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Starting Point: Best Dressy Chronograph Watches

Starting Point: Best Dressy Chronograph Watches ABTW Editors' Lists

Here at aBlogtoWatch, we have covered our fair share of chronograph watches, and oftentimes they can be bunched into the “sportier” side of life. This isn’t to say that there aren’t chronographs out there that can be seen as dressy; in fact, with so many brands evolving their lines to include new materials and classier touches, the range of options have grown vastly to broaden the role that a chronograph can serve.

Whether it be a cleaner, uncluttered dial or a gold case, a chronograph can be just as much at home in a suit as it can with jeans and a t-shirt. Foregoing any loud color choices, styling, and general “sportiness,” these dressy chronographs are subtle without coming off stuffy or too formal – classy with something of an edge, you could say. The goal when looking for one is to find what works best for you, and we have compiled a list that should serve as a great “starting point” to your personal collection. With these things in mind, let’s take a look at just a few of your options.

Bulgari Octo Velocissimo Ultranero Chronograph

Starting Point: Best Dressy Chronograph Watches ABTW Editors' Lists

With its octagonal case, dressed up to shine thanks to a total of over 100 facets, polished and applied indices and a deep black dial, this Bulgari Octo Velocissimo strikes a rare balance between masculine, sporty design, and powerful restraint. Bulgari offers several variants in the Octo collection, so you can go from this all steel version all the way to the even more serious-looking version with a combination of a black DLC case and an 18k gold bezel, hands and indices.

Starting Point: Best Dressy Chronograph Watches ABTW Editors' Lists

It is not easy to successfully mix timeless, elegant design with unique treats. Thanks to this powerful mixture of curves and hard angles, shining bright and brushed surfaces, and a relatively small 41mm wide case, the Bulgari Octo Velocissimo does manage to tick a lot of boxes. The movement is a Zenith El Primero-based BVL328 that is stunning to view through the sapphire crystal back. Pricing starts $9,900 for the steel cased version on the black leather strap.

A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Chronograph

Starting Point: Best Dressy Chronograph Watches ABTW Editors' Lists

It would be hard to make a list like this without including the A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Chronograph. One of Germany’s finest watchmakers, Lange has never really been about large watches – and we have all forgotten about that experimental Lange 31 that was 46mm wide, right? The 1815, with its sleek white gold case, thin lugs and discreet, rectangular pushers is as classic in its look as they get. Chronographs of today do tend to be too bulky for the sake of being bulky, but at 39.5mm, this watch is ideally sized to suit its reserved wrist-presence.

Starting Point: Best Dressy Chronograph Watches ABTW Editors' Lists

Powered by the exquisite Caliber L951.5, the 1815 has a healthy power reserve of 60 hours. This particular A Lange & Söhne 1815 Chronograph Boutique Edition is professional-looking even with the added pulsometer on the flange ring and, with a dark-blue leather strap, should have no trouble to be matched to whatever you put on for your suit-up day. It won’t be on every other wrist either with a price of 49,000 Euros.

Cartier Rotonde Chronograph

Starting Point: Best Dressy Chronograph Watches ABTW Editors' Lists

Dressy elegance and Cartier are a match made in heaven. With this Rotonde de Cartier Chronograph (Reference CRWSRO0002), Cartier succeeded in designing a timepiece that truly embodies the exquisite finishing and classic styling the brand is known for. Some could argue that the dial is a bit busy, and though it might be, the large hands and trademark Cartier Roman numerals all make for above-average-legibility.

The stainless steel case is pictured here, but Cartier also offers the Rotonde in 18k white or pink gold – and even with the steel you, of course, also get the added touch of the blue spinel cabochon. . Consider this piece is powered by the in-house caliber 1904-CH MC and you have not only a beautiful watch, but also the added bragging rights of a proprietary movement. Priced at $9,050, the Rotonde de Cartier Chronograph is a true classic – albeit arguably not one with the most competitive price.

Vacheron Constantin Historique Cornes De Vache 1955 Chronograph

Starting Point: Best Dressy Chronograph Watches ABTW Editors' Lists

The Vacheron Constantin Historiques Cornes De Vache 1955 revives vintage chronograph vibes like hardly anything else released in recent years. At 38.5mm, this platinum reinterpretation of Vacheron’s Reference 6087 wears a little smaller than your average chronograph, and the famed “cow-horn” lugs add to the vintage-inspired touch. Its white dial is elegant and straight-forward and its thin baton hands are just the right length.

Starting Point: Best Dressy Chronograph Watches ABTW Editors' Lists

The in-house Calibre 1142 is the epitome of classic mechanical chronograph movement design, and the case’s sapphire crystal back permits an excellent view. The modest size of the Cornes De Vache, again a plus here, allows it to fit nicely under shirt cuffs and the dark alligator strap is smart and safe choice. Price, even with the platinum case and the remarkable movement, is up there at $75,000.

Starting Point: Best Dressy Chronograph Watches ABTW Editors' Lists

Patek Philippe 5170R-010

The Patek Philippe 5170R-010 has a rather similar dial layout to the Cartier and the Lange we have looked at above – and yet, the 5170R ends up being an incomparably different watch. Its dauphine hands, applied Breguet numerals and (relatively speaking) generously sized, 39.4 millimeter-wide rose gold case all make for a more powerful, and yet more classical look.

Starting Point: Best Dressy Chronograph Watches ABTW Editors' Lists

Patek Philippe does offer the 5170 in a few different versions, but it really is the rose gold (with either a white or black dial) that combines traditional with contemporary. Run by Patek’s hand-wound CH 29-535 PS, this is yet another look at the highest levels of traditional chronograph movement architecture. All this magnificence and the Patek name do come with a matching price: the Patek Philippe 5170R-010 is priced at $81,000. 

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph

Starting Point: Best Dressy Chronograph Watches ABTW Editors' Lists

Given the nature of this list, I would be remiss if I left out the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph. This watch makes the list for several reasons, first of which is its ability to blend in or stand out depending on your attire. The trademark AP “grande tapisserie” dial is available in a number of colors and is paired with either stainless steel or 18k gold case variants. The famous avant-garde styling of the Royal Oak lends itself well to a dressier nature and the stunning link band makes for a perfect combination.

You can change the vibe of the Royal Oak Chronograph easily by simply matching it to either a rubber strap, black or brown alligator options, or AP’s amazing bracelets – which are, of course, available in gold or steel. The movement cannot measure up to those offered by AP and VC, but the solid 2385 automatic caliber has sure been around long enough to be tried and proven by now. In gold, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph is priced at $38,500.

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Comments

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  • Kuroji

    Which of these are real alligator, and which are alligator pattern stamped leather?

    • Jeviar Dfirst

      I think none of them are

      • Kuroji

        For the price, some of these should come with a live alligator.

  • Bill W

    I saw high price after high price and when I got to $38k I thought, “oh, that’s pretty reasonable”. What the hell are these mind games?

  • Ulysses31

    For my tastes, most of these choices have some aesthetic features that would put me off. The two clear winners (again, for me personally) are the Lange and the Junghans. They’re very different, but the Lange has that classic look and movement that looks like a treasure-chest of gleaming riches. The Junghans has almost no bezel, perfect legibility and efficient, minimalist looks. Longines shouldn’t even be there.

  • PleaseSpellRoman4AsIV

    From Zenith I would have chose the Elite Chronograph to this list. It’s also powered by an El Primero movement but much dressier. It’s actually next on my to get list.

    • word-merchant

      If it’s this one you mean – http://www.zenith-watches.com/en_en/el-primero-chronograph-classic-1.html – then agreed, it should definitely be on this list. Very nice.

      • PleaseSpellRoman4AsIV

        Yupp, that’s the one. Thanks for linking it, I was too lazy to find from my phone.

        • Kurt Klimisch

          I am looking to buy that next. Zenith Elite Chronograph.

          • PleaseSpellRoman4AsIV

            Nice, grey or blue dial? Not that you could go wrong with either. 😉

          • Kurt Klimisch

            Well, I would love the rose gold, but I am going to get the the SS silver/grey dial. In some way, when I have seen the blue dial it just does not seem to work… that “seeing” is only in pictures, never seen one in the flesh. But I think it is the best looking dress chrono out there. Just incredible.

      • Raymond Wilkie

        Never been a great fan of the chronograph complication. I normally find that it just clutters up the face with something i am never going to use, but this is done quite beautifully. Classically subtle.

    • Timestandsstill

      That’s the very first watch I thought of as soon as I saw the title of the article….quickly scanned through to find it not listed

      • PleaseSpellRoman4AsIV

        Yes, I was also a bit surprised that ABTW did not chose that one. Well, I guess Richard might just have a different concept to my PoV.

    • cluedog12

      Can empathize with the writer on this one. Tasked with pulling a few reference dress chronographs from a sea of hundreds of worthy ones and writing a cursory article, there will be plenty that are overlooked.

    • egznyc

      It sure is a beauty – simplicity itself.

  • ??????
    • Ulysses31

      That Orient Star is beautiful, but did you notice at the end, when he reset the chronograph, the minute hand advanced by half a minute? Hopefully not a problem with all models.

      • ??????

        Maybe it stands still while you use chronograph and then advances by time you where using it? Then it could be logical. Anyway 6s37 is rock solid caliber according to multiple reviews on wus et al.

    • egznyc

      Those are very nice! I didn’t realize Fortis had such a model. As for the Orient Star, it’s quite well finished in appearance; how’s its technical specs?

      • ??????

        Well, its among the most advanced chronograph watches below 2k. 6S28 caliber is based on pillar wheel + vertical clutch, so it will beat the sh* out of lame 7750 and other swiss up to 10k lol. Probably, one of the most advanced chrono systems. The finishing is at highest level among Orient lines, on par with modern Royal Orient.

  • john coleman

    It’s the Omega and Junghans for me. Thanks for the article.

  • laup nomis

    I’d happily wear most of these. But I do think chronographs are more a sporty complication, classically timing races. So for me I like perpetual calendar multi-dial complications on a dress watch.
    But I’ll say it again, I really like a couple if these and would wear most of them, as well as classic dress watches with simple designs and plenty of ‘space’ on the dial.

  • Johnny Tank (Forever Autumn)

    The ALS gives me wet dreams.

  • ALS 1815 for the win.

    And to my mind the AP, Speedy, El Primero, Junghaus and Blancpain are all too sporty to be included in this list.

  • LapYoda

    How about a version of this list for non-plutocrats who actually work hard to earn a salary? Or is that too gauche?

    This feels like a Hodinkee article.

    • Spangles

      No way, ABtW is already inundated with crappy low-end watches.

      • LapYoda

        I disagree. The variety of high-, medium-, and low-end watches is why I keep reading this site. I have no interest in all stratospheric watches for social peacocks, and that’s 80% of this list.

        • Larry Holmack

          I agree with you…how about a separate article on dressy chronographs for the working guy??? Say under $2,000??? Seiko has some nice looking dress chronographs that can be had for under $300 online.
          And yes….I love seeing all these really expensive dress watches….but the only one that I could possibly save up for is the Junghans Max Bill Chronoscope.
          As for me…my favorite is the Breguet. Wow….!!!

          • Sam Anderson

            Totally agree. With the price tag on most of those watches there is very little point in even reading about them. If it is a ‘starting point’ then surely the idea is to help us move forward, perhaps into purchasing one.

            And with such limited information accompanying each one, there is absolutely no need for this article.

          • Spangles

            You really don’t even want to read about anything you can’t afford? That seems bizarre to me. There’s a lot of interesting stuff out there that I’m not necessarily going to buy today. When it comes to watches specifically, I’m interested in watches that are part of classic watchmaking or ones that use new materials and concepts to push mechanical watchmaking further. These two are often very expensive, but that doesn’t mean it’s pointless to read about them.

          • egznyc

            That Max Bill is really a display of Teutonic horological greatness.

  • DanW94

    Not sure how the Piaget Altiplano doesn’t make that list. It’s the very definition of a dress chrono. Otherwise a drool worthy collection.

    • Coert Welman

      I wholeheartedly agree. When I saw the article’s headline, this was the one watch that popped in my head.

  • SuperStrapper

    Not a single watch in this list I wouldn’t wear. Some much nicer than others, to be sure*, but a very solid list nonetheless.

  • BNABOD

    I would tend to stick w the Bulgari on this one in the realm of a budget I could possibly achieve once it hits grey marker (so let’s say 40% off 🙂 everything else I am not a fan or just way too pricey. A great looking watch that Bulgari and I am usually not a fan of the brand.
    PS: the date cutting of the 6 on the Longines is sad

  • Marius

    This is an interesting list, but what about the shortcomings and negative aspects of these watches? I mean, not all ABTW readers are experts/enthusiasts. If you don’t know a lot about watches, I’m afraid that this list is mostly useless. Besides all the positive aspects, these watches also have shortcomings, and this is what ABTW should tell its readers. For instance, the El Primero is a iconic movement, but it doesn’t have a stop-second function. The Blancpain is a very nice watch, but its movement will be shortly replaced with the much more modern F385 5Hz flyback caliber. Etc. Etc.

    To me, this is simply a listing of chronographs accompanied by a text that seems to have been taken straight out of the manufacturer`s press release/website.

    • cluedog12

      It’s like the centrefold girl. You’re not interested in her extreme political views while you’re looking at the pictures. Just want to know the month and measurements.

      Nevermind that Playboy is pretty much dead.

  • Shinytoys

    Excellent grouping Mr. Cantley By far some of the most beautiful watches available. Looking forward to additional updates.

  • Shinytoys

    Baum and Mercier also makes a beautiful watch in either Capeland or Riviera style for about 3K.

  • loydb

    If the prices made you blanch, check out the Mido Baroncelli chrono.

  • Bill W

    Oooooh that Vacheron.

  • Richard Baptist

    Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph Calibre 9R86 SBGC001. For the number of complications, level of finishing etc., I think its the best one out there.

    • GalaxyGuy

      They are awesome watches, but in my opinion too tall to be considered a true dress chronograph. They are thicker than a Panerai!

      • Richard Baptist

        Good point, thickness is an issue

  • Questwatch
    • cluedog12

      Yep. The best dressed ETA 7750 chronograph.

  • johngage1

    My grail for a dressy chronograph is a Patek ref 1463.

  • cluedog12

    Montblanc (Minerva) crafts the most romantic high-end chronographs. Sexy enamel dial, sexy vintage movement, sexy finishing, sexy precious metal cases…I could go on, but it would be censored.

    The 39 mm models are worth cross shopping against the Patek, Vacheron, Breguet and Lange. They’re so good, it doesn’t matter that they’re awkwardly branded Montblanc.

    https://hodinkee.imgix.net/uploads/article/hero_image/1777/_img.jpg?ixlib=rails-1.1.0&w=1000&s=53c0d13f2bc45f0a69778cfec909a4f7

    https://i750.photobucket.com/albums/xx145/ticktockforever/Montblanc/Montblanc%20Villeret%20Vintage%20Pulsographe%20White%2002_zpsi7dd9l1p.jpg

    • egznyc

      Mmm – that last one is very red white and blue but it works!

  • James Dimauro

    Thanks for giving my watch a mention Richard. For me it works just as well with a suit as it does with a T-shirt and jeans which is what drew me to it. I have https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/64b9f90c1be4fec6f6ebc7a478dacd5341bf82e061fb2126f6d1bcc5c452195a.jpg posted this pic before so sorry for using the same image, but it’s my favourite.

    • egznyc

      Very nice. I’ve liked the look of this piece for at least 6 or 7 years. Not sure how it’s go with jeans and t shirt but it does exude some class for a reasonable price.

      • James Dimauro

        Fair point, it’s probably the fact that I like wearing it so much that I just wear it all the time haha.

  • GalaxyGuy

    If you’re including $80k watches in a list of dress chronographs, how can you overlook this
    http://www.voutilainen.ch/item/masterpiece-chronograph-ii/ ?

    A pretty good list overall, although I would agree with Mark Carson that a few of the watches are too sporty. Zenith has a few dressier options than the one chosen for this list, as does Omega. Of those listed, I would have to go for the ALS.

  • Coert Welman

    I saw a guy wearing a yellow gold Daytona on a leather strap this past weekend. That would also make a semi-decent dressy chronograph.

  • kasra salehi

    I am sorry but where is the TAG Heuer Carrera 1887 41 and 43mm and also where is the beautiful IWC portuguese?!

  • Timestandsstill

    Agreed, overall a very good list and of course numerous other examples could have been listed.
    A small point of clarification….the Patek Philippe hands might be described as “leaf” but they are definitely not “dauphine”

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