For many of you, Delma might not ring the bell, however, you will be surprised to know that the brand will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2024. Founded even before the invention of the microwave, the nearly century-old Swiss watch brand has managed to find its place on the horological map for good.
They have proudly operated as a family-owned watch manufacturer from its foundation in 1924, launching their first Delma chronograph watch in 1946 and their first automatic diver’s watch in 1969. Today, Delma’s collections comprise an impressive range of dress, sports, and dive watches, all of which are designed and manufactured in their hometown of Lengnau near Bienne, the heart of Switzerland’s watchmaking region. Carl F. Bucherer and Rado are among the well-known watch companies that call this German-speaking townhome. After some history lessons nobody asked for, let us jump right to reviewing the Delma Heritage Chronograph.
Delma Heritage Chronograph – Technical Specifications
Limited to 75 pieces per model.
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, date, chronograph, tachymeter, telemeter.
Movement: Swiss Automatic movement Sellita SW510 with 48 hours of power reserve.
Case: Stainless steel, Rose Gold PVD, Yellow Gold PVD.
Strap: Interchangeable genuine leather strap with a butterfly deployment clasp.
Glass: Domed sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating; mineral crystal exhibition caseback.
Price: $ 2,900 for the steel model. $ 3,000 for the PVD gold-plated models.
Reviewing Delma Heritage Chronograph LE – A Vintage-Inspired Bicompax Chronograph of 1946
Bicompax refers to a dial having just two subdials – one for the seconds, generally positioned at 9 o’clock, and one for the timed minutes, positioned at 3 o’clock. This style of the display has been used since the early twentieth century and is currently seeing a resurgence in popularity. As many watch enthusiasts would agree, bicompax chronographs are surrounded by a unique classic form, coveted for being able to bring that 1940s charm to the wrist.
The Delma Heritage Chronograph LE is able to maintain this essential characteristic, paying tribute to its first predecessor from 1946.
A central chronograph seconds hand communicates with two scales around the dial, a tachymeter, and a telemeter. The tachymeter allows the user to determine the speed of an item over a defined distance, such as the speed of a car traveling a measured kilometer.
The telemeter is used to calculate the wearer’s distance from a visual event and is occasionally employed for military objectives. For example, if opposing troops fired a huge cannon, the chronograph might be activated and then deactivated when the bomb impacted. The artillery could determine their relative distance from the enemy by glancing at the central chronograph seconds hand in combination with the telemeter scale, allowing them to return fire with amazing precision.
Priced at $3,000, the usual suspects that fall into this price category will surely have a run for their money.
The watch is priced similarly to what Longines charges for a vintage-inspired automatic chronograph – and is little more than half the price of a Breitling vintage-inspired chronograph, and the latter comes with a sourced movement. In terms of both: quality and price, Raymond Weil’s Freelancer Chronograph is also a worthy opponent.
Delma has proved its capabilities of delivering a watch with character, distinguishable from anything you’ve ever seen. The dial of the Delma Heritage Chronograph LE is both appealing and functional. It combines readability with a high level of vintage appeal.
The company has spent a lot of time and effort perfecting details like the color-coordinating date disc, the trapezoidal date aperture, the vintage radium luminous treatment, and the tachymeter and telemeter scales.
The case size is appropriate for the majority of today’s wearers. I understand that some prospective buyers may like a 40mm case and that this may be an option for the company to explore in the future, but the case is a perfect size, and I expect legions of other potential wearers. While the steel and rose gold PVD selections are appealing, the yellow gold PVD is on target and adds to the vintage feel.
You will soon find out that the watch’s functionality is supported by an appropriate design. The Delma Heritage Chronograph LE, like many of these quasi-vintage chronographs, looks wonderfully lovely on the wrist. There is an aura of ageless sensibility mixed with a touch of old-school flair that many modern timepieces fail to achieve. Overall, it appears delightfully proportioned, making it one of the few “modern-vintage” watches that doesn’t make you want to run back to 38mm or 39mm sized watches.
Subdials don’t appear to be overly small or too near to the center. Although several of the hour marker numerals have been cut off, this is a legitimate historical design feature that is also typical of the mid-1900s.
Limited edition Delma Heritage Chronograph is available in three distinct models, with the color of the dial dictated by the case material. The dial on the steel variant is black sunray brushed, while the dial on the gold PVD variants is silver sunray brushed.
The original 1946 edition came with an 18-carat yellow gold casing. The conventional yellow gold has been replaced with stainless steel and PVD coated gold in rose or yellow. The brand has also increased the size of the case substantially. Different from its predecessor, the new Delma Heritage Chronograph comes with a 43mm diameter. In contrast with vintage watches, which often came with relatively smaller cases, a 43mm diameter meets today’s watch trends, has plenty of wrist presence, and allows for the dial signals to breathe.
PVD Gold Coating
In this price range ($3,000) it is hard to find a gold watch that is entirely made of genuine gold.
Using PVD gold coating has enabled Delma to reproduce the look of the original reference, contributing to the watch’s charmingly retro character.
When compared to standard plated gold surfaces, PVD coating has superior wear properties and preserves its color for considerably longer. Normally, I like rose gold, but the yellow gold PVD variation gains my approval because of its period-appropriate appearance. And if by chance PVD gold coated cases, you are still left with the mesmerizing model in stainless steel.
The casing is equipped with a domed sapphire crystal, which, once again, adheres to a classic look by allowing light to fill the dial plane. It comes with an anti-reflective treatment, which at this price range, is always a usual suspect. Another nod to modern sensibilities is the addition of an exhibition caseback. While some enthusiasts may object to this aspect, many will appreciate the chance to see the self-winding movement hidden within.
The watch’s syringe-style hands and its Arabic numerals are filled with Super-LumiNova, one of the industry’s finest luminous brands. Contrary to its gold-plated counterparts, the steel version comes with a C3 SuperLuminova, which is able to produce a charming green emission in dim light. The old radium lume treatment adds to the watch’s vintage character, in addition to its retro design.
The first Delma chronograph watch, released back in 1946 under the name of Midland, was powered by a hand-wound movement. While many of us enjoy having a manual watch, winding the mainspring manually on a daily basis, others find it a bit impractical. This is why Delma has opted for an automatic chronograph movement. The Delma Heritage Chronograph LE is powered by the automatic movement Sellita SW510.
As it happens with many Swiss movement manufacturers, Sellita also strives for excellence and accuracy.
The movement specialist is based in La Chaux-de-Fonds, the center of Switzerland’s watchmaking region.
Thanks to this movement, Delma was able to release its Heritage Chronograph LE at a reasonable price. Sellita is Switzerland’s largest independent, family-run manufacturer of mechanical movements, and it is noted for producing reliable, high-quality movements at reasonable prices.
The Sellita SW510 is an automatic chronograph movement with 27 jewels. It comes with a frequency of 28,800 vph (vibrations per hour) (4Hz) and features Côtes de Genève motifs adoring the oscillating mass. With the mainspring fully wound, the watch is able to deliver a pleasing 48 hours of power reserve.
FAQ about Delma Heritage Chronograph
Is the Delma Heritage Chronograph a good watch?
Overall Delma Heritage Chronograph is priced competitively. It comes with a great retro-inspired design and is powered by a Swiss reliable and accurate movement.
How much does the Delma Heritage Chronograph cost?
The limited edition Delma Heritage Chronograph costs $ 3,000 for the versions in PVD plated gold, and $ 2,900 for the version in polished stainless steel.
Is Delma a good watch brand?
Considered as a master of dive watches, chronographs, and classic dress watches, with nearly a century of experience in watchmaking, and located in Lengnau near Bienne, the heart of Switzerland’s watchmaking region – Delma is capable of delivering watches of high quality.
Editor’s Final Thoughts
The Delma Heritage Chronograph LE embodies the fascination of the 1946 Midland chronograph. It has a variety of period-inspired elements and will undoubtedly entice viewers with its bi-compax arrangement and ancient radium luminous treatment.