Dive Watch Releases / Articles

2017-07-28

CRONUS Prototype 2 REVIEW

BACKGROUND Cronus Watches are a new German based brand. Although the Cronus name was only registered in 2015, the company has been developing and perfecting their patented crown locking system since 2010.

I have begun by mentioning their crown locking mechanism as it is pertinent to the Cronus Watches story. It is this in-house technology that characterizes their debut dive watch, which is simply known as the Prototype 2.



The name Prototype 2 suggests that there was another prototype watch that preceded it - there was. Inspired by the legendary Soviet era aquanaut’s watch, the Zlatoust ChS-191, the Prototype 1 was a modern interpretation only with one key difference; instead of using a traditional canteen crown system, it was equipped with a Cronus Watches developed crown-locking device.



This system was consequently revised to include a further safety feature and a dial indicator with an arrow and some corresponding text in orange (control before dive). A patent for the innovation was obtained in 2013. I will tell you about that other safety feature later on.



DIAL In previous articles relating to the Cronus Prototype 2 - I have likened it to the well-known Ennebi and Germano & Walter brands - perhaps aesthetically sitting somewhere between the two and without any question; bang on par in terms of quality and finishing.

The dial of the Prototype 2 is typically German, that is to say that while clean and unfussy it has a technical feel to it that you don't usually see on Italian dive watches.



A matte black background provides a suitable canvas for the crisply printed arrangement of trapezoidal hour markers and finely printed white minute indications.

The large 12 o'clock marker has been split down the middle so as to quickly orientate your eyes, while below it is the Cronus brand name and at 6 o'clock a few further lines of text in white that include an old school “25 jewels” text like you might find on a vintage dial. Back at 3 o'clock are the orange arrow and text relating to the crown-locking system (control before dive).



HANDS An elegant set of skeleton sword hands outlined in white lume and a yellow lumed seconds needle display time. Although this isn't a typical dive watch that combines a prominent minute hand with a timing bezel - I still would have liked to have seen a slightly greater distinction made between the hour and minute hands - this is just my preference.



CASE If we are calling the dial, German; the case is surely where they Italian influences have crept in. Actually the case of the Prototype 2 is in no way derivative yet there is that look of an Italian naval diver about it especially when combined with the impressive crown guard and crown locking mechanism.



The case has been constructed in a high-grade Stainless steel and has been given a fine matte (almost satin) bead-blasted finish. Highlights of the case include the angular lugs, the cambered fixed bezel and of course - once again the show-stopper that is the crown-locking device.

The case of the Prototype 2 was made according to Cronus Watches in-house technical drawings. 3D data went to their watch production facility in the famous watchmaking region of Glashütte. The case and its components were later hand-assembled in a strictly limited series in their Munich workshop.



CROWN I think it's safe to assume that we are fairly familiar with the crown-locking system, its origins etc. But how does it actually function?

Crown locking systems are nothing new in watchmaking; several brands have developed their own systems with Panerai being the standout brand among them.

The whole idea is based on the premise (no, fact) that the crown is a dive watch’s Achilles heel. It is the most vulnerable component on any dive watch - by nature of its design it must protrude from the case - or how else are we supposed to get at it?!



What Cronus have done is completely surround the crown with a massive crown guard and then engineer a locking system into it so that not only is the crown safeguarded from any knocks or accidental adjustments but it can only be deliberately manipulated; meaning it would be impossible to flood the watch case.

What I'm trying to convey in a bit of an arse about face way is that there is simply no chance you could accidentally open the crown or bump it and sheer it of - it’s locked down - end of story! ;)



OPERATION In order to set the time on the Prototype 2, simply pull the little crown lever down - and the crown locking system unlocks - you know it's unlocked because the crown lock immediately pops out to reveal a red cuff - that further safety feature I was talking about, earlier.

Once this is out - you pull the small crown disc out and go about setting the time. When you're all set - simply push the protruding red cuff back in (hold it in place) and push the lever back up to the locked position.



We know the Panerai crown locking system well - it's a simple yet elegant solution; by contrast the Cronus Watches locking device is actually a little more complex, better protected and overall more impressive.

This is not a feature that you simply throw together - it has been painstakingly designed and perfected over years. The result is very impressive. It's what makes this watch so special and allows it to stand out from the crowd.



CASE-BACK The case-back of the Prototype 2 is quite simple yet at the same time I kind of find it rather beautiful. There is a large central portion which is totally flat. Then the sides gently sweep down almost like the back of a dish. This sloping edged is broken up by 6 indentations used for accommodating a case-back tool.

In the middle of the case-back is the Cronus brand name with the watch’s edition number and a small arrow-head, a nod to the good old days. Then around the circumference of the inner part some key specifications.



GENERAL SPEC includes: a 316L, Stainless steel case (measuring 45mm in diameter by 10mm thick with a lug to lug measurement of 57.7mm and lug width of 26m), a 3.5mm AR-treated domed Sapphire crystal, 300 meters of water-resistance and a Swiss made automatic ETA 2824-2 caliber.



LUME The Prototype 2’s hands and markers have been applied with a good amount of strong Swiss lume. The hands and markers glow green while the lumed seconds indicator has a yellowish orange hue. The lume is bright and long lasting. I was surprised just how good it was.



STRAP The Prototype 2 came with two straps, a light tanned leather strap and a khaki grey canvas strap. As you can see I have mine on the canvas strap - this is because it was actually slightly longer but also because it looks so nice. Both straps are handmade and are of a great quality. The canvas strap has a dark brown sued lining and keeper that creates a nice bit of contrast.



BUCKLE There's a slight hint of a Pre-Vendome buckle here but this is much chunkier thanks to its 3-dimensional design. The buckle is in the same steel as the case and also has a bead-blasted finish. I just feel like the buckle could have benefitted from some branding - just to finish it off.



WORN How does the Prototype 2 look and feel on the wrist? I'm not a huge fan of discussing something as subjective as this - but I will say that the watch’s diameter comes off feeling bigger because of the crown guard. On the flip side, the watch has a low and relatively sleek profile - also the lugs are nicely angled downwards. Don't be surprised if someone asks if that’s a Panerai you’re wearing it’s happened to me.



PRICE The current price of the Cronus Prototype 2 is 2400€ for the steel version shown here, while the PVD version is €2500€. The watches are available either via the Cronus homepage or chrono24. Considering the great lengths taken to develop the crown-locking system, to file a patent for it plus the expense involved, this is really a lot of watch for the money.



FINAL THOUGHTS Let me start by quickly dispelling the myth that a “dive watch” should have a timing bezel of some sort to be a diver. The very first dive watches didn't have them. Early military divers, those Soviet era aquanauts I mentioned earlier and even modern day commercial divers do just fine without them. ;)

Cronus are a new brand and are relatively unknown. I would say they make a comparable product to Ennebi, G&W, Gruppo Ardito, Helberg and perhaps even UTS (although UTS are more precision engineered) who are for me some of most exciting dive brands available at the moment.


©OceanicTime

If you are looking for a premium quality micro brand like those mentioned above the Cronus Prototype 2 is an excellent proposition. They have recently been nominated for the German Design Award for 2018, a well-deserved accolade imho.

The watch itself is exceptional - it's been beautifully made and finished. It has a unique look and its own technology - what's not to like. I knew immediately that I had to get one when I saw it and now I have one I'm even toying with idea of getting the Black Edition for the future. :)

https://www.cronus-watches.de

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