Whether it’s the design symmetry of the counters on the dial, the tactile satisfaction of clicking the stopwatch pushers, or the reams of history associated with cars, speed, space travel and adventure, the chronograph remains the most romantic, evocative and downright manly style of wristwatch there is.
And right now it’s the hottest thing in horology, for one inevitable reason: Rolex. The return to headline status of its legendary Cosmograph Daytona, thanks to an upgrade announced at the Baselworld watch fair in March, immediately gives added currency to other examples.
Rolex Cosmograph Daytona
Named after Florida’s Daytona Speedway and in production since 1963, the Cosmograph Daytona is the most famous chronograph of them all, and arguably the most desired watch in the world right now. Having left it alone for years, Rolex has gently upgraded it in 2016 with the addition of a black, scratchproof ceramic bezel, and minutely reconfigured markings – something of a hat-tip to the historic Daytona look. Rolex makes the Daytona in incredibly small numbers, which means waiting lists for the new models are already stretching well into next year. But who wouldn’t be prepared to wait a bit for a true legend?
Patek Philippe Reference 5170
£53,320, Wempe, 43-44 New Bond Street
Geneva’s august maison has a history of high-end chronograph production stretching back to the 1920s, and the reference 5170 is a ravishing example of Patek watchmaking at its most traditional. A hand-wound chronograph with a movement of exquisite complexity and finishing, it has a design that could have existed at any time in the last 70 years, and is newly available in rose gold with a luxurious black lacquer dial.
Zenith Heritage Pilot Café Racer
Zenith’s latest pilot’s chronograph is more enthused with the style of vintage motorbikes than planes: its recherché look is inspired by British “café racer” motorbike culture of the 1960s. The steel case, strap and dial have all been specially aged to give a sense of oily, lived-in patina, while inside it ticks Zenith’s El Primero movement – an engine that was once used to power Rolex’s Daytonas.
Watch This Space
Watch boutique and fine jeweller Wempe will host a special exhibition of the new Patek Philippe collection from 31 May until 4 June. Lynn Schroeder, managing director of the London boutique, says the exhibition, which will also include some of the retailer’s favourite pieces from past collections, will be the “perfect opportunity to dive into the world of Patek”. She added: “I’m particularly excited about the new World Timer pieces, which you really need to see up close to appreciate; no picture will do it justice. It’s a perfect combination of beauty and practicality.”