Our Top Five Automatic Chronographs unveiled at Baselworld 2018
2018 is coming to an end, it is time, therefore, to review some of the timepieces unveiled this year. There is no doubt chronographs are among the most coveted watches, although I have to confess this is actually not my favorite complication. I think there are mechanical complications that are far more useful and fascinating than a chronograph, such as a world timer or a three-hand with moon phases for example. One of the reasons why they are so appealing to a wide audience is because they represent, in my opinion, a well-rooted category in the heart of watch aficionados and their popularity has been fueled by iconic sporting events (i.e., the Rolex Daytona) or great discoveries (the Moon Landing). In this "Top Five" related article, I picked five chronographs from all those Matteo Bulla, and I, have covered over the last eight months.
Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Chronograph Dark Side of the Moon Apollo 8 - The icon has been turned upside down
It is undoubtedly the most relevant chronograph of this list, as it marks the very first-time Omega designers have decided to re-engineer the Moonwatch consistently. The Speedmaster Moonwatch Chronograph Dark Side of the Moon Apollo 8, officially revealed at Baselworld 2018, has hit the stores in the last quarter of the year and represents the most radical upgrade of the Moonwatch ever since, thus opening unexpected scenarios as we are approaching the celebrations of the 50 years from the first moon landing.
For the first time ever in the history of the Speedmaster, the ceramic case has been adopted on the iconic three-register Chrono, and the dial has been skeletonized to reveal a blackened movement inside. Moreover, the caliber has been laser-ablated to produce realistic imagery of the lunar surface's dark side. Everything you need to know about the Speedmaster Moonwatch Chronograph Dark Side of the Moon Apollo 8 is carefully detailed in a beautiful article written by Matteo Bulla.
Rado HyperChrome Skeleton Automatic Chronograph Limited Edition - You may like it or not, but it's unique in the world (and extremely complicated to be industrially produced)
The Rado HyperChrome Skeleton Automatic Chronograph Limited Edition is the most extreme version of the HyperChrome Chrono and, if we exclude some models produced in limited series and other ones not under the radar like the D-Star Chronograph Rattrapante, is also the most exclusive Rado ever built.
It is clearly a flagship model, whose price tag (7150€) is over 50% higher than the average selling price of a standard HyperChrome Chrono. Its specs are all but trivial: the dial is entirely skeletonized, and CNC machined and case and bracelet employ no less than four different materials or ceramic composites. Please read what I think about the HyperChrome Skeleton by reading this hands-on review.
Chopard Mille Miglia Classic Chronograph Racing Colors Edition - the Mille Miglia Chrono returns, after thirty years, to its origins.
The Chopard Mille Miglia belongs to a category of its own and the Mille Miglia Classic Chronograph Racing Colors Edition is the latest iteration in a series of chronographs to have adopted the Mille Miglia logo. Chopard has made many, perhaps too many, versions of the Mille Miglia Chronograph over the years, some of which are controversial in my opinion.
Although the 2016 Chopard Mille Miglia XL Race Edition equipped with in-house movement is the most refined Mille Miglia Chrono ever produced, I reckon that the classic three-register Chrono with a colored dial made to celebrate the thirty years of the partnership between the Mille Miglia and Chopard is the quintessential classic sports Chrono.
The Oris Carl Brashear Chronograph Limited Edition - Good first, excellent second
Please raise your hand if you were not among those ones, in 2016, eagerly looking for an Oris Carl Brashear Limited Edition. Oris has imbued a special version of its Divers Sixty-Five with a beautiful story, masterfully interpreted on the screen by Oscar Award winner Cuba Gooding Jr. The Carl Brashear Limited Edition watch was the first case in which an Oris entered the realm of those watches who see their value increase in a short time.
Thanks to a perfect combination of a competitive price and exclusive features like a bronze case, fans got crazy and competed each-other to get their hands on one of the 2000 specimens of the timepiece. This year, the brand has raised the bar (and the price tag too), by unveiling the Oris Carl Brashear Chronograph Limited Edition. Featuring a bi-compax lay-out and no date window, along with perfectly sized mushroom Chrono buttons, the Oris Carl Brashear Chronograph Limited Edition is one of the coolest chronographs on the market. Meanwhile, I invite you to read my in-depth article you may find on here.
The Hamilton Intra-Matic Chronograph Panda Dial 40mm - perfect proportions, fair price
It is the last, but certainly not the least. It could easily rank at the top of this list. The brand has this year replicated the success of the Hamilton Intra-Matic 68 Chrono with a reverse panda dial by presenting a new Chrono equipped with a panda dial, whose steel case is 40mm wide, hence 2mm smaller than the 2017 version. It is a feat that makes it stylistically more balanced and far more credible in the eyes of those who look for a vintage-inspired bi-compax Chrono.
I think Hamilton has done a great job with the Intra-Matic collection and I believe this chronograph is one of the most interesting Hamilton watches launched this year too. Full details can be found right here.
(Photo credit: Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting by Peter Tung)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®