guy next to you won’t be wearing the same thing.

This Revue Thommen, like all current RT models, is manufactured by Grovana of Switzerland.  This particular model features a silver dial with a two-register bicompax chrono layout.  This model is also available with a black dial and silver subdials and with either a leather strap or a stainless steel bracelet.

The heart of this watch is a Swiss Made ETA 2824 25-jewel automatic movement that can be hacked and manually wound.  On top of this movement is installed a Dubois D├ępraz 2030 chronograph module that is linked into the ETA movement to create a functioning chronograph watch.  This is one way for a company to create an automatic chronograph, instead of using the ubiquitous Valjoux 7750 movement.  Is it cheaper, easier or more efficient to use a bicompax module?  I can’t answer that, but a lot of companies use or have used this method and I do find it intriguing. 

There are a couple of negatives that I have read about regarding the bicompax module, mainly that it seems easier to replace rather than service the unit, and it isn’t cheap, but again, this is conjecture and opinions will vary.  The other negative is that it tends to make the watch quite thick and the chrono pushers slightly offset towards the face of the watch, due to the obvious way the module sits on top of the standard movement.  I really don’t find this to be an issue and unless someone told you about it, you’d really not notice the orientation of the pushers.

The RT bicompax chrono has an all stainless steel case with brushed sides and a polished top bezel.  The case is one piece, the bezel portion is just polished.  This is a cost-saving measure instead of installing a separate bezel, but the finishing is done properly so it certainly looks like a two-piece assembly.  Case diameter is a substantial 43.7mm without crown, but this watch surprisingly does not wear too big.  Case thickness is 15.2mm and lug width is 22mm.  Overall finish on the case is satisfactory, not super fancy, but efficient and clean.

The dial is a thing of beauty, with applied luminous Arabics encircling the outer portion of the dial.  One nice touch is that all the Arabics are of equal size and none are hacked off, something that is very prevalent on many watch designs.  Hats off to Grovana/RT for this design element.  A legible minute track is on the outermost part of the dial, with the two subdials properly positioned at 3 and 9 o’clock.  The outer portion of the dial is satin silver, the inner part is textured silver.  Minimal dial printing is another nice touch.

The hands are silver with luminous infill, the watch second hand is in the subdial @ 3, while the chrono’s 30-minute totalizer is in the subdial @ 9.  I love the red tipped chrono minute hand.  Both subdial hands are tiny arrows, which look great.  The chrono second hand is a skeleton red tip and occupies the center seconds position.  Overall, it’s a very clean, legible and classy looking dial.  Luminous is decent, but not blinding, sufficient for most situations.

Topping the dial is a moderately domed sapphire crystal with just the right amount of anti-reflective coating added to it.  It doesn’t show an over abundance of the blue or blue green tint like some watches do, but has just enough of a tint to let you know it’s there.  Nice.

The crown is signed and screws down.  The chrono pushers are standard design and have a crisp feel to them.  The winding action of the movement is smooth and accurate and the reset of the chrono hands is quick and perfect to zero.  The sweep of the second hand on the watch and the chrono action is smooth.  This is also a continuous running chrono minute totalizer, it doesn’t ‘click’ over after one minute has elapsed, but rather moves all the time.  This is a sign, at least to me, of a higher-quality design.  Others may disagree, but so be it.

The case back is a display type and screws down, showing the ETA automatic movement that doesn’t have any extra finishing.  The rotor is signed ‘Revue Thommen’.  The watch is factory rated for 10atm water resistance.

I purchased this watch with the factory stainless steel bracelet because given the choice, I would always want to have a bracelet and the option of putting a strap on instead of the other way around.  I knew going in that this watch had a stamped steel deployant (cheap) and folded end links, but I went with it anyways. 

The bracelet is 22mm at the watch and tapers to about 18mm at the clasp.  The links are solid, fully polished and rather thin.  Links are secured with standard split pins and sizing was a breeze.  The clasp is double locking and signed. 

I would prefer if the bracelet wasn’t fully polished, but rather a combination of brushed and polished or fully brushed, as I think it fits the character of the watch better.  Strap versions of this watch go for less money and if I were to order another one, I would opt for the factory strap and keep the change.  As it stands, I will keep it on the bracelet for now.

Performance has been good, running about +9 seconds a day, with a standard power reserve of at least 40 hours.  No complaints here.

Presentation was outer cardboard box with padded inner box, along with polishing cloth and photocopied instructions on the bicompax movement in German.  A little odd, but these watches were produced in limited quantities and this was the easiest thing to do, instructions wise.

The best part of this RT bicompax is the price, running at about $500 USD and even less for the strap version.  This is great value for a Swiss automatic chronograph.

Pros:  classic good looks, functional, easy-to-read chronograph, Swiss automatic cache, beautiful dial

Cons:  cheapish bracelet, functional but not incredible case finishing, no movement finishing

Verdict:  superb value, a chronograph that works as well as it looks; exclusivity, even among WISes. Another hit from the current stable of RT watches.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the pics.

Excelsior!

-Marc

UPDATE!

I have owned this watch for about six months now and really enjoy its one-of-a-kind looks and easy-to-read dial.  Since there’s no date display, for an automatic, it’s a quick ‘grab and go’ type of watch when I can’t quite decide what to wear.  I highly recommend this piece.

-MCV, 5-3-11


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the review and the great photos. I'm bidding on a silver dial strap version now. Your photos are great and really reassured me of the quality I was hoping for. I really like the retro silver dial. I recently picked up the RT Airspeed instrument Black dial and have been very happy with the quality/price ratio. I've been a big fan of RT for a while and have owned their Diver for 3 years now, and think it's a superb watch (after a much needed re-lume). Cheers!

    John
    Dangerous9straps

    ReplyDelete