If you're unaware, a chronograph is essentially a stopwatch. Although they were invented in the early 1800's, they didn't appear on wristwatches until 1913, with Longine's caliber 13.33Z. Today, as with most complicated watches, you can find one to fit your specific needs. There are endless examples to choose from -- it might seem overwhelming. Today, we'll look at three unique chronographs: how they work, what they represent, and what makes them stand out from the pack.
Omega Speedmaster Chrono Chime
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Omega’s Caliber 1932, released in October of this year, is the first chiming chronograph movement. . . ever. The Chrono Chime sounds to indicate the elapsed time of the chronograph, rather than the current time of a traditional minute repeater. To call the Chrono Chime a ‘unique chronograph’ is an understatement. This is a unique piece of engineering. Its construction features 17 patents. There’s simply nothing to compare it to. Omega released this movement in two watches: the Speedmaster Chrono Chime, and the Olympic 1932 Chrono Chime. The latter is an homage to Omega’s pocket chronographs used in the 1932 Olympics. It’s gorgeous, but it’s not a modern wristwatch. The Speedmaster variant offers a little-known feature in a well-known silhouette. This is a wearable wristwatch housing one of the most impressive movements ever made.
The Speedmaster Chrono Chime has a night-sky grand feu enamel dial, which looks similar to A. Lange & Sohne’s goldstone ‘Copper blue’ dial. The chimes, made from polished Sedna gold, are exposed, giving this dial remarkable depth and complexity. The case is also made from polished Sedna gold, making this watch hard to miss. Because most of us will never see one in person, the Speedmaster Chrono Chime is one of the most unique chronographs in the world.
Rolex Cosmograph Daytona (Ref. 116500)
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The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona is the most iconic chronograph of all time, and perhaps the most iconic wristwatch of all time. Like most Rolex watches, the Daytona has a rich history. It was developed in the early 1960’s for professional racing drivers. The Daytona wasn’t highly sought after, or even well received upon its release; it was widely available for purchase. In the early 1970’s, Joanne Woodward bought one for her husband, American actor Paul Newman. As a racing enthusiast, Newman loved this watch. He was constantly seen sporting his Daytona throughout the 1970’s and 80’s. In 2017, Newman’s specific watch, a Ref. 6239, was sold at auction for $17.8 million. This purchase set the stage not only for vintage Rolex, but vintage watch collecting going forward.
Of course, not every Daytona is a Paul Newman. However, the demand trickled down to all references, particularly after this auction. Looking past the hype and acclaim, The Cosmograph Daytona is a categorically amazing watch. The modern Ref. 116500 features Rolex’s in-house caliber 4130 movement. It’s a COSC-certified, self-winding, dead-reliable chronograph movement that allows the Daytona to stay around 12mm thick. On the outside, we see excellent finishing, one of the most iconic dials of all time, and a crown representing the number one player in watchmaking. The Daytona is unique because it’s the standard. It’s the chronograph that all other chronographs are compared to. It’s the one to beat.
For most people, the Daytona checks all boxes: superlative specs, iconic history, and a wearable, sporty build. However, if you want to make it even sportier, consider putting it on a tailor-fit rubber strap from Everest.
Vacheron Constantin Cornes De Vache 1955
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The Vacheron Constantin Cornes De Vache 1955 is an homage to the Ref. 6087: the brand’s first water resistant chronograph. The Ref. 6087 is an icon, and the Cornes De Vache 1955 effectively pays tribute. Its recognizable “cow horn” lugs – identical to the original – hug a perfectly rounded, mirror-polished case. Everything about the build screams ‘elegance’, or rather, whispers it quietly. The silver-opaline dial displays two recessed sub-dials, applied indices, and a tachymeter scale with the true-to-original (Ref. 6087) font. This piece feels vintage not only due to its looks, but its size. The hand-wound caliber 1142 allows this watch to come in under 11mm thick. On top of its Hallmark of Geneva certification, this movement’s finishing is on par with the likes of A. Lange & Söhne, Patek Philippe, and Jaeger-LeCoultre.
Chronographs are among the most beloved watch complications. Everyone understands their function, and subsequently, everyone understands their mechanical complexity. We're in a golden age of watchmaking: one where any combination of features likely exists. Do you need a dress chronograph with modern reliability? A sports chronograph with dress watch thickness? A chiming chronograph with 100 ft of water resistance? It's all out there. To find more special watches and stay up to date on the latest of the watch industry, check out the rest of the Everest Journal.