The Playbook For The Modern Man
A countdown of the world's best chronograph watches.
Whilst some men may enjoy more refined timepieces, others – like me – prefer large, expensive and complicated chronographs.
First invented by French artist and watchmaker Louis Moinet in 1816, the chronograph is one of the most important complications in all of watchmaking. Chronographs are simply watches that can be used as a stopwatch as well as telling the time. If you think it’s important to know the split second when your pop-tarts, chicken casserole or 70’s disco perm is ready, then a chrono is for you.
Here are some of the best chronograph watches on the market.
The Breitling Navitimer isn’t just one of the world’s most well-known chronographs, it’s probably the world’s most famous pilot’s watch, too. Boasting a circular slide rule that allows pilots to perform on-the-fly flight calculations, the latest incarnation of the iconic watch also features a subtly domed sapphire crystal and cool new dial colours in shades of blue, green and copper, such as the one above.
Named after one of the world’s most famous races, the Chopard Mille Miglia is a chronograph for real revheads. Classically styled and highly legible, it’s filled with cool little motifs, such as a subtle red Mille Miglia direction arrow below the Chopard logo at 12 o’clock and a steering wheel design on the crown. Its strap features a tread pattern based on that of a 1960s Dunlop racing tyre. It’s the perfect watch for the vintage car enthusiast.
Taking design cues from 70s Zenith references with its highly faceted, angular case, the Defy Extreme is bold, masculine and high-performance. It’s powered by Zenith’s El Primero 21 automatic chronograph movement, which features 1/100th of a second accuracy – mental stuff. This variant combines a sand-blasted titanium case with rose gold highlights for added luxury.
Stylish and modern, the Bell & Ross BR 05 Chrono is the perfect timepiece for the urban explorer. A masterclass in industrial design, we love how the chronograph pushers integrate effortlessly into the BR 05’s crown guards; sleek polished buttons that complement the links in the BR 05’s integrated steel bracelet.
Do you like Italian sports cars? So does IWC Schaffhausen, who took the inspiration for the sleek push-buttons on the Portofino Chronograph from the cockpit of 1960s Italian sports cars. In keeping with the sporty aesthetic, the watch features a minimalist dial with appliquéd Roman numerals and convex sapphire glass. A Milanese mesh bracelet is available in addition to the classic alligator leather strap.
A. Lange & Söhne is a highly prestigious firm that has a long history of producing some of the most refined, complicated and stylish timepieces in horological history. The Triple Split is the world’s first mechanical split-seconds chronograph that allows for multi-hour comparative time measurements – that is, the Triple Split can compare the times of two opponents in a race, time consecutively starting events or add the times of multi-hour events.
Worn by everyone from Steve McQueen and Max Verstappen to Chris Hemsworth and Will Smith, the TAG Heuer Monaco is a truly famous timepiece and a must-have chronograph. Its distinctive square case design now houses TAG’s in-house Heuer 02 movement, which boasts an 80h power reserve and 100m of water resistance.
Rolex needs no introduction. Introduced in 1963, the Cosmograph Daytona was created to meet the singular demands of the professional race car driver. Today, it’s one of the world’s most coveted watches. In its current incarnation, the watch features a patented in-house chronograph mechanism and a bezel with a tachymetric scale – perfect for recording your lap times, or how long someone stares at your Rollie.
First introduced in 2014, the Bulgari Octo Finissimo has quickly become one of the most exciting and in-demand watches on the planet, and the focus of many record-breaking feats of horology. Take this: the Octo Finissimo Chrono, which has the world’s thinnest mechanical chronograph movement. Elegant and avant-garde, this is a chronograph like no other.
Of course, we couldn’t have a serious discussion about chronographs without mentioning the most famous chrono of all: the OMEGA Speedmaster, better known as the ‘Moonwatch’. The first watch on the moon is one of the world’s most popular watches, yet modern incarnations remain faithful to those enterprising originals. For instance, this reference still boasts a Hesalite crystal and hand-wound movement. No watch collection is complete without a ‘Speedy’.
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