Chronographs have been a source of fascination to us for a long time. The ability to measure bits of time is both fun and practical, while the mechanics which allow mechanical watches to do so requires expertise to properly adjust and ensure excellent timekeeping. While we have done Throwback Sundays on chronographs before, we update our list with the most remarkable ones in the last five years in this new list.
Six of the most remarkable chronographs in the last five years
Earlier Throwback Sunday Chronograph features can be found in this list here. The last list was dated 2020, and we thought it is a good time for us to update this list. To narrow the list to a manageabl esize, we only include watches released within the last 5 years. As usual, in no particular order, here is the list.
The Chopard Alpine Eagle is a 2020 release, and have been steadily gaining traction in the high enthusiast market, if not quite made yet in the hypebeast list. Which is a good thing in our books. Chopard has remained true to the horological roots and create watches of excellent design, superb functionality and high end finishing for an honest price level. The Alpine Eagle XL Chrono in A223 Lucent Steel with the blue dial is our pick. It is a sizeable watch with a 44 mm case diameter, as the XL moniker in its name might suggest. The watch is crafted in Lucent Steel A223, an alloy co-developed by Chopard that is harder than other steels, anti-allergenic like surgical steel, and intensely reflective (hence the name). The dial is designed with a very attractive signature “eagle iris” textured motif.
The Caliber 03.05-C is a design masterpiece, and finished to a very high industrial standard, though stoppong just short of the Chopard L.U.C movements which are elaborated to meet haute horlogerie standards. But is well designed and executed. and should preform reliably and with precision for years.
The Alpine Eagle Chronograph XL tells a compelling story. The background story of father and son was told with the Alpine Eagle launch. As was the story of the inspiration of the Swiss Alps, nature and the eagle. The story remains true and strong. But what is also compelling is the earnest work that has gone into the design and execution. The use of ethical materials like ethical gold and Lucent Steel A228 is noteworthy. The design is true to its spirit, and true to haute horlogerie principles – exclusive movement, well designed, well executed. The case, dial and hands which holds itself together, even under close scrutiny, and radiates with class and refinement. A face which is at once beautiful and classical, yet robust, strong and avant garde. And ultimately, the very reasonable asking price for a watch designed from ground up, and completely build in-house in Fleurier.
Perhaps no ultimate chronograph list is complete without the mention of one of the myriad options available of the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch. Still the only NASA approved watch assigned to astronauts to use on the Moon, the Moonwatch is an iconic giant in the chronograph lansdcape. And our pick for this list is the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Apollo 11, released in 2019. As a celebration piece, Omega did not break any moulds with the design. It follows almost strictly to the well defined and familiar norms set by the original Speedmaster Moonwatch. The case is 42mm and in stainless steel, with a black polished ceramic bezel ring. The bezel is inset with a Ceragold™ tachymeter scale.
The movement is the new Omega Master Co-Axial Calibre 3861. Most admirers of the Moonwatch sigh a relief that it is a handwound movement. It is equipped with Silicon, Co-Axial and anti-magnetic technology.
This is a watch which has no competition. The original Speedmaster Professional secured for Omega the coveted title of the First Watch on the Moon, a fact proudly proclaimed by Omega at every instance possible. But all would be moot, if this was the only thing going for it. And of course, it is not. The Speedmaster is a competent performer, operating well under almost all conditions.And we think one of the variants, any one, must find its place in any serious collector’s arsenal.
The new Patek Philippe Ref. 5470P is a highly technical and sophisticated watch. Much more than its simple, clean looking dial might suggest. The chronograph is equipped with a brand new high beat 5Hz movement and a special module to display the 1/10th second measurements in a very intuitive way.
Instead of choosing to just do the new 5Hz chronograph movement and attaching the chronograph seconds hand to the fourth wheel, like for example what the Zenith El Primero has been doing for ages, Patek has chosen to develop a new module over the chronograph just to display the 1/10th seconds hand. The result is a high resolution capability to resolve the 1/10th second which is easy and intuitive to use. In the process of constructing this module, there were significant challenges to be overcome. Philip Barat and his technical team has taken the task to tackle these issues with very elegant solutions, which by the nature that they are simple to use is very complicated to create.
We will be exploring this remarkable chronograph in a future technical article which we hope to publish soon.
Bvlgari has been at it for a while. Originally a jewellery tour de force, they embarked on a serious journey to churn out the best watches, and have been spectacularly successful in doing so. And none more so in the category of the ultra thin than in any other. Bvlgari’s Octo Finissimo line has been around for (only) eight years and has broken as many thinness records. One of these world beaters is none other than the stunning Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Chronograph Skeleton Automatic. Introduced in 2020, this Tourbillon Chronograph Skeleton Automatic was, and continues to be, the world’s thinnest tourbillon chronograph wristwatch. Achieving such a feat requires watchmaking heroics, not just to make the movement so thin, but also to ensure that – in spite of its comical thinness – it is able to run reliably and precisely.
There are plenty of reasons to love the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Chronograph Skeleton Automatic. And our pick is the platinum edition released for 2022. For one, it is well-designed. The 52-jewel manufacture Calibre BVL 388 achieves this ultra thin magic by placing the complications – the chronograph, the tourbillon and the automatic winding rotor on the same plane. The finishing is top top notch. And it is history in the making to boot. It also helps that there will only be less than a hundred pieces made in total, at least until Bulgari decides to make more in other materials.
Glashütte Original is one of the under-rated watchmaking manufactures. They are highly independent in design, prototype and manufacture capability, and though being a part of the giant Swatch Group, they continue not to use group resouces for movements, dials or cases, and are proudly “Made in Germany”. We are fond of many of their watches, from the travel masterpiece of the Cosmopolite, to the elegance of the Senator Excellence. And their expertise in chronograph expressed in a retro looking case style they call the Seventies. The chronograph we selected is the 2022 edition of the Seventies Chronograph Panorama Date in a beautiful in-house produced blue dial, though truth be told, we are almost equally in love with the green fumé dial version introduced in 2019.
This is a fine chronograph, whose movement, the Caliber 37-2 is built in the classical way, and decorated in the high end haute horlogerie style. Yet it does not carry the very high price tags of the pure play haute horlogerie chronographs, but aimed at the more modest, sporty, stainless steel cased market. What sets it apart from its competition is the seventies inspired case design and the absolutely gorgeous dials. It straddles a nice balance between a nicely made and finished chronograph with a modest price. A win-win in our books.
It is high time the VC Overseas collection get the recognition it deserves. Re-released in 2016, the line has gained significant recognition in the last 2 years, and now our market sources tell us that there is a significant waitlist for
most of the watches in the Overseas line, and the grey market is seeing a surge in after market pricing as a result. So our pick from the extensive chronograph line is the latest “Everest”, part of a two watch series : the Overseas Chronograph and Dual Time “Everest” watches. While the Dual Time version is more true to the one-off prototype Dual Time model, designed for American mountaineer and photographer Cory Richards. And used by Cory in his historical 2019 ascent of Mount Everest via the treacherous North-East Ridge; the Chronograph is arguably more captivating in terms of looks.
Overseas “Everest” edition ticks all the right boxes. It’s got a story behind it, it’s unique enough versus the rest of the collection, it’s a luxury sports watch, and it’s a Vacheron Constantin. The Overseas Chronograph “Everest” is a highly desirable watch with the extra pops of orange on the dial and the inherent popularity of the chronograph complication. It will be interesting to see if the “Everest” becomes a catalyst for future, more radically designed Overseas watches.
And there you have it. Our pick of the six most remarkable chronographs in the last 5 years. What would you have picked? And what is your reason(s) for making that choice. Please do tell us.