Watch Insider’s Top 10 Chronograph Watches: Are These The Best Chronographs?


Top chronograph watches remain incredibly popular, even if most of us don’t even use their signature chronograph watch functions. I am no exception; along with GMT/UTC functions, chronographs are one of my favorite complications. For all chronograph fans like myself, I have compiled a top 10 list (actually it has now become a top 20+) of my personal best chronographs and best chronograph watches here and on my blog, Watch-Insider.com. All watches are relatively new, either from 2013 or 2014; I have added 2015 watches already and will do so again soon as the list will be updated throughout the year. The top 20 chronograph watches are listed in alphabetical order and prices aren’t taken into account. While these are my personal choices for the top chrono watches at the moment, there are certainly other interesting chronographs worth mentioning. Please feel free to comment with your own choices for best chronographs and top chronograph watches. Also, some of the chronograph models shown here are available with other dials and/or bracelets and straps.

Breitling Chronomat GMT Black Steel: a limited edition of 1,000 pieces with an all-black design. Very cool! The 4-mm Chronomat is equipped with the in-house chronograph caliber B04, which also powers a second-time-zone indication.

Breitling Chronomat GMT - Black Steel
Breitling Chronomat GMT

Cartier Calibre de Cartier Chronographe: With its in-house caliber 1904-CH MC, this 42-mm chrono really deserves a place on the wrists of watch aficionados. In the past, many of them complained that Cartier did not offer any in-house movements, let alone in a chronograph watch. Gentlemen, things have changed!

Cartier Montre Calibre de Cartier
Cartier Montre Calibre de Cartier

Chopard Superfast Chrono: The 45-mm Superfast chronograph is equipped with the new in-house caliber 03.05-M, created at Fleurier Ébauches. This new manufacture, owned by Chopard, now produces less expensive chronograph calibers than its other facility, L.U.C. Step by step, calibers from Fleurier Ébauches will replace the ETA calibers Chopard is currently using. For more on the Superfast collection, click here.

Chopard Superfast Chrono
Chopard Superfast Chrono

Hublot Big Bang Unico Titanium Ceramic: The evolution of the Big Bang, with a slightly modified case and new “sexier” round push-buttons. The 45-mm titanium chronograph case contains the in-house caliber HUB 1242 Unico. A less expensive steel version will follow. Certainly a nice chronograph watch.

Hublot Big Bang Unico Titanium Ceramic
Hublot Big Bang Unico
47 Responses to “Watch Insider’s Top 10 Chronograph Watches: Are These The Best Chronographs?”

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  1. DC Deluxe

    I don’t know where they get these lists from.

    Where’s the Breguet XX or XXI?

    Why are there multiple offerings from IWC all using the same calibre?

    It’s total none sense.

    Reply
  2. Jerry

    Why doesn’t anyone mention that at one point in time the Zenith Chronograph movement was used by Rolex in their Daytona and is a sought after watch too because of that…

    Reply
  3. Clearly not a well thought through list of top chronographs. No Lange’s 1815, Datograph or Double Split. No Vacheron. No Rolex Daytona. This looks like a list from a drunken amateur night.

    Reply
  4. Mr Burns

    You mention two Breitlings, but neither are the Navitimer which has the B01 movement?

    No mentioned of the original Omega Speedmaster?

    How about the Zenith El Primero 36’000?

    Longines on your list, but it’s not the new Pulsometer Chrono? And, speaking on mono-pushers…

    Vacheron has a fantastic new mono chrono.

    Sorry to the Daytona nay-sayers, but that movement is highly regarded, extremely accurate, and aside from some hoi-polloi wearing them, it’s a fantastic watch. Much more so than, say, Rado….

    Some list….

    Reply
    • Mr Burns

      OH….OH and Montblanc reintroduced the Minerva movement in their new gold chrono.

      Reply
  5. Acrowot

    I was never a Cartier fan, but love this one. I have a Zenith El Primero.

    Reply
    • GUGGI! Who was previously CUGGI 40 years ago! Plus who started of making clothes. Lest get real here.
      More to the point What happened to TAG HEUER’S CALIBRE 1887, which won Calibre of the International Year Award in 2010. I wonder how much IWC and BREITLING pay to have 2 of there watches previewed?

      Reply
  6. Christian P

    First of all, glad you excluded the over rated Rolex Daytona… just sold mine and could not be happier.

    My big surprise is not finding the AP Royal Oak Offshore or Royal Oak Chrono… superb watches.

    Cartier… there is not a single model I like….same for Rado.

    The new Hublot Unico I do not like at all, in fact what I dislike the most is the round pushers.. one of my favourites is the Hublot Big Bang Black Magic (with carbon dial)..

    Some other missing chronos:
    Breguet Type XXI.. superb, either steel or rose gold.
    IWC Splitfire Chrono
    Jaeger Le Coultre Master Compressor Chronograph 2
    Breitling Navitimer

    Reply
  7. I’ll comment your choices
    It is not with bad intention but adding my personal opinion about your choices.
    Breitling is ok it is very cool and very reliable and has a strong image
    Cartier is one of my least favourite because it seems to me that it is a contradiction of terms cartier-sport chrono
    Hublot has only one atu for it that’s the in house caliber , in rest Hublot is experimenting over and over uglier and uglier models and non plus ultra equipped with a tourbillon
    JLC is pretty nice but I am not sure how resistant is in a long term the aluminum enforced bezel. Personally i would choose Ceramic chrono date model
    The Chopard looks awesome on wrist but it has a design problem-the bolts after a little heavier use have the tendency to erode in a very nasty way and the watch will look very old and used.
    Schafi is pretty beauty and my opinion is one of the best from those.
    Rado is from lower league-instead of it , I don’t say that it is not looking good, I would choose Tissot chrono 516 which is much more sportier
    Omega is a strong nut because of the craftmanship ceramic and cool caliber.
    Longines is ok but it looks like a poor guy aspiring for stratosphere
    For sure anyone who is reading this can say -this guy has the handbrakes on.
    but talking objectively about every watch , emphasizes who heterogenous is the watch industry and how different are the peoples tastes
    My list would be in random order
    Omega , Breitling, Blancpain , Panerai , tissot , tagHeuer 1887, IWC, Lange datograph,JLC but the ceramic with date version,Audemars Piguet royal oak offshore
    Merry Christmas to you Alex and for every reader of this ok forum cheers

    Reply
    • This choice is little bit confused.IWC and Rado or Longines?
      IWC is LeMust,really nice piece of watch,but Rado or Longines-no way.
      And where are the mythical Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Off Shore,Blancpain,Brequet,Zenit El Primero,Rolex Daytona…?

      Reply
  8. john gentilei

    I prefer clean dial chronos that are easy to read, ie in this list: Omega and Cartier.
    Hublot – is way too busy

    Reply
  9. I am pleased to my new Eterna Tangaroa Moonphase grono, which has a reasionable price and good design. I wait for your test results

    Reply
  10. Carl Dreher

    I may be one of the few that actually does use the stop-watch function of a chronograph fairly regularly. For me, none of these watches, with their minute and hour subdials, improves the usability of a chrono. The problem is that it is simply too difficult to read the elapse time at a glance, especially on watches where the minute subdial only records 30-minutes, and you must mentally calculate the time based on which 30-minute interval the hour subdial is indicating.

    There have been a small number of new watches in the last two years that have the chronograph hour and minute hands co-axial with the time-of-day hands, or in some cases, have the elapse time shown on a single, separate subdial. Those are true advances in chrono design.

    Reply
  11. Bert Kanne

    Personally for great value in a chrono I would hands down go for the Seiko solar pepsi chrono. If money was of no concern, a Rolex Daytona.

    Reply
  12. Michael Petrik

    Great list! My personal choices would have some of the same, but not all.

    I also like the Lange Datograph, the Zenith El Primero, and a Gallet Multichron.

    It never ceases to amaze me how many people get outraged that there choices are not on the list. If they took the time to read and comprehend the article they would see its a PERSONAL list. Cheers.

    Reply
  13. Maybe I’m reading wrong… There’s an absence of an El Primero. No Zenith? Rolex Daytona? Come on… Best Chronographs?

    Reply
  14. The list is good. From this list, I’d choose omega speedmaster. But how can you not mention rolex daytona and tag heuer carrera?

    Reply
  15. Bob wolvertin

    Hard to imagine any list being credible if it does not even mention the Rolex Daytona or Zenith ElPrimero.

    Reply
  16. Giorgio Osti

    One of the best looking chrnos, made lately, was the Omega racend timer, which might, however, be sold out, meanwhile.
    Also in its Museum Collection, the MD (medical doctor’s) watch, inspired by a watch of the late thirties, might still be available.
    Theye watches. Inspired by the golden era 1940-1970, are, in my opinion, the best looking watches of our times.
    An alternative would be the fabulous Longines chonos 13ZN and 30 CH, of 1940-1970 , which are stlill available at resonable prices…
    Giorgio

    Reply
  17. Leibo

    Hard to imagine talking top 10 chronographs without something from Zenith. What exactly makes any of these better than a beautiful watch that also happens to run on an El Primero?

    Reply
  18. I love my Longines conquest classic chronograph. Clean looking dial and love the blue column wheel

    Reply
    • Brett

      My vote is for my breguet type XXI chronograph, although cant argue with your choices!

      Reply
  19. Lot of these are just too busy, overdone and somewhat tacky IMHO. The 3 I’d own is the Deep Sea, Omega and maybe the IWC . I had the regular Deep Sea and it’s an amazing watch with a great mvt.

    Reply
  20. 1stnotlastrus

    OMEGA speedmaster dark side of the moon MOTHER OF ALL WATCHES plus 100% style .

    Reply
  21. Leo Sitorus

    The JLC Deep Sea Chronograph looks amazing. But at that price, I would go for an iconic Omega Speedmaster.

    Reply
  22. Watchguy79

    Lange is very nice but not in same league price wise if any if these. IWC gets my vote here. Pam is useless for 99.8% of the people who buy it. Novel comp tho. Hublot a lot more if the same, like JLC too

    Reply
  23. George Michael. vlassis

    for my money JLC first choice no choice RADO thanks again George from Sydney Australia

    Reply
  24. I actually prefer the Rado or the Longines, the others are no better watches, they just have huge prices so the snobs with more money than common sense can pat each other on the back and feel better about themselves!

    Reply
  25. Chrono Lover

    I am actually one of the few people who uses the chronograph complication regularly. My favourite is the Omega dark side of the moon however the case size of 44.25mm is a little too large for me.

    Can anyone suggest an automatic chronograph which has central chronograph minute hand rather than a subdial minutes. Breitling Skyracer was a perfect movement for my liking but they don’t do it anymore. What a shame. I rank that movement as no.1

    Any comments?

    Reply
    • Ismael Maitin

      When I read your comments, I thought quickly in the IWC Da Vinci Chronograph. All, minutes and hours on a single subdial located at 12 o´clock. What do you think?

      Reply
  26. For me its the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Dark Side of the Moon followed by the Jaeger-LeCoultre Deep Sea Chronograph but I wouldn’t say no to the IWC Ingenieur Double Chronograph either!

    Reply
  27. I like all the watch listed but the Cartirr Montre calibre de Cartier is the most attractive out of the lot. I would love to see it with a blue face

    Reply
  28. Chrono-guy

    Longines Heritage Collection Tachymeter Chronograph Men’s Watch
    L2.781.4.13.2

    Reply
  29. iwan tarmat

    breitling gmt chrono black steel its a real pilot watch…tough and good look

    Reply
  30. Great list! My only additions would be a Zenith El Primero, and the Split Flyback from Lange & Sohne.

    Reply
  31. ioancio alex

    rado is pretty expensive and together with longines in my opinion is not in the same league as the others above mentioned
    cool

    Reply
    • Watchguy79

      I assume you meant in expensive. Yes I would agree. I would take the JLC or PAM. And BTW, Hublot, enough already….

      Reply
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