Introducing The New Celegin Draken Chronograph — A Reverse-Panda Twist To The Swedish Brand’s Pilot’s Watch
We covered the first eloquently spoken tool watch from Celegin Precision Timing last year. And judging from Instagram, a few of the Fratelli have already gotten their hands on this Swedish limited-production pilot’s watch. Now Celegin is expanding its repertoire with the new Draken Chronograph, which sits slimmer on the wrist than most well-known German avionic tools. Add affordability into the mix, and the intro is a sweet one.
The Celegin Draken was unceremoniously nominated by me as one of the best microbrand pilot’s watches of 2021. This week, the range gets expanded with a reverse-panda chronograph on pre-order. The size of the sharp-dialed chronograph is still likably compact at 41mm with a 42.5mm bezel and angled-down lugs with a 49mm span. The 15.5mm thickness is slim compared to both Sinn 103s and other chronos at a chubby 16-17mm. As a bonus, this is not the only release from Celegin this time. The three-hand hand Draken also gets a fetching vintage-lumed version.
A reverse panda with an elegant twist
With its Sellita SW510 caliber, this chronograph is rather well-priced. It leaves me with a feeling that Leonard Celegin has been pretty tight with his margins to our benefit. Compared to similar SW510-based watches from Farer and Hanhart, the case execution is impressive, and the price is reasonable. Whereas the standard Draken has a Sinn-infused vibe, this is a refined Air Command/Heuer 1550 style. For a small brand, the case is rather refined with a light-popping mix of brushwork and polished details both above and below the angular lugs. The 49mm length is medium for the case size, balanced with a wrist-hugging lug drop. It might have looked more vintage with a matte bezel, but the solidity of ceramic is hard to argue with, just like the sapphire crystal. With its slight curvature, the look is more modern, but the benefits are as indisputable as its style quota.
Sharp graphics on a matte dial
The new Celegin Draken Chronograph is a delicate blend of vintage and modern. The right Heuer and Sinn clues are here with crisp legibility but no “fauxtina”. The images here are taken by the talented Anders Törmä, but I had a chat with Leonard Celegin and tried the Draken Chronograph on for size. While Celegin could have saved a few millimeters with a manual SW510-caliber, the thickness feels just right.
It’s not easy to achieve a sub-16mm-thick case with a Sellita auto chrono, but the peace-of-mind benefits are worth it. The crisp reverse-panda dial is balanced, with the two silvery white registers recessed with a snailed finish. The large, function-forward numerals have a BGW9 Super-LumiNova treatment that gives off a fresh blue light, another quality touch. The Draken J35KSI Chronograph is well-priced with a pre-order cost of SEK 14,500 (€1,400) versus a list price of SEK 17,500 (€1,686).
The three-handed Draken makes a return
Alongside the crisp white-on-black of the chronograph, Celegin also releases a rather fetching version of the three-hander. The Draken S has a more historic feel thanks to the beige numerals on the bezel and dial. Together with the silky matte dial, this lends an elegant vintage air to the watch, and there’s a tempting bracelet option. The three-link bracelet is brushed with good attention to detail, and the logoed butterfly clasp fits the pilot’s ethos. The second option is a thick but soft Crazy Horse two-stitch leather strap. It has a nubuck-like surface and is a great match to the warmer vintage tones of the new Draken S. With a price of SEK 6,950 (€670) on the bracelet or a tad less on leather, this is serious value with a Sellita SW200, beating a few Seiko-powered micros I can think of.
Three-hand tool or chrono-power?
I feel that Celegin has done a good job in creating a balance within its small range, and when looking at the Celegin website, you will find other projects in the works. While the new Draken Chronograph is a pre-order only, the Draken S is in stock. To find a microbrand with stock of what might be a solid seller is impressive for such a new brand and a leap of faith by the founder. I’d say the chronograph and the three-hander are a strong duo and are priced rather well in today’s marketplace.
Whether you go for leather or steel, there’s a watch roll included. A complimentary two-piece stitched nylon strap also makes it a compelling bundle, especially as I have a conflicted relationship with NATOs, and my fiddly thickness-adding NATOs remain unused. For lume lovers, whether you go for the fresh blue BGW9 of the Draken Chrongraph or the Old Radium Super-LumiNova of the Draken S, you’ll be ready for an Instagram #lumebattle. And yes, that fighter-pilot daydream is yours for the taking.
What do you reckon, Fratelli? Does Celegin have what it takes to shake up the microbrand niche for pilot’s tool watches with this latest release? Let us know in the comments.
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