A chronograph gives the wearer the innate ability to measure a time interval. As easily as this can be done by your iPhone, that task is made that much more difficult using a mechanical watch. You can imagine how tough a job it is for a mechanical watch to accurately monitor and tell the time, now add to that the recording of another time interval on top of it performing to a relatively accurate standard, and what you get is a feat of engineering that is ridiculously under appreciated.
The mechanical chronograph is perhaps one of the all-time greatest watch complications. Its simplistic task belies just how complex and arduous a job the watchmaker had on his or her hands in designing and creating this system of microscopic gears, wheels and pinions. Here's a list of some of the best chronographs that you can buy and wear every single day that will perform, entertain and thrill you at every single beat.
Rolex Daytona 116500
The case can definitely be made for the Rolex Daytona being the best daily wearer chronograph. Its subtle, discreet and timeless design makes for the ideal chronograph that you can wear while you go about your day. It's tough as nails, has pedigree to boot and is arguably one of the hottest watches on the planet. As an entry level chronograph the Daytona is probably as good as it's going to get. If the white dial isn't to your liking, then perhaps the black dial variant, which is my preference too, is more up your alley.
Patek Philippe 5990A Nautilus Travel Time Chronograph
Now we're talking. The now discontinued 5990-1A-001 is a brilliant little piece that really comes into its own when you consider what horological might it packs. From the perspective of a daily wearer chronograph, the Patek Philippe 5990A Nautilus Travel Time Chronograph goes above and beyond. We've got a chronograph, a dual time zone mechanism that indicates local and home time, as well as a date indicator. All of this bundled up in one of the most iconic case designs, ever. Wearable, travel-friendly and just plain mega. Buy it here on Jomashop.
Like the Rolex Daytona, the Omega Speedmaster has plenty to fall back on. A rich, deep history rooted in exploration and overcoming adversity, demand that is ripe for the picking, astonishingly well put together and more than capable of serving as your life-long daily wearing partner before you hand it down to your lucky predecessor. The Omega Speedmaster holds its own against the Rolex Daytona in terms of price, too. Being significantly cheaper, the Speedy does draw tons of appeal in a financial sense as well. But don't let that fool you -- this is a bona fide legend of modern watchmaking and has been for well over half a century.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph
Virtually any stainless steel Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph reference would serve the purpose as the ultimate daily wearer chronograph, but the 26315ST.OO.1256ST.02 reference is my pick of the lot. I love its grey monochromatic look that has the benefit of not only flying under the radar but also looking great paired with a variety of outfits. Buy it here on Jomashop.
Breitling Super Chronomat 4 Year Calendar
Breitling is known for its chronographs, with the Navitimer serving as the maison's most distinct and recognisable model. But my heart lies with the avant garde Super Chronomat 4 Year Calendar. I really like a busy and information-laden dial, so the addition of a four year calendar (not a perpetual or annual calendar) is a welcomed feature. If the calendar model is too much to handle, then the standard chronograph Chronomat might be more to your liking, but to be quite frank I am struggling to find a reason why the Breitling Super Chronomat 4 Year Calendar isn't going to do it for you. But I can see why you would prefer to go the more traditional route, where the Navitimer 01 is going to definitely fit the bill for you, as they say.
Breguet Marine Chronograph 5827BB/12/5ZU
Here's something out of left field for your perusal, the magnificent Breguet Marine Chronograph 5827BB/12/5ZU. This is not going to be your stereotypical chronograph but it's one that offers a lot of interesting details that may have gone remiss with the other pieces on this list. Namely that dial and case. The dial features a variety of different textures and finishings, and has a very intriguing asymmetrical layout with its off centre sub-dials. The case is a work of art too, with those massive exposed chronograph pushers, steeped lugs and thick bezel. I also love the fact that it comes on a rubber strap, which does limit how much you can dress it up but I suppose a thick leather strap would give it enough poise to pair with something at least semi-formal.
Girard-Perregaux Laureato Chronograph
The Girard-Perregaux Laureato Chronograph is a watch that I was fortunate enough to spend a lot of time hands on with, and it's a piece that I would have no hesitation in picking to solve the daily wearer chronograph conundrum. It's panda-stylised dial, blued steel hands and hour markers, deep Clous de Paris guilloche dial and supremely well finished case really makes for a considerably plausible package. Prices have risen as of late for these, but you can pick them up for a lot less than its counterparts.
Panerai Luminor Chrono Monopulsante 8 Giorni PAM01135
The Panerai Luminor Chrono Monopulsante 8 Giorni GMT Blu Notte PAM01135 is a stunning example of multi-faceted watchmaking. It serves as a diver's watch, as a chronograph and as a GMT, all rolled up in a package that is undeniably intriguing and just downright cool. Love that blue facade and black ceramic case.
IWC Pilot's Watch Chronograph Top Gun "Lake Tahoe"
IWC's Pilot's Watch Chronograph Top Gun Edition "Lake Tahoe" reference IW389105 packs some serious punch with a touch of differentiation from the rest of the pieces on this list. Like the Panerai Luminor Chrono Monopulsante 8 Giorni GMT Blu Notte PAM01135, the IWC Pilot's Watch Chronograph Top Gun Edition "Lake Tahoe" is distinct, features an obscure yet wholly appealing colour aesthetic and is undeniably cool. Not your average daily wearer chronograph, but a definitive consideration nonetheless.
This page contains affiliate links to products from our partners. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.