Here at aBlogtoWatch, we have covered our fair share of chronograph watches, and oftentimes they can be bunched into the “sportier” side of life. This isn’t to say that there aren’t chronographs out there that can be seen as dressy; in fact, with so many brands evolving their lines to include new materials and classier touches, the range of options have grown vastly to broaden the role that a chronograph can serve.
Whether it be a cleaner, uncluttered dial or a gold case, a chronograph can be just as much at home in a suit as it can with jeans and a t-shirt. Foregoing any loud color choices, styling, and general “sportiness,” these dressy chronographs are subtle without coming off stuffy or too formal – classy with something of an edge, you could say. The goal when looking for one is to find what works best for you, and we have compiled a list that should serve as a great “starting point” to your personal collection. With these things in mind, let’s take a look at just a few of your options.
Bulgari Octo Velocissimo Ultranero Chronograph
For all-around watch nerdiness, both are compelling timepieces but clearly different. Both also share a fondness for silicon – which Zenith is backing in a big way these days. Silicon is what makes movements like the ZO 342 even possible. Replacing metal with silicon is how these parts are able to move quickly and reliably. Unlike metal, silicon isn’t affected by temperature or magnetism, and because it has much lower friction, it doesn’t require lubrication. More so, the ability to cut very small, very precise parts allows for mechanisms not previously available when metal was more or less the only material option. These manufacturing options combined with computer modeling software have allowed for a new generation of mechanical watch movements such as the ZO 342 that combine traditional concepts of how a small machine tells the time, with a lot of modern know-how.
With its octagonal case, dressed up to shine thanks to a total of over 100 facets, polished and applied indices and a deep black dial, this Bulgari Octo Velocissimo strikes a rare balance between masculine, sporty design, and powerful restraint. Bulgari offers several variants in the Octo collection, so you can go from this all steel version all the way to the even more serious-looking version with a combination of a black DLC case and an 18k gold bezel, hands and indices.
It is not easy to successfully mix timeless, elegant design with unique treats. Thanks to this powerful mixture of curves and hard angles, shining bright and brushed surfaces, and a relatively small 41mm wide case, the Bulgari Octo Velocissimo does manage to tick a lot of boxes. The movement is a Zenith El Primero-based BVL328 that is stunning to view through the sapphire crystal back. Pricing starts $9,900 for the steel cased version on the black leather strap.
A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Chronograph
It would be hard to make a list like this without including the A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Chronograph. One of Germany’s finest watchmakers, Lange has never really been about large watches – and we have all forgotten about that experimental Lange 31 that was 46mm wide, right? The 1815, with its sleek white gold case, thin lugs and discreet, rectangular pushers is as classic in its look as they get. Chronographs of today do tend to be too bulky for the sake of being bulky, but at 39.5mm, this watch is ideally sized to suit its reserved wrist-presence.
Powered by the exquisite Caliber L951.5, the 1815 has a healthy power reserve of 60 hours. This particular A Lange & Söhne 1815 Chronograph Boutique Edition is professional-looking even with the added pulsometer on the flange ring and, with a dark-blue leather strap, should have no trouble to be matched to whatever you put on for your suit-up day. It won’t be on every other wrist either with a price of 49,000 Euros.
Cartier Rotonde Chronograph
Dressy elegance and Cartier are a match made in heaven. With this Rotonde de Cartier Chronograph (Reference CRWSRO0002), Cartier succeeded in designing a timepiece that truly embodies the exquisite finishing and classic styling the brand is known for. Some could argue that the dial is a bit busy, and though it might be, the large hands and trademark Cartier Roman numerals all make for above-average-legibility.
The stainless steel case is pictured here, but Cartier also offers the Rotonde in 18k white or pink gold – and even with the steel you, of course, also get the added touch of the blue spinel cabochon. . Consider this piece is powered by the in-house caliber 1904-CH MC and you have not only a beautiful watch, but also the added bragging rights of a proprietary movement. Priced at $9,050, the Rotonde de Cartier Chronograph is a true classic – albeit arguably not one with the most competitive price.
Vacheron Constantin Historique Cornes De Vache 1955 Chronograph
The Vacheron Constantin Historiques Cornes De Vache 1955 revives vintage chronograph vibes like hardly anything else released in recent years. At 38.5mm, this platinum reinterpretation of Vacheron’s Reference 6087 wears a little smaller than your average chronograph, and the famed “cow-horn” lugs add to the vintage-inspired touch. Its white dial is elegant and straight-forward and its thin baton hands are just the right length.
The in-house Calibre 1142 is the epitome of classic mechanical chronograph movement design, and the case’s sapphire crystal back permits an excellent view. The modest size of the Cornes De Vache, again a plus here, allows it to fit nicely under shirt cuffs and the dark alligator strap is smart and safe choice. Price, even with the platinum case and the remarkable movement, is up there at $75,000.
Patek Philippe 5170R-010
The Patek Philippe 5170R-010 has a rather similar dial layout to the Cartier and the Lange we have looked at above – and yet, the 5170R ends up being an incomparably different watch. Its dauphine hands, applied Breguet numerals and (relatively speaking) generously sized, 39.4 millimeter-wide rose gold case all make for a more powerful, and yet more classical look.
Patek Philippe does offer the 5170 in a few different versions, but it really is the rose gold (with either a white or black dial) that combines traditional with contemporary. Run by Patek’s hand-wound CH 29-535 PS, this is yet another look at the highest levels of traditional chronograph movement architecture. All this magnificence and the Patek name do come with a matching price: the Patek Philippe 5170R-010 is priced at $81,000.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph
Given the nature of this list, I would be remiss if I left out the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph. This watch makes the list for several reasons, first of which is its ability to blend in or stand out depending on your attire. The trademark AP “grande tapisserie” dial is available in a number of colors and is paired with either stainless steel or 18k gold case variants. The famous avant-garde styling of the Royal Oak lends itself well to a dressier nature and the stunning link band makes for a perfect combination.
You can change the vibe of the Royal Oak Chronograph easily by simply matching it to either a rubber strap, black or brown alligator options, or AP’s amazing bracelets – which are, of course, available in gold or steel. The movement cannot measure up to those offered by AP and VC, but the solid 2385 automatic caliber has sure been around long enough to be tried and proven by now. In gold, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph is priced at $38,500.