Being instruments, tools, most chronographs lead a dynamic life, or they at least want to give the impression that they do. In today’s world that often means a lot of carbon, black cases, and impressive dimensions. But there is another side to the chronograph, which as an elegant timekeeper for a gentleman. He might use it to time his racehorse on the track or as a suitable companion for when he goes out into the country with his beloved vintage car. He might prefer a more classical piece, with a precious metal case, and a high-end movement! The following watches might be among the highest on his wish list:
A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Chronograph Boutique Edition
Even when they make crazy cool watches, a Lange & Söhne never loses its understated touch. This also applies to the 1815 Chronograph, here in the boutique edition. The dial makes a clear case for German understatement, but know that this is backed by one of the best, and most beautiful, chronograph movements. In fact, I would be surprised if you spend a significant amount of time admiring all the details (and might even purchase a loupe just for that!)
This is the exclusive boutique edition of the chronograph, marking F. A. Lange’s 200th birthday. It features a white gold case, with blue numerals and a pulsometer scale. But even when you are not able to get your hands on one of these, the regular 1815 chronograph will serve you in the same fashion.
Girard-Perregaux 1966 Chronograph
Girard-Perregaux can look back at a long tradition of making chronographs, but also make them in-house. With the 1966 chronograph they go old-school, with a manual wind chronograph, that was build as a chronograph. That means that the movement was initially designed to have a chronograph function and one was not added later as a module. This sounds like a given, but even in the world of Haute Horlogerie, it is not always the case.
Although integrated, the movement is based on the 3000 series. This is a smaller movement, which brings the subdials closer to the center than most of the other chronographs in this list. Some might be disappointed with this, but aesthetically Girard-Perregaux makes it most certainly work, so it is down to personal preferences. This is especially since a great many other brands have used Girard-Perregaux 3000-movements in their watches, due to its qualities.
Piaget Altiplano Chronograph
The Piaget Altiplano Chronograph is so understated regarding design that you have no idea that it is, in fact, a double record holder! It is fitted with a 4.65 mm hand-wound chronograph movement, the slimmest in the world, and encased the whole watch is only 8.24 mm thick, making it the slimmest manual wind chronograph in the world as well.
No concessions are made to the quality of the movement: column-wheel and a vertical clutch are integrated into the movement, and Piaget even found some room to incorporate a second time-zone function. That makes the Altiplano Chronograph not only a very understated watch but also a very practical one. You kind of wonder if there is actually anything more to wish for in a classical chronograph.
Vacheron Constantin Harmony Chronograph
The Harmony Chronograph by Vacheron Constantin almost looks like it comes from a different century. A pink gold cushion case does that to you, especially when combined with a classical dial with pulsation scale.
Of course, the movement in this Vacheron Constantin has to be manual wind, if only to fit the theme. The case back offers a full view on the caliber, and you can see all the levers and gears of the chronograph in action. The Harmony is a mono-pusher chronograph. This means that you operate all the functions in sequence with a single button. One push starts it, the second one stops it, and a third push will make it reset, another tribute to the vintage spirit of the Harmony Chronograph.