In the first of a two-part seasonal buying guide, we pick out six chronographs to suit all tastes and wallets.
By Chris Hall
Panerai Luminor 1950 PAM00653
To give it its full name, this is the Panerai Luminor 1950 PCYC 3 Days Chronograph Flyback Automatic – so we’d forgive you for sticking to PAM 653. PCYC stands for Panerai Classic Yacht Club; this is a regatta chronograph for old-school sailing enthusiats, hence the classic looks of the sepia-toned dial. The pushers are on the left hand side of the case to make it easier for right-handers to operate. £10,400 – click here to buy.
Tudor Heritage Black Bay Chrono
One of the big launches at Baselworld this year was Tudor’s adaptation of the incredibly successful Black Bay into a chronograph. It keeps the snowflake hands and oversized lume pots of the standard Black Bay, but adds a steel bezel and screw-down pushers that are straight off a 1990s Rolex Daytona (in a good way, naturally). The movement has been sourced from Breitling – a smart move on Tudor’s part, ensuring top quality without pushing prices up too much. £3,390 – click here to buy.
Longines Heritage Chronograph
Longines’ Heritage collection is absolutely stuffed with watches that look good and don’t cost the earth; it’s a miracle more people don’t know about them. This chronograph is a prime example: unspoilt by a date window the dial is perfectly symmetrical and at 40mm it is the perfect size. £2,220 – click here to buy.
Bell & Ross “Bellytanker”
In the 1950s, enterprising petrolheads used the fuselages of fallen WWII planes as the bodywork for rudimentary salt-flat racecars – and called them Bellytankers. Bell & Ross has given the name to its latest retro-themed chronograph and while yes, it sounds a little silly, there’s nothing silly about the watch. In fact, it is one of the most attractive models to come from the Paris-based brand in recent years. £3,400 – click here to buy.
If you’re looking for a gold chronograph that’s still got plenty of tool watch credibility, the Breitling Chronoliner is a strong option. It combines an automatic chronograph (although it’s not Breitling’s in-house calibre B01) with a GMT hand for tracking a second timezone. The scratch-proof ceramic bezel can be used to keep time in a third timezone as well – just rotate it to line up with the main hour hand. £25,130 – click here to buy.
TAG Heuer Autavia
The Autavia has been grabbing headlines ever since it was announced a full year before being properly launched – but this is the version you really want. Released to mark Heuer chairman and watch industry legend Jack Heuer’s 85 birthday, it gains a panda dial with brushed silver background, swaps the 12-hour bezel for one that’s graded in increments of five minutes, and comes on a finer link bracelet. £4,200 – click here to buy.