5 Legendary Chronographs You Need to Own

Posted on May 29, 2015

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5 Legendary Chronographs You Need to Own - AP Royal Oak Concept Laptimer 3As a metaphor, chronographs are a delightful mechanism which allow you to start and stop time in order to record its passing. As a matter of technical expertise, your actuation of that function doesn’t literally stop time’s relentless march, the small seconds counter continues to monitor time’s passage in real time. As a subject of humanity’s progress, the humble chronograph was our analog mechanical backup to the digital computer, a Lemania calibre 2320 refinished into the superlative “Moonwatch” Omega calibre 321. Indeed, the chronograph is the sum of human endeavour and as such, here are 5 legendary chronographs you need to own (in due course of course).

Holy Grail Chronographs

The Lange Datograph was first introduced in 1999 and recently for SIHH 2015, it was updated with black dial set within a pink-gold case.

The Lange Datograph was first introduced in 1999 and recently for SIHH 2015, it was updated with black dial set within a pink-gold case.

A. Lange & Sohne Datograph

First introduced in 1999, Lange’s Datograph became the defacto benchmark in modern chronograph haute horology architecture and peerless decoration. The Datograph 403.035 was a column-wheel flyback (or rattrapante) chronograph with big date and it was built completely in-house by a Saxony manufacture revived shortly just after the fall of the Berlin Wall after languishing under communist rule for close to three decades.

Patek Philippe 5370 Split Seconds chronograph was recently launched at Baselworld 2015.

Patek Philippe 5370 Split Seconds chronograph was recently launched at Baselworld 2015.

Patek Philippe 5370 Split-Seconds Chronograph

Weighing in at 41 mm by 13.5 mm, the polished-platinum Split-Seconds chronograph is bigger than your traditional Patek Philippe timepiece but no less elegant. It’s a classical rattrapante chronograph of the finest order, filling the gap for a purist chronograph in a collection already earmarked with 5950A mono-pusher split-seconds chronograph and a 5204 perpetual calendar split-seconds chronograph but there was never once a pure split-seconds chronograph till Basel 2015 with the 5370. Retro aesthetics and peerless technical sophistication bearing two column wheels mechanisms and an innovative “on/off” feature within the crown to control the need for split-seconds functionality as required rather than by default.

5 Legendary Chronographs You Need to Own - Breguet ref. 3947Breguet ref. 3947 Rattrapante

Back in the day, Breguet (nee Lemania) and Blancpain (nee Frederic Piguet) were the only two brands making two column wheel chronographs. While it is true that Breguet today is not the same operating manufacture as the one Abraham Breguet founded, the manufacture which it absorbed, Lemania, was the premiere maker of mechanical chronographs back in the day, including Omega’s Calibre 321 which saved the Apollo mission when the LEM module computer malfunctioned. The Breguet ref. 3947 is based on Lemania architecture which included traditional transfer wheel chronograph engagement. Like other high-end mechanical chronographs, it’s completely integrated rather than modular. It’s a rarity today and you’d be lucky to get one, if opportunity presents itself, STRIKE.

5 Legendary Chronographs You Need to Own - Vacheron Harmony monopusher chronographVacheron Constantin Harmony Monopusher Chronograph

If you haven’t noticed yet, 2015 was a great year for fantastic chronographs. Vacheron Constantin, the world’s oldest continuously operating manufacture launched the new Harmony Monopusher Chronograph featuring the caliber 3300, the product of seven year’s of development. Taking design cues from an 1930s chronograph in its archives, the Harmony chronograph is notable for one thing: a completely in-house chronograph movement which in the context of Vacheron Constantin’s history of taking existing chronograph calibres and modifying/decorating them beyond recognition, was the industry’s most anticipated milestone in the history of watchmaking. It also showcased a thoughtful lateral clutch rather than vertical clutch which reduced friction, and allowing for smoother functionality.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Laptimer Michael Schumacher is the most advanced split-seconds chronograph to date.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Laptimer Michael Schumacher is the most advanced split-seconds chronograph to date.

Potentially The One Chronograph to Rule Them All? AP Royal Oak Concept Laptimer Michael Schumacher

As far as chronographs go, it’s a mechanical opus greater than the already popular Royal Oak Offshore chronograph series. This is important because it sets context for its nascent greatness; unlike its modular chronograph cousin, the Concept Laptimer’s Calibre 2923 is built completely in-house, representing a new milestone for the Le Brassus manufacture, the movement bears laptimer functions via double flyback central seconds hands, 30 minutes counter, small seconds, hours and minutes. A split-seconds chronograph or rattrapante on steroids, the new AP laptimer wields two seconds hands which are controlled independently via three pushers and THREE column wheel mechanisms. It’s your new Holy Grail Chronograph for sure.

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