For some, money is no object. For most, this is far from the case, but still an enjoyable intellectual exercise of “what if”. So, what if you win the lottery, and after taking care of the dull administrative duties (mortgage, student loan, etc), you decide to treat yourself to a couple of nice watches and, in this hypothetical, these watches will be chronographs? Lucky for you, we’ve prepared a list just for this circumstance — the most exciting chronographs of 2018.
When it comes to the customisation of watches, George Bamford is considered the man with the Midas touch. He enjoys a market-leading reputation that has earnt him official collaborator status with brands such as TAG Heuer. His decidedly avant-garde take on the Monaco features an ultralight carbon-cased version of the classic Heuer. Inside is the iconic Calibre 11 self-winding movement, with Bamford’s trademarked blacked-out aesthetic and contrasting aquatic blue markers and subdials to seal the deal.
Ref No. CAW2190.FC6437, Case size 39mm, Case material Carbon, Movement Calibre 11, Price $10,600
The split-seconds chronograph is one of the most challenging (and accordingly, most expensive) complications to create in watchmaking. That was at least until Richard Habring – during his time at IWC – helped design a streamlined version that dropped the column wheel mechanism in favour of a cam. Habring2’s Doppel-Felix introduces an in-house and updated version of Richard Habring’s invention, and offers a very real value proposition in a timeless package.
Case size 42mm, Case material Steel, Movement A11R, Price $11,625
The El Primero is one of watchmaking’s legendary movements. Featured in countless models over the years, the purpose and structure of Zenith’s high-beat chronograph has remained mostly unchanged – until now, with an extra layer of complexity added in the Defy El Primero 21. Start the chronograph and the central seconds hand spins around in 100 minuscule steps, taking one second to complete a revolution, allowing the wearer to measure time to precisely 1/100th of a second.
Ref No.95.9002.9004/78.M9000, Case size 44mm, Case material Titanium, Movement El Primero 9004, Price $17,900
It’s no surprise that the worlds of watchmaking and Formula One overlap, with teams in each striving towards their own ultimate performance mechanical machines. This latest rendition of the BR-X1 draws its inspiration from the chassis of the single-seat race cars, with a lightweight and rigid case that’s engineered from perforated, microblasted titanium. And evoking the paddle shift gears of the high-speed racers are rocker-style pushers for the chronograph.
Ref No. BRX1-RS18, Case size 45mm, Case material Microblasted titanium, Movement BR-CAL.313, Price $33,500
Hublot do not make watches to blend into the background and this bright, bold model, which is making the watch world see red, pushes that ethos to new levels. It takes the quintessential Big Bang case and crafts it in a bright-red polished ceramic, a colour that is incredibly difficult to produce in the material. The watch is powered by Hublot’s manufacture flyback column wheel chronograph movement with a power reserve of 72 hours.
Ref No. 411.CF.8513.RX, Case size 45mm, Case material Red ceramic, Movement HUB1242, Price $33,800
F.P. JOURNE CHRONOGRAPHE MONOPOUSSOIR RATTRAPANTE
Living watchmaking legend F.P. Journe has followed up his unique monopusher split seconds chronograph for the “Only Watch 2017 Auction” with a trio of new additions to the LineSport collection. This solid red gold beauty houses the Calibre 1518 with bridges made of 18k gold, and a big date display. The pusher above the crown starts, stops, and resets the chronograph, while the pusher below controls the split seconds.
Case size 44mm, Case material Red gold, Movement Calibre 1518, Price 78,000 CHF
PATEK PHILIPPE AQUANAUT CHRONOGRAPH
In an effort to appeal to the next generation, Patek Philippe have introduced this bright new addition to the Aquanaut family. Orange hands and highlights now grace its gleefully globe-like and faded black/grey dial, while a colour-matched black or orange rubber strap secure it to the wrist. The biggest update comes in the form of two extra pushers, and a large 60-minute subdial at 6 o’clock.
Ref No. 5968A, Case size 42.2mm, Case material Steel, Movement CH 28-250 C, Price $56,900
Even though its tonneau-shaped case is crafted from a translucent sapphire crystal, there is practically no chance this Hublot will ever go unnoticed. If it isn’t the skeletonised movement catching your eye – an El Primero-based calibre that Hublot has dubbed the HUB4700 – then it’s got to be its gem-set white gold bezel demanding your attention with 54 baguette-cut sapphires, amethysts, rubies, topazes, and tsavorites, representing every colour of the rainbow.
Ref No. 641.JX.0120.RT.4099, Case size 42mm, Case material Sapphire, Movement HUB4700, Price $148,000
ROLEX COSMOGRAPH DAYTONA
You don’t need to look far to find the gold under this rainbow. The latest model to receive Rolex’s famous rainbow bezel treatment is the Everose Cosmograph Daytona. Gone is the tachymeter scale, replaced with 36 baguette-cut sapphires in graduating rainbow hues, while 11 additional baguette-cut sapphires serve as hour markers, and 56 brilliant-cut diamonds are set into the crown guards and lugs of the case. For a final touch, pink gold crystals make up shimmering chronograph registers.
Ref No. 116595RBOW, Case size 40mm, Case material Everose gold, Movement 4130, Price POA
A. LANGE & SÖHNE TRIPLE SPLIT
When it comes to chronographs, a split-seconds (also referred to as a rattrapante) is considered the ultimate triumph of mechanical achievements. That was at least until Glashütte brand A. Lange & Söhne released the Double Split in 2004, a chronograph that could split both the seconds and minutes. Going one better, their latest, the Triple Split, splits the chronograph seconds, minutes and hours, allowing for the timing of two concurrent events for up to 12 hours.
Ref No. 424.038, Case size 43.2mm, Case material White gold, Movement L132.1, Price POA
AUDEMARS PIGUET ROYAL OAK OFFSHORE TOURBILLON CHRONOGRAPH
When the Royal Oak was released in 1972 it was an edgy, disruptive timepiece; when it was reinvented as the Royal Oak Offshore in 1993, it again raised eyebrows. And now in 2018, Audemars Piguet have done it again, with this latest evolution. The case is still octagonal, but now the famous bezel screws sit underneath the sapphire, and as for that instantly recognisable tapisserie dial – it’s gone entirely, exposing the architectural bridges and the movement they hold.
Ref No. 26421ST.OO.A002CA.01, Case size 45mm, Case material Steel, Movement Calibre 2947, Price POA