Chronograph Watches

Updated July 1, 2022

No watch enthusiast’s collection is complete without an elegant Chronograph timepiece.

The familiar profile and classic functionality of these watches have made them even more popular in contemporary wardrobes.

From a practical standpoint, chronographs bring timing, stopping, and resetting features to the wearer, making them a convenient option for a daily time-telling wrist companion!

They also look better than regular watches with their dials, pointers, scales, and crowns.

Therefore, chronograph watches will always stand the test of time because of their versatile style and classic feel.

Here are some of our top chronograph picks you should consider this season:

 

See Our Top Chronograph Watches

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1 Citizen - Men's Eco-Drive Blue Angels World Chronograph Watch
Best Overall
Citizen – Men’s Eco-Drive Blue Angels World Chronograph Watch
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2 Fossil - Men's Grant Sport Chronograph Watch Fossil Grant Sport Chronograph Men’s Watch Under 200
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3 Hamilton Jazzmaster Chronograph Hamilton – Jazzmaster Chronograph
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4 Fossil Mens Machine Fossil Mens Machine Watch
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5 Fossil Womens Riley Review Fossil Womens Riley
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6 Armitron Sport - Women's 45-7012 Digital Chronograph Watch Armitron Sport – Women’s 45-7012 Digital Chronograph Watch
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7 Mvmt Womens Analog Chronograph Watch Mvmt – Women’s Analog Chronograph Watch
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1. Citizen – Men’s Eco-Drive Blue Angels World Chronograph Watch

Highlights
  • Water-resistant to 600 ft.
  • Synchronized to atomic time clock for superior accuracy.
  • Eco-Drive technology.
  • 1/20 second chronograph measures up to 60 minutes.
Best Overall
Citizen - Men's Eco-Drive Blue Angels World Chronograph Watch

The Citizen Eco-Drive Blue Angels watch was crafted with the Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron in mind. As such, the careful crafting of this piece brings to mind the delicate instruments of an airplane cockpit.

Inspired by travel, the Blue Angels watch can change its display to preprogrammed time zones by rotating the dial to select your new time zone. Push it back in, and the hands move automatically.

Alongside this, there is also a perpetual calendar that displays both the day, week, month, and year without any change. This also takes leap years into account.

Aesthetically, this model mimics the Blue Angels colors of blue, and yellow. Married with stainless steel and a sapphire crystal glass, this gives the watch a dress feel as well as a practical one.

Specifications

Material:
Stainless Steel, Faux Leather
Size:
Diameter: 43mm Case thickness: 13mm Band width: 23mm

Pros

  • Equipped with a perpetual calendar.
  • Sapphire crystal window material for extra durability.
  • Day, month, and week display.
  • Glow in the dark numerals.

Cons

  • Watch face can appear overly busy.

2. Fossil Grant Sport Chronograph Men’s Watch Under 200

Highlights
  • Interchangeable Fossil bands
  • Chrono movement
  • Water-resistant
  • Mineral crystal lens

The quality and finish of the Grant Sport watch will undoubtedly impress you if you lead an active lifestyle. It features a sporty top-ring and is made using lightweight materials like silicone.

Furthermore, it boasts a hardened mineral crystal lens that ensures durability and a Chrono movement for precise time-telling.

Additionally, this timepiece is water-resistant, making it suitable for swimming but not snorkeling or diving.

It also comes with interchangeable bands, and if you want to customize your watch, head onto a local Fossil store to get your timepiece engraved.

Specifications

Material:
Stainless Steel
Size:
2.83 x 3.78 x 3.7 inches
Movement:
Quartz
Case Diameter:
44 mm
Watch Strap:
22 mm leather band
Battery Life:
Up to 10 years depending on usage

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Sporty
  • High-quality finish
  • Strap buckle

Cons

  • You can wear it while swimming, but not suitable for snorkeling or diving

3. Hamilton – Jazzmaster Chronograph

Highlights

This is the kind of watch that will take the spotlight at an important formal event. Its timeless design is perfectly highlighted by the amount of detail that went into creating this gorgeous timepiece. 

First, you have the hand-crafted leather strap with crocodile print that has some additional padding on each side, for increased comfort and durability. Next, we have the skeleton back case, shined to perfection, that offers a glimpse inside the automatic movement of the mechanism. 

The movement is a Hamilton Calibre H-21, based on the ETA 7750, containing 25 Jewels. It supports 28800 vibrations per hour and has a power reserve of about 60 hours. Given that this is more of a luxury watch, that is mostly for special events, the power reserve is rather limited

On the face, the Jazzmaster charms the eye with a nicely textured pearly dial that features four complications (seconds for the watch, minutes and hours for the chronograph, and date window in the 4 o’clock position). This is a watch with chronograph features, which is why there are two side buttons framing the crown. 

To keep it sleek and stylish, the gold-toned hour markers are represented using sticks and only the three subdials feature Arabic numerals. The hands and hour markers are marked with luminous paint, but the illumination is minimal.

Specifications

Material:
Stainless Steel Case, Sapphire Crystal Lens and Back Case, Leather Strap
Size:
42mm
Weight:
3.81oz

Pros

  • Looks more expensive than it is
  • Both the case and band have exquisite details
  • Powerful automatic movement
  • It has chronograph features
  • Skeleton back case

Cons

  • The power reserve is a bit limited if you don’t wear it daily
  • The luminous paint is not very bright

4. Fossil Mens Machine Watch

Highlights

Designed to attract everyone’s attention, this breathtakingly chic watch from Fossil works with every casual and formal outfit in your wardrobe. The deep and dark analog dial is highlighted by the gunmetal-plated stainless steel case with a textured bezel that talks about a rugged and durable design. 

But the details that make this timepiece so legendary are the silver-tone hands, blue hour and minute markers, and blue subdials. The Machine is a multifunctional timepiece with chronograph, 24h format, and date functionalities. 

The design is made complete by the gunmetal-plated stainless steel bracelet (which can be changed with ease) that blends nicely with the case and allows the focus to fall on the black dial and blue subdials. 

Overall, this is a gorgeous six-hand Quartz movement timepiece with good water resistance and a beautiful anti-scratching hardened mineral crystal lens.

Specifications

Material:
Stainless Steel and Mineral Crystal Lens
Size:
45mm
Weight:
5.5oz

Pros

  • Gorgeous & large face with an analog dial
  • An impressive combination of colors and textures
  • Good water resistance and durability
  • Six-hands Quartz movement
  • Chronograph, 24h format, and date functionalities

Cons

  • The clasp can become undone on its own
  • The links in the bracelet are large so it’s a bit difficult to get an accurate fit

5. Fossil Womens Riley

Highlights

Fossil is a well-established brand in the watch industry and the name is a mark for quality and elegance. As such, the luminous three-hand quartz Riley design with analog display for women is one of the most popular watches for everyday wear. 

The watch catches the eye with a round, plated stainless steel case (38mm), in a rose-gold tone, with tiny crystals on the bezel. The rose-gold tone continues on the satin dial, where the hours are marked with tiny crystals as well. The ensemble is completed by the rose-gold plated stainless steel bracelet with a deployment clasp closure. 

The watch is powered by quartz movement and has built-in chronographs featured in three separate dials that keep track of hours, minutes and seconds. There’s also a stopwatch feature, a 24h timer, and the time-tracking accuracy is on point.

Lastly, the Riley watch is water-resistant for up to 330 feet (100m), which means it can take light rain, a bath/shower, or a quick swim.

Specifications

Material:
Stainless Steel

Pros

  • Elegant design that impresses through color and fine lines
  • Stainless steel build
  • Multifunctional design with three dials and stopwatch feature
  • Powered by quartz movement
  • Water-resistant for up to 330 feet
  • It comes in a classic Fossil tin

Cons

  • The color starts to fade after a while
  • The numbers on the three dials are small
  • It doesn’t come with extra lings (but you can order them for free)

6. Armitron Sport – Women’s 45-7012 Digital Chronograph Watch

Highlights
  • Features a chronograph and alarm.
  • Dual time zone feature. 
  • Backlight for easy reading. 
  • Stationary bezel.

Boasting sporty aesthetics and a surprising amount of features, you definitely get your money’s worth with the Armitron Sport Women’s 45/7012. It’s perfect for those who are new to the world of digital watches and who just want to see what all the hype is about.

As well as being able to pick from the many colorways you can get this watch in, this sports watch has an inbuilt time, day and date display as well as backlight features and dual time abilities.

Despite sitting at the lower end of the price bracket of women’s digital watches, this watch still has an impressive water resistance of up to 100 meters, meaning you can use it while you’re going for a swim or having a snorkel in the sea.

Specifications

Material:
Resin
Size:
Diameter: 27mm, Thickness: 11mm, Lug Width: 27mm
Battery Life:
1 to 2 years

Pros

  • Water-resistant to 100 meters.
  • Lots of colors to choose from.
  • Small and lightweight.
  • Soft and flexible band for comfortable wearing.

Cons

  • Not very durable.
  • Colour fades quickly.

7. Mvmt – Women’s Analog Chronograph Watch

Highlights

Part of the Nova collection, this MVMT for her design is both elegant and visually appealing. So, if you’re looking for a timepiece that will get you tons of compliments but it’s also practical, this may the right model.

The face is large enough (38mm) to fit three subdials and there is a very nice contrast between the black dial and the golden-toned hands, markers, and stainless steel case. In addition, the lens is made of hardened mineral crystal, which increases the durability to scratches or accidental hits. The watch is also resistant to water exposure, but it’s not recommended to wear it in the shower or while swimming. 

The Japanese six-hands Quartz movement is powered by a battery and can indicate the current time in 24h and 12h formats, time on a different time zone, and the day of the week. In addition, the crown and buttons are easy to use.

Specifications

Material:
Stainless Steel, Leather, Hardened Mineral Crystal Lens
Size:
38 mm

Pros

  • Luxurious aspect without being too expensive
  • Comfortable to wear
  • Dual time zones
  • Durable design & high-end materials
  • The face is clean and spacious

Cons

  • No luminous hands for low-light conditions
  • The subdials are a bit small

Chronograph Watch Buying Guide

Brands

Self-winding watches have been in use since the late 18th century, but automatic chronograph variants only came into being in the late 1960s.

The first chronograph watch was developed by Tag Heuer, Breitling, and Hamilton in a working partnership.

They gained notoriety again when the Omega Speedmaster chronograph was worn by the team of astronauts on the Apollo missions.

Moreover, pilots had been using the Breitling Navitimer since the 1950s. And these days, some of the most famous chronographs watches come from Fossil or Citizen.

We covered both of those in our Best Fossil Watches, and Best Citizen Watches guides.

Features

Chronograph watches allow for stopwatch functionality by pressing the accompanied initiator.

They routinely feature subdials – also referred to as registers – that keep track of the elapsed time. These subdials make the elapsed time easier to mark and read by breaking it down into seconds, minutes, and hours.

Seconds Dial

The seconds’ dial can measure up to 1/5th or even 1/10th of a second for the highest precision.

Unlike standard watches, the seconds’ hand on chronograph dials only move when you begin the stopwatch.

Minute Dial

The minute dial also starts tracking minutes when the stopwatch feature is activated, and it lets you know the elapsed minutes since the start.

Hour Dial

The hour dial is the third dial on the chronograph, and it measures the elapsed hours since triggering the stopwatch.

Type

Chronograph watches are regular timepieces with a stopwatch, and they usually come with two to three smaller subdials to measure elapsed seconds, minutes, and hours.

Additionally, these features can be controlled using the crowns on the side. One crown starts the stopwatch while the other one resets it.

Some chronograph watches are mechanical, meaning that they need to be hand-wound.

However, most newer models are automatic and self-wind themselves.

Moreover, racing watches are a variation of chronograph watches that feature a tachymeter to measure distance and elapsed time.

These tachymeters also allow you to detect a moving object’s speed if you know the distance between two points.

Also, racing watches are quite popular among consumers because of their sporty appeal.

Split-second chronographs, also called ‘rattrapante’ chronographs, feature a second hand superimposed on the main hand, which allows for the measurement of different events simultaneously.

On the other hand, Flyback chronographs allow for split-second accuracy through quick restarting of the timer while the watch is running. When the button is pressed, the chronograph rapidly resets to zero.

Style & Design

Chronograph watches come in several different styles and designs.

Some of the sturdier athletic styles include field watches. These models served in trenches during World War I!

They are primed for outdoor and sports use and look the part with their usually rugged design.

Moreover, they’re generally waterproof and have an easy-to-read dial, which includes some form of luminescence.

Next, dress watches are designed to accompany formal outfits and work best with tuxedos and suits.

They’re focused more on form rather than functionality.

Dress watches are a testament to fine watchmaking, with some of the most famous and expensive Swiss watch models being of this variety.

Aviation watches – also known as pilot watches – are designed to be used at high altitudes. In terms of design, they feature slide rule bezels and leather or steel bracelets.

When it comes to functionality, they feature world time function, along with tachymeters and alarms.

The slide rule bezel comes in handy when converting nautical miles to kilometers and other useful conversions.

Other than that, best dive watches are always water-resistant and feature a unidirectional rotating bezel.

They have large cases that allow the bezel to be rotated with ease and feature large dials with luminous numbers for reading in deep, murky water.

Material

The watchmaking industry was closely related to the jewelry industry up until the 19th century, as it was common to use metals such as gold, silver, and platinum to make them.

However, in the modern world, everyone needs a watch, and not everyone can afford precious metal builds.

It is more common in contemporary watch manufacturing to find materials like stainless steel, metal, titanium, or even ceramic being used.

These days, stainless steel is employed more than any other materials, although many luxury brands still use precious stones and metals to embellish their watches.

After World War II, newer materials came to be used in watches. Titanium is preferred because it is lightweight, high-quality, and durable. We have covered the best titanium watches in detail in our recent guide on it. Make sure you check that one out.

Additionally, watch bands usually come in stainless steel, rubber, or leather.

Stainless steel or leather are the most commonly used materials. Some watchmakers like to make use of other materials like silicone or plastic, especially in smartwatches.

However, for more classic timepieces, like dress watches, a leather strap is still the most popular choice.

Pricing Range

It is possible to find a chronograph watch at virtually any price point.

You can pick up an affordable chronograph watch for as cheap as $50, while gold-encrusted pieces can go for over $50k.

As the watch gets more expensive, the price reflects the artistry, materials, and complications that have produced the final timepiece.

Overall, the best budget chronograph watches should lie anywhere between $100 to $300, offering a stellar design and a good range of functions.

Our Verdict

The Citizen CA0649-6X Chronograph seems to be the most well-rounded watch as it offers the best value for money and a good range of functionality for watch enthusiasts.

However, if you’re looking for a reasonably priced model, the Fossil Commuter is your best bet. And if you want a fancier, high-end chronograph timepiece, opt for the Jorg Gray JG6500!

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How Does A Chronograph Watch Work?
A:

A chronograph has three main functions: start, stop, and reset. And these functions are activated by a button on the side of the watch.

When pressed, the stopwatch allows you to take elapsed time readings without interfering with timekeeping.

Q: How To Read A Chrono Watch?
A:

On chronograph watches, the seconds’ hand is long and thin and moves on the main dial, and it records every second while the chronograph is working.

The minute sub-dial is on the right side of most chronograph watches, and it records the elapsed minutes. It is marked with 30 or 60-minute markings depending on the model.

Moreover, the hour subdial is on the watch’s left side, and it tracks the elapsed hours, generally up to 12 hours.

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