THE GRAHAM CHRONOFIGHTER VINTAGE LTD IS A LIMITED-EDITION TIMEPIECE, FEATURING A PAINTED DIAL DEPICTING THE ICONIC UNION JACK FLAG. AT A TIME WHEN THE UK’S FUTURE RELATIONSHIP WITH THE EU IS THE SUBJECT OF FIERCE DEBATE, GRAHAM, THE LUXURY WATCH BRAND, PROVOCATIVELY ASKS, ‘BREXIT?’ AND ‘SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO?’
Angus Davies reviews the Graham Chronofighter Vintage Ltd and looks at Brexit, the inspiration for this thought-provoking timepiece.
Graham, the luxury watch company, takes its name from the legendary watchmaker, George Graham (1673-1751). He was responsible for refining the pendulum clock, working with deadbeat escapements, inventing the mercury pendulum and producing the first Orrery. He worked for the illustrious Thomas Tompion and subsequently married Tompion’s niece, Elizabeth. His professional achievements led to recognition by his contemporaries and he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society (1721).
Today, Graham manufactures its watches in La Chaux-de-Fonds, the watchmaking capital of Switzerland. Each of the brand’s models are endowed with a ‘first rate Swiss movement’. However, while Switzerland is the company’s current home, there remains a part of this brand’s heart that will be for ever England.
Recently, this luxury brand, synonymous with chronographs, unveiled the Graham Chronofighter Vintage Ltd. This limited edition timepiece sports a Union Jack dial with contrasting hands and indices. Most notably, it features a 30-minute chronograph register with the text, ‘Brexit?’ This is most apt, as the United Kingdom is almost split in two over the monumental political decision to ‘remain’ or ‘leave’ the European Union (EU).
I am conscious that many ESCAPEMENT readers live beyond the territorial waters of the United Kingdom and may know little, if anything, about Brexit. Therefore, I will endeavour to briefly explain the history of the UK’s relationship with the EU.
A brief history of the EU
The EU can trace its origins back to 1957 when six nations signed an agreement which led to the formation of the European Economic Community (EEC). The founding nations included Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany. The rationale for the EEC was that economic cooperation between member states would mitigate the risk of member nations going to war with one another.
The United Kingdom tried to join the EEC in 1963 but the application was vetoed by President Charles de Gaulle. It is said that the French leader did not want English to supplant French as the principal language within the EEC. In 1973, the UK eventually joined the EEC, but the love affair was short-lived. Two years later, a national referendum was held and the electorate were asked whether they wanted to remain or leave. The outcome was that 67% of the vote chose to remain in the EEC.
During its association with the EEC, the UK has experienced periods of discontent. When Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister, she argued strongly about the size of the country’s contribution to the EEC. Subsequently, Britain’s contribution to the EEC budget was reduced.
In 1993, with the signing of the Maastricht Treaty, the EEC was superseded by the European Union (EU). While the EEC was set up to promote cross-border trade, the EU introduced a new framework which homogenised member states in terms of economic and political policy. This included Europe-wide citizenship protection, including ‘human-rights’. Many member states chose to use a single European currency, the Euro, albeit the UK rejected this proposal, choosing instead to retain the much-loved Pound.
Over the years, Britain’s affection for the EU has waxed and waned. Often this quotient of love or hate has been influenced by the ruling political party at the time. For example, when Tony Blair was in office as Prime Minister, he demonstrated an overtly pro-European attitude, a mindset which not all of his contemporaries have shared.
The signing of the Lisbon Treaty in 2007 afforded Brussels, the centre of the EU parliament, greater powers. Later, in 2011, David Cameron vetoed an EU treaty. He was the first Prime Minster to do so. Cameron would later vow to renegotiate the UK’s membership of the EU should he be returned to power at the forthcoming general election.
After securing victory in the 2015 General Elections, Cameron tried to revisit the UK’s relationship with the EU and address a raft of issues. Unfortunately, despite his best endeavours, his efforts were in vain and the relationship between the UK and the EU reached an all-time low. A consequence of Cameron’s thwarted attempts was that, in February 2016, he announced there would be a referendum on whether the UK should ‘remain’ or ‘leave’ the EU.
Politicians from the various political parties did not follow a ‘party line’, but voted as they sought fit. Indeed, irrespective of whether a politician was ‘left’ or ‘right’ they campaigned on the basis of conviction rather than political obligation.
The referendum was held on the 23rd June 2016. The outcome was 51.9% of ballots declaring a wish to ‘leave’ the EU and the rest wishing to remain. The vote has divided families. Indeed, in my own household, two voted to ‘leave’ and two voted to ‘remain’. It has become a social no go subject, seldom discussed in polite company.
Since signalling its intention to leave the EU, various UK ministers have repeatedly traipsed to Brussels, trying to negotiate the best possible deal for the UK.
Recently, the UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, unveiled ‘the deal’ which has been ratified by the EU. The 585-page draft withdrawal agreement outlines a new relationship with the EU, post Brexit. In the coming days, Members of Parliament (MPs) within the House of Commons will vote on the draft agreement, a process termed the ‘meaningful vote’ on Tuesday 11th at approximately 1900 hours. Will parliamentarians approve or reject the deal? It’s difficult to say.
On the 30th March 2019, Britain will Brexit. Or will it? Only time will tell.
To ‘Remain’ or ‘Leave’
‘Remainers’ and ‘leavers’ clearly have different points of view. To those ESCAPEMENT readers living overseas you may wonder what ‘all the fuss is about’. Our wonderful nation is split in two, with one half being diametrically opposed to the other.
I will try to be as impartial as possible and outline some of the key arguments proffered by both sides.
To Remain (4 arguments – not exhaustive)
- The UK’s largest trading partner is Europe. Several multi-national companies are based in the UK as it provides frictionless trade with other EU member states. Obvious examples of this are BMW-owned MINI and TATA-owned Jaguar Land Rover. Some voters believe that Brexit could inhibit the exporting of goods and lead to job losses.
- Exporters will also appreciate the homogeneous rules and regulations affecting products. Again, taking cars as an example, vehicles exported to the US or China have to meet local regulations, incurring additional costs. However, cars sold within Europe have only to comply with one set of rules, mitigating expense.
- Remainers will argue that being part of the EU provides strength when negotiating trade deals with non-EU states. Furthermore, by being together as one, there is less likelihood of conflicts breaking out between member states.
- There are segments of the British economy which are heavily reliant on overseas workers. EU migrants have proved to be reliable, educated and diligent workers. They have assumed roles in the food industry, doing tasks some British workers refuse to carry out. In addition, the NHS (the UK’s public health system) has employed numerous doctors and nurses from other EU states. There is a fear that should these individuals leave the UK there will be much disruption to UK life.
To Leave (4 arguments – not exhaustive)
- In 2017, the UK reportedly paid £18.6 Billion into the EU budget. A rebate of £5.6 Billion was applied to this figure, effectively a discount, hence the net payment to the EU was £13 Billion. The population of the UK is approximately 66 million, meaning the net payment to the EU for every man, woman and child is £197. Some UK citizens feel this is too much, pointing out that many areas of the UK are experiencing austerity.
- Some UK residents feel that the EU has eroded the UK’s right to self-govern. They argue that many of the laws and regulations are made in Europe and the UK has less say on matters which affect the lives of its citizens. In addition, it is sometimes perceived that some laws are intended to favour some states to the detriment of others. For example, the UK’s fishing industry is said to have been undermined by EU fishing quotas.
- There has been much discussion about immigration. Some UK citizens argue there is not the infrastructure to cope with the large influx of workers from the EU. As a member of the EU, the UK is obliged to recognise the free movement of EU citizens and allow them to live and work in the UK. Some politicians argue that the UK should allow potential immigrants from around the world to apply for citizenship based on an Australian-type points system. They argue that the UK can then select the most suitable applicants.
- For some UK citizens, there is a perception that closer ties with Europe diminishes Britain’s identity. The diversity of Europe’s member states is viewed favourably and some UK citizens fear this could be lost in favour of a future EU superstate. Since the formation of the EU in 1993, Brussels has become increasingly powerful and has sought to homogenise disparate economies and cultures.
I have endeavoured to remain impartial when writing this article. Clearly, I have my own views on the subject of Brexit but I do not think this online medium should be used as a platform for my own political thoughts.
Whether an individual believes the UK should ‘Remain’ or ‘Leave’ is probably determined by how they perceive themselves. For example, do we consider ourselves British or European? Can we be both?
First and foremost, I am from Lancashire ( a county in Northern England). My allegiance is to my region, its local traditions, the landscape and the history of this place I call home. However, I am English, British and European. Whether the UK leaves the EU or not that is something that will never change.
Graham has asked two pertinent questions, ‘Brexit?’ and ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go?’. I suspect the reply to these two questions will be revealed in the coming days.
Graham Chronofighter Vintage UK Ltd
From the outset, the Graham Chronofighter Vintage UK Ltd makes a statement with its colourful dial. The painted dial is bedecked with the Union Jack flag (the national flag of the United Kingdom).
The ‘Modern’ hour and minute hands are gold coloured and coated with white Super-LumiNova. The pointed, nib-like tips of the hands circumscribe the bold dialscape and converse with golden indices. The indices are baton-style, save for noon which employs Arabic numerals sans serifs. The golden tones of the hands and indices assume a regal character, reinforcing the patriotic nature of this eye-catching watch.
Graham, the brand synonymous with the chronograph, has duly equipped the Graham Chronofighter Vintage UK Ltd with this useful complication. A snailed, silver subdial, positioned at 3 o’clock, displays the running seconds. A large 30-minute chronograph register, located at 6 o’clock, matches the aforementioned subdial. Graham has playfully endowed this subdial with the inscription, ‘Brexit?’
A day and date display are presented via two discrete apertures.
Measuring 44mm in diameter, the Graham Chronofighter Vintage UK Ltd makes a bold statement. Indeed, its stainless steel case is generously proportioned, augmenting the legibility of the dial while remaining incredibly comfortable.
Graham has endowed this watch with its legendary chronograph trigger. The prominent device on the left flank of the case confers an ergonomic means of starting, stopping and resetting the model’s stop-watch function.
At the heart of this watch is the Calibre G1747 automatic movement. The balance has a frequency of 28,800 VpH (4Hz) and the movement contains 25 jewels. The power reserve is sufficient to deliver 48 hours of autonomy.
My press loan was supplied on a blue calf leather strap with ebullient red and white stitching. The brand does offer muted alternatives, but I think the strap affixed to my loan watch makes a courageous and patriotic statement.
Currently, the UK is debating whether it should remain or leave the EU. The Graham Chronofighter Vintage UK Ltd provokes debate with its vibrantly painted dial and its thought-provoking question, ‘Brexit?’
I have worn several, ‘regular’ Chronofighter models over the years and they provide a multitude of benefits, including legibility, wearer comfort, robustness and user-friendly chronograph operation. I would suggest, the regular models will appeal to many horophiles seeking functionality and style.
The Graham Chronofighter Vintage UK Ltd is slightly different. Its appearance will polarise opinion, a bit like Brexit itself. While wearing this watch, I have received very favourable comments as well as comments from those averse to its cheery appearance.
However, with only 100 examples of the Graham Chronofighter Vintage UK Ltd being produced, I don’t think the British-loving watch brand will have any trouble selling these highly noticeable luxury timepieces.
Name: Graham Chronofighter Vintage UK Ltd
Price: £3840 (RRP as at 8.12.2018)
For further information: https://graham1695.com/
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