Chronoswiss, founded by Gerd-Rüdiger Lang in 1983, is a mechanical watch manufacturer currently based out of Lucerne. Mr. Lang spent several years leaning his trade as an apprentice before finding employment with Heuer (now TAG-Heuer) where he would work with chronographs for approximately 15 years. Quartz movements came to dominate in the 1980s prompting Mr. Lang to seek opportunity elsewhere. After his departure, he attended school in Würzburg and graduated as a “Master Watchmaker.” Shortly thereafter, he founded his own company which specialized in mechanical watches during a time when quartz was all the rage. It wasn’t until 1987 that the “Régulateur,” a hand-wound wristwatch, was born. It was touted as the first serially manufactured wristwatch with a regulator-type dial. It is the characteristics of this watch that would go on to define the company’s iconic style. Those features include a screwed and channeled bezel, an onion-shaped crown, and screwed strap lugs. While not as historically rich as many of the traditional brands, the Régulateur would help cement Chronoswiss’s place in horology.
“To commemorate Chronoswiss’s 20th anniversary, Mr. Lang has made a personal wish come true by creating a new version of his favorite writing implement in typical Chronoswiss style. This unique fountain-pen reinterprets the world of mechanisms and embodies an incomparable aesthetic.”
The year 2002 marked twenty years of watch manufacturing under the Chronoswiss name for Mr. Lang. To commemorate that milestone, he turned to Pelikan. It is well documented that Mr. Lang loved Pelikan fountain pens. Literature that accompanies the pen indicates that the company produced about 7000 time pieces annually and that he signed each certificate by hand with a Pelikan M800 green demonstrator which was one of Pelikan’s very first special editions released for the U.S. market in 1992. It seems a natural fit then that he would commission a limited edition pen based on this design to mark his company’s anniversary. That model would carry the moniker Styloscope. Built off of the M800 chassis, the Styloscope was a numbered, limited edition of just 999 pieces which was not sold by Pelikan.
“Something special, then as now. In every era, there have always been certain things that are unique and special, that have a value which far exceeds mere material considerations… A Styloscope is recognizable at first glance.”
The Styloscope is a dark green transparent demonstrator, several shades darker than the M800 which Mr. Lang was so fond of. Sterling silver furniture and unique styling round out the pen’s appearance. The end of the clip recalls the onion-shaped crown and the trim ring at the piston knob and the cap top are reminiscent of the screwed and channeled bezel that make up Chronoswiss’s iconic styling. The cap top features the Chronoswiss logo in sterling silver. In fact, nowhere on the pen will you find any of Pelikan’s branding. The cap band is inscribed “Chronoswiss Ag 925 Germany.” The end of the piston knob depicts the pen’s individual number which matches the accompanying documentation. Included with each purchase were two 18C-750 two-toned nibs in sizes M and OB. Both are uniquely styled and bear the Chronoswiss logo. Because the Styloscope is modeled on the M800, it can accommodate any M8xx nib. Packaging includes a green outer box which houses a traditional zippered pouch based on the Pelikan etuis of the 1930s & 50s and is designed to hold the pen, note pad, and spare nib. The aforementioned note pad and a numbered guarantee (versions of which have been seen printed in English and German) round out the included offerings. Each pen came with a 5 year warranty from the date of purchase. A rollerball prototype in the same style was also made in sample quantities but the company decided to not bring those to market making them an exceedingly rare and expensive find.
“Fountain-pen set with 925 sterling silver fittings and differential piston mechanism, 18-carat gold nib, bicolor with rhodium decor, stroke width = M 0.46mm – 0.55 mm. For special occasions, the fountain-pen set also includes an additional hand-engraved, 18-carat gold calligraphy nib, its width is OB. Its stroke width is 0.6 – 0.75 mm. It can be easily interchanged with a screw-in ink regulator.”
Fifteen years after its release, the Styloscope can be difficult to find as their sales were split amongst both pen and watch aficionados. Chronoswiss still thrives as a manufacturer of fine watches but I should note that Mr. Lang no longer owns the company, having transferred ownership to the Swiss entrepreneurial family Ebstein in 2012.
Note: The quotations in green were excerpted from the booklet accompanying each pen. Click on any of the above photos to enlarge.