Timekeepers Club / February 10, 2023

Grail Watch 5: Chronoswiss Opus Blue

"The world’s first serially produced automatic skeleton chronograph returns with a blue grade 5 titanium case and an arresting luminousbsignature." - Wei Koh, Founder Of Revolution, The Rake & Grail Watch.
The year was 1995 and in the watch industry, the Swiss mechanical watch revival was only just gaining momentum.
The year before, Günter Blümlein had unveiled his vision for German watchmaking to contend with the Swiss horological juggernauts in the form of the Lange 1 and Pour le Mérite Tourbillon. In 1995, a cult Italian watch brand formerly the tool of the nation’s naval diving unit, Officine Panerai, was just starting to gain mass appeal through its collaboration with actor Sylvester Stallone on the famous “Sly Tech” model worn in his film Daylight. Yet by 1995, Gerd-Rüdiger Lang, a watchmaker turned entrepreneur, was already 12 years into the highly successful trajectory of his brand Chronoswiss.
Says Alain Silberstein, who caught the wave of revival and made his watchmaking debut in the 1980s: “One of my best friendships in the watch industry was with Gerd-R. Lang. People talk about many individuals being responsible for the return of mechanical watchmaking, but to me he was one of the most instrumental. Beyond that, he was a real visionary in terms of design and the creation of accessible complications. And he is a truly kind and wonderful individual.
Affirms industry legend Jean-Claude Biver, “I would say that Gerd Lang’s contribution to the revival of mechanical watchmaking was huge. He brought new energy and designs with his regulator watches, and later the skeletonized watches like the Opus.

'90s horological symbols

In 1995, Chronoswiss launched a timepiece that, for me as a young man, became the object of considerable obsession. This was the Opus, the first serially produced skeletonized automatic chronograph replete with date indicator integrated into the subdial at three o’clock. From the moment I first set eyes on this stunning timepiece in a Japanese watch magazine, I loved it.
While it is inarguably commonplace today, in the context of the mid ’90s, the idea of a skeleton chronograph where you could see all the wheels of the chronograph counters on the front and, of course, the entire chronograph train at the back, and where you could even witness the pulsating four-hertz balance wheel through the front of the watch, and in an era where mechanical watches were still on the rebound, was as mind-blowing to me as it was for the citizens of Coventry to witness Lady Godiva’s horse traipse through town with its mistress ensconced upon its back cloaked only in her dignity.
Indeed, by this time, Chronoswiss had already defined its core aesthetic blueprint, which remains in place to this day. Says the brand’s current owner and CEO Oliver Ebstein, “This is characterized by a wide opening for the dial contrasted by a thin and very distinct fluted bezel. The caseband is straight and sharp, and features elegant thin lugs that are given an added sense of muscularity with the screw-in spring bar holders, a detail from early 20th century officer’s watches. The watch features our distinct fluted onion crown and, from the beginning in 1982, every Chronoswiss watch includes a sapphire caseback to show the mechanical movement beating within.”

Grail Watch 5: Chronoswiss Opus Blue

How did the Grail Watch and Chronoswiss project come about? This was due to Patrik Hoffmann, formerly CEO of Ulysse Nardin and now a board member of Chronoswiss. One day, he rang me up and asked me to come down to Lucerne to meet Ebstein and him. It was at this time that I looked at the early prototypes of watches like the Pink Panther and Purple Haze. This was in 2020, the first time I was able to travel since the outbreak of the COVID pandemic, and something about these timepieces felt powerfully uplifting. Over the course of a bucolic Lucerne afternoon, the subject soon turned to a potential collaboration.
"I know what model I would like to work on,” I immediately said. “I would like to make an Opus.
Our initial concept was to make a timepiece that looked exactly like the first watch from 1995 but with two big differences. Firstly, instead of steel, I wanted to use grade 5 titanium for its light weight. Secondly, I wanted the famous skeleton dial to look precisely like the original in the daylight, but when you went into ambient light or darkness, I wanted it to glow like crazy, so strong in fact — thanks to the liberal use of Super-LumiNova — that you could read all the indications and even use the chronograph. If you’ve followed the evolution of Revolution and Grail Watch limited editions, you’ll know that the luminous signature of watches is something of a major obsession for me.
Fortunately, Ebstein liked this idea. After some discussion, he proposed we make the case 41mm instead of the 38mm of the original. I also wanted the skeleton (Valjoux-based) movement to be treated in gold just like the original watch from 1995. But once we finished this design, it felt like something was missing. Honestly, I felt like we had simply made a facsimile of the vintage watch.
Thinking about it, I realized what I missed was the chromatic energy created by Ebstein’s input in recent years. If you know me, you’ll understand that I have a penchant for blue watches, in particular the blue thermal-treated grade 5 titanium horological finery created by Denis Flageollet of De Bethune. So Ebstein and I went back to the drawing board and came up with the watch you now see, the Grail Watch 5:  Chronoswiss Opus Blue.
Let’s start with the case of this watch. While it was clearly inspired by the blue titanium finery of De Bethune, Ebstein and I knew we had to use a different technology and arrive at a different color to distinguish our watch from its source of inspiration. For this, Ebstein contacted his specialists. After much experimentation, he decided to use CVD treatment on the grade 5 titanium case.
He explains, “This is still highly resistant but as it’s a lighter colored coating than DLC, it creates a beautiful translucency where you can see all  the finish on the case. It was important to us that the high polish applied to the pushers, bezel and crown contrasted by the vertical brushing applied to the caseband was still visible. The particularity about CVD is that it does react to wear and creates a kind of patina effect. However, as soon as you wash the watch, it returns to new. As such, we’ve paired the watch with a blue textile strap and stainless steel deployant clasp, so you can wear it while playing sports or even in the pool.
Once we achieved the right color for the case, we knew we had to find a matching blue for the dial. But the caveat was that this blue would emit a highly luminous signature in the dark. Says Ebstein, “We experimented a lot to find a color that was really cool looking in normal light but  glowed brightly in the dark.
My initial idea was to use blue steel units for the hours and minutes, and gold ones for the chronograph indications. My rationale was that they would be visible against the luminous background. But Ebstein decided instead to have highly luminous hour and minute hands. Once I saw these fitted to the watch, I was sold. It is incredibly cool to see these ultra bright hands glowing in a contrasting color to the already highly luminous dial. The result is a watch that in its blue colorway is beautiful to behold in the light, and in the dark it transforms into an altogether different nocturnal animal powered by a high wattage dial and hands.
Grail Watch 5: Chronoswiss Opus Blue is a watch that I am exceedingly proud of. Instead of a collaboration with the hottest and latest independent watchmaker, it represents a partnership with a brand I have a huge admiration for and that has made an invaluable contribution to the renaissance of mechanical watchmaking. With its blue grade 5 titanium case and luminous signature, which creates a delicious dynamic tension with the old-school gold skeletonized movement, it is to me a truly appealing work of retro-modernism in horological form. It is made in just 30 examples and priced at CHF 13,300.

Technical specifications

Grail Watch 5: Chronoswiss Opus Blue

Limited edition of 30 pieces


  • Material: Blue CVD-coated grade 5 titanium
  • Diameter: 41 mm
  • Glass: Sapphire crystal
  • Screw-down case back with satin finish and flat sapphire crystal
  • Water-resistant to 100 meters (10 bar)

Dial and hands

  • Openworked
  • Gold-plated skeletonized movement bridges
  • Subdials and minute track fully coated in blue Super-Luminova
  • Hour and minute hands fully coated in green Super-LumiNova


  • Valjoux-based caliber C.741S
  • Automatic movement
  • Diameter: 30 mm (13 1/4”’ lignes)
  • Thickness: 7.9 mm
  • Number of jewels: 25
  • Frequency: 28‘800 vph (4 Hz)
  • Power reserve of approx. 46 hours


  • Hours, minutes, seconds
  • Chronograph, date

Strap and buckle

  • Marine blue Cordura strap with blue CVD-coated stainless steel folding clasp

MSRP: CHF 13'300

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