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When Luxury Brands “Attack”: What Chopard Would Have Us Think We’re Supposed to Covet

Chopard Grand Prix de Monaco Historique Time Attack MF

But good grief, this is bad design.  Why can’t anyone design watches any more?

Chopard Grand Prix de Monaco Historique Time Attack MF

Chopard Grand Prix de Monaco Historique Time Attack MF

Presented for consideration is a new offering from Chopard, the Grand Prix de Monaco Historique Time Attack MF.  The “MF” presumably stands for Multifunction, though I find it somewhat comical that Chopard chose to abbreviate the only element of the ostentatiously long title that actually describes any of the watch’s features.

It’s apparently an attempt to mutate a Breitling-like multifunction display using an off-the-shelf ETA ana-digi movement, imposing Chopard’s penchant for incorporating supposed auto racing themes along the way.

There are a number of things that probably ought to make me want to like this watch:

  1. I’m a fan of elegant and simple stainless steel cases.  This seems a rather nice design, even if at 42.5mm it’s threatening to get excessively large.
  2. I really like vintage-style flat or ovoid pushers versus the circular shaped pushers more commonly seen on modern chronographs.
  3. The Rallye-style leather strap with the holes shows the designers did at least a little bit of their homework for what is ostensibly a racing-oriented watch.
  4. I’m actually very partial to ana-digi designs like this in practical application.  In a number of ways it’s the optimum balance between the precision and utility of a microprocessor-controlled digital readout and the at-a-glance and low-light legibility of an analog dial.
  5. I’m even more partial to “reversed” light-on-dark LCD displays, as I find the effect both subtle and functional.
  6. There’s something at least a little nice about a COSC-certified quartz chronometer, as the standards for quartz certification are much more stringent than for mechanical movements and quartz is already so accurate that not many makers will even bother with chronometer certification.

There are a number of things about this watch though that are very upsetting, and the new design from Chopard comes up drastically short of merging form and function fluidly.  What’s perhaps more upsetting is that listing them evokes flashbacks of the laughably badly designed Reactor watch I critiqued earlier.  Especially when the Reactor retails at a fraction of the likely price (so far unannounced as far as I’m aware) of the Chopard.

  1. A tachymeter scale is of very limited utility on a quartz-controlled watch in which the sweep seconds hand steps in discrete 1-second intervals and can’t be stopped between seconds.  The user would be forced to visually estimate so much as to make rate measurements using this tachy scale a rough guess at best.
  2. It’s a f@*%ing  tachymeter, you dummies!  Not at all the same thing as a tachometer as indicated on the bezel.  It’s a bad enough when collectors and enthusiasts confuse the terms, but when designers make such egregious errors on multi-thousand dollar watches it ought to be insulting to customers.
  3. Just like the pointelss 1/5 seconds graduations on the Omega X-33, the 1/4 second graduated index markings at the periphery of the dial are altogether pointless.  On a quartz-controlled watch the second hand ought never fall upon them — why include them at all?
  4. When the model name includes no fewer than six words and an acronym, it’s usually a sign that somebody somewhere is trying too hard.

As has become predictable, the industry blogs are fawning over it like they uniformly do, not having bothered with any critical evaluation whatsoever.  Ariel Adams (who also writes at ablogtoread.com) even seems pleased that with a steel case and quartz movement “pricing shouldn’t be excessive at just a few thousand dollars.”  I might tend to take the opposite view, thinking a price of a few thousand dollars to be frivolously excessive for a steel-cased, ETA quartz-driven and poorly designed watch, but hey…

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