As more people have been venturing out since the very tight lockdowns, the great outdoors is providing a breath of fresh air. Today’s active individuals — hikers, climbers, cyclists, snorkelers and more — need a watch that can keep pace. Easily the most coveted small complication watches (by both men and women) on the market are chronographs.
Essentially, a chronograph is a stopwatch that measures intermittent intervals of time, such as laps of a race, how long it takes to hike a trail or how long one has been in the water — all while still perfectly tracking the hours, minutes and seconds. Both men and women are finding that the functionality of a chronograph watch, as well as its impressive looks (these watches offer several small subsidiary dials on their main faces), makes owning one a win-win situation.
In the past, though, many women shied away from chronograph watches because they were predominantly large in diameter and a bit too bulky. But today’s watch brands are doing a sterling job of offering smaller sized timepieces that appeal to a more universal wrist size. Others are adding a touch of glam to the sporty chronograph, dressing it up with diamonds that sparkle with each wave of the hand. Either way, you can’t go wrong with a chronograph.
Hublot, Classic Fusion Aerofusion Chronograph Orlinski King Gold Alternative Pavé
A brand known for its larger, in-your-face watches, Hublot pulls out all the stops with the Classic Fusion Aerofusion Chronograph Orlinski King Gold Alternative Pavé watch. Designed in collaboration with artist Richard Orlinski, the watch boasts sharp angles and serious geometric attitude. It measures 45mm in diameter and features an integrated strap. Set with 156 diamonds on the case and another 156 on the bezel (for a total of just over two carats), the watch is powered by a skeletonized self-winding chronograph movement. It is crafted of Hublot’s proprietary King Gold.
Zenith, Chronomaster Revival El Primero A385
Like so many brands, Zenith is adept at recalling its past in a way perfect for today’s discerning customers. This Chronomaster Revival El Primero A385 is a reproduction of one of the three original models made in 1969 that captured hearts. The gradient toned dial with smoky brown hue is paired with a matching colored leather strap. The 37mm watch is powered by the in-house-made automatic El Primero column-wheel chronograph caliber with 278 parts — a veritable legend among movements.
Audemars Piguet 38mm Royal Oak Self-winding Chronograph
This year, Audemars Piguet took the concept of offering daring colors seriously, and the new 38mm Royal Oak Self-winding Chronograph with a striking purple dial is the outstanding result. The multilayer dial boasts the brands’ beloved Grande Tapisserie pattern with smooth and shiny chronograph subsidiary dials in matching hues. The watch is crafted in solid 18-karat pink gold and is set with 32 baguette-cut amethysts — a first for the brand. The hands and markers are offered in matching gold tones. The watch is powered by the brand’s self-winding Caliber 2385 movement with chronograph counters, hours, minutes and small seconds, as well as date indication. Finished with an 18-karat pink gold bracelet, the watch is water resistant to around 164 ft.
This year Omega went full steam ahead when it came to adding all-gold watches to the 38mm Speedmaster chronograph watches. The newest version is set on a taupe-hued leather strap and crafted in the brand’s proprietary 18-karat Sedna™ gold. The silvery dial features contrasting brown-colored subsidiary dials for the chronograph counters. A date window at 6 o’clock brings another element of function to the watch, as does the tachymeter scale for measuring distance. The watch is powered by Omega’s Co-Axial Caliber 3330 automatic movement.
Patek Philippe 7150/250R
Known for its complications, Patek Philippe creates subdued elegance with this 38mm 18-karat rose gold Reference 7150/250R ladies’ chronograph. In addition to harmoniously balanced subsidiary dials on the main face, the chronograph watch also offers a pulsimeter for timing one’s pulse. Powered by the manually wound mechanical caliber CH 29-535 movement, the watch exudes an updated vintage appeal thanks to the cambered sapphire box crystal and the silvery opaline dial. It is set with a total of 99 diamonds on the bezel and prongs.
This article appears in the 29 Nov 2021 issue of the New Statesman, Winter 2021/22