Excelsior Park — A Legendary Chronograph’s New Lease On Life
If you are a vintage chronograph person, I don’t need to tell you much about Excelsior Park. The company created some of the most iconic chronograph calibers back in the day. Aside from its self-branded timepieces, you could find its movements in some Gallet, Girard-Perregaux, as well as Zenith chronographs. Like many, Excelsior Park fell victim to the quartz crisis and the overall declining demand, and the brand closed up shop somewhere around the mid-’80s. In 2020, the brand hinted at a comeback, and today, the preorder opens for the first neo-vintage Excelsior Park chronographs.
Inspiration for the first five models came from some of the heavy hitters of EP’s past — stylish, elegant, dual-register chronographs with salmon, black, and three different white dials. I was lucky enough to be one of the first to check out three of the five new prototype watches. Sadly, the black model had to go back, but I still managed to snag a few shots of the other two. Aside from the photos, here are my thoughts on the new Excelsior Park chronographs.
I’m a fan of vintage (chronograph) watches. Many of you who read my articles or met me know this already. So, for me, it is always exciting to see a re-edition of a watch from a bygone era. Although I always prefer the original model over its current counterpart, I love to see when brands go the extra mile to bring a faithful “homage” to the market. When I first caught wind of the relaunch of EP from Nivada Grenchen‘s Guillaume Laidet, my excitement mixed with fear. How close would they come to the design of the vintage watches? Would it be a simple carbon copy or a new model with clear EP DNA? There are so many things that can go wrong with a project like that. But after having worn the watches for the better part of November, I can assure you that they are worthy of the name Excelsior Park.
The circulation of photos on social media made me hopeful. Truth be told, I expected way worse. But as it turned out, I loved what I saw. As they say, the proof is in the pudding, and what proof it was! As soon as I opened the box and held the watch in my hand, I calmed down. They had done it again. After the crazy success the guys had (and are still having) with Nivada, they managed not to mess this one up. Not only that, but the chrono was gorgeous. The size, the feel, the look — it was all there. Granted, the case is a bit thicker due to the movement (around 13mm), but other than that, the EP looked and felt just like its vintage cousin. Yet the watch also struck me as a modern piece. The Excelsior Park had passed the initial tests, but I had to strap it on the wrist to be sure it was legit.
My wrist is 7.5″ in circumference, so larger watches tend to looker better on me. With a diameter of 38.9mm, I thought the Excelsior Park would be just the perfect size. Then again, my beloved Speedies are 42mm, and my Rolex GMT is around 40+mm. Not to mention, my vintage chronos are mostly under 38mm. Still, the watch felt great. The proportions were pleasing, the thickness was excellent, and lastly, the strap was soft as butter. The tip-to-tip length is 47.5mm thanks to its long and thin lugs. If you are a fan of smaller timepieces, you could still pull this off, though.
However, if you are into larger watches, this one may feel like a dress watch to you. In any case, you should try it on. You can get it with a full-steel or display case back installed. I’d opt for the steel, as it makes the watch a bit thinner. If you would like to admire the SW510 M, though pick the display case back option.
SW 510 M BH B
Speaking of which, the new Excelsior Park chronographs house Sellita’s SW 510 manual wind caliber. This is the same movement you’d find in, among others, the Nivada Chronomaster and Chronoking re-editions. As a true vintage fan, I’m a bit disappointed that the new models don’t have the original EP calibers in them. But then again, I never really expected that to happen. As iconic as those movements are, I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to find them in large quantities. Although, I never thought Nivada would bring back the Chronomaster in a limited run housing NOS Valjoux 23 calibers, and that happened. So anything is possible, I suppose. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the SW 510. It’s an excellent hand-wound caliber with a smooth chronograph feature and, as my beloved Mike would say, “nice action on the pusher.”
Salmon or white
I saved the best for last. A true re-edition must have a dial faithful to its predecessor. In the case of the new Excelsior Park models (at least the ones I saw), this is mission accomplished. The EP95000 is probably the most colorful, with its red, black, and blue text and scales on a silver-white dial.
Then comes the EP95001. It’s a white/black iteration, and one of my test watches. Next, we have the EP95002 with light brown printing, but which is otherwise the spitting image of the EP95001. Our penultimate model will be a favorite for many, I’m sure. I’m talking about the EP95003 with its black dial, white print, and light green Super-LumiNova numerals. Last up is my favorite, the EP95004. It has a beautiful salmon dial with black printing, and no telemeter scale like you saw on the previous four models. It’s virtually impossible not to find one you love.
Things to keep in mind
The preorder for the new Excelsior Park chronographs starts today (December 8, 2021). Though both the full-steel and exhibition case backs are included with purchase, you can choose which one you’d like installed on the watch first. You can also choose from three leather strap options for each model. These are primarily black, brown, or light brown straps. As far as the price goes, the new EPs are selling for €1,900, which is a very fair price if you ask me. It is worth mentioning that the price excludes VAT, so you have to add that on top of the €1,900 sales price.
Aside from the salmon-dial version, every other model comes with Super-LumiNova-covered hands. I had the salmon watch with me during Dubai Watch Week, and it was a showstopper for many, lumed hands or not. Pay attention to the 4 and 7 numerals on the dial. This is the typical typography for EP timepieces, and I was so happy to see them on these dials as well. It goes to show that the guys at EP paid attention to the minor details when recreating these great chronographs. Now it’s your chance to put them to the test.
To visit Excelsior Park’s website, which goes live at 17h CET today, click here.