This hands-on review is a first here at Watch Collecting Lifestyle for two reasons; first, we've never worked on a review of a Graham timepiece and second, this is the first time anyone in the indsutry has done water macro photography. While many other websites have done video or photography of watches underwater, no one has gotten this close to a watch with macro images underwater or in a wet environment —another reason why we will continue to bring you tripod-free watch photography. Nothing beats a hands-on review of a diving watch in its own element.
Graham is one of those polarizing brands that you either love or hate, named after George Graham the English watchmaker from London that started making watches in 1695, the brand quickly gained momentum after Eric Loth —CEO & Founder— launched the brand in 1995 out of La Chaux-de-Fondes, Switzerland. Their oversized watches heavily inspired by pilot watches and equipped with a patented chronograph triggering lever, turned Graham watches into a hot commodity in the late 90s and early 2000s. Who doesn't recall the Cuban celebrity Raúl 'El Gordo' De Molina sporting his 18K rose gold Graham Chronofighter?
The Graham Chronofighter Prodive ref. 2CDAV.U01A we are reviewing here, not only was a joy to work with, but it's a watch that in our book, is perfectly suited for the purpose that it was created for, a true diving watch with a chronograph that can be activated and utilized underwater to a depth of 2000 feet.
The Case, Trigger, Crown & Helium Escape Valve
The Graham Chronofighter Prodive features a very robust stainless steel case that per the technical specifications of the watch, is stated as measuring 45 mm in diameter. However, when measuring the watch with a caliper, the measurements are completely different.
The watch measures 47 mm in diameter from one edge of the bezel to the other and up to 54 mm in diameter if we measure from the end of its integrated chrono trigger to the edge of where the Helium valve is located. As far as thickness goes, the watch is 18 mm thick and when it comes to its weight, the watch is a real tank weighing 207.2 grams total. Just to put things in perspective, the total weight of a Rolex Submariner in 18K gold is 210 grams. Regardless of its weight and massive size, the watch is actually very wearable.
The stainless steel case is satin brushed finished on the caseband and highly polished on the top and bottom of the lugs. The right caseband features a Helium escape valve in black PVD stainless steel. The valve is extremely useful for divers going into decompression chambers.
Even when it comes to diving watches, Graham was able to maintain their design cues intact by fitting this diving watch with a 30-minute mono-pusher chronograph to keep their patented fast action chronograph trigger —a signature and distinctive feature of the brand— on the left case band. Whether you wear this watch on your right wrist or your left one, the watch wears quite comfortably regardless of this chronograph triggering lever in black PVD. To make things even better and thanks to its trigger/lever construction, this mono-pusher chronograph can be fully operated underwater —a feature that very few mechanical chronographs offer, let alone mechanical diving chronographs out there. The fast action trigger allows the wearer to start-stop-reset the chronograph quite easily.
To guarantee optimal water resistance to a depth of 2000 feet —600 meters—, the Graham Chronofighter Prodive is fitted with a black rubberized screw-down crown with and automatic locking system referred to as the 'bayonet safety system' and is equipped with a red ring that alerts the wearer if the crown is not properly secured. Securing the crown is actually very easy and completely efortless, as one can feel when it engages with the bayonet safety system.
The 60-minute decompression unidirectional bezel features a two-piece construction combining satin brushed stainless steel with black PVD. The bezel, is properly knurled on four corners to allow for perfect grip in and out of the water, with or without diving gloves. The rotating bezel features black hash marks, a superluminova pearl insert at 12 o'clock and 5-minute and 15-minute increments featuring bold arrows/numerals. The bezel is nicely finished and rotates very smoothly across its 120 clicks.
The Graham Chronofighter Prodive is available with black or blue dial and with white or gray indexes coated with superluminova. While the dial is somewhat busy, it is extremely nicely finished with a very unique hue of blue that acts like a true chameleon depending on the lighting conditions. Because the Graham Prodive is fitted with a domed double-coated anti-reflective treated sapphire crystal, the dial tends to look darker or lighter, depending on the angle from which you are looking at. The best thing about the AR coating on the crystal of the Graham Chronofighter Prodive, is that the visibility is never compromised due to unwanted glare.
The blue matte dial features a stepped construction with a smooth center and a snailed ring where the applied markers are located. The dial layout includes a minute chapter ring flange, a 30-minute chrono register between 6 and 8 o'clock and a propeller shaped running seconds indicator between 3 and 5 o'clock that looks like a turbine as it spins around to indicate the seconds with a white arrow. Lastly, a framed date aperture is located at 9 o'clock and the chronograph hands are in yellow, offering excellent contrast and optimal readability in and out of the water as you will see in the live pictures below.
The lume on this watch features blue and green superluminova that is extremely bright and long lasting. Perhaps the biggest downside to it, is that at night or in partial darkness, there is so much going on with the lume around the dial, that is somewhat difficult to read the time with a quick glimpse. Not a deal breaker here as we are crazy lume lovers here at WCL, but something to keep in mind.
The Movement & Strap
The Graham Chronofighter Prodive is powered by a generic 'first rate Swiss' automatic mono-pusher chronograph movement. Unfortunately, the brand doesn't release any details on who makes the ebauches or the chrono module on top of the movement. The 25-jewel movement beats at a frequency of 28,800 vph and provides a power reserve of 48 hours when fully wound. The movement features anti-shock and anti-magnetic protection and is covered by a solid case back with a nice shark engraving.
The Graham Chronofighter Prodive is equipped with a Swiss made blue rubber strap that matches the hue of the dial perfectly —the strap is black for the black dial reference. The strap is fully integrated to the case of the watch and features a stainless steel double-folding deployant buckle with diver extension and integrated pin-buckle for extra security. The strap is extremely soft and maleable and one of the best rubber straps we've reviewed lately.
On the Wrist & Pricing
On the wrist, the watch wears massive but not as big as expected considering the actual size of the watch after measuring it with our caliper. We'd have to say that it wears like a 48 mm watch on a 7.25-7.5" wrist. Surprisingly, even though the watch is very heavy for a stainless steel piece, it wears quite comfortably after a few days without taking it off the wrist. While we feel that the price is slightly above from where it should be —perhaps priced around $9,500-$10,500—, the watch is very well finished and very robust. This is definitely a watch we would be wearing throughout the summer and during our regular beach trips to the Cayman Islands and the Turks and Caicos.
Sticker Price $13,400 USD. For more info on Graham click here.