Watch Review: Cronus Prototype 3

About Cronus:

The first manual sketches and technical drawings of the diving watch Cronus were developed in 2010 by the Russian deployment watch 191 CHS from the 1960s. The aim was to maintain the characteristics of the axial rotation of the crown as a central control element and to stabilize the crown closure as it protrudes quite far. The requirement was from the outset: a very robust watch, which can withstand extreme loads and external influences and ensures water tightness. This idea was implemented technically in 3D-construction. In the following year, the prototype 1 was finally developed.
The concept of the closure was consistently further developed and optimized after the test. The closure was fitted with a visual warning system (red securing ring). It is controlled axially by a spring and warns the user from unsecured conditions. In addition, a corresponding note has been added on the dial (control before dive). The innovative locking system was patented in 2013. One year later the prototype 1 was re-designed, the case got a new shape without losing its charm. As part of the development, the crown closure was further optimized and decoupled from the housing. As a result, the relief of the elevator crown has been achieved without sacrificing safety. The prototype 2 model is created. Further information can be found in the patent description.

The housing is made according to our technical drawings and 3D data in the clock production facility Glashütte and assembled in a strictly limited small series in a Munich watch workshop. Each prototype housing has a serial number. You get a completely handmade and original love piece “made in Germany”, built with love.

Registration of the trademark took place in 2015.

German engineering. If I had to describe this watch as simply as possible, German engineering would suffice. The meticulous design detail is apparent throughout this watch. I have been exploring the PROTOTYPE 3 Model PR-03GB, which so happens to be the model we will be discussing today. Juri Schob is the man responsible for the German based brand Cronus. During the years of 2001 through 2005 Juri studied in Berlin and received his diploma in product design. He has been quite busy since 2000 as a designer and design engineer in agencies and large companies. In 2006 Juri began to work with the restauration of watches which led him into development and design of watches which was on behalf of external watch manufacturer. In 2011, Juri has been developing and implementing his own model series that led him to registering Cronus in 2015.

There are certain details that will always draw me initially into a watch. It may be the material that is used for the case or the dial layout or the design of the case. On this watch, it was the crown and the crown guards that drew me to the prototype 3. The attached crown guards are oversized which provides maximum protection for the crown itself. The guards are securely screwed into the case housing. When the crown is completely screwed down into the close position, the top of the crown sits flush to the crown guards. The crown itself has some nice design details. Details that highlight some of that German engineering. The 9mm crown is signed with a C that obviously stands for Cronus. There’s an awesome little red control ring on the crown that’s sole purpose is to act as a warning system. The warning is for the wearer so that they remember to screw the crown down before diving. The size of the crown and the machined edges of the allow for extreme ease with the actual function of this crown. I’m addicted to manually winding my watches while I’m wearing them, therefore when a watch has an easy to grip and operate crown it will always score higher on my checklist. I guess it’s like an adult version of a fidget spinner for me.

The bezel on the Prototype 3 is also considered a highlight worthy detail. There are several different aspects on the bezel that I look for with my nit picky eye. I always look at how easy it is to grip a bezel. A bezel can have the smoothest rotation but if you can’t properly grip it, the smoothness doesn’t matter. The Cronus bezel grip was tested indoors under normal circumstances, outside in the rain and in sub zero snow/icy conditions. I had no issues whatsoever with bare fingers and with gloved fingers when it came to gripping the bezel. The bezel does have nice smooth rotation to it. Perhaps more importantly, it has precise clicking/ratcheting action that when the bezel stops, it is aligned with the dial perfectly. The bezel has 120 clicks/ratchet/grids. Besides the grip and rotation, the other areas I look at are how tight a bezel sits against the case and how much play it has. I can’t stand when a bezel sits unevenly on the case. Every Rolex that I have owned that has a rotating bezel, the bezel sat unevenly on the case. To add insult to injury, every bezel had too much extra play nor did the pip line up with the dial. I respect Rolex and the history of the brand but the “superior” quality control is lacking. I see more and more micro/indy brands with far superior quality control. Cronus is no exception, the bezel has no extra play and sits tightly and evenly on the case.

The stainless steel bezel is quite clean with some simple engraved line markers and a triangle that is coated with lume. On the underside of the watch is a screwed in solid case back that features engraved specs about the watch. I want to mention some design details about the lugs that I like. First and foremost I am happy with Cronus’ choice of going with drilled lugs and screw in lug bars. This design choice adds strength because the screw bars are much stronger that spring loaded ones and this choice also allows for easier strap changes. The other detail that I really like about the lugs is how the are rounded/curved inward. As you can see in the pictures, each lug curves inward towards the other lug on the opposite side. I know it’s a small detail but it made a good impression on me. Sometimes the smallest of details make the biggest impact. The last detail that completes this case is the sapphire crystal. The crystal is 3.6mm thick and is also slightly arched/domed. Cronus applied an anti-reflective coating to both sides of the crystal which dramatically cuts down on glare which increases legibility of the dial.

The dial on the Prototype 2 is simplistic beauty. What makes this dial work for me is there isn’t any unnecessary or oversized clutter. The dial has a simple amount of text that is kept to the brand name, movement type, and water resistance. The one thing that I could have done without on the dial is the date window at the 3 o’clock position. I do appreciate that Cronus opted for a black date window that allows it to blend in better with the rest of the matte black dial. The Prototype 3 is a three hand style design. Each of the hands are properly proportioned to the dial itself. The hands and hour white painted indexes are legible at every angle and in every type of lighting. Thanks to the generous amount of Superluminova C3, the dial is just as legible in the dark/low-light environments. I like the cohesive use of orange that is found throughout this watch. It’s done with taste allowing for the orange to standout just enough. The white painted indexes really standout against the matte black dial. This combo is one of my personal favorites for a dive watch. I like the semi skeletonized design of the hour and minute hands. All three of the hands look great(size, color, shape) but more importantly add to the overall great legibility of the dial on Prototype 3.

The Prototype 3 has a strong heart ticking away inside of it. A heart that’s been put through the test over and over again. The ETA 2824-2, armed with an Incabloc shock protection. It’s a 25 jewel movement with a central second with second stop. The movement also has a back-up system-ETACHRON and back-correction. It beats at 28.800 half-cycles per hour and has a 40 hour power reserve. Armed with a reliable movement and protected by a 600m water resistance, a combo that makes it a tough every day beater. A beater that can handle anything that you can throw at it without the worry of failure. The Prototype 3 is engineered with daily abuse in mind.

If you are looking for a watch that is made with that precision German engineering is known for then Cronus and the Prototype 3 is a watch worth checking out. I was extremely impressed with the quality, design and overall execution of this watch. Juri is a master beyond his years. You get a lot of watch for the price. The 1150€ might scare off some, but for those looking for a German made piece that can hold it’s own in the Sinn, VDB, Damasko, and Muhle Glashutte category it’s a appropriately priced watch. Juri did a thorough job with the planning and designing of the Prototype 3. I honestly can’t nit pick anything on this watch (aside for the mentioned date window) . The watch wears every bit of its 43mm x 15mm but it’s extremely balanced on the wrist. The part of the comfort of this watch is added thanks to the super soft and pliable custom-style leather strap that the watch came on. The buckle is absolutely fantastic. It’s solid like the case itself. I love how the pin sits flush on the buckle. In my opinion it’s a little but impressive detail. The crown and crown guards are the highlight of the Prototype 3, though I love every detail about this watch. I immediately wanted to order one of Cronus’ other models after the initial few moments with this watch. To me that says it all.

Case: Stainless steel AISI 316L, diameter 43mm without crown, height 15mm
Bezel rotatable with 120 grids.

Band width is 24mm. Strap screwed.

Crown protection: Screwed to the housing, with red control ring.
Crown 9mm screwed.

Bottom: Stainless steel screwed, engraved.

Glass: on both sides anti-reflective sapphire crystal; 3.6mm thick; slightly arched

Dial: Background black matt. Indexes white printed with Superluminova C3.

Water resistance: 600m

Strap: width 24mm, buffalo leather, grained with stainless steel pin buckle. Handcrafted.

Weight: approx. 125g

Movement: Swiss automatic caliber ETA 2824-2
With Incabloc shock protection, 25 jewels. Central second with second stop.
Back-up system ETACHRON and back-correction. 11 ½ lines,
28.800 half-cycles per hour.
Working diameter 25.6mm; Working height 4.60mm.
Course reserve 40 hours.

Custom Mays Berlin leather strap

Watch Review: NITRON GMT BRONZO CALI/ BLACK

About Nitron:

Olivers and Stevens families have worked together for more than a century in the shoe manufacturing industry since 1887. and it is now part of the world’s largest safety footwear company. Andrew Oliver, the fourth generation of the Oliver & Stevens is trudging into the watch industry. To pursue his passion, Andrew Oliver took a big step forward to create watches for the non-conventionals. Nitron watches is coming in bold and rambunctious. With a keen eye for details, he ventures into new materials, ostentatious designs and conspicuous display for his time-pieces. Unlike the notion behind Oliver & Steven’s safety boots, he does not create “safe” watches. Andrew Oliver do not follow herd instincts and flexes himself to expand his accumulated knowledge from the shoe-making manufacturing industry to the creation of watches.

“You only live once” -a statement celebrated and held firmly by Andrew Olivers. I’ll put a spin on this, you live every day and you only die once!

“Nitron challenges the untouched boundaries bringing forth designs that you probably have never set your eyes on before, using materials and details that you have never experienced. Be prepared that Nitron watches will be a bold and an adventurous manifestation of time because, “You Only Live Once”. “I will give Nitron that, their designs are definitely unique and definitely standout in this homage flooded market. This is one of the reasons why I enjoy Nitron watches because they are different and unconventional. The bronze Cali is a large, 49mm large bronze beast. It is large and I don’t want to downplay that, but it’s worth mentioning that the lugless design does keep the 49mm case more manageable. Then again, people who prefer 42mm and below cases aren’t going to consider this watch and the flip side to that is the people who prefer larger cases aren’t going to be concerned about it’s size. I understand that every one has their preferences and there certainly isn’t a wrong or right size out there. I personally think that too much emphasis is placed on the size of a watch case. The focus should be on quality and design but that is just my personal opinion on the subject.

I like the “puck” shape design of the Cali. As I mentioned before, the lugless design is also a nice design feature. The crown is located on the 3 o’clock side of the case. It’s a push/pull style crown. The crown functions as it should when manually winding and when setting the time/date. I like how Nitron integrated the crown guard on this watch. The crown guard is functional and but it also adds to the profile/style of the watch. I would have preferred a slightly larger crown that screwed down for greater ease of use. The crown is definitely well protected by the unique crown guard that is attached to the case by two flathead screws. The 9 o’clock side of the case features a small black plaque that reads “GMT Limited Edition” A small design detail that I could have done without but it’s certainly not a deal breaker by any means. The quick release strap clicks in underneath the case. The color stitching complements the colors that are found on the dial. The thick yet pliable strap has a bronze pin buckle that is signed with Nitron in raised lettering.

The bezel features the numerals for the GMT function of this watch. The large white numerals are coated with lume so it retains that optimal legibility in any lighting situation. Appearances are only one part of the equation though. I’m definitely nitpicky with the function of a rotating bezel. It not only has to be easy to grip but it has to be smooth without extra play. It also has to sit tightly against the case itself without any unnecessary gaps between the bezel and the case. In my opinion the bezel is one of the more important details on a watch which certainly can be a deal breaker. The bezel on Nitron’s Cali functions within my nit picking tolerances. It is smooth, rests evenly against the case and there isn’t any unnecessary extra play. The edges of the bezel allows for easy grip with gloves, wet hands and of course in normal conditions as well.

The large matte black dial is my personal favorite part of this watch. The first use of the California style dial date back to the 1930’s and while this design isn’t for everyone, it does offer the unique and different look that I personally appreciate. A multi color California style layout set against a matte black backdrop that allows for great legibility. This is a winning combination. The semi skeletonized minute and hour hands are ideally proportioned to the dial itself as are the second and GMT hands. It’s too bad that the second hand doesn’t have any lume. The dial itself is relatively clean with nothing added but the date window at 4 and the printed ‘Nitron/GMT Automatic’. The large lume coated numerals add to the both the great daytime and nighttime legibility of this watch.

There were some people that said the bronze case trend was something that wasn’t going to stick around for very long and yet here we are in 2021 and still are seeing a very steady flow of bronze watches that are being released. I have to be honest though, I wasn’t a bronze fan until 6 years ago, when I reviewed the Berkbinder and Brown T46. I like having more options in case material offerings. Each material used offers it’s own unique personality details. Bronze perhaps has the most unique of personalities because of it’s ever changing appearance. Whether you choose to let patina naturally form or if you force it, nevertheless the appearance of a bronze case is always changing. I also think that bronze cases show off scratches, dings and dents better than any other case material. The screw down case back is a nice combination of polished and brushed stainless steel. It is secured to the case itself via 4 flat head screws. There’s a nice little porthole that gives the best of both worlds, the feel of a solid case back but a peak of the movement through the small sapphire crystal window. Also featured back here are the specs about the Cali GMT that are in raised lettering that border around the center of the case back.

The Nitron Cali is a large and unique watch that would certainly hold it’s own in a well established bronze collection. It would also be a nice first bronze watch in a collection. This is one of Nitron’s nicest releases in my opinion, especially in terms of quality and overall execution. The watch is one of just 18 in a very limited release. It is available for $800 USD on Nitron’s website. The pro’s of this watch heavily outweigh the “cons”. The cons can actually be labeled as personal preferences more so than actual cons. The important details are this watch is made with good quality and with every functional component operating without fault/fail. The Cali GMT has strong wrist presence, a uniquely designed case & dial, and is executed with good quality. I was pleasantly surprised by how comfortable the watch was on my wrist during work(scrub attire/isolation gowns) and hiking in cold/snowy conditions. The movement inside is one that I’m not entirely familiar with. It’s the HZ 7500. Throughout my review of this watch, it was keeping +10 seconds a day time and the power reserve was lasting over 60 hours. I will definitely keep you all updated how this movement ages over time. Thank you all for reading and thank you Nitron.

HZ 7500 specifications:

Function :3 hands, skeleton

Size:Ø30.00mm

Thickness: 5.23mm

Accuracy:+/-30 seconds/day

Running Time :~75hours

Frequency:28,800bph

Watch Specifications:

  • – Bronze case 49mm width
  • – No lugs
  • – California dial
  • – Superluminova on bezel, index and hands
  • – Thickness at 10mm
  • – Sapphire crystal watch glass
  • – Calf leather with coloured stitching

5ATM, 50 meters

Exclusively Limited to 18 pieces worldwide

2 Years Warranty