7 Covetable Chronographs That Balance Function With Style
Whether you’re tracking lap times or timing the perfect hardboiled egg, a chronograph is a functional must-have. Here, our favourite picks.
Invented in the early 1800s, a chronograph is a watch with a stopwatch function that times short intervals, conveyed through an independent seconds hand seperate from the running seconds. At the time, the chronograph was invented for the main purpose of making astronomical calculations and timing horse races. While over two centuries later we have developed easier ways of performing both tasks, the tactile appeal of pressing an oversized pusher has endured, with chronographs inextricably linked to the worlds of motorsports, space exploration, aviation, and the military.
Whether it’s measuring the heartbeats of patients, calculating lap times, piloting a plane, or simply making the perfect hardboiled egg, a chronograph watch makes for the ideal functional timepiece—and adds a welcome sense of rakishness to your wrist.
Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional
It would be remiss to compile the best chronographs and not mention the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional. Affectionately known as the Moonwatch, the Omega Speedmaster is inextricably linked to aeronautic adventure, thanks to it being sported on the wrist of Buzz Aldrin in 1969 as part of the Apollo 11 mission. It features a tricompax dial layout that plays host to a small seconds sub-dial, 30-minute recorder, and 12-hour recorder, as well as a central chronograph function, each powered by the Omega Co-Axial Master Chronometer Calibre 3861. The 42mm timepiece is presented on a five-link stainless steel bracelet.
Vacheron Constantin Overseas Automatic Chronograph
Effortlessly toeing the line between sporty and elegant, the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Automatic Chronograph features a column-wheel chronograph with a date window between 4 and 5 o’clock. Originating from the seminal ‘222’ reference, the current Overseas models balance comfort and ergonomics with inimitable style. The tricompax dial layout hosts a small seconds sub-dial, 30-minute recorder, and 12-hour recorder. Hands and indexes are coated with Super-LumiNova, allowing them to be seen under all lighting conditions, while an exhibition caseback enables wearers to view the in-house calibre 5200 at work.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Chronograph
It’s simplicity on the front and complications on the back with the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Chronograph. A sober grey-blue sun-brushed dial flips over to reveal an openworked retrograde chronograph. Admirable for its mechanical complexity and heigh-end finishings in equal measure, the second dial features blue chronograph hands and bevelled bridges, alongside applied stainless steel hour markers and a floating minutes track. Notably, the manually wound JLC 860 is able to power two sets of hands that move simultaneously in opposite directions to indicate the time on both front and back watch dials.
Panerai Luminor Chrono
The Italian manufacture applies its design signatures to the ever-covetable chronograph function. Designed for those who enjoy an imposing presence on their wrist, the 44mm stainless steel cushion case features a white dial with a bicompax dial layout with a chronograph minutes counter at 3 o’clock and small seconds counter at 9 o’clock. Luminescent coating has been applied to the Arabic numerals and hour markers, ensuring legibility under all lighting conditions. Naturally, the timepiece features the iconic Panerai oversized crown guard.
IWC Portugieser Chronograph
Equal parts elegant and functional, the IWC Portugieser Chronograph pairs the elegance of a chronograph with the aesthetic of a dress watch. Designed with symmetry in mind, the harmonious dial takes on a bixompax layout with subdials in the atypical locations of 6 and 12 o’clock. Blued hands and applied Arabic numerals stand out against the white dial, with the 41mm stainless steel watch presented on a blue alligator leather strap.
Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF Split Seconds Chronograph
A rose gold take on the manufacture’s special edition iteration released in 2021, the Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF Split Seconds Chronograph sees not only the case and integrated bracelet crafted from the precious metal, but also the high-frequency rattrapante movement. The manufally wound calibre PF361 beats at 36,000 vph, allowing the timing of two separate events and reading to the tenth of a second. The tricompax white dial is accented by rose gold hands and hour markers.
Approx. $304,190; parmigiani.com
Rolex Cosmograph Daytona
Arguably one of the most covetable timepieces in the world, the latest take on the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona bestows the style with an exhibition caseback for the first time. A marginally redesigned case allows light to be reflected off the lugs and case sides, while the Cerachrom bezel is edged with a thin band of the same metal as the middle case. The model is equipped with the calibre 4131, a new movement which features the manufacture’s Chronergy escapement and employs the use of a cut-out oscillating weight and bridges finished in Rolex Côtes de Genève; apt choices considering the sapphire crystal backing. While it’s hard to go wrong with any of the 40mm timepiece configurations, the platinum version with ice-blue dial is our pick of the bunch.
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