As you have probably read or heard about by now — unless you’re one of those people who takes long breaks from watching the news — today marks an important 20th-century historical milestone, the 75th anniversary of the D-Day Invasion that turned the tide of World War II. What better day to call your attention to a pair of special timepieces, built by a Swiss brand with a British pedigree, issued to honor the Allied troops who stormed the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944? Read on to discover this week’s Watch[es] to Watch: the Graham Chronofighter Vintage D-Day and Vintage Chronofighter Overlord.
Like their brethren in the mainline Chronofighter Vintage collection, both watches have round cases, measuring 44 mm in diameter and equipped on their left sides with the hallmark hand-grenade-like trigger mechanism for starting and stopping the chronograph, a system developed to make it easier for military pilots to handle their watches’ timing functions while at the controls of a plane and wearing gloves. Inside the case, both models are powered by the automatic Caliber G1747, based on the ETA 7750), with 25 jewels and a 48-hour power reserve, which drives a chronograph with central seconds hand and 30-minute counter at 6 o’clock and a day-date display at 9 o’clock. Both are available on either a rubber strap with a military gear-inspired mesh pattern or on calfskin leather.
The anniversary editions are very distinct from each other in most other regards. The Vintage D-Day has a grained black dial with “D-Day” in large, bold sans-serif white lettering directly below the Graham logo at 12 o’clock. In the 6 o’clock subdial is printed, also in contrasting white, “1944” and “June 6,” marking the exact date that British, American, Canadian, and Free French forces launched amphibious attacks on the five Normandy beaches in Nazi-occupied France. In fact, the invasions began at 6:30 AM, making the placement of this date in the 6 o’clock subdial especially poignant. The position of the circled star, the standard military marking of the Allied forces, at 3 o’clock is also significant: it was at 3 o’clock on that same momentous day that the Brits’ Mulberry Harbours — portable harbors built for rapid offloading of cargo until the major French ports could be recaptured from the Germans — set out across the English channel to resupply the invasion army.
The Vintage Overlord takes its moniker from Operation Overlord, the military codename for the Normandy invasion. Its case is made of satin-brushed bronze, reminiscent of the metal used in the construction of the naval vessels that were so vital to the success of D-Day. On its military green, sandblasted dial are white hour numerals in a font used on U.S. Air Force fuselage of the era. The Indianhead symbol at 6 o’clock is one of the most heralded unit emblems in the U.S. Army, that of the Second Infantry Division, which landed at Omaha Beach on June 7 (D+1).
Graham — a watch brand that takes its name and inspirations from the legendary and influential English watchmaker George Graham, and which has previously created special editions marking milestones from British and American military history, including a 2005 Chronofighter VE-Day edition and a 2015 collaboration with the Navy SEAL Foundation — has stated that a portion of the proceeds from each watch (they are limited to 75 pieces each) will be donated “to museums in Normandy that pay tribute to fallen soldiers.” The steel-cased D-Day edition sells for $5,950, while the bronze-cased Overlord retails slightly higher, at $7,450.