Every now and then, I get to introduce a brand most of you have probably never heard of. That brand is Cronus Watches and the watch I am reviewing today is the Cronus Prototype 3. Now, a few things to mention right at the beginning. 1. No, this is not actually a prototype. More on that in a bit. 2. Cronus is not a new brand, with their first watch launched quite a few years ago, and the original concept for the first Prototype realized back in 2010. You are probably asking yourself then, why have I never heard of them? Well, it all comes down to marketing. Juri, the owner of Cronus, has not really marketed this brand much, at least not in the US, or much outside of Germany as far as I can tell.
In doing research for this review, I only found one article on a previous model and also did not find one Youtube video on it at all. Why am I the first one to be able to bring this company and watch to you? Well, it seems Juri is a big fan of Watchreport and for that, I am honored, and with this review, I am hoping to help this brand come out of the shadows and into the light. Cronus Watches are marked Made in Germany, the cases are machined in Germany and assembled in Germany, with Swiss movements. Juri is not machining the cases himself, but he does check them all over and regulate the movement as well.
The Cronus Prototype 3, has an interesting name. As I said, this is not actually a prototype. This is the same model you can order from Juri, and these are ready to go(only 50 of these in PVD will be produced). So, why is it called a prototype? Well, I asked the same question, so straight from the owner’s mouth, or in this case, fingers:
“After I made the first prototype and I really liked the model, I looked for the right name for the watch or model. The name Cronus was not yet born. Since it was named prototype 1 on the back case, I decided to call the first model that. It went well with German Engineering and what I want to emphasize with the model. This is how the model name came about.“
Picture of Box Supplied by Cronus, as I did not receive the packaging.
Obviously, he just decided to keep going with the prototype name, and I do like it. For you wrestling fans, you might remember before John Cena was John Cena, he was called the Prototype,(we are going way back here, remember I’m going to be 41 this year), though the name can lead some to believe that Cronus has never actually produced a watch. Something else that is a little odd, is the fact you cant just order the watch from the website. It is not set up as an eCommerce site, so you have to use the contact form to place your order. This may work for Juri, but it might put some people off, and Cronus can lose a sale.
That would be quite a shame too, as they would be missing out on a really fantastic watch. Prototype 3 is a more affordable watch than Prototype 1 and 2, but that is a very different watch. Those are larger, have a locking crown system, and really are an altogether different watch. Juri explained to me that he wanted to create something more attainable and also a watch that is smaller and easier to wear and has a rotating dive bezel.
Pictured-Cronus Prototype 2
As you can see in the picture above, the case shape and relative overall look of the Prototype 2 and 3 have remained the same, but as I said, this newer model adds the diving bezel but also is smaller in size and with a more traditional crown. I want to discuss this crown, but first, let me talk about the different versions of this watch. The Black PVD is only available with a black dial at the moment, but when you take a look at the site, you will find many versions of this watch. Be aware though, depending on the case finish or dial color you choose, the price will fluctuate.
The most expensive version is the Steel Vintage Coated (Model PR-03V), which sells for 1,950 Euro, that is right around $2400, so these watches can still get pricey. I chose the all-black model for review because I had seen a Facebook post with one that was freshly assembled, and the blasted all-black case and black dial with orange minute hand just really stood out to me over all others. But if all black is not your bag, do check out the Cronus website to see all versions available.
When it comes to design, the Cronus Prototype 3 reminds me of a few watches. It has that German-style, but I also see a little bit of Lum-Tec and a little bit Vintage VDB as well. Now, even though this is a smaller watch than its bigger brother, this is still a pretty large watch. If you are looking for that 40mm svelte piece, this is not it. You are still looking at a 43mm watch, that is without the crown and crown guards factored in, a lug to lug of 56mm(measured at the furthest tips of lugs), and 24mm lugs. This diver watch is not going to be for the skinny wrists, unless you love a big hunk of the watch, even if you don’t have the real estate for it.
If you read my reviews often, you know I have been on the smaller watch train as well, but something about this piece really gets me going though. It is a chunky of a watch, has a good deal of heft, and a massive 5mm handmade leather strap, so you know this is on your wrist when you are wearing it. I went from wearing a 41mm titanium piece to this watch, so it was even more of a shock to me when I put it on.
But, the more I wore it, the more I liked it and the more it melded to my 7 1/2 inch wrist. This watch needs a longer strap though. For such a beast of a watch, it just fits on my wrist. I am not sure if you can request a longer strap, but if you are reading this and you are thinking you want one of these, I would make sure you ask or request a longer strap if you have a wrist larger than mine. With a $300 watch, it doesn’t matter as much, you can just swap it. When it is a $1500 or $2300 watch, it matters a lot more.
Since this is a dive style watch, the Cronus Prototype 3 has much of what you would expect, an easily readable dial with crazy amounts of applied lume, making it easy to read day or night, a clean and uncluttered dial, a 120 click rotating bezel that is very easy to grip and turn, though, on my example, there is more play than I would like. It also has a screw-down crown, and while this is of course expected of a watch that is 600m water resistant, I do not think I can state enough just how amazing this crown is.
You may be looking at the photos and wondering what I am talking about. Yes, there is some text on the crown guard, with an arrow that says lock. No, this crown does not actually lock, but it just is showing you the direction to screwing the crown down. What is special though, is just how this crown operates. I do not believe I have ever used a crown that was so smooth, so fluid and so satisfying as this Prototype 3. It almost feels like it is on bearings. If you have ever used a pocket knife that has bearings in the pivot, you’ll know what I mean. This crown is just phenomenal, and in my opinion, sets a new standard.
If you have not figured it out yet, I am very enamored with this black beauty. That does not mean I feel it is perfect though. Before I show you the lume, I want to point out that the domed sapphire crystal is extremely clear, and that is one of the reasons you can see the dial and markers so clearly in the light or dark. This however is accomplished by the use of a double AR coating, meaning it is coated on the outside of the crystal as well as the inside. Breitling does this, Sinn does this, many Certain and Mido do this as well. It makes the dial almost jump out at you and stops almost all glare, but it comes at a price.
The price is the AR coating can get scratched. It has not happened yet with the Prototype, I have not worn it enough nor abused it anyway, but almost every watch I have owned with an outer AR coating has at some point scratched, and it is one of the reasons I am hesitant to purchase another Sinn watch in the future.
With such large markers, one would assume this watch has fantastic lume, and you would be correct in that assumption. Even though the markers are printed, the lume is applied in large amounts and very evenly, and as you can see with Cronus, only the best is used, so it is Swiss C3 superluminova. Not much else to say about it, the lume is great.
When it comes to the movement, we get the workhorse ETA-2824, a movement that goes back to 1982, and still to this day, regarded as the measuring stick for 3 hand date calibers in watches $2,000 and under by most watch enthusiasts. I originally was under the assumption this movement was standard grade, as it does not specify Elabore or Top on the Cronus Website. I did get an answer back from Juri, though not in time for the video review, where I incorrectly stated it as standard. Fortunately, they are Elabore grade, with Top and gold movements available for an extra charge. Movements are regulated in at least 3 positions and placed into the case by hand during assembly.
I should not admire this Cronus Prototype 3 as much as I do. Not that it really matters what phase of watch collecting or watch wearing as I call it, as I don’t really collect them, but because it just goes against every other watch that I normally want to strap to my wrist these days. I find myself gravitating towards smaller watches, chronographs, and vintage-style pieces. I’m all over the map actually, so what does that tell you? When you see a watch, a ring, a piece of clothing that you like, get it and wear it. Why not? Who’s judging you but you?
I am completely enamored with this piece from Cronus. It is still not a piece that I would probably wear every day, but this is exactly the type of watch when you think of a German-made piece. Attractive, simple, industrial, tough as nails, and more about function than style. This watch has it all and more. I wish Juri put a little more time into marketing as he does into the watch itself and I hope he thinks about having a checkout section of his website so customers can just place their order and pay, but the old saying “good things come to those who wait” rings true, and definitely applies to Cronus Watches.
I've been an avid watch lover since the age of 7. Watches are not only my hobby but a passion. My favorite style used to be dive watches, but field or non bezel watches have been growing on me. When I'm not reviewing watches I am either cooking or with family and friends.
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A cool looking piece that fits your wrist nicely. Like you I’m trending towards smaller watches these days, but I I see the appeal in this German watch. Thanks for the review.
Thanks for checking out the review James!