This isn’t exactly breaking news, but chronographs have become more and more popular with each passing year. Depending on which retailer you ask, you might even hear that they’re outselling simpler time-only or time-and-date watches in some cases. The catch here is that finding an excellent chronograph on a more restrained budget can be challenging, as in-house chronograph movements are rare and often even ébauche-based chronographs are experiencing price creep. But, fear not, there are plenty of good options out there, and our editors have rounded up five that they think offer great value for money, compelling styling, and something to set them apart from the competition.
Cara Barrett – Montblanc 1858 Automatic Chronograph
One chronograph that slipped through the cracks this year was the Montblanc 1858 Automatic Chronograph. The 1858 Automatic chronograph has a 42mm stainless steel case with round pushers and a dramatic black dial. The Arabic numerals are reminiscent of decades past and really add to the vintage flavor of this watch. The movement is the Sellita SW500, which is a reliable movement that is a good choice at this price point. It’s attractive, well-made, and reliable, which is all you can really ask for in a chronograph. If you are feeling really fancy, you can splurge on the bronze version with a champagne dial for a few hundred dollars more.
From $4,300; montblanc.com
Jon Bues – Omega Speedmaster CK 2998 Pulsometer
Any list such as this one that doesn’t take a good hard look at current year Omega Speedmasters is, in my opinion, incomplete. Sure, this watch isn’t totally brand new – it’s the 2018 version of a popular series of vintage inspired limited-edition Speedies, this time with a pulsometer – but it does manage to channel and champion the purity and instrumentality that have long made the Omega Speedmaster a favorite of watch lovers. Not only could the CK 2998 Pulsometer be your only chronograph, it could also be your only watch, and you’d be doing just fine. It’s a beautiful object tied to a wonderful and important chronograph lineage, and it’s well under our $10,000 limit.
Jack Forster – Habring² Doppel-Felix Split-Seconds Chronograph
It’s hard to argue with the Omega Speedmaster Professional as a perennial favorite for best chrono under $10,000 although it is – and this is a good thing – a field that currently has quite a few exciting possibilities, including the new Tudor Black Bay Chronograph, a number of pieces from Sinn, and many others. However, one of my personal favorites right now is the Habring2 Doppel-Felix Split-Seconds, which has an in-house rattrapante movement (based on the 7750 in broad outline, but drastically unlike anything you can get stock from ETA) and a really wonderful design that represents, I think, a lovely new direction for Habring. The great cosmetics aside, the movement is a real star here – beautifully designed and executed, and at this price, with no real competition.
€7,750 (no date) and €8,250 (with date); habring2.com
James Stacey – Sinn 103 SA BE LE
While I’m really not a chronograph guy, in considering recently released options I really liked Sinn’s Limited Edition 103 Sa B E. With a bright sunburst blue dial, lightly tanned lume, and a rich blue aluminum bezel, this 41mm chronograph looks great, especially on a creamy leather strap. The watch is limited to 500 units, and the 7750 ticking within is certainly not fancy, but the 103 Sa BE is a Sinn, so that conventional movement is put to work in a handsome and tough-as-nails watch that is entirely ready for everyday wear.
Stephen Pulvirent – Breitling Navitimer 8 B01
Breitling is a brand that tends to elicit strong reactions from collectors. I have to admit, I haven’t been the biggest fan of much of the brand’s catalog over the last few years, but the Navitimer 8 B01 is a beacon of hope that we might be seeing something a little different under new leadership. The watch starts with Breitling’s most famous chronograph as its foundation, but what we end up with in the end is a totally modern sports watch with an in-house movement and an appropriate dose of vintage style. The Navitimer 8 B01 doesn’t go overboard with the heritage, instead keeping things simple and relying on the bold-yet-easy-going looks to catch your attention. This is a no-BS chrono with some real pedigree.
From $7,600; breitling.com