Chronoswiss began life at a very interesting time for watches: in 1983. Gerd-Rüdiger Lang made the brave decision to zig when everyone else was zagging. In 1983, the biggest story in Swiss watchmaking was about the fantastic, plastic Swatch watch that was — essentially — disposable. Chronoswiss was the opposite; Lang took a risk founding a traditional brand, making mechanical watches at a time when everyone else seemed to be moving toward quartz technology.
The ’80s global preoccupation with batteries didn’t hold Chronoswiss back, as the brand quickly established a clear identity. Classical watchmaking design codes and a penchant for a coin-edge bezel ensured that Chronoswiss stood out on the wrist. In 1988, Chronoswiss debuted a model that would earn them critical acclaim and also be hugely significant in defining the brand’s look and feel. That model was, of course, the Régulateur.
With its discreet hours, minutes and seconds displays, the Régulateur display was initially developed as an exceptionally precise timekeeper and has endured as one of the most iconic dial layouts of all time. It’s remarkable then that this dial design wasn’t serially produced until Chronoswiss’s debut. Chronoswiss built on this base with the release of their Kairos Chronograph in 1991, the world’s first automatic chronograph with off-center hours and minutes in the regulator style.
This is a perfect point in the story of Chronoswiss to introduce Oliver Ebstein — an entrepreneur who, along with the Ebstein family, acquired Chronoswiss and has steered the brand into new waters as CEO. For Ebstein, the way forward is clear: “For us, the product always comes first. We put all our heart and energy into creating timepieces that are truly unique and cannot be found anywhere else. We have improved on literally all levels: design, handcraft, distribution and communication. We have a strong focus on digital communication, which allows us to reach new audiences and get in touch with them directly.”
The current era of Chronoswiss is proving fruitful, and continues the brand’s clear vision and legacy, but updated for the modern era. A key example of this is the Pink Panther, more properly known as the Flying Regulator Open Gear Pink Panther, which was released to great critical acclaim in 2021. Ebstein says, “The success of the Pink Panther and many other colorful and daring creations we released during the recent years has shown us where we want to position ourselves. We are creating modern mechanical timepieces for those who want to stand out from the masses. Our watches are not there to please everybody, but to fascinate our clients. All of our recent releases are strictly limited — meaning that the owner of a Pink Panther, for example, does, on the one hand, have an extraordinary watch regarding the design; and on the other hand, only 49 others exist. This means we have a very high degree of exclusivity and desirability.”
The current crop of Chronoswiss’s colorful creativity includes the present-generation Opus Chronographs, which honor the spirit of the 1995 original. The skeletonized case and coin-edge bezel ensure that the design is iconically Chronoswiss, but with pops of color added to the chapter ring and registers to create a bold new look. Ebstein assures us that the future of Opus is as bright as the dials: “Opus will remain a part of Chronoswiss’s past, present and future. We will further refine the concept and maybe even come up with ideas you haven’t ever seen before. We are on a very exciting pathway with many progressive ideas that will continue to surprise and fascinate the watchmaking world.”
We’ve perhaps had a glimpse of these surprises already, in the form of the brand-new Space Timer collection. Based on the Open Gear, these 44mm watches look, appropriately enough, out of this world. The complicated, three-dimensional caliber in the regulator style, with date and domed moon phase, seems to float in space. The Moonwalk version makes clever use of Chronoswiss’s expertise with hand guilloché, while the gold-toned, nano-printed dial of the Jupiter model makes for a remarkable facsimile of the giant planet.