Unlike other complications, the chronograph smacks of adventure and the great outdoors. From stadium gods to explorers, it’s on every hero’s wrist. The chrono is heir to investigations into how to track time with increasing precision, from the earliest pocket chronographs circa 1880 to wristwatches whose popularity soared between the wars, thanks to the golden age of the automobile (hence the distinctly retro style of current ranges). The advent of the automatic chronograph in 1969 sealed the deal. The chronograph is now a universal complication, a horological heartthrob and the star of our summer days and nights.
To wear a watch branded with multiple subdials, big, bold pushers on the side, and a seconds hand to keep up the suspense is like crossing the boundary between the mundane nine-to-five and a world of thrilling exploits accomplished at breakneck speed. More to the point, it gives the impression we can master the unmasterable, as only the chronograph is able to start, stop and reset time. Whether it’s the race for the deckchairs, seeing who is fastest to the buoy and back, or simply to bask in a winner’s aura, it’s all good. And should your idea of the perfect summer be eight hours under a parasol, rest assured a chronograph can also be worn without breaking into a sweat. The most important thing is to choose a model that matches your style, your vacation and, for the more active among us, your training programme. Just for the record, posting photos on Instagram doesn’t count as sport.
This is the watch Roger Moore would have worn as the unforgettable face of Lord Brett Sinclair in The Persuaders!. The Chronoris saw daylight in the 1970s, around the same time as the series with its kitsch fashions, butch camaraderie and heroes who remain unruffled in the face of danger. Reissued by Oris this year, its vintage design takes shape inside a 39-mm stainless steel case with grey, black, orange or white accents on the dial. A combination of colours that guarantees its wearer irresistible sporting style.
This hybrid design takes its cue from the first Tudor chrono and a diver’s watch. The COSC-certified Heritage Black Bay Chrono surfs the vintage wave with its display of snowflake hands – a Tudor signature since 1969 – domed, mat black dial, and a 41-mm steel case with pushers borrowed from the first generation of Tudor chronographs. We’re spotting a theme here…
On your marks…
A common feature of the chronograph is a scale on the bezel or dial, graduated for the measuring of a specific phenomenon. The Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona is a case in point. Its bezel is engraved with a tachymeter scale for measuring average speeds of up to 400 miles (or kilometres) per hour. This new version of a 1963 release has the benefit of Superlative Chronometer certification which Rolex revised in 2015 as a guarantee of top-notch performance on the wrist. And should you be wondering what to fill your glass with at a chic summer cocktail party, the champagne-coloured dial will give you a clue…
Shades of summer
To yacht or not to yacht? Omega answers the question with the Seamaster Aqua Terra Master Chronometer, whose ocean-blue dial is striped like the teak deck of a luxury sailing boat. Wave patterns continue on the back while the 38-mm case hugs the wrist. One of the most stylish ways to sail into summer…
On the road (again)
Here’s a chrono that reeks of petrol, tarmac and adrenaline. The TAG Heuer Autavia is the epitome of a live-fast world where, at any second, anything can happen. Its neo-retro design is a reminder of its illustrious ancestor: the legendary 1960s racing driver’s chronograph. Black dial, white registers and a 42-mm diameter are under starter’s orders, ready to hit the road in style.
On track with time
Introducing a travel companion for modern-day globetrotters. The TimeWalker Chronograph UTC from Montblanc pairs a chronograph with a dual-time function for keeping track of time both home and away. The overall look builds on a motor-sports theme, with a black, 43-mm case set with knurled crown and pushers for improved grip and as a nod to the petrol caps on classic racing cars.
Imagine sweeping through Tuscany, roof down, scarf wafting in the breeze. Lazy afternoons, Chianti glasses chinking in the evening, and a chrono that will have you believe it’s the Sixties all over again. The new Intra-Matic 68 Auto Chrono by Hamilton ticks all the vintage boxes. The dial stays true to the original’s reverse panda configuration, and is circled by a white tachymeter scale. Only the case size has changed at 42 mm in diameter.
Welcome to Saint-Tropez, the jet-set’s Mediterranean playground! Audemars Piguet is celebrating the 50th anniversary of Le Byblos with a Royal Oak Offshore in the colours of the luxury Riviera hotel. Pink gold hands sweep the “mega tapisserie” dial with blue highlights and pink gold markers. The powerful case is water-resistant to 100 metres. Let’s get the party started!
The wind in its sails
The first regatta chronographs made their debut after 1900, and Ulysse Nardin continues to produce models specifically for the sailing world. The Marine Regatta comes in a 44-mm steel case that is water-resistant to 100 metres. The ocean-blue dial includes a sprinkling of yellow. The regatta function counts down the last remaining seconds before the race begins.
When the going gets tough…
This watch won’t help you light a fire or kill a wild animal, but it does have all the trappings of an instrument that’s no stranger to exploits. The imposing 50-mm case gives you the feeling you’re in safe hands – like Bear Grylls for the wrist! It’s cut from Breitlight® – an exclusive, high-tech material that is 3.3 times lighter than titanium and 5.8 times lighter than steel, but much harder and with numerous other desirable properties such as exceptional resistance to scratching, traction and corrosion, and thermal stability. It is also anti-magnetic and anti-allergenic. And when it’s time to head back to the office, it will help you survive the modern world too.