The end of the year is near, so it’s time for the MONOCHROME team to sit down and look back at everything that happened in 2022… And there was a lot, with so many new watches launched, in all categories and in all price ranges. Today, we kick off a series of buying guides representing our selection of what we think are the best watches in their own category, starting with one of our all-time favourite functions, and probably one that so many watch enthusiasts appreciate; the chronograph. From accessible to high-end, classic to innovative, vintage or ultra-modern… Here are the best chronograph watches of 2022 according to the MONO’ team.
With far more than 100 new models in the chronograph category listed on our website, it is a difficult task to list 5 or 6 models… We could have included the Grönefeld Grönograaf, the Tissot PRX Chronograph, the revamped Zenith Chronomaster Open, the handsome Vacheron Constantin Salmon QP or the new Habring² Doppel38… We had to make some concessions, and here are our favourite chronograph watches of 2022. As always, feel free to share with us in the comment section what you think were the best chronographs of this year.
Blancpain Air Command 36mm
When Blancpain released the original Air Command Flyback Chronograph in 2019, it truly amazed us. The military/pilot look, the movement, the whole elusive story behind the watch that made it cool… A stunning watch, with one major problem; a 42.5mm diameter and long lugs, making it large on the wrist. Things went a bit better with the launch of the titanium model last year, but still… Dimensions were the same. But now, there’s something very appealing, a 36mm edition of the Blancpain Air Command. I know, many will say that such a diameter is too small, but once you try this new compact edition of the pilot’s chronograph, the charm acts immediately. It isn’t small, it’s just back to reasonable dimensions. Except for the size, not much has changed visually, this new edition being a downsized version, yet with a different movement inside. If there was one complaint to express, that would be the price. Indeed, the Blancpain Air Command 36mm isn’t what you can call an accessible watch.
Quick facts: 36.2mm x 11.50mm – grade 23 titanium case (gold also available) – bi-directional blue ceramic bezel – Blue sunray-brushed dial – Calibre F188B, in-house – integrated automatic column-wheel flyback chronograph – blue calf leather strap – EUR 17,500 in titanium
Hamilton Khaki Pilot Pioneer Mechanical Chronograph
Once an American company, Hamilton has an immense heritage in the field of military watches… The Hacked watches, the W10 models for the RAF, the Model 23 made for the U.S. Air Force, and the list goes on. Another important watch for the company was the 1970s RAF Chronograph known as the Fab Four. And this year, the now-Swatch-owned brand has decided to reissue it in a faithful yet accessible way. This watch, dubbed the Khaki Pilot Pioneer Mechanical Chronograph, is all about reviving the cool RAF asymmetrical chronograph, with a proper instrumental look and a no-nonsense feeling. Very close in style and size to the Fab Four, its steel case is 40mm, the dial is matte black and full of charm and inside is a movement that isn’t that close from the original one, being an evolution of the Valjoux 7753 with silicon hairspring and elongated power reserve. A sub-2K pleasure that will speak to military watch lovers.
Quick facts: 40mm x 14.35mm – steel case, box-shaped sapphire crystal – black grained dial – calibre H-51-Si – hand-wound cam-lever chronograph based on the 7753 – brown leather strap – EUR 1,995
Jacob & Co Jean Bugatti Tourbillon Chronograph
We now move to the complete opposite side of the range, with one of the most innovative and impressive chronographs of the year, the Jacob & Co Jean Bugatti. Released in the frame of a partnership announced in 2019, this watch marks a new step in the style of the brand. Known for its flamboyant designs, the brand also has the capacity to bring to life some of the most disruptive and impressive developments in the industry. The Jean Bugatti is no exception to the rule, with an insane movement housed in a relatively restrained case (for the brand, at least). Fitted with a double tourbillon regulation, the important part here is the chronograph function, with central retrograde indications and digital minutes, with the time relegated to the periphery. It also relies on two different, dissociated timekeeping bases: one for the chronograph, one for the time indication. Too complex to be explained here, we invite you to read this in-depth article here or to check our video here.
Quick facts: 46mm – 18k white or rose gold case – 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
Being the winner of the Grand Prix at the GPHG 2022, it’s impossible not to feature this watch in our list… And for many other reasons, the MB&F Legacy Sequential EVO is an absolutely stunning watch. It’s MB&F’s first-ever chronograph, and the indie watchmaker is entering the scene with a mind-blowing watch. Behind this watch is Stephen McDonnell, the man responsible for the LM Perpetual, with an entirely redefined mechanism for the chronograph. 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, Simultaneous mode, Cumulative mode or Sequential mode – all explained in our in-depth story here. It all comes down to McDonnell’s invention, the so-called Twinverter, and a movement with tons of technicalities to discover. Best of all, it comes in the brand’s EVO Zirconium case, with 80m water-resistance and integrated rubber strap.
Quick facts: 44mm – zirconium case – skeleton dial with black or orange plate – in-house movement conceived by Stephen McDonnell for MB&F, hand-wound integrated dual chronograph with two column wheels and Twinverter switch – rubber strap – CHF 160,000
Omega Speedmaster 57
The Speedmaster is not only one watch. There’s more than the Moonwatch to be discovered. Surely, the classic Professional model has much appeal, but so does the new Speedmaster 57. Smaller, thinner, now hand-wound and with great vintage appeal, Omega has drastically revamped this sub-collection to create a truly attractive watch. At now 40.5mm in diameter, the watch is a direct tribute to the very first Speedmaster, with its straight lugs and brushed steel bezel. Sharper in style too. The dial, on the contrary, feels more modern with its well-chosen colours (the blue model here really works), its bi-compax layout and a date. A more daily-oriented watch, it is now powered by a hand-wound in-house Master Chronometer movement, the Calibre 9906 – meaning a column-wheel and vertical clutch chronograph system, a double-barrel layout used to provide stable torque with 60h power reserve, and a 4Hz frequency to give a precise indication of the elapsed seconds.
Quick facts: 40.5mm x 12.99mm – steel case, fixed steel bezel – dark blue, burgundy and dark green sunray brushed dial or black sandwich dial – Omega calibre 9906, in-house – Master Chronometer certified – hand-wound chronograph with column wheel and vertical clutch – Flat-Link steel bracelet with folding clasp and comfort release – EUR 9,100 on steel bracelet
Patek Philippe 5270P Green Lacquered
While the Patek Philippe reference 5270 isn’t per se a new watch, the brand has decided this year to revamp most of the dial elements, resulting in this rather surprising but extremely attractive platinum and green model. First of all, the 5270 is one of the most classic and important watches in the collection, the direct descendant of the reference 1518, the first perpetual calendar chronograph ever. Second, it has become even more appealing this year with a new, much cleaner dial layout, and a new colour scheme. Contrasting with the cold tone of the platinum case is a bold, colourful and very distinctive new green dial, with a glossy lacquered colour, a black-gradient effect on the periphery and highly contrasting pure white tracks and printings. The result is certainly not the most discreet and the most traditional, but it is a watch to create emotions. Inside, no changes, as we find back the high-end in-house calibre CH 29‑535 PS Q. Availability and price remain quite questionable, though.
Quick facts: 41mm x 12.4mm – 950 platinum case – Lacquered green dial, black-gradient effect – Calibre CH 29‑535 PS Q – in-house, Patek seal – hand-wound chronograph, column wheel and horizontal clutch, perpetual calendar module on top – Alligator leather strap shiny black – EUR 189,500