Essentially a stopwatch or timer, chronograph watches might have been rendered quite irrelevant in today’s world now that smartphones have the ability to time events just as, if not more efficiently. Yet rich with a history that’s highly integral in early-day milestones in aviation, motorsport, and even space travel, they still remain to be incredibly sought-after timepieces today.
The timepiece is often characterised as having two independent time systems — with one telling the time while the other records short times simultaneously — and is usually sporty in nature, with pushers at the side that add a unique charm.
No watch collection is complete without a chronograph, and if you’re in the market for one, these are the best ones to start with in 2019.
Slated to replace the entire reference 5170 that was first launched in 2010, the 5172G is a larger 41mm white gold, manual-winding chronograph that takes on slightly different design cues. Vintage vibes are aplenty here; there are fancy stepped lugs with significantly-sized round chronograph buttons that work in tandem with the bright blue dial and its luminous Arabic numerals.
Inside, the same hand-wound caliber CH 29-535 PS that’s found in the 5170 powers this timepiece, and is interestingly paired with a calfskin strap instead of crocodile leather for easier everyday wearing.
Painstakingly redesigned to faithfully replicate the aesthetics of the original Navitimer in 1959, this new novelty sports a stainless steel case that’s the same dimensions, as well as an all-black dial that displays a plethora of information. Here, the timepiece is protected by a highly-domed Plexiglas, under which displays hand-applied Super-LumiNova numerals and markers that indicate the small seconds, 30-minute and 12-hour chronograph counters.
This re-edition is powered by the in-house Breitling Manufacturer Caliber B09, COSC-certified of course, for extreme accuracy and precision. The vintage allure of this watch is met with a black leather strap. Unsurprisingly, this watch is a limited edition of 1,959 pieces, each numbered and engraved on the caseback.
Designed in collaboration with tattoo artist Maxime Buchi and his studio Sang Bleu London, the timepiece marks the second time the brand has worked with the renowned visionary to rework the famous timepiece.
At first glance, the 200-limited edition watch is more an objet d’art than a timekeeping instrument, with a multi-faceted 45mm case that houses three separately rotating polygons that tell the time. This interpretive tattoo concept is then sealed in by a multi-faceted sapphire crystal, creating a dramatic play of shapes and light thanks to its refractive properties. Still, the watch boasts pretty impressive credentials as a functional tool; the movement features a flyback chronograph, which is partially viewable through the geometrical skeletonised bits around this stunning timepiece.
Sleek and as stealthy as a wristwatch can possibly get, the BR-X1 Phantom is a 45mm all-black timepiece that showcases the BR-CAL 313 movement in all its glory. Within its signature square case — this time constructed with black PVD titanium and matte black ceramic — are also metal appliqué Super-LumiNova-filled indices and metal skeleton hands.
A 30-minute chronograph subdial and skeletonised date display sit discreetly at nine and six o’clock respsectively, providing discreet functionality to the limited edition timepiece.
Launched as part of the brand’s massive aviation theme, the IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Spitfire now also comes in stainless steel following a bronze variation earlier this year. The 41mm chronograph exudes more of a toolish, industrial spirit this time, especially with a classic black dial that helps the rhodium-plated hands and white inscriptions stand out.
Inside, this pilot’s watch ditches the traditional ébauche movements from makers such as Sellita and Valjoux for the in-house calibre 69380, which also indicates the day and date. A soft-iron case protects the timepiece against magnetic fields — a feature often incorporated in pedigree aviation watches.