From the basic date to the amorous moon phase to the complicated perpetual calendar, there are an almost infinite amount of watch complexities suitable for devoted horologists and casual users to think about introducing to their collection. None, however, have the same allure or appeal as chronograph watches.
For the last 100 years, chronograph timepieces have been highly praised. And many chronograph models are still among the most desired timepieces out there. But which chronograph watches are the best?
We’ll look at 10 of the finest chronographs on the market now in this list. You’ll see watches from well-known brands like Omega, Rolex, and Breitling, as well as perhaps find some new ones. However, all these timepieces have one thing in common: they are excellent options with the most helpful complication. So, scroll down to see the top 10 chronograph watches on the market.
What Actually Is A Chronograph?
First and foremost, let’s define what the heck chronograph watches actually are.
Simply a stopwatch built into the watch. Almost always, chronograph watches feature two pushbuttons: one that will start and stop a timer and another that will reset it. Also, there are subdials that measure the minutes (or hours) elapsed. The second hand on the chronograph triggers when the start button is pushed and records seconds up to a minute. Then the minute register will capture that minute. Then, the second hand will monitor the elapsed time until both registers are full.
Do you need one?
Well, there’s a lot of reasons behind this. Firstly, chronographs are very helpful. It’s amazing how frequently you need to time things. Whether it’s when you cook or record rest time between sets at the gym. Second, chronographs are just frickin’ awesome. Many famous style icons, such as Steve McQueen, are known for their distinctive chronograph watches. Also, they are utilized widely in the areas of racing, aviation, and even aerospace engineering. Isn’t it about time you got a chronograph too?
What’s Inside a Chronograph?
The movement of a watch is basically its engine. It’s what maintains the time, keeps the watch running, and, in this instance, runs the chronograph. The four kinds on this list are as follows.
The quartz movement is the least costly kind of watch mechanism. Batteries are required to power the quartz movements oscillating electrical circuit controlled by a quartz crystal. They need little maintenance and are inexpensive to buy. Yet, they are highly accurate compared with mechanical timepieces. Quartz movements, despite these benefits, are less popular among watch enthusiasts. Largely owing to a lack of workmanship and build quality. As well as intangible reasons such as the history of mechanical watches.
Known as “hybrid” movements, these are a relatively new kind of movement, popular in recent years.
A regular quartz movement does the timekeeping, but additionally, it’s got a mechanical chronograph subsystem. And this is how the second hand adopts its mechanical-type movement, known as a “sweep.” Now, most (though not all) quartz chronographs lack this smooth sweep. Many meca-quartz watches utilize Seiko’s VK line movements, which are now offered by an increasing number of manufacturers.
Manual-wind or hand-wind motions, one of two kinds of mechanical movements, must be wound to continue functioning. The mainspring is wound up by twisting the crown of a manual-wind watch. Then this will inject power via a system of gears to the escapement. Next, it will oscillate at a predetermined frequency to gradually release that power and maintain constant time. Whenever that power is gone, the watch stops and must be wound again. This has to be done regularly if you want your watch to run all the time. Typically every few days, depending on the movement’s power reserve.
The automatic watch movement is the other kind of mechanical watch mechanism. It works in the same manner as a manual wind, although with one major exception.
A weighted rotor is attached to the rear of a movement and winds the mainspring. So when the watch moves, the rotor spins smoothly, so your automatic watch will continue to operate as long as you are wearing it.
Automatic movements, like manual-wind movements, contain power reserves that allow the watch to operate for many days, even if you’re not wearing it.
A simple chronograph is the simplest basic version and, therefore, what you’ll encounter the most. A chronograph like this will have two pushers, typically at 2 and 4 o’clock. When you push it once, the top pusher will start the chronograph and stop it when touched again while it’s running. The chronograph and any registers are reset with a press on the bottom pusher.
The monopusher chronograph is a very rare kind of chronograph. These movements need some ingenious engineering since they rely on a single pusher. Sometimes even placed inside the crown to stop, start and reset it.
The flyback chronograph is another unique type. Pressing the reset button as the chronograph runs will either do nothing or harm your movement.
However, push reset as the chronograph is operating, and the seconds hand will “jump back” to 0 and start to count again immediately. Now, this complex function comes particularly handy for timing several intervals, such as laps around a racing track.
The rattrapante, also known as split-seconds, is the most complex and uncommon option on this list. You get two chronograph second hands layered, one on top of the other in this mechanism. When you press the pusher (which changes position according to the model) allows one of these seconds hands to “split” apart, recording the time you wish to record.
Yet, the other second hand will continue to monitor the passing of time, totally uninterrupted. When you’re finished, press your pusher again, and the split-second hand catches up to its mate immediately to continue the distinct sweep until it’s needed again.
Timex Weekender Chronograph
40mm, Quartz – Simple
A beater watch is a must-have for any collection. Mainly because it can be worn any time, anywhere, while you do anything. Nothing can harm the watch.
The American brand Timex made this watch to last. It can take knock after knock, and it will keep ticking. Actually, Timex has a range of beaters, including the Weekender, which is among their more iconic designs. The Timex Weekender chronograph is an easy-to-wear, incredible-looking, and totally capable watch.
39mm – Quartz – Simple
Mario Andretti is regarded as one of the best race car drivers of all time and won the Daytona 500, F1 World Championship, and the Indianapolis 500. In fact, he won the latter while wearing a Yema Rallye around his wrist.
This contemporary Yema is a modern meca-quartz recreation of that watch, with excellent vintage motorsports-inspired design, unlike the almost infinite number of meca-quartz retro race Chrono microbrands on the market, some real automotive history.
Hamilton Intra-Matic Chronograph H
40mm – Manual-Wind – Simple
This is an automatic variant of the Intra-Matic Chronograph. Which, some may argue, is the best Chrono you can get for around $2,000. And Hamilton upped the ante even further by equipping it with an exclusive new manual-wind movement, Calibre H-51, which features a prolonged 60-hour power reserve. The watch retains the same excellent looks of Hamilton’s 1968 A&B Chronographs from 1968, but with a few aesthetic changes, such as a substantially domed sapphire crystal that contributes to its retro romance.
Tudor Heritage Chronograph
42mm – Automatic – Simple
Tudor is Rolex’s rebel little sibling, and as a consequence, it is allowed to dress up in ways that its staid older sibling would never consider.
For example, this vibrant timepiece is inspired by Tudor’s racing chronographs from the crazy 1970s. Tudor brings the iconic look back with the quirky heritage. That decade was rich with creative and colorful wrist-worn racing timers. Instead of a tachymeter, the watch has a rotating 12-hour bezel, which enables the user to monitor two time zones simultaneously.
Tag Heuer Carrera Day Date Automatic
43mm – Automatic – Simple
Few, if any, brands can boast as many famous chronograph models as TAG Heuer. With those, the Carrera stands out as the most adaptable and, perhaps, beautiful of the group. With piston-style pushers, a tricompax arrangement, and stick hands, it’s the archetypal auto racing chronograph, and it’s sure to always look fantastic regardless of what you drive.
Luminous silver-tone hands complement the blue dial. The case and band are both in silver-tone stainless steel, but the back is transparent. Movement is automatic. Water resistance of 100m. The bezel is fixed. Sapphire crystal that is scratch resistant protects the face. Finishing touches include a push-button release clasp, fold over. Finally, the crown has screws in place for a secure fit.
Breitling Navitimer 01
43mm – Automatic – Simple
If you’re searching for a chronograph worthy of a pilot, this is the best one you’ll find. People refer to Breitling’s Navitimer as The Pilot’s Chronograph. In fact, they have done since the initial release in 1953. The Navitimer is complex in every way, from its three-register architecture to its distinctive busy dial to its fanged slide rule bezel. At sea level, it’s still a sight to see, with a reputation for being among the most durable and well-known sports watches in the world.
Rolex Cosmograph Daytona
40mm – Automatic – Simple
This is undeniably the most iconic chronograph in the world, just after Speedmaster. Thanks to its iconic connection with Paul Newman and current market-breaking scarcity, the Rolex Daytona has risen to the top of Rolex’s historic range. That wasn’t always the case, but the world has now warmed up to this small-but-mighty racing chronograph, praising its thick, engraved ceramic tachymeter bezel, its distinctive sub-dial surrounds, and the perfect curved “DAYTONA” lettering in red just above active seconds counter. It’s breathtaking.
Citizen Promaster Tsuno Chronograph Racer
45mm – Quartz – Simple
Citizen’s “Bullhead” 1970s chronographs got this nickname due to the two pushers located on top of the case rather than the sides. So they look like horns. Although it lacks the automatic movement of the predecessor, Citizen’s handcrafted, solar Eco-Drive quartz movement has a smooth-sweep on the second hand, an alarm, and a helpful battery reserve indicator.
Seiko SNA411P1 Flightmaster
42mm – Quartz – Simple
Seiko’s complex pilot’s chronograph, dubbed the Flightmaster, has a devoted and ardent following. Despite its low price, this quartz watch seems to cram many functions into its small package, as shown by the crowded dial and bezel. The Flightmaster has a slide rule bezel for basic flight equations, a calendar complication, and an alarm function in addition to a smooth-sweep. The watch also has a surprising diver-like 200m water resistance thanks to its screw-down pushers and crown.
IWC Portugieser Chronograph
IWC produces a variety of recognized and desired pieces as one of the top luxury Swiss watchmakers. With an early 1900s marine-inspired style that hasn’t altered much in almost a century, the Portugieser is probably their most recognizable line. The chronograph variant has a two-register layout in a distinctive and recognized 12/6 configuration, which gives the dial a pleasant symmetry. This watch shouts “classy” from every angle, and it looks just as good in a tuxedo as it is on the water.
If you enjoyed reading about these magnificent chronograph watches, I’ll bet you’d like to read about the timepieces James Bond has sported over the years.
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Last Updated on August 25, 2021
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