s we have documented in our own archives, Chronoswiss was launched in 1983: at a moment when the Swiss watch industry was going through a deep crisis that would come to be known as the “quartz crisis” in the history books, this launch marked the beginning of a resurgence in fine mechanical watchmaking.
The late Gerd-Rüdiger Lang, who passed away this year, established a strong creative track record for making uncompromising timepieces with innovative displays and precise timekeeping. His first watch was one of many “firsts” to come: the world’s first mechanical chronograph with moon phase indication and transparent crystal case back. He then presented at the Basel Fair the world’s first serially manufactured wristwatch with a regulator-style display separating minutes, seconds and hours.
- The Chronoswiss Delphis in 1998 in Europa Star
- ©Archives Europa Star
Other features include the typical Chronoswiss case with its fluted bezel, onion-shaped crown and patented screw-in solution to securely connect the strap to the lugs. Lang’s courage to explore unknown horological avenues was at the heart of the founding of Chronoswiss and would become its everlasting legacy.
Now, building on this strong heritage for its 40th anniversary, the brand led by CEO & Owner Oliver Ebstein is reviving the original “Delphis” model with jumping hours and retrograde minutes in a brand new development. It is the return of a true watchmaking icon. For Chronoswiss, this return to the past is in fact a first, as the brand has always preferred to look to the future. But the time had come to reinvent one of its most emblematic timepieces: the “Delphis Oracle” is the exception to this rule.
And what an exception! The level of craftsmanship applied to this model is unprecedented, with its unique curved guilloché dial and breathtaking fire enamel. The Delphis Oracle also houses a brand new manufacture movement.
Let’s start with the guilloché. Normally, dials are flat, which is already a challenge for the guillocheur. A curved surface, however, presents a difficulty that very few can master. In the upper part of the watch unfolds an 18 carat gold curved crescent made by the goldsmith. This is guilloched by hand and it is worth remembering that all Chronoswiss Guillochés are made entirely in-house and by hand, something very few watch brands can claim.
The result is unique, as the guilloché of the new Delphis Oracle also enters the third dimension. The art of three-dimensional objects on a machine that is over a hundred years old is without a doubt extremely rare, especially since there has been no training for the profession of the guillocheur for almost 50 years.
Chronoswiss also goes off the beaten tracks when it comes to fire enameling. Already the process of enameling a straight surface is extremely demanding, but Chronoswiss dives into the third dimension here as well. Seven layers of translucent blue enamel lie on the golden curved crescent. This process is extremely complex as the enamel must perfectly fit the curve of the guilloched crescent and have the same thickness and density over the entire surface. This is followed by the no less demanding process of enamel polishing. As with a precious gem, only the perfectly cut and polished surface of the fire enamel sparks the true fascination of the underlying guilloché pattern.
The result must be perfectly homogeneous to bring out every nuance, every detail that is created by the guilloché. It’s an insanely demanding job that is also unique here, as there is no longer any training for enamellers. All of those steps are done in-house at the Chronoswiss Enamel-Atelier. The lenticular seconds display at 6 o’clock, referred to by Chronoswiss only as the “UFO”, reflects this work in all its technical and aesthetic dimensions: A curved, three-dimensional dial made of solid gold, which is micro-guilloched in-house by hand and finished with translucent blue fire enamel – just like the crescent moon at 12 o’clock.
The “UFO” floats almost weightlessly above the anthracite-colored base dial, enhancing the 3D effect created by the curved guilloché in the upper part of the dial. Two large, continuous bridges found in many Chronoswiss designs give the Delphis Oracle a rare and bold sculptural geometry, which is reflected on the rotor of the new manufacture movement, making the timepiece a coherent whole. The Oracle plays with curves, depths, volumes and nuances.
From the original Delphis, Chronoswiss has preserved the double complication. First, a digital jumping hour displayed in a dedicated window at 12 o’clock. Secondly, a retrograde minute indicated by a broad central hand sweeping across a 180-degree minute track. The whole is complemented by an independent small second display, which occupies the lower part of the dial at 6 o’clock.
The movement that powers this composition is exclusive: It has been completely new developed, specifically for the new generation of the Delphis. The former manufacture movement was finally discarded in favor of this new Chronoswiss calibre, which is used here for the very first time. The new movement is ruthenium-plated and features a Geneva cut emanating from the center, which is reminiscent of Chronoswiss’ well-known ray guilloché.
With this timepiece, Chronoswiss fully exploits all its expertise and know-how: limited to 50 pieces, the Delphis Oracle is a watchmaking masterpiece and virtuously combines ancient artisan craftsmanship with state-of-the-art technology. In the long run it will also be the cornerstone of a new collection.
- Model: Delphis Oracle, limited to 50 pieces
- Reference: CH-1421.1E-BLBK 18ct red gold, curved hand guilloched dial with fire enamel
- Displays: Digital hour at 12 o’clock, retrograde & central minute, analog second at 6 o’clock
- Case: Solid 17-piece 18kt red gold case, cut and polished, polished bezel with side fluted decorative ring and cambered, double anti-reflective sapphire crystal; screwed and satin-finished case back with sapphire crystal, onion crown, water-resistant to 10 bar, screw-down straps with patented autobloc system
- Measurements: Ø 42 mm, height 14.5 mm
- Movement: Chronoswiss manufacture caliber C. 6004, automatic
- Diameter: Ø 33 mm
- Jewels: 37
- Balance: Glucydur, three-legged
- Balance spring: Nivarox 1
- Fine Adjustment: Via Excenter
- Shock protection: Incabloc
- Frequency: 4 Hz., 28‘800 A/h (semi-oscillations)
- Power reserve: Approx. 55 hours
- Special features: Skeletonized rotor, ball bearing; armature, escape wheel and screws polished; bridge with Geneva cut, ruthenium plated
- Dial: 3-dimensional construction with hand guilloché & fire enamel, upper level with digital hour display. Central retrograde minute, analog second at 6 o’clock, ceramic indexes.
- Hands: Pointer shape “Viking”, brass gold plated, skeletonized
- Strap: Rubber
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