Watch Review: Cronus P3 (Steel PVD black vintage coated)

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.

German engineering. If I had to describe this watch as simply as possible, German engineering once again sums this piece up perfectly. The meticulous design detail is apparent throughout this watch. I have to say that the detail that has gone into the aging and distressing is quite impressive. 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. Today we are looking at the P3 version which is the battle damaged stealth model.

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 in. The attached crown guards are oversized which provides maximum protection for the crown itself. The guards are securely screwed into the case housing. It gives the watch a cool & menacing look but more importantly the crown is beyond protected. The added “battle damage” details just add to the presence of this watch. It is so well done that it not only looks natural but in my opinion it doesn’t look gimmicky at all.

I really like how when the crown is completely screwed down into the closed position, the top of the crown sits perfectly flush to the crown guards. I love the distressed/aging details on the crown and crown guards. Juri did just enough on the crown guards & crown, and to be honest throughout the entire case. The crown itself has some fantastic design details. Details that highlight some of that German engineering that can be found throughout this watch. The 9mm crown is signed with the Cronus ‘C’. I love the red control ring warning system on the crown. The warning is a “red flag” reminder to screw the crown down before diving or submerging in water. 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 distressing that has been done to the crown and crown guards is done with artistic precision. It gives great character to this case.

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. One of the first things I look for, which is a more important detail, 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 really matter. This is a watch made for adventure so testing the how the bezel is gripped in a variety of weather conditions was obvious for me. I of course started indoors under normal circumstances, then transitioned outside in the rain and in sub zero snow/icy conditions. I had no issues gripping and operating the bezel whatsoever with bare fingers and with gloved finger. This bezel has nice smooth rotation to it and but more importantly it has precise clicking/ratcheting action. That precise action matters most when the bezel stops, it is aligned with the dial perfectly with no sloppy in between/misaligned nonsense. 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 thankfully this bezel has no extra play and sits tightly & evenly on the case. The nicks that Juri added to the bezel to give it that aged, beat up look are so well done. Yeah I know, how hard is it to beat up a watch, but to do so without it being gimmicky is actually a lot harder than you think. I have experienced watches with faux aging and as a whole they have come across too forced and unnatural. Juri has accomplished the exact opposite of that, thus creating a watch that truly feels like it has been well “loved” for decades. It looks completely natural, right down to the patina on the lumed bezel triangle.

The “battle damaged” bezel is a work of art with it’s forced aging. There are some who always hate to get that first scratch on their new watch. Juri went ahead and took care of that for those said people because he cares. Along with the added aging on the bezel there are also simple engraved line markers and a lume treated triangle at the 12H position. 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. I also appreciate how this design choice allows for easier strap changes. The other detail that I really like about the lugs are how they 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 this watch is simplistic beauty. What makes this dial work for me is there isn’t any unnecessary or overdone 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 wheel 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. I love the aging process that Cronus has done on this dial. The aging that has been done to the handset is so believable that they truly appear to be 40 years old. The retain every ounce of legibility in daylight and thanks to the generous amount of Superluminova C3, the dial is just as legible in the dark/low-light environments. The matte black dial has great patina that looks like the watch sat on the bottom of the ocean for decades. Depending what light and angle you view the dial, the patina looks more “severe” as you can see in the pictures.

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 then the Cronus Prototype 3 is a watch worth checking out. I was extremely impressed with the quality, design and overall execution of this watch especially how authentic the aging looks on this watch. I said it before and I will say it again, Juri is a master beyond his years. You get a lot of watch for the price. This watch is priced on the Cronus website for 1500€. There is a strong German made watch market and Cronus can hold it’s own along side of companies such as Sinn, VDB, Damasko, and Muhle Glashutte. 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. Some of the comfort of this watch is due in part to the super soft and pliable custom-style leather. This strap is not your typical cheaply made OEM strap either. It honestly looks and feels like a custom made strap that typically sell for a few hundred dollars. The buckle is absolutely fantastic as it too received that same beautiful engineered aging process . It’s solid like the case itself. I love how the pin sits flush on the buckle. In my opinion it’s a little detail but very impressive detail. The crown and crown guards are the highlight of the Prototype 3 as I mentioned in my review of the stainless steel version. I still would love a P2 watch from Cronus, it’s nice to dream about that is for sure. This watch has been forced to age and it’s just begging for some real world abuse to add to the already badass scarred character it possesses.

Thank you Cronus. Thank you all for reading. I appreciate you all 🫵🏽

Case: Stainless steel AISI 316L PVD, 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.

Caseback: Stainless steel PVD screwed, engraved.

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

Dial: Background black matt vintage. Indexes vintage white (old radium) printed with Superluminova C3.

Water resistance: 600m

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

Case black PVD vintage coated

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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s