Monochrome Watches
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Buying Guide

A Selection Of The Best Chronographs From Watches & Wonders

The mechanical chronograph remains a fan-favourite complication, and Watches & Wonders 2023 proved it once more.

| By Robin Nooy | 8 min read |

Just two weeks after the 2023 edition of Watches & Wonders, we’re still feeling the excitement (and exhaustion) of 9 lengthy days of watches. And this year proved to be a year with a big focus on chronographs, probably (one of) the most popular complications in the entire industry. We’ve seen clever innovation, world’s firsts and new adaptations of classical concepts from brands A through Z. So following our Top Ten selection from last week, this week’s Buying Guide focuses on watches that measure elapsed time in style, as we’ve listed the best chronographs from Watches & Wonders 2023.

Besides all the novelties presented in the Palexpo arena for Watches & Wonders, outside of the official fair we saw a number of very impressive mechanical chronograph watches too. Watches like the De Bethune DB Eight Chronograph Monopusher or the Petermann Bedat Reference 2941 Split-Seconds Chronograph might outshine some of the watches in this list, but weren’t presented by an official Watches & Wonders participant. We no doubt will come back to such watches in a future list, so don’t worry about missing out on them this time around! Without further ado, let’s get cracking with today’s Buying Guide!

Grand Seiko Tentagraph SLGC001

It’s hard to believe the new Tentagraph SLGC001 is Grand Seiko’s first-ever mechanical chronograph wristwatch, but it is. And in all honesty, despite being equipped with a modular movement, it’s a very good one! Yes, it might be a tad thick, but the fit and finish are as good as ever with Grand Seiko. The high-intensity titanium case houses a gorgeous blue Mt Iwate dial and a black ceramic bezel. Power comes from the new Calibre 9SC5, based on the high-frequency 9SA5 movement with GS’ Dual Impulse Escapement. Worn on a titanium bracelet, it retails for EUR 14,300.

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Grand Seiko Evolution 9 Tentagraph SLGC001 - First Mechanical Chronograph Grand Seiko review

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Quick Facts – 43.2mm x 15.3mm – high-intensity titanium case, brushed and Zaratsu polished – sapphire crystal – ceramic tachymeter bezel – sapphire caseback – Mt Iwate textured blue dial with tricompax layout – Calibre 9SC5, in-house – modular chronograph with 9SA5 base – 60 jewels – 36,000vph – 72h power reserve – hours, minutes, small seconds, chronograph with central seconds, 30-minutes and 12-hours, date – titanium bracelet with folding clasp – EUR 14,300

Rolex Daytona 126500LN

Rolex news is always highly anticipated, especially when there are anniversaries to be celebrated. Looking back at 60 years of history, the legendary Rolex Daytona has been given a thorough makeover, which we explained in detail here. It looks fresher, with slimmer subdial rings, a Cerachrom bezel with Oystersteel edge, etc. The case has been redesigned, and it comes with a new Calibre 4131 movement. It is still very much a Daytona, as the visual changes are incremental at best. It comes on the familiar 3-link Oystersteel bracelet and retails for EUR 14,950.

2023 Rolex Cosmograph Daytona 126500LN - Review

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Quick Facts – 40mm x 11.90mm – Oystersteel case, polished – sapphire crystal – solid caseback – Cerachrom bezel edged with polished Oystersteel – white lacquered dial – black ring for the subdials – 18k gold hour markers and hands with Chromalight inserts – Calibre 4131, in-house – automatic integrated chronograph – 28,800vph – 72h power reserve – 3-link Oystersteel bracelet with Oysterlock folding clasp – EUR 14,950

A. Lange & Söhne Odysseus Chronograph

We’ve said it last week, and we’ll say it again, as far as chronographs go the A. Lange & Söhne Odysseus Chronograph is one of the very best! It features the brand’s first automatic chronograph (and they know a thing or two about chronos!), which manages to incorporate chronograph seconds and minutes without interrupting the Odysseus’ dial layout. Instead of traditional subdials, they are both indicated by central hands, an original and clever solution. It also comes with a reset-to-zero pusher and the ability to adjust the day and date when the chronograph is running. No price is communicated, but expect something around 140k.

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Quick Facts – 42.5mm x 14.2mm – stainless steel case – pushers for chronograph & day/date adjustments – sapphire crystal front and back – black grained dial – lancet-shaped hour and minute hands – lozenge-shaped central chronograph minutes and seconds hand – outsize day/date windows – small seconds – Lange L156.1 Datomatic, in-house – 28,800vph – 50h power reserve – decorated and assembled by hand – stainless steel bracelet with deployant buckle and precision adjustment – boutique exclusive edition of 100 pieces – price upon request

Tag Heuer Carrera Chronograph Glassbox

Toning it down in terms of exclusivity and affordability, but not in style, is the very cool TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph Glassbox. This celebratory model, in honour of the 60th anniversary of the Carrera Chronograph, is a non-limited edition that captures the spirit of early models of the famous chronograph. At 39mm it’s sized very pleasant. The domed sapphire crystal reveals a dial with a curved tachymeter scale for a unique look. Two versions are available, one in deep blue and one in black with contrasting silvery-white subdials. Both are priced at EUR 6,500 including taxes.

2023 TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph Glassbox 39mm Collection 60th Anniversary

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Quick Facts – 39mm diameter – stainless steel case, polished – domed sapphire crystal – sapphire caseback – blue dial with matching blue subdials or black dial with silvery-white subdials – faceted hands and indices with Super-LumiNova – Calibre TH20-00, in-house – automatic integrated chronograph movement – 28,800vph – 80h power reserve – hours, minutes, small seconds, chronograph with hours, minutes and seconds, date – blue leather or black perforated leather star with folding buckle – EUR 6,500

Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel time chronograph 5924g

The Calatrava Pilot Travel Time Ref. 5524 caused quite a commotion when introduced in 2015, but by now the public has grown accustomed to its flair. New to the range of travel-ready watches is the 5924G, which combines the practicality of the Travel Time complication of that of a chronograph. The contemporary look is emphasized by blue or green dials, with matching straps. The display is quite busy but remains intuitive. The top subdial is for the date, with the bottom one indicating the chronograph minutes. A skeletonized hand points to the second timezone, accompanied by day/night apertures for local and home time. The finishing is of the highest levels, and the watch retails for EUR 72,870.

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Quick Facts – 42mm x 13.05mm – white gold case, polished – chronograph pushers at 2 and 4 o’clock – recessed pushers for home time and date adjustments – sapphire crystal front and back – sunburst-blue or lacquered khaki green dial – applied gold numerals and hands with luminescent coating – snailed subcounters – day/night apertures – Calibre CH 28-520 C FUS, in-house automatic – 28,800vph – 55h power reserve – flyback chronograph function – two time zones – Patek Philippe Seal – navy blue or khaki green leather strap with white gold pin buckle – EUR 72,870

Zenith Pilot Chronograph

For 2023, Zenith has introduced a completely new Pilot collection, celebrating its aviation history which dates back to 1888. Presented in boldly styled cases in black ceramic or stainless steel, the latter one comes with a fun little nod to the Zenith Rainbow Flyback from the mid-1990s. The black dial has horizontal grooves for an added sense of depth. At 42.5mm in size, it’s a fairly large watch. Power comes from the El Primero 3652 movement, which comes with flyback functionality and an instantaneous jumping big date. It comes with two interchangeable straps and retails for CHF 11,400 in steel. The ceramic one is CHF 13,400.

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Quick Facts – 42.5mm case – stainless steel case, brushed and polished – sapphire crystal front and back black opaline dial with horizontal groves and Super-LumiNova – rainbow ring around chronograph minute subdial – Calibre El Primero 3652, in-house – automatic integrated chronograph with instantaneous big date – 36,000vph – 60-hour power reserve – comes with two different interchangeable straps on folding buckle – CHF 11,400

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Chronograph

The new Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Chronograph was one of the “talk of the town” watches from this year’s Watches & Wonders. It pays tribute to the original Reverso Chronograph from 1996, a very important watch in the industry altogether. It housed the first post-quartz in-house produced manually wound integrated chronograph movement. This concept is now improved with the new Calibre 860, which also shows the time on the chronograph side of the reversible case. Retailing for EUR 24.200 in steel and EUR 42.400 in pink gold, it’s quite pricey though.

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Quick Facts – 49.4mm x 29.9mm x 11.14mm – stainless steel or 18k pink gold reversible case – 30m water-resistance – sunray brushed black or blue-grey dial with baton indices and hour and minute hands – openworked chronograph back dial with chronograph seconds and retrograde minutes, hours and minutes – Calibre 860, in-house – integrated hand-wound chronograph – 28,800vph – 52h power reserve – Casa Fagliano calfskin leather strap and canvas-calfskin strap – EUR 24,200 (steel) or EUR 42,400 (gold)

5 responses

  1. Hi all, I never understood, why a mechanical chronograph is not running on a five Hz beat rate or multiples thereof. I know Zenith is the big outlier, Blancpain as well, for sure there are others as well. No matter whether you are situated in the low four figure price range or even cracking six figures, I think it is a poor effort by the watch companies dong this. A mechanical watch should by definition strive to be accurate and prentending to be practical. If you cannot stop, in theory at least, the tenth of a second, because your movement runs on four or three Hz, for instance, then this is already a conceptual mistake, which I cannot ignore. There are many nice chronos, but I am bugged to the fullest by such a characteristic.

  2. Interesting that Zenith have an aviation history dating back to 1888, when the Wright brothers 1st flight was 17th December 1903.
    Time travel?
    Nice watch though.

  3. Who says Aviation started with the first flight of the Wright brothers?

  4. @Karolis – The Streamliner is definitely a great chronograph (we love it) but Moser was not part of Watches and Wonders, explaining what it’s not in the selection.

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