Following our previous guides about the best sports watches, the best dress watches and the best ultra-complicated watches of 2016, it’s time for us now to look at one of the main watch categories of them all, and I mean by that the chronographs. Chronographs are amongst the most sold timepieces, they are amongst the most sought-after in auctions and two of them are certainly the most iconic watches of all times. The best chronograph watches of 2016 is not a subject we should treat lightly at all. And here are the 5 watches that resulted from long debates at the Monochrome redaction.
Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Ceramic 116500LN
We know, having the Rolex Daytona Ceramic 116500LN to start this article was totally expected. But still, we simply couldn’t do without. This watch is not just a hit, it’s a commercial blast. The day Rolex introduced it, waiting lists were already growing at retailers. Few days later, collectors that were to slow to pre-order on day-one knew that it would be almost impossible to get hands on this watch in a decent timing. Now, the watch sells for 50% more than its retail price on the grey market. If this is not a sign of success, I must change job. The most surprising is that, apart from the Cerachrom bezel and a slightly reworked dial, this new version is the same good-old Daytona as introduced in 2000. But it has to be said, that Cerachrom bezel changes it all. Proportions, perception, quality are somehow redefined and the cocktail is better than ever before – at least, better than all the editions launched after 1989. Overall, the black bezel enhanced this unique combination of luxury, sportiness, robustness that has always been the key of the Daytona’s success. And it also brings something rare at Rolex, a tiny bit of vintage flair. Rolex calls it “The Ultimate Chronograph“. For once, I think it’s not being presumptuous. Price: 11.350 Euros. rolex.com.
Omega Speedmaster CK2998 Limited Edition
Earlier this year, I made an article about this Omega Speedmaster CK2998 with all paragraphs starting with “it’s cool because…” and it is clear that this watch is über-cool for many reasons. First, it is a Speedmaster, which makes it beyond cool alone. Imagine, this was the name of the watch worn on the Moon… Priceless (and perfect to show of a bit). Then, even if this is far from being historically relevant, it has a Panda dial, with contrasting sub-counters and second track. While this was more a feature of another iconic watch, we must say that it gives the Speedy a fantastic look (and that blue is really great). Then, it comes with many historical features, such as the Alpha hands, the lollipop second tip, the straight case that measures only 39.7mm and finally, it features the good-old manual calibre 861. Of course, some will legitimately wonder why this edition is named “CK2998”, as there is no proper resemblance with the original CK2998 (have you ever seen a Panda blue example. Not me), but still, no matter their opinion, this Limited Edition is highly desirable. Price: 5,400 Euros. omegawatches.com.
Seiko Presage 60th Anniversary Chronograph
Consider this: an in-house, automatic, integrated chronograph with column-wheel and vertical clutch, manufactured by one of the top brands in the world, with a hand-made enamel or lacquer dial? What are you willing to pay for that? 20,000 Euros, 35,000 Euros… Well, consider that same concept but not coming from Switzerland but from Japan. The result: a great (really great) chronograph with superb dials priced under 3,000 Euros. Magical? No, Seiko. This watch is the Seiko Presage 60th Anniversary Chronograph and it has been instant love for many collectors and watch journalist since day-one. The movement is great, the dials are exquisite (white enamel or black Urushi lacquer) and the overall look is faithful to the early days of the manufacture. Overall, this watch is certainly one of the best value-for-money propositions of 2016, and while it is limited to twice 1,000 Pieces (which must be closed to sold-out already), if you achieve to find one, do not hesitate one second, run! Price: 2,500 Euros (white enamel) or 2,800 Euros (Black Urushi lacquer). seikowatches.com.
Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph 5500V
In our selection of the best sports watches, we’ve already mentioned the 2016 Vacheron Constantin Overseas, in its automatic version. Well, it’s with great pleasure that we list again this collection of watches, now with the chronograph version. Just like with the 4500V Automatic, the chronograph 5500V has everything right. For the renewal of its sports luxury watch, Vacheron stroke hard. The design is simply much better than before – modern, elegant and robust at the same time. The finishing of the case is superb and the finishing of the metallic bracelet is out of this world. When you know the watches this VC has to compete with, it’s the minimum. However, the 2016 Overseas has its own personality, while being faithful to the lineage created by the brand in 1976 with the 222. Inside the case ticks a fine engine, an in-house automatic chronograph movement, certified by the Poinçon de Genève. Great finishing, great decoration, great functionality and great accuracy guaranteed. It comes in 3 color: grey, blue and brown. The final touch is the interchangeable bracelet system, which allows to swap from metal to leather or rubber in just 1 minute. Versatile as a sports luxury watch should be. Price: 31,100 Euros. vacheron-constantin.com.
Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Chronor
Last but not least, we end this election with a movement… Well, a watch it is for sure, but as nice as the Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Chronor can be, it’s mainly for its incredible movement that we selected it. This calibre PF361 needs superlative words to be explained and it wins all the votes. Listen.. What you look at is an integrated, in-house, split-seconds chronograph movement made almost entirely in solid gold (plates and bridges at least), finished in the best possible way and designed to be just superb to contemplate. If there was one watch that would require to be worn up-side-down this year, it should be this one. Technically, the movement of the Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Chronor is a beast. Finishing-wise, it’s a masterpiece: countless internal angles done by hand, shiny anglages, hand-engraving, decoration of all the parts, superb structure of the bridges and a technical disposition that has been thought not only to be efficient but also to be contemplated. Still, we should not forget that around this calibre is a watch, and clearly not the worst of them all, as you see in details here. Price: 128,600 Euros. parmigiani.ch.