Up Close With Chase-Durer

Posted on 03 July 2005 by Administrator

In a recent publication, it was said of a particular brand of watches known for its aviation and extreme sport timepieces “if you can die doing it, this company makes a watch for it.” That statement, and company, is a topic of conversation for another story. But to riff on that line a bit, if you can kill someone doing it, then Chase-Durer makes a watch for it. The fine folks at Chase-Durer will probably cringe at such a crass statement, but looking at their inventory, one thing cannot be denied: these are serious pieces of equipment for people involved in serious missions. Jet fighter aces, Special Forces demolition experts, and bomber pilots are just some of the serious professionals who wear Chase-Durer timepieces.


Chase-Durer was formed as a collaboration between Hollywood film producers Brandon and Marianne Chase, working together with Stefan Durer from Switzerland. “We stared 11 years ago when I retired from the motion picture business and found that retirement was not in the cards for me,” said Brandon Chase. “I’ve always been a watch lover so I created one single watch.” That initial watch was the Pilot Commander and it remains one of the company’s most popular pieces to this day.

Initially, the company focused on creating top-quality Swiss watches specifically designed for the needs of pilots and the design process began with long periods of consultation with aviation experts. Over the years, Chase-Durer has branched out into military-inspired timepieces, and most recently, a couture line of dress watches. The company now features 50 different watches in the line and a full-color catalog more than 60 pages long.

Smaller boutique watchmakers can often have a difficult time carving out a niche against the large brands that tend to dominate the fine timepiece market. The single biggest necessity for upstart watch makers? Money. “The problem is financing,” Chase said. “To make a name or to last a decade or more, it takes millions of dollars, it takes promotion, a sales force, distribution.” Chase-Durer built their success through making solid watches, and to educate the public about those fine timepieces, the company honed-in on a focused and targeted approach to advertising. “The biggest challenge was to focus in on the best advertising and promotion for what we do. We couldn’t hit with a shotgun, we’d have to hit with a rifle.”

That laser-like promotion paid off and the company continues to release three or four models each year. The men’s watches are all designed by Brandon Chase in cooperation with senior staff. Marianne Chase designs the women’s line. “The designs for men’s watches are usually done in consultation with military people, both special forces types and pilot types,” said Brandon Chase. Chase uses his experience in Hollywood as a unique advantage in designing watches. “I learned in the motion picture business how to overcome my own personal enthusiasm for a project,” he said. Too often in almost all lines of work, it’s obvious when the designer loves an idea too much and becomes so enamored that they ignore prudence, market conditions, or advice from others. Chase brings the cold and objective calculations of a Hollywood producer to bear on every design, making sure that it will withstand the scrutiny of the market. Additionally, Chase-Durer sends prototype information to its customer list to solicit feedback before a single model is every built. The company receives feedback from almost 30% of their customer list which yields not only invaluable suggestions but also proves the customer loyalty this brand creates. This rigorous design process combined with the unique solicitation of feedback from real customers “is the reason for our success,” said Chase.

As to his personal watch preferences, Chase said he is partial to the Combat Command Automatic Chronograph and the U.S. Special Forces 1000 Underwater Team models. Among his favorite watches that are not produced by his company, Chase likes the IWC Portuguese and a couple of Venturas.

In the future, Chase-Durer plans to introduce more automatic models such as the Abyss 1000 Professional diving watch as well as continue growing the dress watch line. And there is no doubt that the aviation and military timepieces will continue to be top sellers as well. The Special Forces Underwater Demolition Team 1000, for example, is one of the company’s top-sellers and “we cannot keep it on the shelf,” said Chase.

The Chase-Durer company itself is growing in exciting ways as well. Anthony Siragusa recently joined the firm to oversee the expansion of the sales force. Siragusa brings years of experience at watchmaker Maurice Lacroix to the Chase-Durer team.

Worn by luminaries such as The U.S. Air Force precision flying team The Thunderbirds, Mount Everest climber John Rost, and Robert Gilliland, the first pilot to fly the SR-71 Blackbird spy plane, Chase-Durer timepieces are rugged, dependable, and attractive. These are serious watches, for people who are interested in more than simply a brand-name and some bling-bling from their timepiece. Company information can be found at the website, www.chase-durer.com, or by calling 1-800-544-4365.

In a couple of days, we will review the Chase-Durer Special Forces Underwater Demolition Team 1000.

By Thomas Scott McKenzie

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  • Dave

    I’ve heard a lot of lousy things about Chase Durer watches. You should check some of them out to save some credibility. Brandon Chase is really Lee Beale and I find it hilarious that he took all his business prowess from his movie making experience. He’s made awful, universally maligned films in his inept career. I guess that’s why he has a lot of really dissatisfied customers.

  • Sophie

    I purchased a Chase-Durer watch three years ago, and still recieve compliments today. I know that I’ve found the perfect watch company because I’m able to wear a trendy watch at an affordable price; without cutting into quality.

  • Jake

    I used to work at a jewelry store that sold Chase-Durer watches, and I know from experience that almost all of the customers who purchased a Chase watch were satisfied with their purchase. According to our sales statistics, Chase-Durer watches had the most annual sales. I trust in these watches so much, that I bought myself one. (Special Forces)

  • pete

    I own a Combat Command GMT in polished stainless,and I love it. I researched alot when buying and foiund the movement to be made by the same company that makes brietling, and others like omega,ETA. ETA makes movment for a lot of the big names and then they (the big names) modify them for their own cases! Even chrono swiss buys some of the eta movments. I love my chase and i dod not see my watch on anyone elses hand ever- set the trend do not follow.

  • Joshua

    I am a collector of hight end watches but I love to wear my Chase-Dure watch Because it is the best of all, specially when it comes to complements and style

  • Gary

    As a collector of high-end and medium priced watches of several recognized brands (mostly automatics) this is a brand you should not overlook. If your focus is on quality components and construction, look for the following in your watch purchases:

    Sapphire Crystal
    Superluminova on dial/bezel (easy viewing in the dark)
    ETA and/or Valjoux automatic movement
    High End Stainless Steel bracelet (316L)
    Screwed Link construction instead of pressure pins

    I own the Limited Edition Abyss 1000 in SS and it has all of the above and am absolutely awed by this timepiece and the thousands of dollars less it cost than those other well-known expensive watch brands.

    Thanks Chase-Durer

  • Harold

    Dear Sir,

    Please let me know where the above watch could be purchased in Sydney Australia.

    Thanks
    Harold

  • john

    I have several high end watches i purchased a valjoux 7750 chase durer combat command pilots chronograph it is as good as my Rolex sub and my Omega seamaster pro dont overlook this watch brand they are well worth a look the combat command chrono is easily as good as the sinn chrono and the tutima and heuer chronos of the military style of the eighties.

  • Mark

    Today I had an email from Marianne Chase following up on a support email I sent relating to a battery change. I have never had customer support like this before!

    I have a Special Forces Air Assault Team and would not go back. Top quality and service. A+++++

  • Chad

    I own a half-dozen watches, and I think I’m on my way to becoming a watch “collector” of sorts. I own two Chase-Durer watches, a white-faced Typhoon model (since 2004) and an all-black Blackhawk Mach 3 (since 2005). I’ve been using Chase-Durer’s service department for my battery replacements and found them a bit pricey at $53 to swap out a battery. They’re supposed to replace the case gasket, do an inspection, and do a pressure-test besides replacing the gasket, but it still seems too high for the service. I sent my Typhoon to them just over 4 weeks ago and just got it back – they’re a bit slow, too.

    Well, my big problem is that my watch was returned to me with the case back installed at an angle, the gasket “pinched” out of the case back and literally protruding out, my case back scratched, and the inserts in the case back where the tool locks into were also scratched. This is Walmart-quality service and totally unacceptable.

    When I brought this up to Chase, the gentleman I spoke with was not very apologetic, so I filed a BBB complaint and I’m awaiting Marianne to return a call to me. I will respond back with the results. Needless to say, I’m slightly more than “miffed” about this. I own a Breitling Navitimer Heritage, so it’s not like my Chase is the most expensive watch in the world, but I’m concerned about the experience.

  • Chad

    I have spoken with Marianne Chase of Chase-Durer this morning, 12/13/07. She tried yesterday morning early, and I was not available. I tried to call her back on two occasions yesterday, but did not catch her in the office.

    Marianne was unwilling to pay for the expedited return shipping to get the watch back to C-D. She offered to pay for ground shipping, not next day air. Apparently they only use UPS, no other shipping options are available from them. I told her how important it was to get the watch repaired and back to me in short order, and she finally understood. She initially spoke of a 2-week turnaround, which I stated was unacceptable since they had my watch for one month in their possession and damaged it to boot. I finally told her I would pay for USPS Express Mail service to get it to her by tomorrow, Friday 12/14, on MY dime. She obviously didn’t mind that. She said to send it to her attention, and she would personally ensure my watch was delivered to the repair department and repaired immediately. I will update you on this in the near future.

  • HeliMan

    I recently purchased a CD Pilot Alarm. At first I was really impressed. I also own a Rolex Sub (which nothing beats), but I needed a watch for work. I am a pilot, so wanted something reliable, with an alarm and a stop-watch. I spend most of my time flying in an immersion suit, so it needs to be comfortable and robust as well. It lasted about 2 months! The screw crown is very poor quality, and after a couple of times re-setting the alarm, it does not screw back in properly, and actually never really did. The hands on the stopwatch do not reset to zero correctly, on either the main second hand or the small dial. Whilst the large second hand can be manually motored round, the small one cannot! Finally, today just 2 months after buying it, the rotating bezel seized! Overall very poor workmanship, and this watch will shortly receive a sea burial. In my opinion a nice looking watch, but its functionality is non existent, and it certainly is not the robust watch they would have you believe. Overpriced, overhyped – unimpressed. Save your money, and look elsewhere. I will not buy another.

  • Chad

    Just got my Typhoon back today from C-D. It was sent UPS Next Day and it appears to be a brand-new watch. Apparently, their service department really made a mess of the threads on my old watch. But, the resolution is fine by me and I’m happy now. Unfortunate things happen with all companies; how they handle it sets a good company apart from a bad company. I think they handled it pretty well overall…wish they could’ve been a little nicer to talk to, though. I’m satisfied. Thanks C-D.

  • Harry Meebane

    I own a Pilot Commander XVI which is nice looking and functional. I neede service on same and was extremely disappointed by the ineptitude by one Joshua Merriam of the department. If this fellow is the one touching watches in need of repair, the company is in serious trouble. He speaks out of both sides of his mouth and is extremely difficult to pin down. Slow, inefficient and a dullard, I am hoping that I need never return my watch for repair to this character ever again.

  • Matthew Sweeney

    I own a Blackhawk Mach 3 that my wife gave me for my birthday two years ago. Since I have owned it the stop-watch no longer sets back to zero, the alarm does not work and the band broke. I believe my wife paid 300 dollars for this watch. In short I have been disapointed by the quality of my watch. At least it still tells time. I would have thrown this watch in the trash a long time ago if it did not have sentimental value to my wife. I will never purchase another watch from this company. They can keep thier ultra “high speed” pilot and special forces watches in beverly hills where they belong. In the future I look forward to when this watch finaly breaks for good so I can justify buying a seiko or other mass produced watch that will be more functional and probably more affordable.

  • jth

    I see a couple of complaints about the hands not setting back to zero. I don’t have a CD, but the OS80 movment which CD uses can reset both the main second hand and the fractional seconds.

    Pull the set knob ALL the way out, then use the two buttons to reset the two hands.

  • jth

    additional comment; the OS80 is manufactured by Citizen and is used in many brands of watches. It is generally considered a pretty good, reliable movement.

  • Hans

    I own a Chase Durer watch and in general I’m happy. There is one major complaint however and that is the customer service of the company. They don’t deem it necessary to answer any emails you send, even though the questions asked are in no way complaints. One question of where to buy band links was not answered. Another one, about where to have a small repair done was not answered either. In short, I would never recommend buying this brand.

  • Glen

    I have had a Chase-Durer Legionnaire for about 10 years. For the first couple of years I sent it in to the service department for the $50.00 proprietary battery replacement. For the last 8 years it sits in a box in the closet while I wear my other watches. I would almost recommend the watch, but cannot because of the limited service availability.

  • Lance Coardill

    I have a Top Gun Blackhawk Mach 3 with which I was emalming a deer. I found this watch to be extremely sturdy and well functioning. However, it will never compare to the Breitling Bentley that I inherited from Manfred Friggs’ son 3 years ago. Japan movements are very durable.

  • Lance Coardill

    Oh yes, I forgot to mention that, when the crystal fogged up after I spilled some sulfuric acid on it, I called a “Joshua Mandelowitz (?)” in the service department. I found him very unhelpful and actually very confusing to understand. This is not adequate customer service and, in general, dealing with him was very unpleasant.

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    遥控灯(http://www.china-lamps.org/)很不错的博客,学习过了,以后多多交流啊。

  • http://www.wristwatchreview.com David Ramirez

    @Glen
    I would like another Legionnaire. Mine was stolen out of my gym locker a couple years ago. What would you sell it for,if you were to sell? Thanking you in advance.

    David

  • Brian McCarthy

    I came across this blog and noticed you said you have the Chase Durer French Legionnaire. I have been looking for one for a while, esp since I have 4 other CD watches. Would you want to sell this watch? Is so please let me know. Briandmccarthy@comcast.net

  • John

    @Dave
    Dave…Ive owned many watches and few have held up as well as the Combat Command I have had for eight years to date. In fact…a recent purchase…a Cartier Roadster…went back for repairs after 3 months of use. The CC is flawless in performance and indestructable in design. I suggest you actually speak from your OWN expierence before you bad mouth a product on someone else’s say so.
    JA

  • Mark

    @Dave

    Dave, I have had terrible luck with my watch. The customer service was abysmal as well. Lee Beale basically told me to screw myself when I balked at paying yet another shipping fee to send the watch back to them that they returned to me with additional damage!

    I reported them to the BBB and they threatened to sue me.

    All I wanted was my brand-new watch fixed.

  • Mark

    @Lance Coardill
    Lance, I know what you mean. Terrible customer service. I’ll have to post my story here sometime since my watch is still broken (8 years later)

  • Mark

    @Sophie
    Sophie, you are lucky! I wish my broken brand-new watch was like yours.

  • Mark

    @Chad
    Chad,

    Mine was returned with the hands not resetting to 0 on the stopwatch function and one of the buttons loose.

    Bad customer service, AVOID these guys. I have 2 Luminox watches and they are superior in all ways, especially customer service.

  • Frank

    Chase-Duer watches are fine timepieces for the price point. The look, construction and overall quality of the watches is fairly good and reliable. Some of the quartz models use the OS 80 movement (as do many other mid to high range watch brands) which is bullet proof. Sending a watch back to a Dealer/Manufacturer for just a battery change is fairly lame as anyone with common sense and a cheap case wrench can do this at home. Retail battery prices are just under 5 dollars and cheaper on-line. Complaining about this service can be saved by just a slight effort at home. Paying over 50 dollars for this service is insane!

  • John

    Sent them e mails regarding the band on my watch. No response from C-D EVER! Customer service is a big part of any successful company.

  • lou

    i bought an air combat command when they first came out years ago and it has not missed a lick i would say i have had it since the early 90′s. the absolut best watch i have owned. i payed 250.00 for it. i was a mechanic for 10 years with it on my wrist all awake hours and the last eight years it has been under water with me daily. never even a quiver and still going hard at it daily. unreal value, unreal quality. i have banged the absolute hail out of it on everything you can think of, and it still has not broken. true story.

  • lou

    @Mark
    thats a simple adjustment you make yourself, resetting to zero…

  • lou

    you guys with complaints… are you sure you didnt by your watches from some guy in brooklyn, maybe from under his coat? or possibly the guy i saw on judge judy…lol the watch i have is the best and i have had them all, i have broken more rolex watches and had to be “careful” with patek. cd wins out

  • Anonymous

    @Mark
    can I have the battery changed at any watch store. I have an air assault watch.

  • ross

    My screw down pushers on my CD Demolition team come completely off the watch when I unscrew them to use the chronograph. LOL Ya, I’m sure a navy seal would want that to happen when on an underwater mission of life and death. I am dreading sending this thing back.

  • Mark

    @lou
    Lou, the second hand was moved on the shaft, it cannot be fixed by me. In addition, one of the buttons fell out.

    They refused to pay the shipping to get it fixed yet again and basically said “screw you”.

  • Mark

    @ross
    Good luck Ross. These guys are sheisters.

  • Mark

    @lou
    Lou. mine was purchased at a jewelry store, Dylan Jones. Broken within 3 months, sent in for repair, then sent back to me unfixed. Then sent back again and returned with even more damage.

  • Mark

    @lou

    Lou, it will not reset to zero, there is no adjustment that will make it do so. It did reset to zero when I sent it in for repair, now it won’t.

  • Vieru_Raducu

    I bought a CD two months ago and i dropped it on a cement accidentaly. It broke in a million pieces. So, watch out!!!

  • Blake

    I’ve had my red Condor Chronograph for about 5 years now. I just had the battery replaced for the first time and right after that, the band tore from the pin that holds it to the case because by 7 year old son decided to use my arm as a rope swing (I had lightly torn the band when I took it off to clean it a few years ago). Other than that, this watch has been perfect, still looks practically brand new and the dial has maintained the deep red coloring. I also have a Rolex GMT Master II and a Omega Speedmaster, This watch gets as many if not more complements as those two.

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