As the end of the year is fast approaching, it was about time for MONOCHROME’s editorial team to sit around the (virtual) table and to have a look back at all the new watches that have been introduced in 2020. Despite a complex situation and sales that are impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen numerous new models launched this year. Following our list of the most impressive complication watches, this week we take a look at one of our most beloved type of watches, the chronographs. From accessible to high-end, from sporty to elegant, here are our top 10 chronograph watches of 2020.
Note: this list is based on our own preferences. Feel free to share with us your favourite chronograph watches introduced this year in the comment box at the end of this article.
A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Rattrapante Honeygold
Released to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the foundation of the Saxon brand by F. A. Lange in 1815, alongside two other watches, the 1815 Rattrapante Honeygold is one of the most attractive models created by the brand in recent years. Not only it looks superb, with the classic look of the 1815 Chronograph, but it is also the first stand-alone split-seconds (Rattrapante) chronograph by A. Lange & Söhne. Presented in a soft and subtle Honeygold case, with a warm and opulent black dial, the movement reveals a top-tier decoration and complexity, as well as a finishing specific to the 175th anniversary collection, with frosted German silver bridges. A rare model, limited to 100 pieces. Let’s just hope for a non-limited 1815 Rattrapante soon.
Quick Facts: 41.2mm diameter – 18k Honeygold case – calibre L101.2, in-house, hand-wound split-seconds chronograph with two column wheels and horizontal clutch – 58h power reserve – reference 425.050 – limited to 100 pieces – EUR 130,000
Atelier de Chronométrie AdC#8 Split-Seconds Chronograph
Atelier de Chronométrie might need a short introduction, as we’re talking here niche watchmaking. Based in Barcelona, AdC is specialized in creating on-off watches based on restored, modified and hand-decorated vintage movements. Usually working on 3-hand Calatrava-styled watches, AdC this year presented a split-seconds chronograph, based on one their client’s request. And the result, named AdC#8, is simply spectacular. Using an old Venus 185 split-seconds chronograph movement as a base, AdC entirely restored and decorated this calibre to an incredible level. And, they created the watch itself, from scratch, by hand, with a design that is as handsome as the caseback. A pièce unique that makes us want to see more…
Quick Facts: 39.8mm diameter – 18k grey gold case – Venus 185 ébauche, restored, new parts crafted, decorated by hand – hand-wound split-seconds chronograph with two column-wheels, horizontal clutch – 36h power reserve – unique piece made only on request – As of EUR 85,000, price depending on options
Audemars Piguet [Re]master01 Selfwinding Chronograph
Often associated with the modern and bold Royal Oak watches, Audemars Piguet has this year demonstrated another facet of its savoir-faire, with a watch directly inspired by its past. The first of a collection named [Re]master, this chronograph is a modern evocation of one of the brand’s most handsome vintage chronographs, a 1943 two-tone watch known as the “Teardrop”. While the design is a direct reference to this watch, the specifications have been discreetly updated, with a slightly larger case and a modern automatic movement, based on the integrated in-house calibre launched together with Code 11.59. Explained as a “contemporary remastering,” it is a very desirable watch with a lot of charm.
Quick Facts: 40mm diameter – stainless steel case and lugs, 18k pink gold bezel, crown and pushers – Calibre 4409, in-house, automatic flyback chronograph with column-wheel and vertical clutch – 70h power reserve – reference 26595SR-OO-A032VE-01 – limited to 500 pieces – CHF 53,400
Bvlgari Aluminium Chronograph
Following the success of its Octo collection, this year Bvlgari revisits one of its emblematic models from the 1990s, the Aluminium watch, a provocative take on the sports watch with contemporary materials and winning Italian design. Created as an accessible and “fun” take on watchmaking, modelled after the Diagono collection, the 2020 Bvlgari Aluminium collection is a very cool design statement, available in this nice automatic chronograph version. Slightly modernized for the occasion, the case is made from matte aluminium and black rubber, worn on a bracelet made from the same combination of materials. A watch with great appeal and character, imposing design and playful spirit.
Quick Facts: 40mm diameter – aluminium case, titanium caseback, rubber bezel – B130 automatic calibre (base ETA 2894), modular automatic chronograph – 42h power reserve – reference 103383 – EUR 4,250
Certina DS Chronograph Automatic
One of the entry-level brands of the Swatch Group, Certina this year revisits its past with a handsome yet accessible remake of an elegant 1940s chronograph. Typical of this era, with its dial packed with scales and markers – busy with yet so charming – the Certina DS Chronograph Automatic presented this year made an impression here, at MONOCHROME. While enlarged (42mm) and built around a modern automatic movement, this watch manages to bring back all the elements of the vintage watch on its dial and case, resulting in a very appealing model. And considering the price (below 2K euros), the quality is excellent and the movement upgraded with a longer power reserve and silicon hairspring.
Quick Facts: 42mm diameter – stainless steel case – calibre A05.H31, base ETA 7753 with silicon hairspring – automatic cam-lever chronograph – 60h power reserve – reference C038.462.16.037.00 – EUR 1,920
H. Moser & Cie. Streamliner Flyback Chronograph
Introduced as a limited edition in January 2020, the Streamliner Flyback Chronograph comes back for the end of the year with a new dial and in the permanent collection. Inaugurating a brand new design for H. Moser & Cie., the Streamliner is an original take on the luxury sports watch with integrated bracelet, standing out thanks to its organic and fluid curves. The case and bracelet are superbly designed and executed and the dial, now in the signature “Funky Blue” fumé colour, comes with a minimalist display. This is due to the innovative and complex movement inside, the Agengraph – a complete re-engineering of the architecture of the chronograph, with a new coupling system combining the best of the vertical and horizontal clutch. Whatever the edition, the Streamliner Flyback Chronograph truly deserves its place in this list.
Quick Facts: 42.3mm diameter – stainless steel case – Calibre HMC 902, developed by Agenhor – automatic flyback chronograph with column-wheel and hybrid horizontal clutch with friction wheel – 54h power reserve – reference 6902-1201 – CHF 39,900
IWC Portugieser Chronograph 3716
One of the hardest things is to update an icon, without ruining what made it iconic… That was the task of IWC when upgrading its most emblematic watch in the Portugieser collection, the automatic chronograph. Born in the 1990s, this watch remained almost unchanged for 22 years, except for the occasional dial variations. In February 2020, IWC decided to modernize the Portugieser Chronograph. What changed…? Almost nothing in terms of design. Basically, except a few tenths of a millimetre here are there, a better-defined dial and an updated logo, the new reference 3716 is identical to the previous reference 3714. Except for one major update, an in-house movement replacing the ETA base. Now equipped with a column-wheel automatic calibre produced by IWC, the new Portugieser Chronograph 3716 is an important update… and being visually untouched, we love it.
Quick Facts: 41mm diameter – stainless steel case – Calibre 69355, in-house – automatic, integrated chronograph with column wheel – 46h power reserve – reference IW371605 (as seen here) – EUR 7,850
Longines Heritage Classic Tuxedo Chronograph
Not the most mechanically complex, not the most exclusive or the most luxurious watch of this list… but clearly one of the most beautiful. There was a clear consensus around the Longines Heritage Classic Tuxedo Chronograph as one of the most appealing chronographs of this year. Inspired by a 1940s watch produced by the brand, Longines has here slightly modernized the proportions (still compact at 40mm) but managed to recreate the dial in an extremely faithful way. In addition to that, the attention to details, considering the price range, is impressive. The Tux’ is powered by a proprietary automatic movement with modern specifications, contrasting with its lovely old-school look.
Quick Facts: 40mm diameter – stainless steel case – calibre L895 (ETA A31.L21) – proprietary automatic modular chronograph movement with silicon hairspring – 54h power reserve – reference L2.822.214.171.124 – EUR 2,880
Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Calibre 321
The conclusion of our review of the Speedmaster Moonwatch Calibre 321 was clear; “It is, without doubt, the ultimate Speedmaster.” So, without surprise, it couldn’t escape this list. f you’re a true Speedy enthusiast, it simply doesn’t get any better! An almost one-to-one recreation of the straight lug Speedmaster ST105.003, Omega has done an incredible job in terms of execution and details. The whole watch is superb, from the compact case to the flat-link bracelet or the step dial with vintage elements. But the best is not immediately visible, as Omega also recreated the historical Speedmaster movement, the iconic calibre 321. Seen from the back, the watch is even more appealing, with a movement that is identical to what was used in the 1960s, to closest details. The ultimate Speedmaster, period!
Quick Facts: 39.7mm diameter – stainless steel case – Omega Calibre 321, in-house – hand-wound chronograph with column wheel and horizontal clutch – 55h power reserve – reference 3126.96.36.199.01.001 – EUR 13,900
TAG Heuer Carrera 160 Years Silver Limited Edition
Yet another historically-inspired watch to conclude this top 10 of the best chronographs of 2020… But seeing the Carrera 160 Years Silver Edition, it hard to resist. Once again a watch with a vintage design and modern specification, TAG Heuer brings here all the beloved classic elements of early Carrera watch with a relatively compact diameter, a pure dial with a minimalistic approach, a sleek case and great colour combination. Inside the case is the brand’s in-house Heuer 02 calibre, which adds a comfortable power reserve and modern ease-of-use to this old-school chronograph. Once again, a handsome mix of vintage and modern.
Quick Facts: 39mm diameter – stainless steel case – Calibre Heuer 02, in-house – automatic integrated chronograph, column wheel and vertical clutch – 80h power reserve – reference CBK221B.FC6479 – Limited to 1,860 watches – EUR 5,850
This post first appeared on Monochrome Watches - An online magazine dedicated to fine watches.