In last week’s Throwback Sunday, we recommended six chronograph watches which are modestly priced. For today’s article, we will be looking at high-end chronographs that we reckon are prized for their finishing and exclusivity.
These watches, as one would imagine, are priced a few notches higher than the chronographs that we have featured last week. Of course, the difference in cost translates to better finishing and craftsmanship, as well as the use of more expensive materials in the production of the timepiece.
On to the picks:
Cartier Tortue Mono Poussoir Chronograph
First off, we have the Cartier Tortue Mono Poussoir, from the famed “Collection Privée, Cartier Paris” (CPCP) Series. This collection was created back in 1998, in which it was to showcase Cartier’s prowess in haute horlogerie. The Tortue Mono Poussoir, coincidentally, was one of the first few watches from this particular collection.
Based on the original model that was made back in 1928, the Tortue Mono Poussoir posseses a classic and elegant design cue. The watch is aesthetically stunning. The case and dial design, for instance, are very well-proportioned. The dual chronograph registers and the blued Breguet-style hands give the watch a certain degree of symmetry and contrast which is very pleasing to the eye.
Another highlight of the Tortue Mono Poussoir is the movement. The exquisite manual-winding timepiece features an exclusive movement that was sourced from THA Ebauche, a company that was formed by Francois Paul Journe, Denis Flageollet and Vianney Halter. The Caliber 45MC that was used on this timepiece was also featured in two other watches: the Tank Mono Poussoir and the DeBethune DB01 Mono Poussoir. One interesting technical aspect to note on this movement is the swivel pin in the chronograph clutch system. The design is quite unusual, and works well to prevent the chronograph hand from having that small jump when the mechanism is activated.
Honestly, we can think of very few watches that would make our’s heart flutter as quickly as the Cartier Tortue Mono Poussoir. The watch, as well as the movement, is gorgeous.
A. Lange & Söhne Datograph
If one is an avid follower of Deployant, then it comes as no surprise that we are big fans of A. Lange & Söhne watches. We have often wax lyrical about its near perfect designs, as well as the attention to detail. The Datograph is no exception to that.
Launched in 1999, the A. Lange & Söhne Datograph is definitely a candidate for the best chronographs that money can buy. It is not that difficult to see why. The proportions, as per most A. Lange & Söhne watches, are perfect. The subdials, for instance, are both sized and positioned perfectly. The same goes for the big date indicator, as well as the tachymeter scale. Everything is well placed and appropriately sized on this timepiece.
The movement, the L951 is a marvel to behold. The layout, though quite traditional in design, is spectacular. The movement seem to display this layered look that had us calling Watchscape – the landscape of a watch movement. All the beauty would be nought if the performance was poor. But the Datograph was precise, reliable, and worked flawlessly.
Then, in 2012, the watch underwent an update. Several changes were made to the timepiece. This included the addition of a power reserve (AB/AUF) indicator and an increment in the size of the watch (from 39mm to 41mm). Due to the changes in the latter, the movement was also replaced. The new movement had included several upgrades, such as a bigger and more robust mainspring. This resulted in an increase of the power reserve, from approximately 36 hours to 60 hours, as well as a totally in-house manufactured escapement system. The outsized date was also updated to reflect the slightly larger size of the case, increasing proportionately in dimensions.
We initially had a tough time deciding if we should feature the Datograph or the 1815 Chronograph. Both are aesthetically pleasing, and their finishing is immaculate. The 1815 Chronograph features the exact same movement sans the outsized date module, and a more traditionalist approach to a chronograph. But eventually, we decided on the Datograph. The big date indicator is a strong advantage, as it makes the watch much more functional on a day-to-day basis. It was the first imagination of the chronograph from the German manufacture, and a little memory of the late and great Günter Blümlein who was critical in the revival of the firm. A Datograph for a daily beater? Hell yeah!
Patek Philippe 5370
In the recently concluded Baselworld 2015, there was one Patek Philippe watch that had attracted most of the attention of the visitors: the Calatrava Pilot Travel Time (Reference 5524). While we think that the controversial timepiece was pretty intriguing, we feel the Reference 5370 was a much more interesting proposition instead.
When we first saw the Reference 5370, our hearts immediately skipped a bit. The combination of a black enamel grand feu dial, a classic dual register split seconds single button chronograph, the Breguet numerals, as well as the beautiful platinum case make this timepiece a rather tantalizing prospect indeed.
In terms of the technical aspects of this timepiece, this split-second chronograph works as well as it looks. The watch is powered by Patek Philippe’s Caliber CHR 29-535 PS, a manual-winding movement that features a power reserve of up to 65 hours. One of the highlights of this timepiece would be the isolator mechanism, in which it decouples the split seconds wheel from the chronograph wheel. This eliminates the friction that holds the split seconds hand when it is stationary, and hence reduce the chances of having a decrease in amplitude of the balance wheel.
At 41mm, we think that the Patek Philippe 5370 is a mesmerizing and elegant chronograph. It fits nicely on the wrist of most people, and we think that this is one Patek Philippe that is definitely worth a double take.
De Bethune DB28 Maxichrono
Next up, we have the De Bethune DB28 Maxichrono.
At the first glance, the DB28 Maxichrono is an enthralling timepiece and it is not difficult to see why. The design, as is de rigeur of De Bethune is mind-boggling. Aesthetically, the DB28 Maxichrono looks very contemporary, especially with the signature skeletonized articulating lugs in blued titanium. Also, the absence of any sub-dials on this chronograph is unusual and gives it a clean, uncluttered look. But look a little closer, and it is the first chronograph in which all the five hands (the hours, minutes, and the chronograph seconds, minutes and hours) are co-axially mounted on the center of the timepiece. Not only visually unusual and very beautiful, but technically a work of art.
When it comes to the technical bits of the timepiece, De Bethune certainly did not disappoint. The chronograph mechanism uses no less than three different column wheels to precisely coordinate the hands (seconds, minutes, and hours) of the chronograph counter. Each column wheel acts on a clutch system, and each different from the other. Read our detailed review of the De Bethune DB28 Maxichrono to understand how this complex mechanism works.
In short, the De Bethune DB28 is an incredible timepiece. It epitomizes what a watch from an independent watchmaker should be: bold, well-made, innovative, and conversational.
Breguet Tradition Chronographe Indépendant 7077
In the world of haute horlogerie, Breguet has always been recognized for being a pioneer and a leading innovator. The Breguet Tradition Chronographe Indépendant 7077, in our opinion, is a strong testament to that.
One of the most interesting features of this timepiece is its unique chronograph mechanism. The Breguet Tradition Chronographe Indépendant 7077 utliizes two different balance wheels to separate the time-keeping mechanism and the chronograph mechanism. The balance wheel at the 5 o’clock position is for time-keeping, and it beats at a frequency of 3Hz. As for the chronograph mechanism, the balance wheel is situated at the 7 o’clock position, and it beats at a higher frequency of 5Hz. The latter is only in operation when the chronograph is activated, and its high beating rate is to ensure that the chronograph measures time as accurate as possible.
Besides the technical aspects of this timepiece, the Breguet Tradition Chronographe Indépendant 7077 is also an amazing watch to behold. The dials, for instance, are decorated with the engine-turned motif to bring some depth and texture. The plates are also frosted to give the timepiece an interesting contrast with the guilloché dial. Other signature Breguet touches include the blue pomme hands, as well as the iconic coin-edge cases.
Chopard LUC 1963 Chronograph
Last but not least, we have the Chopard LUC 1963 Chronograph. Chopard, in our opinion, is one of the underrated watchmakers in the world. Their watches, especially from the LUC collection, are well-made and priced rather reasonably.
The idea of producing the LUC 1963 Chronograph was derived from a landmark milestone: to celebrate the 50th year since the watchmaker was acquired by the Scheufele family. And oh, the watch is definitely a fitting tribute to this occasion! The watch, as usual, is built and finished with the greatest attention to detail. This is most obvious when one flips the watch to the movement side. The craftsmanship on the movement is simply excellent, especially with the execution of anglage on the inward and outward curves of the plates and bridges. On top of that, the different levels of finishing on this timepiece also makes it visually arresting. A Poinçon de Genève hallmark adorns the movement.
Besides the movement, the dial on the LUC 1963 Chronograph was also executed pretty nicely. We like the simplicity of the dial, despite the inclusion of the chronograph sub-dials and the date indicator. The red hands, which signifies the hours, minutes, and seconds hand of the chronograph, adds a neat touch to the timepiece as well. The dial is very clean and legible.
The Chopard LUC 1963 Chronograph, we reckon, offers collectors an interesting proposition. It may not be as popular as its more illustrious counterparts, but the watch certainly gives the big names a run for this money.
We have finally concluded the chronograph series for Throwback Sundays, and making the article into two installments allows us to cover a greater variety of chronograph watches, ranging from the fun and value-for-money pieces, to the more elaborated and exclusive ones. Even so, we had to miss out on several wonderful pieces. Special mentions to the Vacheron Constantin Harmony Chronograph, the Panerai Radiomir 1940 Chronograph, and the Sinn U1000. They are all excellent in their own ways, and they are definitely worth some serious considerations if one is looking to buy a watch with a chronograph function.
Anyways, we hope that you have enjoyed this week’s installment, and we wish all readers a great week ahead!
A fine article, thank you. I wonder whether you have any experience with the Habring2 Crown Operating System chronographs? It’s aesthetically pleasing, but I don’t know how well it stacks up in terms of performance.
Hi Bob, we have not had a Habring in our offices for a review yet. So all we can offer now is that we are familiar with Richard and Maria Habring who makes the Habring2. Richard is an old personal friend and an excellent watchmaker, and we have confidence in him.