After our Top Ten countdown of the best Dive watches, the best GMT watches and the best Tourbillon watches of Baselworld 2018, it’s time to focus on one of the most important and popular categories: chronographs. This edition of the Basel Watch Fair proved, yet again, that the chronograph can be morphed into any style: elegant, sporty, modern, vintage, affordable, exclusive. So here is our eclectic selection of the Ten coolest chronographs introduced at Baselworld 2018.
Bell & Ross BR 03-94 R.S.18 – The Most Racing-Oriented
The new year means a new Formula 1 season, and that means new Renault F1-inspired watches for Bell & Ross. After the R.S.16 and the R.S.17 watches, it’s now time for the R.S.18 collection. And what’s better than a chronograph to celebrate racing… The new Bell & Ross BR 03-94 R.S.18 is again a bold, colourful watch, with various F1 design elements (carbon fibre dial, Renault F1 yellow accents, tachymeter scale) but the concept has been pushed a few steps further this year, with a new case and strap. Both are hollowed and carved to remove weight without altering the structure. In the same vein, the pushers mimic gearbox paddles. The watch featured below is the “accessible” version, but note the existence of a skeleton chronograph and of a tourbillon chronograph. Powerful and racy.
Quick facts: 42mm x 42mm – microblasted titanium – red anodised aluminium pushers – calibre BR-CAL.301, automatic chronograph (ETA-based) with date – black perforated rubber strap with titanium pin buckle – limited to 999 pieces – EUR 5,900 – more details on www.bellross.com.
Breguet Marine Chronograph – The Most Nautical
This watch deserves to be seen in the metal, as the press images do not do justice to this refreshed Breguet Marine collection. Existing in 3-hand or with an alarm function, the chronograph is the most striking version thanks to its deep blue or grey dial. It complements the newly designed case (available in titanium, and presented here in white gold), which has integrated lugs and combines several historical features (fluted caseback) to an overall modern appeal. Inside the case is a new version of the Lemania-based automatic chronograph found on Type XX, entirely redecorated and improved for the occasion. Again, a watch that deserves to be tested on the wrist.
Quick facts: 42.3mm diameter – titanium (grey dial), white gold (guilloché blue dial) or rose gold (guilloché silver dial) – calibre 582QA, automatic chronograph with flyback function and date – available with leather or rubber strap – USD 22,600 in titanium, USD 33,800 in gold – more details on www.breguet.com.
Chopard Mille Miglia 2018 Race Edition – The most Classic
2018 marks the 30th anniversary of the partnership between Chopard and the Italian race Mille Miglia – the legendary rally transformed into a classic car masterpiece. For the occasion, the brand presents a new version of its dedicated chronograph, with classic style and several references to the world of vintage cars: circular grained metallic dial with contrasting sub-dials, markers and tracks inspired by dashboard instruments, perforated leather strap with rubber lining (printed with a rubber-like pattern) and red stitchings. If the watch isn’t revolutionary, it is admittedly very attractive.
Quick facts: 42mm diameter – steel or steel and gold case – engine-turned anthracite dial – automatic chronograph movement (ETA with Dubois-Depraz module), COSC certified, with date – perforated leather strap with rubber lining – limited to 1,000 pieces in steel and 100 pieces in steel and gold – EUR 5,170 (steel) or EUR 7,350 (steel-and-gold) – more details on chopard.com.
Czapek Faubourg de Cracovie Chronograph – The Most “indie”
While most of the watches you’ll see in our Top Ten are from mainstream, well-established brands, one stands apart from the rest because it is produced by a small atelier: Czapek. For the first time since the re-introduction of the brand, a chronograph is offered in the collection – which already comprises the time/date/power reserve Quai des Bergues model and a tourbillon. Inside an elegant case and under a hand-guilloché dial (or white enamel) is a brand new movement manufactured by Vaucher – and it is quite a movement, with column-wheel, vertical clutch and 5Hz frequency. A beautiful, original yet elegant high-end chronograph.
Quick facts: 41.5mm diameter – XO stainless steel case – guilloché dial in blue or black or in white enamel – automatic, integrated, high-beat chronograph (by Vaucher) with date – leather strap or rubber strap – from CHF 24,000 – more details on czapek.com.
Glashütte Original Senator Chronograph Steel – The Most German
For 2018, Glashütte Original brings a new version of its already known (and very good) Senator Chronograph. Presented in steel with a black dial in 2017, it now comes in a reversed variant, with a white dial and a steel case, on which the brand has decided to apply blackened indices and hands – and they are all luminous. At 6 o’clock is the signature Panorama date window with two highly legible digits and inside the case is the in-house automatic Calibre 37-01, a modern, integrated, column-wheel movement with nice finishing. The German style, with a twist.
Quick facts: 42mm diameter x 14.6mm thick – stainless steel case – white dial white black accents – Calibre 37-01, automatic, integrated, column-wheel chronograph with large date and power reserve – leather/rubber/steel options for the strap – from EUR 13,200 – more details on www.glashuette-original.com.
Maurice Lacroix Aikon Automatic Chronograph – The Most Accessible
As we said in the intro, a chronograph can also be accessible… This year, Maurice Lacroix demonstrates that you can create a nicely designed watch, full of pleasant details, with an automatic chronograph and a luxury sports watch inspiration for an accessible price. Indeed, the new Aikon collection, which also comprises an automatic 3-hander, combines the look of some of the best watches around (think AP or GP) at a price of CHF 2,690… Not bad, don’t you think?
Quick facts: 44mm diameter x 15mm height – stainless steel case – available in silver, black or blue dial – automatic chronograph movement with day-date, based on Valjoux – available with leather strap or steel bracelet – from CHF 2,690 – more details on www.mauricelacroix.com.
Omega Speedmaster CK2998 Pulsometer – The Most Panda
What happens if you take a classic Speedmaster with straight lugs and add a Panda dial and a cool racing look? Well, you end up with the new and desirable Speedmaster CK2998 Pulsometer. Obviously, there’s nothing really new about this watch, with the exception of the dial and the pulsometer bezel in black ceramic and white enamel, but still, why should we complain? This new watch is totally cool, well-proportioned, slightly vintage and perfectly executed. We couldn’t ask for more.
Quick facts: 39.70mm diameter x 14mm height – stainless steel case – panda dial, pulsometer bezel in ceramic – calibre 1861, hand-wound with chronograph function – perforated leather strap with pin buckle – limited to 2,998 pieces – EUR 5,400 – more details on omegawatches.com.
Patek Philippe 5270P Salmon Dial – The Complex One
When it comes to the concept of the Perpetual Calendar Chronograph, the Patek Philippe team knows what it’s talking about – in fact, Patek created the first QP Chrono with its Ref. 1518. For Baselworld 2018, the latest version of the Ref. 5270 brings together a platinum case with a salmon dial (a killer combination), adorned with superb applied indices and numerals (look at the size of the indices at 3 and 9). No need to say that the movement is both complex and perfectly decorated. An exclusive and expensive watch… sadly.
Quick facts: 41mm diameter x 12.4mm thickness – 950 platinum case – in-house, hand-wound flyback chronograph with perpetual calendar – alligator leather strap with platinum folding buckle – EUR 168,340 – more details on www.patek.com.
Rolex Daytona 116595RBOW Rainbow – The Most Flamboyant
Let’s get straight to the point: the new Rolex Daytona 116595RBOW Rainbow, now in Everose gold, is miles away from the concept of low-key discretion. It shines, it has a multi-colour sapphire bezel, it has gold crystal sub-counters and diamonds on the lugs and crown protection. And still, even if it is flamboyant, the recipe is perfectly mastered and the execution is impeccable. The work done just to source the stones and the way they are integrated into the overall design is superb… The rest is up to everyone’s personal taste.
Quick facts: 40mm diameter – Everose gold case with 36 baguette-cut coloured sapphires on the bezel and 56 diamonds on the lugs – automatic, integrated, in-house self-winding calibre 4130 – Everose gold bracelet – CHF 92,400 – more details on rolex.com.
TAG Heuer Carrera “Tête de Vipère” Chronograph Tourbillon – The Snakiest
Yes, this watch is named “Tête de Vipère” (viper head in English) but this has nothing to do with marketing or the weird colour of the case – in blue ceramic. The “Tête de Vipère” is the hallmark of the Besançon Observatory, an official certification program – and this watch is chronometer-certified to the highest standards. The rest is familiar: the 45mm modular Carrera case, calibre Heuer 02T with tourbillon and integrated, automatic chronograph and the overall bold, modern design. The price is still quite impressive, at CHF 19,900 or EUR 18,550.
Quick facts: 45mm diameter – blue ceramic/steel case – automatic movement calibre Heuer-02T with hours, minutes, small seconds, chronograph and tourbillon – alligator/rubber strap on folding buckle – CHF 19,900 / EUR 18,550 – For more information, visit www.tagheuer.com.