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

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