Hands-On: The Edox CO-1 Carbon Chronograph Automatic — A Watch With A Heart Of Steel
The world of offshore powerboat racing is where Edox found the inspiration for this technically interesting diver’s watch made of steel, ceramic, carbon, and glass fibers. Edox has been involved in powerboating for quite a while. A sport for men and women with hearts of steel. And that’s why the Edox CO-1 Carbon Chronograph Automatic is a watch with a heart of steel. A powerboat on the wrist!
Last month, Rob talked about the Edox SkyDiver Neptunian and mentioned the pleasing aspects of an over-engineered dive watch. Because you will never be able to push it to its physical limits, it will make for a carefree companion. And the same (and beyond) goes for the CO-1 Carbon Chronograph Automatic.
A watch with a heart of steel
Edox states that this watch is the most complicated one the brand has made so far. And when you read the spec sheet and the accompanying explanation regarding the way the case is put together, and the materials that are used, it seems to be that the CO-1 Carbon Chronograph Automatic is indeed pleasantly over-over-engineered. It’s a sports watch that can withstand the shocks and vibrations that a throttle man on a powerboat has to deal with. So it definitely won’t suffer when you take it out for some leisurely water-based activities either. The only question is: will it fit your wrist?
While its wearer might not be able to push the CO-1 Carbon Chronograph Automatic to its physical limits, the watch might just be able to do just that to its wearer. And that’s because of the enormous 45 × 16,5mm case size and the weight. Everything is big with this watch. The lug width is a whopping 26mm — not something you see every day unless your daily beater happens to be a Panerai Radiomir Base Logo PAM00753 with a lug width of 27mm — and the integrated rubber strap has quite a bulky folding clasp. And that’s a clasp that leaves a mark, literally. My wrist now bears the mark of a contraption the Marquis de Sade would have loved to have in his torture arsenal. But only if he was interested in finding discomfort without pleasure.
The case, strap, and folding clasp combination just didn’t agree with my wrist in the slightest. To see if it had something to do with the shape or my18cm size, I handed the watch to Dave for some wristshots. His wrist is marginally smaller, but he suffered the same problem I experienced. Because the CO-1 Carbon Chronograph Automatic is top-heavy, the strap needs to be snug because you don’t want the watch to wobble around. But when you do, the clasp pushes quite uncomfortably into the skin.
A big watch for big divers with big wrists and hands and fingers too.
Also, the second keeper on the strap is jobless on a wrist smaller than 18cm. Although I couldn’t find someone with a 20cm wrist, I suspect some of my issues will be non-existent for a guy or gal with more room to accommodate the watch. A big watch for big divers with big wrists and hands and fingers too. Having big fingers, however, is not a problem when operating the CO-1 Carbon Chronograph Automatic because the screw-down crown and pushers are oversized.
Classic chronograph display
Because it’s linked to powerboat racing, it’s a chronograph, and because it’s a 500m water-resistant dive watch, it has a helium escape valve at 9 o’clock, a unidirectional 60-minute bezel, and a 3mm thick scratch-resistant sapphire glass too. To keep things legible in the dark, the oversized applied markers, a lone Arabic numeral “1” at the one o’clock position, and the hands are filled with black Super-LumiNova that lights up green. The white lume pip at 12 o’clock on the bezel glows with a light blue tone. Other elements on the dial include the classic 6-9-12 chronograph display in black, and a day/date indication at 3 o’clock.
Protecting the heart of the watch
The movement Edox has gone with for the CO-1 Carbon Chronograph Automatic is called caliber 011. It is based on a Sellita SW 500 movement, a 7750 clone. The movement beats at 4Hz and provides 48 hours of power reserve. Through the sapphire case back, you can see that Edox added some rose gold color to the movement. And also a solid black rotor featuring a matching rose gold logo and writing.
The movement sits inside a steel inner case the keeps things stable. Around the core, case elements made out of ceramic layers forged in resin with strains of black carbon and glass fibers provide a tough outer shell.
… there are three other CO-1 Carbon Chronograph models, of which the red one is by far the boldest.
The material Edox uses is newly engineered and much more resistant to scratches and general wear and tear than regular carbon. It also gives the watch a very distinct color and texture. We had the gray version in at HQ. This particular model has a blue carbon fiber pattern dial, but there are three other CO-1 Carbon Chronograph models, of which the red one is by far the boldest.
To carbon, or not to carbon
What I like best about the watch is the color, the structure, and the stripes of the carbon composite on the outer case. It looks industrial, almost concrete-like, and it even makes me think of tantalum. The contrast with the shiny black crown and pushers only accentuates the original look of the case even more.
The blue dial with a carbon fiber pattern might go well with your denim, but it’s a bit too much for my taste. It wants to show both color and technicality, but by doing so, it aesthetically falls somewhere in between. The version with the plain, non-carbon, black dial is my favorite of the four CO-1 Carbon Chronograph models.
… elements in a matte finishing would make more sense.
Another element of the dial that I am not a fan of is the big, shiny number one on it. It refers to the name of the collection, but it’s also very confusing because it makes your eyes go looking for other Arabic numerals. However, you won’t find them. But you will find very shiny, applied indexes. In the dark, the luminous material takes over, but during the day the light bounces off the indexes, the shiny outline of the numeral one, and the hands too. On a watch that is presented as a multifunctional tool watch, having these elements in a matte or brushed finishing would make more sense. Due to their reflectiveness, they do catch the eye, but they are also somewhat distracting, something that undermines the intuitive time-reading.
One last thing
The price of the Edox CO-1 Carbon Chronograph Automatic is €3,190. And for that kind of money you are getting an outspoken watch made from modern materials which are used in a very original and technical way. The movement is not something special but is sturdy, reliable, and acceptably accurate. What I can respect about this watch, is its “love it or hate it” look. It’s outspoken, daring, and self-confident. Maybe it’s not quite to my taste, but that’s okay. Not everything has to cater to the views of just one collector. And there will almost certainly be people out there who will love this watch.
This Edox with a heart of steel otherwise requires the wearer to have a matching wrist of steel.
There’s just one last thing I have to say. I really don’t want to come across as a wuss with a low pain threshold, but I really feel the need to mention it. A matching glossy black pin buckle would have probably worked wonders for my wrist as well as those of my fellow, relatively small-wristed people. The clasp on the rubber strap could truly use some improvement (or simply be replaced). As it stands, this Edox with a heart of steel requires the wearer to have a matching wrist of steel to wear it.
For more information on the Edox CO-1 collection, please visit the official website.
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