When it comes to Victorinox Swiss Army watches, it’s the limited edition models that usually excite me the most. Maybe it’s the collector bug in me that craves timepieces that are rare and exclusive. “LE” watches are produced in ultra low numbers compared to standard issue versions. Limited editions often represent the best that a brand has to offer. Additionally, limited edition watches can be the first-of-the-kind models created to introduce a new product line. The Victorinox Swiss Army ChronoPro Limited Edition seen here today has all the best characteristics… rarity, quality and a good commemorative story, but maybe not the one you would expect to hear from a watch company.
If you have not heard of a Victorinox Swiss Army ChronoPro, then you are missing out. They are personally some of my favorite Swiss Army watches that tick all the boxes. They are sized right at 42 mm, they have a time-tested Valjoux 7750 automatic movement and they are beautiful. I realize that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, but ChronoPros are classic designs to my eye. If you want to know more about these watches, check out my article WATCH DNA: Victorinox Swiss Army ChronoPro Chronographs that goes into greater detail and has more photos than you can shake a stick at.
One of the watches that I was NOT able to acquire for that Watch DNA article was the ChronoPro Limited Edition from 2004 (v.25161). Swiss Army only made 120 of these world-wide. That makes these ChronoPros some of the rarest Victorinox Swiss Army watches ever made. These obscure watches are difficult to find, much less purchase. I have rarely seen them for sale. Furthermore, I don’t recall ever seeing all of the items that came with the watch before, especially the red commemorative booklet.
That is why I was so excited to see the ChronoPro Limited Edition auction on eBay. If you look for the auction now, it has sold. I wish I could have purchased it, but timing was not right for my checkbook. Somebody out there got a great looking specimen of Swiss Army history. The watch was in practically pristine condition. The pictures were pretty darn good too. The eBay seller, tvornottv, gave me permission to use the images seen in this review that his wife photographed. Along with the watch, he took crisp photos of the commemorative booklet, which offers a glimpse into the almost forgotten marketing savviness of Swiss Army circa 2004. Through Victorinox’s own words, we can see what they intended the ChronoPro to represent.
You might think that seeing an old booklet is not that exciting. I’ll admit that this subject might be best for super-nerds and fanboys of vintage Victorinox Swiss Army watches. However, this kind of information is getting more difficult to dig up as early websites from that era go offline and become lost to memory. Only contemporary printed materials (and the WatchHunter Blog) will remain to tell the story of these Swiss Army watches. The commemorative booklet fills in major gaps of information about the ChronoPro, in the words of the company itself.
The Certificate of Authenticity below confirms that the 2004 ChronoPro Limited Edition was indeed a “First Series” and that they only made 120 of them. A “First Series” is often created to launch the new design of watches by a manufacturer. These are very, exclusive, and highly desirable to collectors. Even as other models were added to the ChronoPro family, there will always only be one set of “firsts”.
Notice that the certificate above is signed by Charles Elsener, the CEO of the company at that time. He is the great-grandson of the Victorinox founder, Karl Elsener, and son of Carl Elsener, the previous CEO. The orignal Karl (with a K) founded the company in 1884, which gives a clue to why there were only 120 of the ChronoPro Limited Editions made. 2004 would have been the 120 year anniversary of the creation of Victorinox, the same company that makes the famous Swiss Army knife. This is where the story gets even more confusing if you are not paying attention.
This 2004 ChronoPro Limited Edition does not commemorate Victorinox as a watch making company. That would start much later in 1989 when another group from the United States would make watches using the Swiss Army Brand name. Instead, this watch commemorates the start of Victorinox as a cutlery company. I can see that I confused you, so jump over The Unofficial History of Victorinox Swiss Army Watches to straighten yourself out. It will make more sense there, but I warn you that there are a few twists and turns in the story.
The pages below might be the most interesting part of the commemorative booklet. Victorinox Swiss Army clearly defines the purpose of the ChronoPro series. These watches have an emphasis on “design simplicity with no superfluous design effects, no decorative add-ons”. ChronoPros are not flashy or trendy, but they are designed well for ease-of-use, and they are “balanced”. This is why I think that these classic watches looked good 15 years ago, they look good today, and they will likely look good in 15 years from now.
The rest of the commemorative booklet details the special features of the ChronoPro Limited Edition. Highlights included special attention lavished on the Valjoux 7750 movement with screws blued by fire, beveled bridges, and “a detailed ‘colimaconne’ design etched into the movement (on the rotor) which gives it a subtle spiral effect.” Each case back was engraved with its own identification number. The shield logo is etched into the rotor. The rest of the specs seem standard for a ChronoPro. It is simply a great all-around watch.
Swiss Army made it a point to mention the chocolate brown leather strap that is straight-cut without taper. This one has off-white stitching, a soft calf inner layer and a deployant clasp for easy donning and removal of the watch. Leather straps can be more adjustable-on-the-go than stainless steel bracelets that have to be sized perfectly to feel comfortable. Many limited editions by this brand use finer leathers in their straps. Sometimes, they are impossible to replace with the same exact leather as the straps were made in limited quantities too. While you can order a replacement that fits from places like Refections of Infinity, the modern strap might not be exactly like the original.
I hope that you enjoyed seeing this exclusive and somewhat elusive limited edition chronograph from 2004. I certainly enjoyed writing about it. This Swiss Army ChronoPro LE was a treat to see because it looks like a time-capsule watch from the mid 2000’s. I have a feeling that #94 might have spent a lot of time in a drawer safely away from the danger of scuffs and scratches encountered in the real world. I would suspect the new owner who paid a considerable price for it knows how special this piece is. Congrats to whoever added this cherry to the top of their Swiss Army watch collection!