The chronograph watch is one of the most popular categories of timepieces. This selection is of course subjective and based on what I’ve managed to review over the course of the year, and it is designed to provide an overview of chronograph watches and their price range. The watches are presented in price order, from lowest to highest cost, and I have included 15 watches, all new products presented in 2015. To get a more extensive overview, visit the TimeTransformed Pinterest page.
The first four watches all have new-generation Swatch Group movements, made by ETA and developed from the Valjoux 7750 movement that powers a whole generation of watches, using the coulisse-lever system for controlling chronograph operation, simpler and cheaper to manufacture than the more expensive column wheel system that appears in manufacture movements starting from the Omega Speedmaster.
1. Tissot PRS 516
The holes in the strap of this watch by Tissot create a link to early motor racing, when steering wheels had holes in the spokes. This model has some nice details, such as the pushers resembling pistons, with red trim, and floating indices so that the chronograph seconds and the minutes hands pass underneath them. The case is in 316L stainless steel, the bezel is in ceramic with tachymeter, and the dial has a sort of Côtes de Genève texture. The racing red details continue through to the strap stitching. The dial has a balanced and uncluttered look by virtue of the fact that it has just two subdials. It has good three-dimensionality provided by the fairly deep inner bezel bevel, the floating indices and the circular frames on the subdials. The movement is a new ETA caliber, the self-winding ETA A05.H31 based on the Valjoux 7750 and providing 60 hours power reserve. It has a rotor recalling the same steering-wheel shape referenced by the strap. The Tissot PRS 516 costs about €1,500.
2. Certina DS Eagle Chrono Automatic
Large and sporty at 46 mm diameter, the Certina DS Eagle Chrono Automatic feels very comfortable on the wrist. The case is complex, with over 50 parts, including sporty screws on the bezel. The caseback is in sapphire glass with a Certina turtle logo outlined on it. The dial is very legible in all conditions, with the hour and minute hands and hour indications given a generous coating of SuperLuminova. The chronograph functions are marked in the highlight colour, red or green, with central chronograph seconds, 30 chronograph minutes on the top subdial, 6 chronograph hours on the bottom subdial, and continuous seconds at 9 o’clock. The letters “DS” in the watch’s name refers to the Double Security feature that for decades has been a hallmark of the brand, providing maximum protection which in this case includes 200 metres water resistance. Its sports vocation is highlighted by the textured black rubber strap. The movement is the ETA C01.211, an innovative automatic movement used by several Swatch Group brands (such as Tissot), with just 184 parts and minimal lubrication requirements, factors that increase reliability. It runs at 3 Hertz and has a 46-hour power reserve. The price of the model shown, C023.727.27.051.00, steel/black PVD, red highlights, is €1,740.
3. Tissot Bridgeport Automatic Chronograph
This version of the Tissot Bridgeport Chronograph is beautifully finished, with a chevron guilloché-type detail on the dial, the fluted bezel in contrasting gold, and other machining textures used to highlight the subdials. There is a central chronograph seconds hand, 30 chronograph minutes at 3 o’clock, and 12 chronograph hours at 6 o’clock. Continuous seconds on the subdial at 9 o’clock. The pushers are oval, the crown is nicely finished with the same silver-gold combination with fluted detail, and the case is mounted on long period-style lugs with dark brown alligator strap. The sapphire window in the caseback provides a view of the movement, with gold oscillating weight featuring a Côtes de Genève finish. The movement has 27 jewels, and so I would guess that it is the ETA Valjoux 7753, with about 44 hours power reserve, running at 28,800 vph, with stop-seconds function, and rapid calendar advance. The Tissot Bridgeport Chronograph (reference T097427A?) will be available from September 2015, price €1,840.
4. Mido Commander Chronograph Caliber 60
This chronograph by Mido is interesting, it has something of the IWC looks with its 316L stainless steel case, satin-finish sunray blue dial with touches of red on hands and subdials, circular guilloché and the narrow bezel. It’s a practical watch, with day and date windows; hour and minute hands, and the hour markers, have a SuperLuminova coating for night-time legibility. The case is 42.5 mm in diameter, water-resistant to 5 bar pressure, 50 metres depth, and it is mounted on a steel bracelet. The Commander has been around since 1959, but I think that this is its most successful design yet. I like the way in which the relatively open. unstructured appearance of the dial indications contrasts with the compact block formed by the Mido logo, the day and date, and the name of the watch. The movement can be seen through the transparent caseback, and it is decorated with blued screws, circular grained bridges, and an oscillating weight with Côtes de Genève and the Mido logo. It is called the Mido Caliber 60, made by Swatch Group company ETA as the ETA A05H21, running at 28,800 vph (4 Hertz) and providing about 60 hours power reserve.
The Mido Commander Chronograph Caliber 60 is reference M016.414.11.041.00, price about €1,780.
5. Sinn 103 A Sa B pilot’s chronograph
This limited-edition pilot’s chronograph by Sinn is an addition to its 103 series of chronographs, and its major feature is the blue dial with sunburst decoration and silver subdials. The stainless steel case is 41 mm in diameter and 17 mm thick, and it features the brand’s Ar-Dehumidifying Technology that extends watch functionality by reducing the amount of water vapour that enters the watch. The system is based on a small air-drying capsule filled with copper sulphate that absorbs moisture, diffusion-reducing seals, and a protective gas filling inside the watch. The user can check the state of the copper sulphate capsule through a small window on the caseband, which gradually changes from light blue to deep blue as it absorbs moisture. It is without doubt a tough watch, resistant to low pressure, external pressure up to 20 bars (200 metres water), and it is anti-magnetic. The dial is clear and legible, with the chronograph seconds scale divided into quarter seconds, chronograph minutes and hours subdials at 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock respectively, continuous seconds at 9 o’clock, and day and date at 3 o’clock. The hour, minute and chronograph second hands have a coating in luminescent paint, and likewise the hour markers and the triangular zero marker on the bezel. The movement is the self-winding ETA Valjoux 7750, running at 4 Hertz (28,800 vph), power reserve 42 hours. It uses the coulisse-lever system for controlling chronograph operation, simpler and cheaper to manufacture than the column wheel system. The oscillating weight is decorated with the Sinn logo, and the movement also features blued screws and machine-turned bridges.
The watch has a blue leather strap with embossed alligator pattern and white stitching. The presentation box also includes a grey textile strap that the user can change as required. This is a nice feature as it extends the life of the leather strap, by using the textile strap (for example) in summer or on rainy days.
The Sinn 103 A Sa B pilot’s chronograph, reference 103.0601, is a limited edition of 500 units. It is supplied with a three-year guarantee, and the box includes both the blue leather strap and a second textile strap. Price is €1,990. The watch can be purchased on the company website www.sinn.de, delivery time 8 weeks.
6. Junghans Meister Chronoscope
The Meister Chronoscope has a dial in a deep blue sheen which Junghans poetically say is based on the colour that “can be observed in a short frame of time during sunrise and sunset.” The effect of the dial is enhanced by the contrasting leather strap, in a cognac colour. The dial design reflects the style of Bauhaus-trained designer Max Bill whose designs that he created for Junghans have remained virtually unchanged from their introduction in 1961.
The watch has the slightly convex dial and correspondingly curved hands that gives the Max Bill-derived designs such character, with the effect enhanced by the narrow bezel. The subdials are slightly recessed, with chronograph minutes at the top, hours at the bottom, and small seconds at 9 o’clock. At 3 o’clock, there are two windows for day and date. The watch is powered by the automatic J880.1 movement with stop-seconds function for precision setting, 25 jewels, 28,800 vph (4 Hertz), 46 hours power reserve, based on the ETA Valjoux 7750; the hands have a luminescent coating. The stainless steel case is 40.7 mm in diameter, with a screw-in sapphire crystal display caseback. Price about €2,100. Further information from www.junghans.de
7. Tutima M2
The M2 has the Tutima 521 movement, which features central-sweep minute and second hands, far easier to read than subdials. This movement is based on the Valjoux 7750 chronograph movement, extensively modified , with power reserve 44 hours. The watch has a large case, 46 mm in diameter and 15.5 mm thick. It has been designed to be tough, and also for smoothness, so that it doesn’t catch on clothing. The case is in bead-blasted titanium, and its lines are perfectly coordinated with the titanium bracelet that itself is spectacular for its rounded links. The movement is protected from magnetic fields by a case in soft iron and the nickel-iron alloy mu-metal. The case has a water resistance rating of 300 metres; the solid caseback is in titanium with an engraving of a biplane. The chronograph pushers are large, sleek and functional, with a textured neoprene surface, and with a definite click when operated. The screw-down crown is small and partially recessed into the caseband, but it has a groove around it to make it easier to pull out. The chronograph minute and seconds hands are highly visible as already mentioned, though they are very similar. The only difference between them is that the chronograph minutes hand has an aeroplane motif towards the centre. The chronograph hour subdial is at the base of the dial, with orange markings. Legibility is good even at night, with hour and minute hands, the two centre sweep chronograph hands, and the chronograph hours hand all treated with SuperLuminova, and likewise the hour markers and a ring of dots for the chronograph hours. In the M2 Pioneer version with rotating bezel, the hour markers on the bezel are also luminous. There is a small continuous seconds subdial at 9 o’clock, and a 24-hour indicator at the top of the dial. This version has a titanium bracelet with folding clasp. It is supplied with an additional Kevlar strap, together with the tools necessary for changing the strap. Price €4,900.
8. Chopard Mille Miglia GTS Chrono
This piece in the Chopard Mille Miglia GTS collection differs from the three-hand Automatic and the Power Control, which have in-house Chopard movements, because the Chrono has a third-party movement, the ETA Valjoux 7750 automatic chronograph calibre, providing 48 hours power reserve, and a COSC-certified chronometer. The Chrono is a millimetre wider than the other two at 44 mm, thicker at 13.97 mm. The solid caseback is marked with the Mille Miglia logo and the lettering “Brescia > Roma > Brescia.” The case is water-resistant to 100 metres. The motor-racing spirit of the watch is reinforced by the tyre-tread rubber strap, the Mille Miglia red arrow logo, and the chronograph pushers that resemble car pedals.
The Valjoux 7750 movement by ETA is one of the most frequently-used chronograph movements, with a coulisse-lever system for starting, stopping and resetting the chronograph, instead of the column wheel. The major difference between the two systems is that in the lever-operated movement, the buttons require more force to press. The coulisse-lever system requires less precision in the manufacture of the levers and springs and so costs much less to build.
This version of the Chopard Mille Miglia GTS Chrono is reference 168571-3001, stainless steel, rubber strap, price €6,200.
9. Omega Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon 2015
This is Pitch Black, one of the four new watches in the Omega Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon collection originally launched in 2013. It has greenish-white SuperLuminova on hands, indices and tachymeter scale, with black leather strap. It has the two subdials characteristic of the Speedmaster, with chronograph hours and minutes on the subdial at 3 o’clock, and continuous seconds at 9 o’clock. It is powered by the Omega 9300-calibre automatic co-axial movement, with column wheel chronograph mechanism. The two barrels in series provide a power reserve of 60 hours. The case in ZrO2 ceramic is 44.25 mm in diameter 16.14 mm thick, and has a 50-metre water resistance. Pitch Black is reference 3188.8.131.52.01.004, price about €9,900.
10. Piaget ultrathin GMT chronograph
Piaget set another record for thinness with this hand-wound ultra-flat chronograph. The dial has the classic Piaget Altiplano minimalist look, with continuous seconds on a subdial at 6 o’clock, a 30-minute subdial at 3 o’clock, and a 24-hour subdial at 9 o’clock for the second time zone. The subdials are on the same level as the rest of the dial, a feature that reinforces the Max Bill-type Bauhaus purity of the design. The chronograph pushers are discreet but functional, with a profile that follows the curve of the case, and the watch has the flyback function which combines reset and restart in just one touch of the pusher. It is a column-wheel movement, visible through the transparent caseback. The watch has a new movement, the Calibre 883P, the thinnest manual chronograph movement in the world at 4.65 mm, which gives the entire case a thickness of 8.24 mm, also a world record. The case is 41 mm in diameter, mounted on an alligator strap. It is available in two versions, pink gold, and white gold with 56 diamonds on the bezel. Reference GOA40031, price about €25,000.
11. Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter
This watch by Montblanc is the second, more prestigious watch in the new 1858 Collection presented at SIAR, Salón Internacional Alta Relojería, Mexico City, on 20 October 2015. It is a direct reference to the Minerva tradition, 1858 being the year of foundation of the watch company that Richemont Group purchased in 2006 and allocated to Montblanc. Minerva developed an important heritage in chronograph movements, and this new monopusher chronograph is based on a piece built in the 1930s. The red gold case, 44 mm in diameter and 13.5 mm thick, has the generous size typical of pilot’s watches, and this visual characteristic is enhanced by the relatively narrow, curved lugs, the large fluted crown, the black dial, and the cathedral hands and Arabic numerals coated with SuperLuminova. The strap is in black alligator, with red gold pin buckle. The watch’s historical origins are underlined by the 1930s Montblanc emblem at 12 o’clock.
The MB M16.29 movement is hand-wound, and basically it is a pocket-watch calibre 38.4 mm in diameter, inspired by the 1929 Minerva 17.29 movement. The display caseback with sapphire glass window enables you to see the beautiful mechanics, with details that include the V-shaped chronograph bridge, a Minerva speciality since 1912, the swan’s neck adjustment cock on the balance wheel, the column-wheel that controls the chronograph operations, and the horizontal coupling levers, one of which terminates in a small arrow that is another Minerva trademark. The movement is made in Montblanc’s Villeret manufacture – which used to be the Minerva workshops – and comprises 252 components. It runs at 18,000 vph, 2.5 Hertz, much slower than the 4 Hertz typical of most mechanical watches. This gives the calibre additional visual appeal, because the balance wheel is larger than usual at 14.5 mm and swings with a more serene rhythm. The movement has a power reserve of 50 hours. The Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter is reference 112637, and it is a limited edition of 100 pieces. Each costs €30,300.
12. Panerai Mare Nostrum Titanio PAM00603
“Mare Nostrum,” our sea, was the name used proudly by the Ancient Romans for the Mediterranean Sea, and later by Mussolini’s regime. This watch, presented at SIHH in January 2015, is based on a timepiece made for Mussolini’s Royal Italian Navy in 1943, a chronograph for deck officers in turn derived from an earlier 1924 model designed by Guido Panerai, the brand’s first chronograph.nThis piece, PAM00603, is very similar in appearance to the 1943 version, with the same massive 52 mm case diameter, and the same tonneau shape. However a fundamental difference is the case material, steel in the original, and brushed titanium in the 2015 piece, making it much lighter. The solid caseback, bezel, pushers and crown are also in titanium. The watch has a central chronograph seconds hand, and a minutes counter subdial at 3 o’clock. The other subdial at 9 o’clock is for continuous seconds.
One of the classic Panerai features is the sandwich dial, with luminescent material at the core, showing through the perforations forming the dial numerals and hour markers. In this piece, the luminescent indications are on the peripheral part of the dial. The inner part of the dial is on a lower level. The dial is in tobacco brown, differently to the dark green of the original 1943 watch.
The Mare Nostrum has a hand-wound movement, the OP XXV calibre based on the Minerva 13-22, running at 18,000 vph (2.5 Hertz), like the Angelus movement used in the 1943 watch. The chronograph is of the column-wheel type, and the balance has a swan-neck regulator. Bridges are in the nickel-silver alloy Maillechort, with Côtes de Genève finish. Power reserve is 55 hours. The Panerai Mare Nostrum Titanio 52 mm PAM00603, is water-resistant to 30 metres (3 bar). It is available in a limited edition of 150 pieces. Price £29,700, available summer/autumn 2015, price approximately €39,000.
13. Memoris, a chronograph by Louis Moinet
Louis Moinet is at its tenth anniversary, while also celebrating the 200th anniversary of a remarkable chronograph invented by Louis Moinet in 1815. The historical piece was an incredible watch far ahead of its time, running at a frequency of 216,000 vibrations per hour (most watches today run at 28,800 vph) and capable of measuring 1/60 second intervals. In Memoris, the new Louis Moinet company has created a monopusher chronograph with all parts of the chronograph mechanism in clear view on the dial, while the rest of the automatic movement is beneath the mainplate.
The calibre was developed with movement manufacturer Concepto, and the resulting movement is the LM54, running at 28,800 vph (4 Hertz), incorporating the “Energie Plus” automatic pawl winding system so that both directions of movement of the oscillating weight transfer energy to the mainspring. The movement has 302 parts, and the 46-mm case alone has 52 components. Another case feature is the decorative use of black zircons in screwed settings, visible on the lugs.
The Memoris chronograph is made in three limited editions, 60 pieces each. The version in rose gold costs about €45,000.
14. A. Lange & Söhne Datograph Auf/Ab
This year’s version of the Datograph Auf/Ab by A. Lange & Söhne, originally presented in platinum in 2012, has a pink gold case, 41 mm in diameter, 13.1 mm thick, and a black silver dial. The name Auf/Ab (Up/Down) refers to the power reserve indicator at the bottom of the dial, which points to Auf when the hand-wound watch has its entire reserve of 60 hours. The watch has all the Lange characteristics: the very three-dimensional dial, with the tachymeter scale on a level slightly above the central part of the dial, the outsize date in its superbly detailed windows, the silver subdials providing contrast against the black dial, and the overall balance and symmetry.
The hands are differentiated in finish, pink gold with luminous coating for hour and minute hands, gold-plated steel chronograph hand with rhomboid counterbalance, and continuous seconds and minute-counter hands (each with a different design) in blued steel.
The L951.6 in-house calibre comprises 451 parts, running at 18,000 vph, and the sapphire caseback enables some components to be seen, including the column wheel, the three-quarter plate, the hand-engraved balance cock and four gold chatons. The refinements to the traditional chronograph pattern include the flyback function for instantaneous resetting, and a precise jumping chronograph minutes indication, so that the hand is always on the marker and never between two markers.
The Datograph Auf/Ab by A. Lange & Söhne has reference number 405.031, price €66,000.
15. Patek Philippe split-seconds chronograph 5370
This split second chronograph, reference 5370 by Patek Philippe, is part of the brand’s tradition, because their first chronograph wristwatch presented in 1923 was a split-second model, and this complication (also known as double chronograph or rattrapante chronograph) has always been part of its range in various models. However it is surprising that Patek Philippe’s first chronograph with an in-house movement was introduced only in 2009, and the first in-house split-second chronograph appeared in 2012 in combination with a perpetual calendar. So this piece, reference 5370, is Patek’s first standalone split-second chronograph with in-house movement. The CHR 29-535 PS calibre has 312 parts and it is entirely classical, with two column wheels and a horizontal clutch. It comprises seven patented innovations, amongst which a system that ensures exact alignment between the chronograph and split-seconds hands when they are moving together.
The case is in platinum, with a Top Wesselton diamond inset into the caseband between the lugs at 6 o’clock. The brand’s creative department is led by Sandrine Stern, wife of company president Thierry Stern, and their attention to design detail can be seen in the curves of the caseband, flowing seamlessly right down to the tips of the slender lugs, which are finished with horizontal brushing and have white gold cabochons in correspondence with the strap spring bars.
Another Patek Philippe characteristic is the incredible contrast between the simplicity of the dial at the front and the beauty of the movement visible through the sapphire caseback. You strain your eyes trying to work out the relations between the wheels, cams and levers that come to life when you activate the chronograph. The colour palette is also more extensive on the back, with glossy and brushed steel, glints of light on the chamfered edges, components in gold, and the red jewels. The Patek Philippe Seal can also be seen, guaranteeing that the company has subjected the watch to a battery of tests and examinations, including precision of maximum +2/-3 seconds deviation per day, better than COSC (+4/-4), almost as good as the new Rolex standard (+2/-2). The watch runs at 28,800 vph (4 Hertz), and it is manually-wound, with a power reserve of 55-65 hours.
The Patek Philippe split second chronograph, reference 5370, costs about €202,000.
3 thoughts on “Top ten chronograph watches 2015”
My Hamilton H21 movements are accurate to within 1 sec. The accuracy/consistency is not effected by regulation. I own two in the x-wind and x-patrol incarnations.
I suppose this would be true also for any of the above, however I paid a mite less, and did not imo sacrifice on styling, value or the quality of the movements/watches.
I sec/day or better