For those who live life at high speed, whether recording the morning jog or lap times at Kyalami on the weekend, there’s nothing quite like engaging with the stopwatch functionality of an automatic chronograph. Continuously aiming to improve our personal bests, we obsessively monitor every heartbeat, step and kilometer. Although this is recorded via apps and digital devices strapped to our wrist, mankind has been keeping pace of his movements way before FitBit or Apple Watch appeared on the scene. Our fascination with motor racing and speed has lead to some pretty remarkable releases in the world of watches.
Here are a few of our current favourites and some of their key features explained.
1. Dial (or face)
2. Crystal is the glass protecting the dial
3. Case is the main body of the watch, which house the mechanical parts
4. Crown is used to adjust the date and time settings and on the case of non-automatic mechanical watches, it is used to wind a watch.
5. Bezel - this is the outer ring surrounding the crystal. Diver’s watches and chronographs have indexed bezels to assist with monitoring elapsed time. A bezel can be fixed or rotating.
6. Tachymeter scale - either inscribed around the outer edge of the dial or on the bezel. It is used to calculate speed based on travel time or to measure distance based on speed.
7. Lugs (where strap or bracelet is connected to the case)
8. Strap (leather or woven cloth) or bracelet (metal)
9. Date aperture
10. The chronograph is the stopwatch ‘complication’ — the function of a more complicated mechanical movement in a watch that is beyond the simple display of hours and minutes — with an independent sweeping second hand. The button at 2 o’clock is to start and stop the timer and the button at 4 o’clock is to reset to zero. More complex ‘flyback’ chronographs allow the timing hand to be rapidly reset using only one button. Additional complications can include sub-dials to measure lapsed seconds, minutes, hours or even more accurately, the tenths of a second.
OMEGA SPEEDMASTER RACING MASTER CHRONOMETER
The original Speedmaster 'Broad Arrow' was created in 1957 and was so named because of its distinctive hands. It is not only one of the most iconic chronographs, it was the first chronograph wristwatch with its tachymeter scale engraved on the bezel — a feature designed for the benefit of racing drivers. The Speedmaster Racing Master Chronometer with 44.25mm case on leather and perforated orange rubber strap referencing a particularly rare racing dial from 1968 with its distinctive bicolor track-style minute markers, orange baton hands and logo. Its motor racing heritage is revealed this time with a matt black dial featuring orange markings and bevelled 18K white gold arrowhead indexes. Its polished ceramic bezel has a brushed Liquidmetal tachymeter scale for perfect legibility. If a watch has ‘chronometer’ in its name then you can rest assured that it has tested and certified to have met very high standards of precision, this watch powered by the very reliable automatic-winding calibre 9900. POA, call Swatch Group for stockists on 0119111200 or visit omega.com.
TUDOR HERITAGE BLACK BAY CHRONOGRAPH
This sporty piece is the first chronograph in the Heritage Black Bay family and is powered by the their Calibre MT5813, which features a column wheel mechanism and vertical clutch for extremely smooth operation of the chronograph function. Tudor’s links to motorsport go back to 1970 with the introduction of its Prince Oysterdate Chronograph. Aesthetically, this new timepiece is a hybrid of divers’ and motorsport watch. It is presented in a 41mm steel case with engraved tachymetric scale on the bezel and domed matt black dial and is sure to become a favourite on the racetrack. It boasts a 70-hour power reserve, a silicon balance spring and certification by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute, which is the ultimate stamp of approval for efficiency and accuracy. Tudor Heritage Black Bay Chronograph, R 71590 (on bracelet). Visit tudorwatch.com for stockists
IWC INGENIEUR ‘VINTAGE’ CHRONOGRAPHS
Signalling its commitment to classic motor racing, IWC Schaffhausen has chosen to celebrate its pole position as official timing partner at a number of premium events with updates to its Ingenieur collection. The Goodwood Motor Circuit in the UK is the site of the ultimate gatherings for speed junkies and lovers of classic sports cars playing host to historic events such as the Festival of Speed, Goodwood Revival and Members’ Meeting, which IWC Schaffhausen acknowledged last year with the 42mm Ingenieur Chronograph ‘74th Members’ Meeting at Goodwood' timepiece in solid red gold and featuring its new 69370 calibre chronograph movement. As a partner of the Passione Caracole rally, the company released the 42mm stainless steel Ingenieur Chronograph Edition ‘Rudolf Caracciola’ dedicated to the legendary racing driver who led the Mercedes-Benz team during the 1930s. The event takes participants from Stuttgart to Lugano via Schaffhausen the home of IWC. The slate coloured dial is framed by an clean, polished bezel, taking its cue from the dashboard of sports cars and featuring the tachymeter scale around its outer edge. The cross stitched calfskin strap is reminiscent of luxurious classic car interiors. iwc.com or RGL Africa 0113172600
MONTBLANC TIMEWALKER CHRONOGRAPH 1000 LIMITED EDITION 18
Race-track triumphs can now be accurately recorded to 1/1000th of a second thanks to this covetable piece, which is limited to and edition of 18 at €175000 (approx R2.5m). Ten years ago Montblanc acquired Minerva, which is responsible for the new calibre MB M 66.26 inside this 46.4mm chronograph in black diamond-like carbon titanium, which is part of the new family with their dial components inspired by car instrumentation. The double counter at 6 o’clock records the elapsed whole seconds (longer red-tipped hand) and minutes of up to 15 minutes. A full rotation of the main red center hand takes one second and indicates 1/100th of a second. The 1/1000th of a second is displayed at 12 o’clock along a 0 to 9 scale. Resting position is “N” for neutral. If you’re young, fast and furious but do not have a limited edition budget, the good news is that the collection also includes the TimeWalker Chronograph UTC at a more accessible R69300. Montblanc 0113255571 or montblanc.com.
BAUME & MERCIER CLIFTON CLUB SHELBY® COBRA 10344
The Clifton Club collection of contemporary classic, sports watches were introduced this year in the hope of appealing to young, active urbanites or the “gentlesportsman” as the company puts it. They also appeal to the pocket, with the five core models launching at between R25000 and R30000. Their pared-down, function-first aesthetic expresses the notion of ‘mens sana in corpore sano’, Latin for ‘a healthy mind in a healthy body’. This limited edition 44mm Clifton Club Shelby® Cobra 10344 is powered by a self-winding La Joux-Perret 8147-2 movement with flyback chronograph function and is limited to 196 pieces that reflects the top speed (in mph) of the iconic race car. Its racing links are further presented in the satin-finished dial, half blue and half silver, red chronograph hand with Cobra logo, tachymeter scale and calfskin strap embossed with a carbon-like pattern. On the back, an open sapphire crystal case is designed to look like the coupe’s iconic wheels. baume-et-mercier.com or RGL Africa 0113172600.
TAG HEUER AUTAVIA
A list of chronographs would be incomplete without a TAG. This masculine, contemporary take on the original Heuer ‘Rindt’ Autavia from the Sixties was selected by fans through an online poll and is a reissue of the model worn by F1 driver Jochen Rindt. Since its inception in 1860, the brand has been a leader in automotive and aviation chronographs — hence the contraction of AUTomobile and AVIAtion — and the 39mm Autavia created in 1962 was one of its icons. The latest generation recalls the tonneau-shaped case and bold bezel of those Autavias but with more imposing 42mm diameter case with bi-directional rotating bezel. It also features updated functions with the new Heuer-02 calibre proprietary chronograph movement, better water resistance and a sapphire crystal. Picot & Moss 0116690500 or tagheuer.com.