Next month, during the annual Baselworld 2011 event, Victorinox Swiss Army is going to present some of its new models. The new Alliance Chronograph (ref. 241478) seems to be the dressier among them. In fact, it is one of the dressier field watches manufactured by a Swiss-based brand that you can get in a sub-$1k price range.
You probably already know how hard it is to find a dressy Swiss watch with its overall military styling elegantly combining a slim case and refined elements of the dial. Well, if you are operating within the $3000-$5000 niche (and above) you are probably golden: there are dozens of models that will suit the most exquisite tastes. But make a step or two below the dreaded $1000 line and you are in a world of pain.
Like is the case with affordable cars, the “cheap” (I can’t seriously call “cheap” a watch that costs like a flagship smartphone or an average notebook) watches seem to be deliberately made not particularly attractive. Details are often exaggerated, hands often look generic and slightly (sometimes not slightly at all) out of proportion to other elements, and straps and bracelets look more like torture devices that are supposed to be immediately replaced with something more premium. Yes, this is done to boost sales of more expensive, while not more technically advanced models of the same brand. Yes, this ‘corralling’ approach is despicable, but that is how marketing works, kids.
The new Alliance Chronograph is a pleasant exception to the rule.
The mid-sized 42 mm stainless steel case presents a sequence of satin-brushed surfaces that slowly flow one into the other forming an elegant and pleasant to-look-at body.
The steel bracelet looks like it should have been installed on a piece, which is five times more expensive than this one.
But the most impressive here is the dial. Featuring three applied Arabic numerals at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock and painted with black lacquer it provides the Alliance Chronograph with a surprisingly gentle, even noble, appearance.
Again, this one will be offered in a price range between CHF 730 (on a leather strap) and CHF 925 on a two-tone stainless steel bracelet (and a standard three-hander will be two times more affordable.) Can you readily name another similar model that offers so much style at such a miserable price?
The Victorinox Swiss Army Alliance Chronograph is powered by a quartz movement, which may be a problem if you are one of those persons who truly believe that a Swiss watch must be powered by a mechanical movement (and a “true” one at that.) Well, nothing is perfect, I suppose. Also, the caliber ETA 251.272 that ticks inside this chronograph has a reputation of a solid movement that, being built on 22 jewels and featuring a well-designed chassis, will probably give you years of robust performance without all the hassle that is usually associated with inexpensive mechanical calibers.
At the time of my writing this brief review, the recommended retail price for this timepiece is set at competitive $895 US dollars (and there will be good discounts after some time passes) making it an interesting choice if you simply want a nice, well-built chronograph.
Photos: Victorinox Swiss Army
Victorinox Swiss Army Alliance Chronograph (ref. 241478) specification
Price: CHF 730 / CHF 832 / CHF 925
Movement: Quartz, ETA 251.272, Swiss Made
Functions: Hours, minutes, chronograph, date
Power reserve: 49 months
Case: Stainless steel
Case size: 42.00 mm
Lug width: 21 mm
Case height: 11.00 mm
Dial: Black, charcoal grey, and silver
Hour-markers: Luminous dots
Hands: Steel, luminous
Water resistance: 100 meters
Strap: 3-row alternating-finish steel bracelet or leather strap in black, charcoal grey, and camel
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective