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Stopwatches at the Top: 7 Chronographs with In-House Movements


Looking for a chronograph with a completely in-house-manufactured movement? In this feature from the WatchTime archives, we showcase some of the industry’s top picks, from seven power brands.

1. ANTI-MAGNETIC: OMEGA SEAMASTER PLANET OCEAN 600M CHRONOGRAPH

Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M Chronograph
Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M Chronograph

This dive watch is one of the most modern and sturdiest all-around chronographs on the market. The case, in stainless steel, titanium or Sedna (rose) gold, is water resistant to a depth of 600 meters, and the ceramic bezel resists scratches. A transparent caseback offers a great view of the super-modern, antimagnetic in-house movement. The use of fully antimagnetic components makes a soft iron inner case unnecessary. Stainless steel, ceramic bezel, 45.5 mm, in-house movement 9900, automatic, chronometer, $8,350.

2. VISUALLY ELEGANT: A. LANGE & SÖHNE DATOGRAPH AUF/AB

A. Lange & Sohne Datograph Auf/Ab
A. Lange & Sohne Datograph Auf/Ab

This chronograph offers beauty and practicality. The many indications – time, elapsed time, large date, power reserve, and tachymeter track – are arranged in elegant balance across the dial. The viewer can see the mechanism with all the Glashütte quality features. Other advantages include a flyback function and a long power reserve of 60 hours. For a review of this watch, click herePlatinum, 41 mm, in-house movement, L.951.1, hand-wound, $90,700.

3. HIGH-TECH LOOK: HUBLOT BIG BANG UNICO TITANIUM

Hublot Big Bang Unico Titanium
Hublot Big Bang Unico Titanium

A flyback function – to time, reset and restart the chronograph using the lower push button – is just one advantage of the Big Bang. Consider the three-day power reserve, water resistance to 100 meters, and a quick-change system for straps. But the most convincing feature of Hublot’s bestseller is its modern high-tech look with its multi-piece case, skeletonized dial and grooved rubber strap. For more on the Big Bang Unico, and to see other case versions, click hereTitanium, 45 mm, in-house Caliber HUB1242 Unico, automatic, $19,900.

4. CALCULATING: BREITLING NAVITIMER GMT AURORA BLUE

Breitling Navitimer GMT Aurora Blue
Breitling Navitimer GMT Aurora Blue

The hallmark feature of the now 65-year-old Navitimer (we explore it in detail here) is its circular slide-rule bezel, which can be used to determine flight data such as fuel consumption. From a horological point of view, this chronograph icon has been a standout for many years with its in-house movement that has both a high-quality column-wheel control as well as a modern vertical clutch for an enhanced power reserve of 70 hours. Now it’s available in a blue version with a second time zone. Stainless steel, 48 mm, in-house Caliber B04, automatic, chronometer, $9,290.

5. SCRATCH-RESISTANT: ROLEX OYSTER PERPETUAL COSMOGRAPH DAYTONA

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona

This iconic, racing-inspired chronograph was updated in 2016, for the first time in years. In addition to changes on the dial, the most significant improvement was the addition of a ceramic bezel to protect the once-sensitive tachymetric scale from scratches – as integral to this sporty chronograph as the engine of a car. (More details in our report on the watch from Baselworld 2016). Humming under the hood is the well-known in-house Caliber 4130 with its three-day power reserve and proprietary blue Parachrom hairspring that resists magnetic disturbances and impacts alike. Stainless steel, ceramic bezel, 40 mm, in-house Caliber 4130, automatic, chronometer, $12,400.

6. SIMPLICITY: PATEK PHILIPPE REFERENCE 5170R

Patek Philippe Ref. 5170R
Patek Philippe Ref. 5170R

Patek Philippe filled out its portfolio with the 2009 introduction of hand-wound Caliber CH 29-535 PS. It’s the brand’s first mass-produced chronograph movement without additional functions. Men’s chronograph Reference 5170 appeared in 2010 in yellow gold, then in white gold and now in rose gold with a silver or black dial. The darker model is the most striking version so far and adds a new, sporty touch to the attractive basic chronograph. Rose gold, 39.4 mm, in-house Caliber CH 29-535 PS, hand-wound, $81,080.

7. EVERGREEN: ZENITH EL PRIMERO 36,000 VPH CLASSIC CARS

Zenith El Primero 36,000 VPH Classic Cars
Zenith El Primero 36,000 VPH Classic Cars

Tricolor subdials are a distinguishing feature of this legendary high-beat chronograph from Zenith, whose balance frequency permits measurements of 1/10 second. Legendary, too, is the El Primero caliber: Presented to the public in January 1969 as the world’s first automatic chronograph, the functional and attractive column-wheel movement has never undergone major revision. Stainless steel, 42 mm, in-house Caliber 400, automatic, chronometer, $6,700.

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14 Responses to “Stopwatches at the Top: 7 Chronographs with In-House Movements”

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  1. JJ Stives

    After decades of experience with Rolex and Breitling and spending plenty on “repairs,” I have little faith in your comments about durability and reliability. I have settled happily with three brands that have given me zero problems: Casio, Citizen and Sinn. So when you say “durable,” I ask you and the manufacturers to prove it. No watch company offers long term use/wear reviews of their products..it’s all by oblique reference to some pilot, mountain climber, racer or other celebrity wearing the product, probably for free. As jewelry, your top 7 may be fine, but as working, reliable time pieces there is little proof.
    JJ Stives, Certified Commercial Diver, FAA Licensed Commercial Pilot, Fort Pierce, Florida

    Reply
  2. Stewart Novinger

    I would add the VC Overseas, I just got a stainless steel one 3 weeks ago and love it. The movement is very nicely finished with a nice column wheel displayed between bridges with a Maltese cross in the middle of the column wheel. Very cool watch.

    Reply
  3. Robin L Robson

    I believe a mistake had been made in regards to the Navitimer. The caliber is BO5. Caliber BO4 is the chronomat 44 GMT. Breitling developed this in house movement for the chronomat watch. Brietling installed this top drawer movement into the Navitimer later. The chronomat 44 GMT watch is superior to Rolex. Both Breitling and Rolex are in-house movements, both are column-wheel with vertical clutch. The Breitling chronomat 44 GMT has 47 jewels, a date window, 70 hours power reserve, GMT function as well as 200 meters water resistance. Also, least we forgot, Rolex had a two year warranty. Breitling warranted their in-house B01 movement for five years. Rolex then followed suite with five years as well. If one is considering a chronograph movement and not studying the Breitling story, one us missing out.

    Reply
    • The BO4 movement is used in several pieces. (Not just the Chronomat 44 GMT)

      Reply
  4. The Daytona is a beautiful watch that colour combination is blows me away. Very cool

    Reply
  5. Dr. FACHE

    I have a Grand Seiko as well as one of the 2001
    SS Daytona’s with their them new manufactured movement. I’ve also got a Breitling Chronomat in steel-gold bThe Grand Seiko is, given an accuracy of <0.25 seconds/day, in my opinion, superior in every way to everything here.

    Reply
    • Does it really matter 0.25 sec per day. Rolex is by far better brand. I would get a Grand Seiko if they improved the looks.

      Reply
  6. Beautiful watches, beware of Omega!! I saved for a couple of years for my first Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean “Master co-axial”, had it for three months and it’s already at the Swatch repair shop awaiting for parts for a complete maintenance service. I believe thats an overhaul of the watch based on the Swatch website.

    Reply
  7. Nice list, some beautiful watches here.

    And, I’ll be “that guy” that says, what about Seiko? :)

    Reply
  8. Hasse Wallin

    How about Parmigiani? I believe this to be an in-house chronograph movement, but I may be wrong…

    Reply
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