September 25, 2016
The Longines Master Collection is replete with graceful, timeless designs and their chronograph is no exception. With a 40mm stainless steel case, this piece is decked out with deep, royal blue hands and save for the date window at 6 o’clock, the dial is pristine and trim. The lugs are a bit narrower and keep it from seeming oversized. The Caliber L651 gives a 42-hour power-reserve. Not too big and not too small, the rich, brown alligator strap makes this a solid choice for a daily office-wearer, and it’s priced at a relatively accessible $2,775.
Breguet really wowed with this update based on their Reference 5247. Enlarging the case to 42.5mm from 39mm, this piece offers a little more wrist presence but the white gold case and brilliant guilloche make for a beautiful experience. You can opt for an 18k rose gold version, but I find the white gold to be more reserved and understated. This is definitely a unique take on a chronograph, and the tachymeter scale is much more discreet than those on sportier watches. It’s got a splash of edge with the red accents, but is unmistakably Breguet and makes a quiet but substantial statement for those who can afford the price of $50,200.
The Omega ref. 3188.8.131.52.01.001 is a special edition of the “First Omega In Space” encased in the brand’s Sedna gold. There are plenty of Speedmaster models out there to accommodate almost any wardrobe, but the retro looks in Sedna gold are an unbeatable combination. At 39.7mm this Speedmaster wears small and is well-suited for long-sleeves. The panda dial is amazing, and the arrow-style hands are a nice break from the usual batons we are used to seeing. This watch oozes classic Speedmaster aesthetics while offering a modern take that includes a domed sapphire crystal and brown alligator leather strap. Powered by Omega’s 1861 hand-wound movement, this is a classic chronograph with a fascinating history and an enduring design. Pricing is US$18,000.
The Zenith El Primero Chronograph 03.2110.400/22.C493 is a black beauty with a lot to say. This chronograph is able to rely on Zenith’s sporty legacy while dipping into the more refined side of life. Zenith does offer this piece in several variants, and here we have the stainless steel version. This column-wheel actuated automatic chronograph features sleek push buttons and, at 42mm, wears a little large. The hands are rhodium-plated and faceted, and sit atop a deep black sunray-patterned dial. By using indexes instead of numerical hour markers, Zenith manages to increase the elegance of this chronograph. The movement is Zenith’s El Primero 400 B Automatic that offers a generous 50-hour power reserve. The rich, black alligator leather strap completes the package with this solid workhorse. Pricing starts at US$5,700.
The Junghans Max Bill Chronoscope is by far the most minimalistic piece covered here, and that says something. When you are looking for a dressy chronograph you begin to search for something in the dial: space. This Chronoscope is a reminder that chronographs don’t have to cram everything onto the dial to maintain functionality. With a 40mm stainless steel case, the thin bezel seems to disappear off the edges, and the legibility is amazing. The Milanese bracelet really dresses up the watch and in this instance is a far better choice than a simple leather strap. The self-winding J880.2 powers the Max Bill Chronoscope, and to top it off you get an excellent Milanese steel bracelet for a price of US$2,238.
It would have been easy to include a Fifty Fathoms of some type on this list, but it’s nice to see the other side of Blancpain and their line of chronographs. The Blancpain Chronograph Flyback Grande Date 2885F-1130-53B is a bold choice with, as the name implies, a large date window at 6 o’clock. The Grande Date is also offered in a red gold variant, but we have selected the stainless steel for our purposes here. At 40mm, the case isn’t too big or flashy, and the rich black dial is nicely paired with the larger luminescent hands. This style of chronograph can pass for dressy given the leather strap and smooth bezel. Anything else, and it may have come off a little too sporty. The self-winding Caliber 69F8 runs the show and offers a 40-hour power reserve. Pricing is US$11,200.
While by no means an “end-all” list for your chronograph selection, this guide should give you an idea of the kinds of attributes that can help make this type of watch the perfect companion to your cocktail parties. Everything from size to strap material can alter the appearance of a chronograph, and it is important to keep in mind all of the different options you have to choose from. Hopefully, this list has sparked your interest in a style of watch that many write off as “too bulky” or “too busy” to be considered dressy. The slightest variation in dial marking or sub dial placement can make an enormous difference. With these things in mind, get started on your search and most of all, enjoy the journey. Feel free help expand the list with your suggestions in the comments below.