Hands-On With The Nivada Grenchen Chronoking
To me, the Nivada Grenchen Chronomaster will always be the Valjoux 23-powered Aviator Sea Diver. Call me old school, but that was my fav from the many Nivadas that left Grenchen back in the day. For many, however, a watch without a date just won’t cut it. I hear you, and so did Nivada. The Chronoking was supposed to fill that void. It’s only fair then that we get a re-edition of the vintage classic. That’s the watch we are going to talk about today.
I have been lucky enough to see every new Nivada that has come out to date. When the brand was ready to launch the Chronoking series, I instantly received a model for review. This is, however, not just any model. The very watch you see in the photos will be en route to a lucky winner who took part in the Time 4 A Pint Movember raffle. But before it I ship it to the lucky winner, let’s take a closer look at the Nivada Grenchen Chronoking.
The Chronoking is basically a Chronomaster with the added date function. Instead of using the popular date aperture positions, like 6 or 3 o’clock, Nivada places the window at the 12. While the Chronomaster initially hit the market in 1963, the Chronoking came a good few years later. It must have been around the late ’60s or early ’70s. The design was much more contemporary than you see on the old Chronomaster. Features like the old logo or the broad-arrow hands were gone. Instead, the watch had a much more updated look, yet it was still unmistakably Nivada. The Chronomaster stayed in production until 1978. A few years later, during the early 1980s, Nivada sadly succumbed to the quartz crisis. Vintage Chronoking models are high on collectors’ wish lists, but fans of modern watches should not feel left out either. The new Chronoking is the spitting image of its vintage counterpart.
The new Chronoking is only 38mm in diameter and 14mm thick. As such, it is not a huge watch, and if you are not a fan of, let’s say, sub-40mm watches, this might be an issue for you. The idea was that Nivada wanted to stay as close to the vintage watch as possible, not only in the looks but also in the size. I have a large wrist (7.5″ or 19cm), yet I enjoy wearing the Chronoking. It does not feel small at all, especially if you consider getting one on the bracelet. I’m more of a strap guy, and the beads-of-rice bracelet does not taper, so the leather would be my choice. Here comes the cool part: the watch comes with eight options. Aside from the rubber, leather straps, and factory steel bracelets, you can also get a Chronoking on a Forstner bracelet.
Yes, Nivada offers the watch on the Forstner Bonklip, beads-of-rice, or riveted bracelets. That’s a pretty sweet vintage touch to an already neo-modern watch. The lug-to-lug length is 46mm, which means the case isn’t too long. Anything will look good on it.
I’m all for pump pushers; to me, they epitomize a vintage chronograph. I was hoping you wouldn’t ask me why flat pushers do it for me. Luckily, the Nivada Chronoking has excellent flat-top pump pushers. It also has another thing I love on vintage pieces — drilled lug holes. It’s a minor but essential detail that makes changing straps super easy. Furthermore, the holes on the lugs are just incredible vintage elements. One thing many of you ask about is weight distribution. All I can say is that the Chronoking feels excellent on the wrist, whether you rock it on leather or steel.
Pop of color
Size does not matter. Or rather, it is not the only thing that matters. We also care about the looks, and in this case, the dial. Now, I’m not sure how many vintage Chronoking variations existed. The ones I found all look the same, aside from the occasional Nivada/Croton brand name difference on the dial (side note: Nivada marketed its watches as “Croton” in the US due to some copyright issues with Movado). While the dial layout is equivalent to the watch of the ’70s, some might find the faux patina indexes weird. As a matter of fact, they indeed look a bit too yellow (or perhaps too even?). However, when I wore the watch, it did not bother me. Thanks to the red chronograph hands and the light brown sub-dials, the watch is easily readable. That pop of red and brown make the watch stand out.
The feature that stood out on the vintage Chronoking was the date. The aperture at 12 was not unique to Nivada, but it was indeed an oddity back in the day. While those pieces had a Valjoux 234 inside them, the new Chronoking gets its power from Sellita. Caliber SW510, in this case, is manually wound, just like the old Valjoux 234. We are in 2021, so the Sellita is a quick-set-date movement. Aside from the caliber change, the user experience is virtually the same. You need to wind the watch manually and eventually change the date with the help of the quick-set function.
As I mentioned above, the Chronoking comes in one dial iteration but with eight different strap options to choose from. If I were you, I’d get it on a bracelet, possibly a Forstner. Why? Because you could ultimately use it on other pieces. Then again, you can also buy every strap and bracelet that Nivada offers separately on the brand’s website. If you opt for the leather version, the watch will cost you €1,722 (CHF 1,755 or USD $1.948). Choose any of the five steel bracelets, and the price will be a bit higher, but not too bad. We are talking about €1,904 (CHF 1,940 or USD $2,153), not including customs duties. The watch will come from Switzerland, so keep this in mind.
Only one question remains: would I get the new Nivada Chronoking? Absolutely! When it comes to a vintage-inspired, manual-wind chronograph, you could do much, much worse for a little under €2K.