Use it to record your laps and to avoid parking over the time limit, or simply play with the mesmerising seconds hand. Chronographs, I have long argued, are one of the most useful complications out there – second probably to the calendar. And they are also sold at accessible price points, making them a great addition to your collection when you venture out of simple three-hand watches. Here are four of my favourite in the market under US$8,000.
IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph
A refresh of the 80-year-old IWC Pilot’s Watch line this year simplifies the aesthetics of this classic, bringing it closer to the intention of the original: great legibility regardless of lighting conditions. So, gone are the fussy triple date display and small 5-minute numbers in the outer chapter ring. What I really like about this watch is that it also comes with a day/date display and a soft-iron inner case for resistance against magnetic fields.
Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M Omega Co-Axial Master Chronometer Chronograph 45.5mm
The features list of this Omega piece is as long as its name is a mouthful, which renders it great value. First, the 600M refers to its water resistance rating; to stop the case from imploding, Omega uses a helium escape valve to equalise large underwater pressures. And the movement ticks all the enthusiast boxes: column wheel mechanism, co-axial escapement and silicon balance spring. Best of all, it is also comes with the company’s famous 15,000 gauss anti-magnetic protection, METAS chronometer certification and a standard four-year warranty.
TAG Heuer Monaco Calibre 11 Automatic Chronograph
This venerable Swiss watchmaker recently decided to refocus on more affordable pieces. Take this classic Monaco, a faithful rendition of the “Steve McQueen” model of 1969. It is priced at half the cost of the previous limited-edition reissue, which is great if you’re in the market for a TAG Heuer now. This piece comes with lots of authentic details, like a vintage Heuer logo and a perforated calfskin strap. Plus, that distinctive square shape will certainly draw an admiring second look from others.
Zenith Elite Chronograph Classic
If it’s the vintage look you’re after, you’re in the correct place. The lightly domed blue sunray-patterned dial is right out of the 1960s, but the 42mm case size makes this suitable for the gentleman of today. Inside the watch ticks the legendary El Primero movement, famous for its high 36,000 beat rate; it has powered some of the most revered watches throughout its decades-long history. Another consideration: this slim and elegant Zenith is one of the few chronographs in the market suitable that won’t look out of place as a dress watch.
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