The excitement of a new romance can sometimes ebb away with increasing familiarity. The passion typical of a honeymoon period can, on occasion, fade to tedium and mediocrity. Thankfully, I consider myself very fortunate that, despite being with my wife for almost 30 years, I continue to experience a flutter of excitement in the pit of my stomach each time we meet, especially after work commitments have dictated a period of forced separation. Sadly, divorce statistics suggest that our relationship is unusual and the majority of couples do not share this long-term joy.
This scenario has caused me to consider the relationship I have experienced with some of my watches, both past and present. Some watches have ensnared me with their beauty, but subsequently, with increased familiarity, I have fallen out of love with them.
Conversely, with other watches, my liaison has been a love-hate relationship. I have initially succumbed to the charms of a timepiece and then, fallen out of love, because it no longer seems congruent with my notion of an ideal partner.
I have had a thoroughly enjoyable summer wearing an array of press loan-watches, but have often returned to my young horological bride of several months, the REPLICA Graham Silverstone RS Skeleton.
The usual honeymoon period is over and I now know each subtle nuance of this watch.Typical with prolonged acquaintance, each character trait has been exposed. My objective with this review is to reveal which elements engender a profound love and identify any negative aspects of my new horological companion.
The black skeleton dial features a combination of black and white coloured details, together with, in the case of my version, blue elements to the chronograph and small seconds hands. My chosen version features blue detail to the strap and case, an aspect I will return to later. Alternative models are available with a soupçon of red or green instead and, to be honest, I like each version and could easily have picked any of the colours offered.
Black Plume hour and minute hands, lined with white SuperLumiNova, are highly legible day or night. The hands feature a green emission in restricted light. The hour markers, consisting of simple rectangular batons, share the same luminescent quality.
The bi-compax layout ordinarily grants symmetry and balance to a watch dial, however, Graham has interestingly featured a large 30-minute register adjacent 3 o’clock, with a more diminutive small seconds display, positioned opposite, at 9 o’clock. The resultant outcome delivers an abundance of interest and a refreshing departure from the typical dial layout found on many chronographs.
A key aspect of the design is the openly revealed wheels visible on the dial. For example, beneath the 30-minute chronograph hand, a 5-spoke wheel is visible. This free disclosure of the inner psyche of the watch is something which continues to make me smile with appreciation.
Between 10 and 11 o’clock, the screwed balance wheel is visible and I have spent much time admiring the pulsating action of the balance spring. Indeed, a key attribute of the Graham Silverstone RS Skeleton is that wherever you choose to look, you will find small details which engender affection. Moreover, the ubiquitous exposure of micro-components, often hidden from view, is a form of visual titillation which never ceases to delight. The Incabloc shock protection device positioned above the balance wheel, whilst primarily functional, invariably arrests my attention with its one beguiling red eye.
Encircling the central area of the dial is a grey brushed plate. At first glance it appears to be a ring, but there is a missing section between 10 o’clock and noon to reveal the balance. Furthermore, this plate spreads out across the dial surface and is engraved with the model name above 6 o’clock. The brushed plate sits below the rings surrounding the subdials. It accentuates the depth of the dial and catches the light, providing a moment of brilliance when it glints in sunlight. These qualities compound my liking for the Graham Silverstone RS Skeleton.
Framing the dial area, a minute scale is presented on the black inner flange. It interfaces with the blue central chronograph seconds hand, making read-off simple.
The sapphire crystal is coated on both sides and bears the Graham nomen on its inner surface. Again, Graham has shrewdly manipulated depths with the white text appearing to float above the dial detail below.
With a myriad of constituent elements making up the dial there could have been a risk that it resulted in a cluttered form. However, this is not the case. The dial remains eminently simple to read and the minutiae augment the visual appeal of the Graham Silverstone RS Skeleton.
The stainless steel case measures 46mm in diameter. It is substantial in size and, as a result, it may well not suit gentleman of slight stature. However, I have found the watch perfectly suits my wrist and at no stage does it feel unduly heavy or cumbersome. This is not to say the watch is light, it has a reassuring heft which appeals to my working-class sensibilities; it feels like there is palpable value on my wrist.
I once owned a large pilot’s watch which seduced me with its purposeful appearance and iconic status. However, with repeated wear, the crown rubbed my wrist, leaving irritating red marks on my arm. I have worn the Silverstone RS Skeleton for several months, sometimes without removing it for a number of days and, despite is leviathan proportions, it has never chaffed my baby-soft skin.
One reason for the elevated wearer comfort is the discreet profile of the push pieces and crown. They do not protrude unduly, projecting only slightly from the case band. However, despite their relatively shy demeanour, they remain simple to operate. A second reason for the watch’s cosseting embrace is the profile of the lugs and the rubber strap supplied. Remove the watch from the wrist and the strap’s natural state of repose is to point downwards, almost wanting to encircle the wrist at any time. At no stage does the strap feel it wants to do anything other than envelope the wrist in friendly union. This is a supremely comfortable watch to wear.
A concern I had about the Graham Silverstone RS Skeleton, prior to delivery, was whether the rubber strap would induce perspiration. I have worn some watches fitted with rubber straps and found they can cause an unwelcome dampness to my arm. I have not suffered this problem with the Silverstone RS Skeleton and can only assume this has something to do with the inner ribbed sections of its construction.
The bezel is constructed of black ceramic and features a grey tachymeter scale. It has not accrued any scratches or marks whilst in my tenure and retains a showroom-fresh appearance. Beneath, the bezel is a knurled aluminium ring depicted in blue. Again, other models in the range feature red or green hues instead. I have found my preferred shade has wonderfully co-ordinated with countless shirts and jackets and has proved to be a very wearable shade. One small frustration is that the knurled surface makes me want to touch its tactile form, yet it is beyond the reach of my probing digits. It tantalises me and then frustrates my amorous intentions.
The surface treatment of the case is interesting. The majority of the surfaces are satin-brushed, mitigating the perception of bulk. However, there are stylish flourishes of brightly polished steel on the bevelled edges of the lugs, the crown, push pieces and a circlet of brightwork framing the sapphire crystal on the case back.
I purchase watches to wear and don’t subscribe to archiving them in hermetically sealed packaging in some mercenary hope they will appreciate in value. Invariably, several of my watches do bear signs of repeated wear. An interesting aspect of the Silverstone RS Skeleton, is that despite being worn on numerous occasions, it has proved very resilient to annoying superficial scratches. The only part where I can see some small light scratches is on the polished surface of the branded clasp on the deployant, and even then they are few. This is a welcome attribute of the watch and I would love to know how Graham has achieved this feat.
On the left hand case band, a small aperture reveals an interesting view of the balance. I confess to being a watch addict and I am often referred to as a “watch geek” by family and friends. True to form, I have spent much time with my prized Loupe System, held close to my eye, admiring the inner view of my cherished timepiece. Graham has accorded a charming design feature to this watch which has heightened my ownership experience.
The case back features a sapphire crystal, retained with six special screws with unusual heads. Again, it successfully combines two surface treatments. A polished section is engraved with the brand’s name, maximum water resistance, model reference and unique serial number. Adjacent this polished surface, the metal appears matt and looks different from the satin-brushed surfaces of the case band. The angled section of the matt surface spaces the outer edge of the case back from the arm, enhancing the free movement of the wrist.
The Calibre G1790 is a self-winding chronograph movement. The balance oscillates at 28,800 vph (4Hz), the movement contains 29 jewels and the power reserve is 46 hours.
The oscillating mass has a brushed decoration and features three circular holes in its form, revealing some of the components beneath. Below the rotor, a central bridge features sublime anglage. Many of the micro-components within the movement exhibit a mirror-like brilliance. Petit perlage is visible on the main plate and there is a partial view of the gear train, sating my predilection for horological voyeurism.
The Calibre G1790 is refined to a high standard. The chronograph is cam-actuated. Whilst I prefer column-wheel chronographs, the push pieces exhibit a positive and pleasing action. Furthermore, the watch should prove cheaper to maintain than a more complex column-wheel chronograph, an aspect often overlooked by many prospective watch buyers.
Despite an ownership experience spanning several months, my romance with the Graham Silverstone RS Skeleton continues. During our relationship I have gained a deep understanding of life with this contemporary timepiece.
Initially, when selecting a partner, we note their eyes, smile and certain aspects of their body. However, it is only by spending time with someone that one learns of all of their idiosyncrasies. Unfortunately, for some couples, this proves to be death knell of a once promising relationship. Conversely, with increased familiarity, one begins to notice certain nuances which intensify the romance, such as birth mark on a particular part of the body, a unique mannerism or an adorable character trait found in one’s partner. And so it is for watches.
I know my Graham Silverstone RS Skeleton intimately. I am not guilty of wearing rose-tinted glasses, I have indicated those few areas I would change, but they are few. Few watches are perfect but, in this instance, my Graham comes pretty close. I adore it and suspect our relationship will thrive for many years to come.