The idea of this article came to life after our first encounter with the new MB&F Legacy Sequential EVO a few weeks ago. Looking at this ultra-complex, yet impressively intuitive and pragmatic chronograph – that was officially launched today – made us look back at the new chronograph watches in 2022. And this is how we discovered that, indeed, there are some rather impressive models lurking in stopwatch territory. A classic chronograph is designed to time an event; these chronographs, however, do far more than that. They either improve the technical characteristics drastically or have entirely new ways of displaying elapsed times – or everything at once! Yes, the chronograph is still one of the top complications, and it’s here to stay!
Basically, a chronograph is a watch equipped with an additional feature that can measure elapsed times. A stopwatch, if you prefer. The duration of an event can be timed, on demand, with extra hands placed on the dial, which can be started, stopped and returned to zero. Most chronographs can time events from about 1/4th of a second to 12 hours (of course, with exceptions such as hi-frequency chronographs and watches that can measure longer durations). Fundamentally, chronographs do one thing: they measure the duration of an event or the duration between two events.
There are, however, many additional mechanical features that can be added to a chronograph. Think flyback or “retour en vol” function, rattrapante or split-seconds, and then anything that a talented watchmaker can dream up… And this year, we’ve been gifted with some pretty impressive new chronograph models that go way beyond the traditional measurement of a single event. Trust us, all of these watches have what it takes to win the Chronograph Award at the 2022 GPHG (and, for some, even the Mechanical Exception Prize).
Czapek Antarctique Rattrapante Ice Blue
In all fairness, this is just a split-seconds chronograph – yes, I’ve just said this – but what matters about the Czapek Antarctique Rattrapante isn’t so much the complication but the way the movement has been constructed. The rattrapante is often considered the ultimate chronograph for watch enthusiasts, having the utmost mechanical refinement and superior functionality. And when you know a bit about the construction of a split-seconds chronograph in a traditional way, you’d certainly want this movement to be visible all the time. And this is exactly what Czapek has done with its Antarctique Rattrapante, featuring a fully inverted movement where the whole chronograph and split-seconds mechanisms are positioned dial side. The result is impressive, technical, and modernly executed yet still using a traditional construction with two column wheels, numerous levers and springs, a horizontal clutch and a pair of clamps to actuate the rattrapante function. And to make it even better, it’s a monopusher.
Best of all, this superb calibre SXH6, conceived together with Chronode, is automatic and housed in a highly versatile sports watch that can be used on a daily basis, and even for leisure activities with its 120m water-resistance. Undoubtedly, the view through the caseback is a bit plain and simple, but when the dial side looks this complex, it really doesn’t matter anymore.
Quick facts: 42.5mm stainless steel case – sapphire crystals – 120m water-resistant – proprietary calibre SXH6 (made in partnership with Chronode), automatic, 28,800 variations/hour, 60-hour power reserve, split-seconds monopusher chronograph – stainless steel bracelet – limited edition of 99 pieces in Ice Blue – CHF 50,000
Jacob & Co. Jean Bugatti Tourbillon Chronograph
Jacob & Co. is known for making polarising watches (to say the least). But behind the madness of the designs, there are proper watchmaking credentials and often highly complicated movements that genuinely deserve attention. Jacob’s latest creation, the Jean Bugatti Tourbillon Chronograph, belongs to the more classical side of the brand, at least visually speaking. Mechanically, it’s another story. It’s not even about the double-tourbillon regulation; it’s more about the chronograph and the way it displays elapsed times. It is radically different from anything we’ve seen so far. Gone are the traditional small registers. Here, the chronograph indications take centre stage, with a pair of retrograde hands at the dial’s centre showing the tens and units, respectively. The elapsed minutes are displayed digitally on a jumping disc via an aperture between the two tourbillons. In relation to this unique central, double retrograde chronograph display, the indication of the time is relegated to the periphery.
Behind this complex display is a stunning movement with two different, dissociated timekeeping bases: one for the chronograph and one for the time indication. The first one, dedicated to the chronograph, is paced by a high-frequency 5-hertz balance wheel and driven by its own dedicated barrel. The second one drives the peripheral time indications and is regulated by the two tourbillons. Power is provided by three barrels. The chronograph is a completely independent mechanism; the stop function consists in blocking the balance wheel driving the chronograph. Overall, it comprises no fewer than 470 components, including 92 jewels. And the view through the caseback is mesmerising…
Quick facts: 46mm 18k white or rose gold case – sapphire crystals – 30m water-resistant – calibre Jacob & Co. JCFM09, hand-wound, two 3Hz tourbillons, 5Hz regulator for the chronograph, 48h power reserve, high-frequency chronograph with central double retrograde seconds and jumping digital minutes indications – leather strap – limited editions of 57 pieces per colourway – USD 250,000
MB&F Legacy Sequential EVO Chronograph
Meet MB&F’s first-ever chronograph. Despite having been on the scene for more than 15 years and having created 20 different movements to date, it’s only now that the brand has launched a chronograph. And, of course, it had to be different. Behind this watch is Stephen McDonnell, the man responsible for the LM Perpetual, with an entirely redefined mechanism for the perpetual calendar. Using the same approach for the chronograph, McDonnell’s first task was to imagine what such a timing device could perform. The result is this Legacy Sequential EVO: one movement, two chronographs, and multiple timing modes, including split-seconds and lap timer. With no fewer than five pushers, it can be used in many ways. Independent mode, measuring the duration of multiple events with separate starting points and endpoints. Simultaneous mode, measuring the individual durations of two events that start simultaneously, but have different endpoints. Cumulative mode, measuring the individual cumulative durations of two discontinuous events (example, a chess match). Sequential mode, measuring the individual sub-durations of a single continuous multi-phase event.
Behind this complexity is a magic trick provided by the fifth pusher at 9 o’clock and the Twinverter device. Powering this watch is an in-house, co-developed movement that is once again stunningly designed and decorated. And to make this watch even more versatile, it’s housed in the brand’s EVO Zirconium case, with 80m water-resistance, integrated rubber strap and shockproof device.
Quick facts: 44mm zirconium case – sapphire crystals – 80m water-resistant – in-house movement conceived by Stephen McDonnell for MB&F, hand-wound, 3Hz frequency, 72h power reserve, integrated dual chronograph with two column wheels and Twinverter switch allowing multiple timing modes -integrated rubber strap – CHF 160,000
Patek Philippe 5470P 1/10th Second Monopusher Chronograph
Chronographs are something of a tradition at Patek Philippe, especially when combined with a perpetual calendar or a split-seconds function (or both). The brand has been active in this field for decades yet only unveiled its in-house integrated chronograph movement in the late 2000s. Since then, the brand has demonstrated impressive technical mastery in a rather discreet way. Case in point, the new 5470P 1/10th Second Monopusher Chronograph. At first, it looks pretty simple. But it comes with no fewer than 31 patents, seven of which are exclusive to this watch… Although the architecture of this movement is traditional – manually wound, column-wheel control, horizontal wheel clutch – it has been extensively reworked to increase the frequency to 5Hz, and uses two independent chronograph mechanisms: one for the seconds and the instantaneous 30-minute counter, the other exclusively for measuring and displaying stopped tenths of a second. The silver hand that performs a complete revolution per minute shows the stopped seconds. The other hand, lacquered in red, performs one revolution per 12 seconds, five times faster than an ordinary chronograph hand and sweeps across 12 sectors subdivided into tenths. And the rest of the movement is packed with innovative solutions and materials to increase the power reserve, enhance durability and optimise accuracy…
And then there’s the look of this watch, which is resolutely modern compared to what we’re used to seeing at Patek. The platinum case is based on the split-seconds 5370P, and the matte blue dial combines applied Breguet numerals with luminous hands and red accents.
Quick facts: 41mm platinum case – sapphire crystals – 30m water-resistant – calibre CH 29-535 PS 1/10 in-house, hand-wound, 5hz frequency, 48h power reserve, monopusher integrated chronograph with column-wheel control, horizontal dual-clutch and module for tenths-of-a-second measurements – calfskin strap with embossed fabric pattern – CHF 380,000