The Signature 80661 chronograph from the not-so-famous brand Elysee has neither outstanding performance nor stunning design. It's just a very comfortable watch for every day, which does not require additional payment for a big name. And they have a chic (especially for their price) dial.
Brand without overpayments
Elysee cannot boast of a rich history. The manufactory was founded in Germany in 1920, then - 40 years of obscurity. In 1960, the brand was taken over by the jewelry company Harer, which relaunched it in West German Pforzheim (the city was and remains a watch center - for example, Stowa, Archimede and Junghans are just from there). Then another 30 years of uncertainty. And in 1991, Elysee was sold to businessman Rainer Soima and underwent a rather strange rebranding: the logo resembles a German eagle from the 1930s and 1940s.
At the same time, Elysee does not try to come up with a better story for itself, like some. The clock honestly says "since 1960" (and not "since 1920"). For this honesty, the brand deserves respect.
The brand is positioned as German. This is so: the brand is really German, the watch is not. It is not by chance that they say “Germany” and not “made in Germany”. You can see it in the price too. The cheapest quartz three-switch Junghans (this one is made in Germany) is noticeably more expensive than the most expensive quartz three-switch Elysee. A well-known watch restorer and moderator of the Russian watch forum wrote, referring to insider data, that Elysee is made in China. At the same time, he praised the quality of the watch.
Conclusion: Elysee does not require overpayments for European production and rich history. And also for the packaging. She is Spartan here: a simple cardboard box with a soft pillow, there is not even an instruction. And great: why pay for something that is still not useful?
And now - to the clock.
Chic dial "for all the money"
Elysee 80661 is a chronograph from The Signature collection. The manufacturer positions Signature as a universal watch for every day, where elegance is combined with sports. As for me, there is much more elegance here - especially in the dial.
He looks like he spent the lion's share of the cost of the watch - and he's good. Very good. The blue dial plays with shades: from deep blue to dark as the night sky. The subdials have their own finish - a concentric guilloche, so fine that it is almost invisible. But the rays of light play on them from different angles, highlighting the playpens on the main dial and enlivening the look of the watch. And the metal overlays - Arabic numerals and a date frame - are impeccable, at least in a 3x magnifying glass.
But the main thing here is not even quality, but thoughtful details. The second marking is framed by a thin metal ring - laid on, not drawn! It seems to be the first time I see such a solution. Behind the ring, along the very edge of the dial, there is a scale with a division value of 1/5 second. And this thin scale has its own concentric guilloche!
The hands are neat and voluminous, and the central second with a large red tip creates a bright accent. The hands have the correct length: the hour hands reach the hour marks, the minute hands reach the minute markings, and the seconds reach the metal ring framing the dial.
The arrows of the subdials, firstly, are the same, secondly, they are also of the correct length (to the edge of the arenas), and thirdly, they correspond in color to the main arrows. Not all budget watches can boast of such accuracy. Divisions of 1/5 second are also not just like that. This is exactly the step of the central second hand, which works in chronograph mode. True, the thickness of its tip is approximately equal to the width of the division, and it is still difficult to measure fractions of a second. But all the same, it is worthy of respect that the scale is functional, not fake.
All elements rhyme in color. Overhead elements and arrows are the same as the case. The strap is blue, in the color of the dial. The red tip of the second hand corresponds to the red underside of the strap. Designers are great!
But it was not without drops of tar. Two of them are on the case. First: the chronograph second hand does not rise exactly to zero, but 1/5 of a second before zero. However, this is solved by two quick presses on the start-pause of the chronograph - so that the hand takes one step and freezes at zero. Second: on the date disc, all numbers from 1 to 9 are pushed to the right edge of the aperture. I think this is not an assembly issue, but a design one, because all the two-digit numbers are located in the center of the window. The third drop - in my opinion, it would be worth adding a couple of euros to the cost of the watch and making the logo overhead. Just painted in white on blue, it reminds me personally… of an Armani printed T-shirt.
But will you see these shortcomings at all, without setting such a goal? Hardly.
Corps - neither scold nor admire
I can't say anything bad about the case, but nothing good either. At least somehow the crown attracts the eye: large, grippy, with an unusual notch - dots, not lines. There is a logo on the end, but without frills in execution.
The rest is just a body. Made well, the edges are clear. Fully polished (hello, scratches). In my version - with rose gold IP-plating, there are also black models and just uncoated steel ones. With simple outlines - of the obvious decorations, only a chamfer on the ears. With fine engraving on the case back.
Nothing to complain about, nothing to admire either. And there is no need: for admiration there is a wonderful dial.
Caliber - practical and inexpensive
The Elysee Signature watch is equipped with a mechanical quartz caliber VK64 from TMI. Briefly like this:
- In mechanical-quartz, a quartz caliber is responsible for the current time. The chronographic module is mechanical, but instead of a spring, a chain of gears is driven by an electric motor;
- The "mechanical" design gives the feeling of mechanics: a clear click of the buttons, an instant reset of the arrows to zero. At the same time, a mechanical-quartz caliber is much simpler and cheaper than mechanics;
- mechanical quartz movements were invented in the 1980s in Switzerland, and now their only major manufacturer is Seiko.
TMI (Time Module Inc.) is part of the Seiko holding. Unlike other holding companies, it focuses on the production of calibers for third-party customers. The same VK64 is a favorite caliber for micro brands: Dan Henry, Undone, Straton, Brew… Elysee.
The VK64 central second hand is "dead": it only moves when the chronograph is running. At 1/5 second increments, it moves smoothly, almost like a mechanical watch. The problem with missing marks is thus removed - and this is cool for inexpensive quartz watches. Well, there is no second hand of the current time.
The left subdial is a 60-minute chronograph drive (after an hour, the countdown stops, the hands reach zero and stop). This is not very much, but enough for most household purposes. Right - 24-hour indicator of the current time. As for me, a useless thing (unless you lose track of the change of day and night in the winter Arctic or at an underwater station).
The top button of the chronograph starts and pauses the countdown, the bottom button resets it. At the moment of reset, both the central second hand and the small hand of the left subdial fly to zero along the shortest trajectory. Button clicks are juicy and pleasant. The crown does not screw down. It has three positions: working, quick date setting, time setting.
They say that the VK64 is assembled in Japan - this allows us to hope for the durability of the mechanism. The declared accuracy of the watch is plus or minus 20 seconds per month, but it will certainly be better: the Japanese usually specify tolerances for budget watches with a margin. The battery is rated for 3 years. If you change it yourself, after replacing it, you need to close the AC contact (signed) to the battery with metal tweezers to restart the watch.
Feelings on the hand - weightlessness
The watch is small: diameter - 42 mm, from ear to ear - 50 mm. And very light. A similar Seiko chronograph on a fabric strap felt like a heavy piece of metal on the hand, while the Elysee was almost weightless. On the one hand, light watches do not tire you during the day. On the other hand, I personally want something more tangible and pleasantly heavy. The thickness of the watch is 12 mm, while they have a smooth bezel tapered upwards. They easily go under the sleeve of a shirt and a cardigan, not to mention a coat.
Given the modest size and "weightlessness", the comfort of the Elysee Signature is determined primarily by the strap. Here is a classic padded leather strap - stiff in the early days and gradually wrapping around the hand. After a week of wearing, such straps take the shape of the wrist, become softer and, in general, no longer interfere. Conclusion: the watch is as comfortable as possible.
The readability of the Signature is excellent. Under normal lighting, the light markers and hands on the dark dial are quite contrasting, and at a slight angle they literally burst into flames. There is anti-glare and it is felt - no matter how you turn the clock, the time readings are legible. There is luminescence on the hour and minute hands - not too bold, but you can understand the time in the dark.
The 50m water resistance and sapphire crystal make it a classic everyday watch set. It’s not worth diving, but washing your hands, getting into the shower and not scratching the glass on the office table is easy.
Plus, Signature is combined with different styles: casual, smart casual, business. Such watches will look strange only with frankly sporty and informal clothes, and even then, compatibility can be expanded by replacing a strict patent leather strap with something made of fabric.
Elysee Signature is the best choice for an inexpensive chronograph, if you do not chase the brand. In the pluses of the clock you can write:
- attention to detail, excellent work of designers;
- luxurious dial in the absence of flaws in the case;
- convenience in daily wear, good readability and compatibility;
- Japanese caliber;
- a price that does not include high-profile brand marketing and expensive packaging.
Personally, this watch hooked me with a dial. After spending a week with them, I realize that I'd rather wear something heavier. But if your choice is a comfortable and weightless watch, then you should definitely take a closer look at the Elysee Signature.