A Racey Day/Date Chronograph With a 46-Hour Power Reserve: Have You Met the Freelancer Chrono?
Last month I finally got hands-on with Frederique Constant, reviewing two timepieces (the Slimline Classics and Business Timer Moonphase), and here I am closing out the first month of 2018 with another first for me: a Raymond Weil.
Founded in 1976, during the so-called quartz crisis, Raymond Weil is relatively young among the ranks of Swiss horology. Not young enough to be considered an upstart, but still lacking the expansive legacy that many century-old Swiss watchmakers posses.
Raymond Weil is now, of course, one of the more prominent names associated with Swiss watchmaking. The Freelancer collection, released in 2007, is one of their mainstay lineups. With an MSRP just north of $3,000, the Freelancer Chronograph is more expensive than other chrono’s I’ve tested from Swiss brands; readers of WYCA will know that I’m mostly talking about the Jazzmaster Auto Chrono. Interestingly enough, I still happen to own that Auto Chrono. I wonder how the two will compare…
In any case, I view RW in the same way – and with similar appreciation – as I do other notable Swiss brands. In this price bracket, I’ve spent the most time with Swatch brands – notably, Hamilton and Tissot – but also Mido and some non-Swatch brands, including Frederique Constant. Suffice to say, I’m very curious to see how the Freelancer Chronograph stacks up.
Where to Buy
CertifiedWatchStore.com graciously provided WYCA with this Freelancer for review. If you’re going to pick one up, we’d love it if you considered them!
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Raymond Weil Freelancer Chronograph Technical Specifications
- Model Number: 7730-STC-60112
- MSRP: $3,250 (found discounted)
- Case Diameter: 42mm
- Alternate Models: Several, including non-chronograph versions.
- Movement: Automatic, Caliber RW500
- Complications: Day/date display, mechanical chronograph
- Power Reserve: 46 hours
- Water Resistance: 100m / 330ft
- Crystal Material: Sapphire
About Raymond Weil Watches
Founded in 1976 – during the thick of the quartz crisis – Raymond Weil is a relatively young but undeniably important Swiss watchmaker. Their youth is not an impediment; Raymond Weil has clearly established themselves and cemented a reputation for quality, detail, and luxury.
Known for their love of music, Raymond Weil delivers the quality and passion Swiss watchmaking is associated with, all the while setting their own tone for watchmaking and horology. Pun intended.
Other options you might consider with similar complications and grey-market affordability:
We’ve been fortunate to have several Seiko watches to review hands-on, including:
- Hamilton Jazzmaster Auto Chrono
- Tissot Couturier
- Victorinox Infantry Vintage Chronograph
- Bulova AccuSwiss Chronograph
- Revue Thommen Airspeed Chronograph
- Maurice Lacroix Les Classiques Chronograph
- Armand Nicolet M02
- Victorinox Infantry Vintage Day/Date
- Hamilton Jazzmaster Day/Date
- Mido Commander II
- Mido Multifort
I Think We Can All Agree That the Freelancer Is a Handsome Watch
The Freelancer Chrono is racey in the same way that the special version of a midsize sedan is. Think of the Freelancer Chrono as the Audi S4 of mechanical chronographs. That’s a good comparison.
It earns such praise – and it is praise – because of its down-to-earth, wear it anywhere styling that incorporates just enough flash to let an informed observer know what’s under the hood. This RW isn’t an example of brand value commanding a lofty price, at least not completely. Beneath the (stainless) sheet metal lies an automatic RW 500 – aka, a somewhat modified Valjoux 7750 – and several other impressive specs.
If you’re into numbers, the Freelancer has a few you’ll be interested in: 46 hour power reserve, 100m of water resistance, 42mm diameter, $3,250 MSRP. Nothing spectacular – save for a lofty MSRP – but all well and good for a watch of this caliber (again, pun intended).
The dial – a mixture of surfaces and textures – is finely crafted and looks fantastic under all levels of scrutiny. The dash of flash on the dial, via the red automatic lettering and chronograph seconds hand, is substantiated by the right movement – more on that below – and also by the materials used and overall quality of build.
It’s rare that you’d find a watch from a major Swiss brand that was built poorly, but this RW stands out amongst its peers for being among the best of them.
At every touchpoint, and anywhere your eye would find itself, RW has put emphasis on presentation. From the dial and how well it’s printed, to the finishing on the movement, to the branding on the leather. All of it is polished and inviting – pleasing – to the eye.
It wears well, comfortable, and sits nicely on the wrist. It’s somewhat tall, but not uncomfortably so. Not quite a peacock watch – in the same way that an S4 isn’t an ostentatious sports car – but close enough. It feels just a bit above peackockiness.
The Valjoux 7750, Erm, RW Caliber 500
I’m not sure why watch brands apply small changes to a movement and change its name, but it’s frustrating in the respect that it makes it difficult to determine what’s unique and interesting about the new movement compared to the base. In the case of the RW 500, aside from being finely decorated, I’m unsure if there are any significant modifications to the base Valjoux 7750.
Still, there’s nothing wrong with the 7750. In fact, it’s been the more or less gold standard of mechanical chronograph movements since the 1980s. The 7750 is the base that underpins many modern mechanicals, including variants that I have in my personal collection.
What I do find interesting is how a watch with a modified Valjoux has an MSRP of $3,250. That seems unreasonably high given that it uses a widely-available movement and otherwise standard entry-luxe materials.
Informally tested via toolwatch, this Freelancer showed a deviation of just +0.8 seconds. That’s an average of three separate readings. Exceptional. The best I’ve tested.
- To set the time, pull the crown to its furthest position (position 3). Turn clockwise to set the time. Note that the day/date display will automagically roll over at midnight.
- To set the day/date, pull the crown to its middle position (position 2). Rotate the crown clockwise to set the date, counterclockwise to set the day.
Note that the Freelancer has a screw-down crown.
A Competent – But Pricey – Mechanical Chronograph
A $3,000+ MSRP doesn’t seem justified given the raw materials/ movement used, and it casts a small cloud over what is otherwise a fine example of a modern mechanical chrono. I like the understated but purposeful design, especially now that my sights are on sleek sedans as opposed to exotic supercars. It’s big, but not too much so.
Like other entry-level watches from Swiss brands, this Freelancer demonstrates the principles that make a Swiss watch desirable: quality construction, a trusted mechanical movement, and good design.
Still, the pinch that comes with the amount of pennies tied to it is tough. On the grey market – including CertifiedWatchStore, who again provided this RW for review- you’ll find the Freelancer Chronograph for around $900. A much more reasonable price, to be sure, and worth every penny.
RW Freelancer Chronograph Photo Gallery
Our friends at Certified Watch Store sent us this Freelancer for my review. I wore the watch for a period of 2.5 weeks before writing this review.
We have an affiliate relationship with CWT. If you purchase the watch after clicking on a link to their site from ours, we will receive a small commission from that transaction. This is the primary method that we use to monetize the website and fund our costs (which, to date, has included nearly $5,000 in camera/lighting equipment, $50/mo software/hosting fees, etc.).
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- A Racey Day/Date Chronograph With a 46-Hour Power Reserve: Have You Met the Freelancer Chrono?
- Where to Buy
- Raymond Weil Freelancer Chronograph Technical Specifications
- About Raymond Weil Watches
- I Think We Can All Agree That the Freelancer Is a Handsome Watch
- The Valjoux 7750, Erm, RW Caliber 500
- A Competent – But Pricey – Mechanical Chronograph