Best Chronograph Watch Reviews

Updated February 4, 2021

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

#PREVIEWProduct
1 Citizen - Men's 'Eco-Drive' Quartz CA0649-06X Watch
Best Overall
Citizen Men's CA0649-06X Chronograph Watch
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2 BOBO BIRD - Wooden Mens Watch BOBO BIRD Wooden Chronograph Watch
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3 Citizen - Men's Eco-Drive BL5551-06L Watch Citizen BL5551-06L Chronograph Watch
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4 Fossil - Men's Machine Watch Fossil Machine Chronograph Watch
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5
Best For Low Budgets
5Fossil Commuter Chronograph Watch
Fossil - Men's Commuter Watch
Best For Low Budgets
Fossil Commuter Chronograph Watch
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6
Best For Higher Budgets
6Jorg Gray JG6500 Chronograph Watch
Jorg Gray - Men's JG6500 Analog Watch
Best For Higher Budgets
Jorg Gray JG6500 Chronograph Watch
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7 Tag Heuer - Formula 1 43mm Men CAZ1014.BA0842 Watch Tag Heuer Formula 1 CAZ1014.BA0842 Chronograph Watch
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8 Fossil - Women's Riley Watch Fossil Riley Chronograph Watch
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9 Fossil - Women's Modern Courier Watch Fossil Modern Courier Chronograph Watch
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1. Citizen Men's CA0649-06X Chronograph Watch

Highlights
  • 1/5 second chronograph
  • Water-resistant
  • Recessed date window
  • Leather strap
Best Overall
Citizen - Men's 'Eco-Drive' Quartz CA0649-06X Watch

This Citizen chronograph watch boasts excellent craftsmanship and high-quality construction. Its movement provides precise time-telling, and its design is versatile, making it work with casual or formal outfits.

The leather band exudes elegance with its traditional design. It may seem stiff when you first put it on; however, it will mold itself around your wrist with time. 

Furthermore, the watch itself is easy-to-read, and the 1/5 second chronograph measures up to 60 minutes.

It’s also water-resistant up to 100 meters, therefore, safe for swimming and snorkeling, but remove it if you plan to go for deep-sea diving.

Overall, it’s an excellent long-lasting addition to your collection!

Specifications

Material:
Stainless Steel
Size:
5 x 5 x 0.7 inches
Movement:
Japanese Quartz
Case Diameter:
44 mm
Watch Strap:
22 mm leather band
Battery Life:
Lifelong

Pros

  • Elegant
  • Versatile
  • Easy to read
  • Durable

Cons

  • It seemed a little big on smaller wrists
  • A few users commented that the date display should have been larger

2. BOBO BIRD Wooden Chronograph Watch

Highlights
  • Wooden packaging
  • Three subdials
  • Japanese quartz movement
  • It comes with a band adjuster

This BOBO BIRD model is truly one of a kind. Featuring a robust construction with three contrasting black sub-dials, you won’t get these earthen aesthetics from any other watch. 

Its handmade wooden construction doesn’t bunch up around the wrist and adds to its overall comfort.

Additionally, if you’re looking to gift someone a watch, this is an excellent option, thanks to the wooden packaging it comes in. 

It adds to the novelty factor and makes opening the gift a fun experience! 

Moreover, it features a Japanese quartz movement that is highly accurate and in line with most high-quality chronograph watches.

If you happen to get bored of edgy chronograph designs, this wooden timepiece will make for an exciting addition to your watch collection. 

This model delivers high-end chronograph features and precise timekeeping while boasting a unique wooden design.

Specifications

Material:
Wood and Metal
Size:
3.78 x 3.78 x 3.74 inches
Movement:
Japanese Quartz
Case Diameter:
44 mm
Watch Strap:
21 mm wooden and stainless steel band
Battery Life:
1 to 2 years

Pros

  • Exquisite design
  • Precise time-telling
  • Lightweight
  • Easy-to-clean

Cons

  • Some users complained about the clasp getting undone at times
  • Some users said that the watch should come with more instructions on how to use the stopwatch feature properly

3. Citizen BL5551-06L Chronograph Watch

Highlights
  • Screw back case
  • Eco-Drive technology
  • 1/20 second chronograph
  • Tachymeter

This Citizen calendar chronograph watch features Eco-Drive technology to charge its permanent rechargeable energy cell by converting light.

It also has a precise and accurate 1/20 second chronograph stopwatch combination. And to add to its functionality and useability, it includes a tachymeter and an alarm.

This watch comes encased in a lightweight, sturdy titanium case that is extremely comfortable on the wrist, even for extended all-day wear.

This model also sports a rotating bezel and a screw-back. And perhaps the most useful feature is that it’s water-resistant up to 100 meters!

But it’s not all function; it also focuses on form! The watch comes with a brown leather strap that exudes elegance and dovetails with the already exquisite case.

Specifications

Material:
Titanium
Size:
5 x 5 x 0.7 inches
Movement:
Quartz
Case Diameter:
43 mm
Watch Strap:
22 mm leather strap
Battery Life:
Lifelong/Solar Powered

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Durable
  • Comfortable
  • Stylish

Cons

  • Suitable for swimming and snorkeling, but not for diving

4. Fossil Machine Chronograph Watch

Highlights
  • Hardened mineral crystal
  • Knurled top ring
  • Interchangeable bands
  • Water-resistant

The Fossil Machine has a distinctive look and feel to it! Its unique leather band is effortlessly cool and exudes a masculine aura. 

With a rugged design, an oversized case, and aeronautically inspired gauges. It harkens back to the industrial age with its knurled design.

This watch is versatile, can be dressed up or down, and is a safe investment if you’re looking for a no-nonsense chronograph option for everyday wear. 

And the best part is that it’s inexpensive, offering great value for your money. You can’t go wrong with this elegant chronograph model on your wrist.

Specifications

Material:
Stainless Steel
Size:
2.91 x 5.75 x 4.8 inches
Movement:
Quartz
Case Diameter:
42 mm
Watch Strap:
22 mm leather band
Battery Life:
4 to 6 years

Pros

  • Versatile
  • Elegant
  • Easy-to-read
  • Durable

Cons

  • People with slim wrists found difficulty in getting a precise fitting
  • Some users found difficulty telling time in dim and dark environments

5. Fossil Commuter Chronograph Watch

Highlights
  • Water-resistant
  • Mineral crystal
  • Interchangeable band
  • Minimalist design
Best For Low Budgets
Fossil - Men's Commuter Watch

Whether you’re looking for a casual watch for everyday use or a more formal option for your collection, the Commuter Chronograph by Fossil is right up your alley! 

It features a black and white hand complemented with solid accents and a white face, features that come together to exude an aura of elegance.

This timepiece draws inspiration from classic, turn-of-the-century watches, and it stands out for its minimalistic design. It’s elegant and classy yet extremely versatile at the same time.

The Commuter model also features a dark brown leather band that is interchangeable with other Fossil bands.

This minimal rendition of a traditional wirelug case boasts a sophisticated dial and is also water-resistant enough to handle swimming and snorkeling.

Specifications

Material:
Stainless Steel
Size:
2.83 x 3.54 x 3.54 inches
Movement:
Quartz
Case Diameter:
42 mm
Watch Strap:
22 mm leather band
Battery Life:
4 to 6 years

Pros

  • Easy to read
  • Comfortable
  • Durable
  • Water-resistant to 330 feet

Cons

  • Works fine when bathing, swimming, or snorkeling, but do remove it when going for scuba diving

6. Jorg Gray JG6500 Chronograph Watch

Highlights
  • Scratch-resistant mineral crystal
  • Luminous hand and hour marking
  • Interchangeable bands
  • Commemorative edition
Best For Higher Budgets
Jorg Gray - Men's JG6500 Analog Watch

This Jorg Gray watch makes an impression on your wrist yet is incredibly light and can be worn a full day without the slightest discomfort. It comes in various sleek colorways and gives off a confident vibe.

This model boasts high-quality construction, with the overall feel being that of an expensive Swiss watch. The size is also just the right fit for most wearers, neither too large nor too small. 

Furthermore, the case is large enough to provide easy reding from all angles but never hangs off your wrist. The strap is also exceedingly comfortable to wear. 

And lastly, its movement is exact – so much so that the US president chooses to rely on a Jorg Gray model!

Specifications

Material:
Stainless Steel
Size:
0.39 x 0.39 x 0.39 inches
Movement:
High precision Japanese chronograph
Case Diameter:
41 mm
Watch Strap:
22 mm leather band
Battery Life:
4 to 6 years

Pros

  • Elegant
  • Easy to read
  • Lightweight
  • Water-resistant to 330 feet

Cons

  • It sits perfectly on small and medium wrists, but some people with larger than average wrists had to replace straps
  • Some users felt that the watch is not heavy as other comparable models

7. Tag Heuer Formula 1 CAZ1014.BA0842 Chronograph Watch

Highlights
  • Fixed bezel
  • Screw down crown
  • Luminous hands
  • Quality build

If you want a timepiece that will attract all eyes in a room, consider investing in Formula 1, a chronograph watch by Tag Heuer.

It breaks away from the monotony of conventional watches, with a blue dial contrasted with luminous hands that make a statement while making it easy to read. 

This timepiece is encapsulated in a stainless steel case and comes with a silver-tone stainless steel band. It is elegant and is sure to elevate your wardrobe with its classy design.

Furthermore, it boasts a heavy-duty construction with a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, a fixed bezel, and a screw-down crown. 

It’s safe for swimming and snorkeling and is a smart investment if you have an active lifestyle. If you’re a fan of Swiss watches, this should be top of your list.

Specifications

Material:
Stainless Steel
Size:
4.72 x 4.72 x 4.72 inches
Movement:
Quartz
Case Diameter:
43 mm
Watch Strap:
22 mm stainless steel band
Battery Life:
2 years

Pros

  • High-quality construction
  • Scratch-resistant
  • Water-resistant
  • Luminous silver-tone hands

Cons

  • Some users reported that their watch did not come with a warranty card

8. Fossil Riley Chronograph Watch

Highlights
  • Water-resistant
  • Three subdials
  • Rhinestone embellishment
  • Sturdy build

This rose-gold model by Fossil is an eye-catcher and bound to make you the center of attention for every occasion. 

Its pink tone is a nice break from the conventional gold and silver-toned watches, and it is very nicely complemented by the stunning collection of Rhinestones. 

Furthermore, Fossil has focused on ensuring high-quality construction on this model, and it exudes exclusivity and luxuriousness.

This model also has three separate dials for the date, day, and time like any real chronograph! 

Designed to be versatile, it is just the right size for the average watch-wearer, being neither too large nor too small. It also boasts a dial that offers easy reading.

Specifications

Material:
Stainless steel
Size:
3.94 x 3.94 x 1.97 inches
Movement:
Quartz
Case Diameter:
38 mm
Watch Strap:
18 mm stainless steel band
Battery Life:
5 years

Pros

  • Easy to read
  • Versatile
  • Elegant
  • Robust design

Cons

  • Some users found difficulty telling time in bright environments

9. Fossil Modern Courier Chronograph Watch

Highlights
  • Gold-tone
  • Interchangeable bands
  • Roman numerals
  • Water-resistant

This Fossil watch for women boasts of a beautiful wine tone and a distinguished finish. It’s certainly worth the investment if you’re looking to make a fashion statement. 

This exquisite model features a gold-tone dial with Roman numerals that add to its mystique. And the impeccable design is complemented with a gold-tone stainless steel bracelet.

Moreover, it is water-resistant enough to handle short swimming or showering sessions. Like all Fossil watches, this allows you to change bands if you want to switch things up.

And if you want to gift it to your loved one, Fossil will let you engrave a customized message or name from one of their stores!

Therefore, if on the lookout for a classy option for yourself or your loved one, this is the right choice for you.

Specifications

Material:
Stainless Steel
Size:
3.5 x 3.5 x 2.9 inches
Movement:
Quartz
Case Diameter:
40 mm
Watch Strap:
18 mm stainless steel band
Battery Life:
3 to 5 years

Pros

  • Elegant
  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable
  • Robust build

Cons

  • It can get scratched up if not worn with care

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.

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.

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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