There are around a dozen great inventors who have left an indelible mark on the history of watchmaking. George Graham is one of them. He was a pupil of Thomas Tompion, a teacher of Thomas Mudge and a friend of John Harrison. He spent the first half of the 18th century influencing and being influenced by the founding fathers of contemporary watchmaking. He was a watchmaker, geographer and a member of the Royal Society, the world’s first and for a long time most important science academy. Unlike many of these legendary names, Graham’s has been adopted by a watch brand that respects this illustrious heritage.
For 2017, the Orrery is back with some aesthetic tweaks as well as a nomenclature refinement, currently being known as the “Graham Geo.Graham Orrery Tourbillon.” |} The important “news” is that the planetarium-style screen which has the Sun, Earth, Moon, and Mars on the dial today has distinct substances for the planets and the moon. The Earth is represented by a 3.2mm-wide polished sphere of Kingman Turquoise, although the moon (0.9mm wide) and mars (1.7mm wide) are every respectively made from meteorites which have fallen to Earth and therefore are said to have originated from the planetary bodies they represent.The largest solar system feature on the dial would be the sunlight, which is represented in authentic baroque style using a hand-engraved 18k pink stone bridge across the tourbillon that if you look closely has double phoenix heads in it. All of this is said to be inspired by a system made by the manufacturer’s namesake, George Graham, very a long time ago.
A historic movement by the original Geo.Graham © Graham
Graham is a Swiss brand headquartered in La Chaux-de-Fonds, but the company’s watchmaking approach is anchored in British tradition. Its products, complications and aesthetics are imbued with a spirit of Britishness. Graham’s ranges include the Chronofighter, a unique collection of chronographs, and Silverstone, inspired by the eponymous motor racing circuit and the British competitive spirit. The association is evident even in the watches’ colour palette.
Many people will be surprised to learn that Graham was developing interesting and unique variations to the materials, shapes, colours and detailing on its watch straps well before the current vogue, featuring quilted leather reminiscent of racing car seats, rubber straps made to look like tyre treads, and giving pride of place to British Racing Green well before it was trendy. Graham also uses sandy colours reminiscent of the uniforms of the British Desert Rats, sky blue for the motor racing chronographs, stealthy black with carbon fibre, and flashes of orange to enhance the racing vibe of the Silverstone RS Endurance. These are just a few examples of Graham’s willingness to take risks in opening up new design horizons.
Silverstone RS Racing © Graham
Like all the English, Graham expert watch Replica drives on the wrong side of the road. In fact, no other brand has offered so many models with a left-handed crown, over such a long period. As these watches are also chronographs, they are also activated from the left. This configuration is a unique feature of the Chronofighter range, which has the chrono pusher integrated into the crown (evidence of a bespoke movement). The pusher-crown is connected to one of the most recognisable gadgets in the watch world – the industrial-looking trigger that starts and stops the chronograph. It’s shaped to fit the finger perfectly, and its finish is particularly meticulous. You won’t see anything else quite like it. Another advantage of being located on the left of the case is that the trigger slides under the shirt sleeve. This means that its bulk is not necessarily a disadvantage, as it can easily be hidden away.
Chronofighter Vintage GMT WorldTempus limited edition © Graham
Graham’s collections are imbued with a military spirit, which expresses itself in military watches, military paraphernalia and military colours. The Chronofighters come in a Nose Art variation, with dials featuring some of the pin-ups that decorated the noses of Second World War planes, including the RAF’s B17. The Vintage Aircraft versions provide a retro cockpit experience, with a vintage take on hands and typefaces. In short, these watches are carefully designed to capture a very specific aesthetic, but their appeal is not limited to World War Two buffs. Far from it. Chronofighters also come in carbon fibre, with coordinating camouflage dials. There are even some limited editions that pay tribute to Navy Seals.
Chronofighter Vintage Nose Art © David Chokron/WorldTempus
But Graham’s origins are in the night skies. George Graham was a geophysicist, and he took a particular interest in the planets. This scientific influence can be found in the Geo.Graham range. The name is a reference to the master horologist’s signature, as it appeared on his clocks and pocket watches. The most obvious tribute is the Tourbillon Orrery. An orrery is a moving model that recreates the motions of all or part of the solar system. This wristwatch has an openworked grille at its centre (featuring a stylised phoenix), a tribute to 18th-century English escapement covers. Here, however, the escapement is inside a tourbillon cage. The watch’s distinctive complication indicates the positions, relative to the Earth, of the Moon, Mars and the Sun. It is combined with an annual zodiac calendar. All of this is set against an enamelled background with planets represented by gemstones. Here too, in both the choice of complication and its aesthetic approach, Graham does everything in its own inimitable style.
Geo.Graham Tourbillon Orrery with black dial © Graham