The family run watchmaker has been a challenger brand for 40 years, and its Freelancer chronograph shows that the brand is still up to the task.
Raymond Weil is certainly Swiss, but it doesn’t have that long Swiss heritage that many brands constantly remind us that they have. No, this brand was only founded in 1976. Forty years in business is not too bad at all, but it becomes all the more impressive when you realize two things.
First, the company was founded in the mid-70s, arguably at the peak of the quartz crisis. The fact that the brand managed to survive that turmoil is already impressive.
Second, the company has somehow managed to stay independent over those four decades. In fact, it’s still in the hands of the original founding family, now under the leadership of the founder’s grandson, Elie Bernheim.
If you ask me, that’s two impressive and important accomplishments in today’s watch industry of giants.
In many ways, then, the brand has surprised us. And perhaps nothing could embody the success and the free spirit of the brand like its Freelancer collection. A fusion of sporty, contemporary styling, the Freelancer collection has been around since 2007 and it’s probably my personal favourite.
The reason begins and ends simply with the impressively executed “panda” dial of the Freelancer. It has a laid back and sporty feel and evokes the retro vibes of other famous panda dials like the Paul Newman Rolex Daytona. But a big difference is the price, with the Freelancer being available for around 2,000 Swiss francs.
The watch is powered by the reliable Valjoux 7753 automatic chronograph movement. Its steel case features a blue hard coated PVD tachymeter bezel housing a silver dial, contrasted with blue counters and a date window.
For those looking for something different, the model also comes in two other colourways: another panda variant with black subdials and red accents, and a third option in a more subdued black look with yellow hands.
Each model is mounted on a perforated calfskin leather strap, adding to the overall sporty personality of the watch.
- Mechanical chronograph with automatic winding
- Power-Reserve 46 hours Functions
- Central hours, minutes, seconds
- Stainless steel, with blue PVD hard coating
- Diameter: 43.5mm Thickness: 13.7mm
- Sapphire crystal with dual-sided antiglare treatment
- Silver with indexes
- Genuine calf leather
- Water resistance 100 m, 330 ft, 10 atm