At the last Baselworld 2009 trade show that, as you may have already guessed, took place in the town of Basel, Switzerland, the American-run Swiss-based watchmaking company Concord has revealed several new models from their C1 family of deliberately rugged timekeepers. Among others, the new collection included an outrageous QuantumGravity, as well as some variations on their more practical C1 Chronograph family. Predictably, they all looked good (or, at least, acceptable for someone who is into this kind of industrial design,) but it was the C1 Biretrograde (ref. 0320045) collection that I liked the most.
Although I am not the greatest fan of Concord, their C1 Chronograph with its brutal exterior and an unusual dial layout certainly appeals to me getting an honorable third position in my “Best Sports Watches I’d Like to Own List” right after the legendary Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore and the foppish Hublot Big Bang 44mm chronographs.
When it comes to sporty (i.e. those that you can wear with chinos and a polo shirt) watches, I especially like models where rose gold comes together with rubber or carbon. The combination of materials not only provides them with a much dressier look but also makes their design language more legible. To me, the monochromatic stainless steel Offshores and the C1 chronos look dull, boringly chunky, and uninspiring.
Well, I guess now you understand why I immediately fell in love with this C1 Biretrograde: there is rose gold, there is black rubber and there is Concord’s trademark multi-layered dial protected from the elements by a 3.3mm thick sapphire crystal. Almost perfect combination, to me.
While most Concord’s watches certainly experience significant problems with legibility (this is especially true for models that feature silver dials and stainless steel hands), the Biretrograde features a surprisingly high-contrast dial layout with their golden hour and minute hands perfectly legible against the dark gray dial.
However, there is a minor issue present with the timekeeper’s date indication. The date scale is printed on the transparent layer of one of the numerous dials, and, theoretically, the current date will be highlighted by a tiny white square attached to the respective hand.
However, in real life (e.g. poor lighting conditions), an attempt to tell the date will put an enormous strain on your eyes. Unless your name is Hawkeye, of course. Reading data on the retrograde day indicator on the left side of the dial doesn’t seem to be a significant problem.
The watch comes powered by an automatic La Joux-Perret movement packed in a rugged-looking 44mm case made of black rubber and 18 ct rose gold. By the way, the rubber blocks that guard the bezel and crystal are screwed to the bezel allowing for a hassle-free replacement in case of damage.
Nice watch. I just wonder, how much will it cost*.
Build Quality: 5/5
Overall Legibility: 4.5/5
Nighttime Legibility: 4/5
Value for Money: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
* UPDATE ON PRICE: Okay, it was just reported that the C1 Biretrograde will set you back at healthy $60,000. I think it’s only for you to decide whether a watch with a modified mass-produced caliber inside is worthy of such an impressive pile of cash.
Concord C1 Biretrograde (ref. 0320045) specification
Price range: $60,000 (MSRP)
Movement: La Joux-Perret Caliber 3535 (base ETA 2892-A2,) self-winding, Swiss Made
Complications: Retrograde date and day of week indicators
Power reserve: 42 hours
Case: Rose gold and rubber
Size: 44.00 mm
Case height: 14.60 mm
Dial: Multilayer, transparent, skeletonized
Water resistance: 50 meters
Strap: Black rubber strap with 18-karat rose gold clasp
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective