Classy chronographs

Functional, practical and very often good-looking, the chronograph appeals to a wide demographic. In its earliest years, the chronograph was an important tool used only by professionals, such as scientists and sportsmen and women, to measure time, but as the development of the complication advanced, so did its appeal.

Alexander Schmiedt, director of category management watches for Montblanc, says the chronograph fascinates because of the complexity of the movement and the counter dial. The movement is difficult to construct because many intricate components need to be synchronised for it to operate precisely. The chronograph has played a significant role in the development of Montblanc timepieces. Its TimeWalker TwinFly Chronograph contains a new calibre MBLL 100, a state-of-the-art movement containing all the elements of a haute horlogerie engine, including a column wheel, vertical clutch disc and double spring barrel with 72 hours' power reserve. "The construction of the chronograph function with both the minute and the seconds chronograph hands on one axis in the centre - thus the name TwinFly - gives the watch a unique, immediately identifiable look," Schmiedt says. Montblanc also added a 24-hour time zone function that is a standard feature on models in the watchmaker's Rieussec collection, putting it at the top of the TimeWalker family tree.

Ballon Bleu de Cartier quickly became the new star in the watchmaker's collection when it debuted five years ago. Defined by its pebble-shaped case and a sapphire cabochon attached to the crown of every model, the watch straddles the line between classicism and the future of Cartier.

The new Ballon Bleu de Cartier Chronograph for men provides a more accessible entry point while complementing the existing precious versions, says Tamie Toledano, Cartier's marketing and communications director for the Far East. The watch is fitted with Cartier's 8101 MC movement, with a two-counter dial and date window displaying its performance, while a larger 44mm case gives it a masculine and sporty edge.

Tag Heuer has pioneered the chronograph sector from the day Charles-August Heuer introduced the 1/100th Mikrograph stopwatch in 1916. The new Carrera Mikrograph 1/100th Second Chronograph marks a world first for its column wheel and integrated mechanical chronograph that displays 100th of a second with a striking central hand. Its defining characteristics are two balance wheels with separate escapements and transmission systems, one for the watch and one for the chronograph. Jean-Christophe Babin, CEO of Tag Heuer, says the Mikrograph sets a new milestone in grande complications and rewrites history in the field of high-frequency movements. "It is the quest to master time that has shaped and obsessed Tag Heuer for the past 150 years," he says, adding that the quest for speed is one of humanity's perpetual goals. "Without time, speed is nothing."

Panerai adds a special edition model to its chronographs with an equally extraordinary name. The Luminor 1950 Chrono Monopulsante Left-handed 8 Days Titanio is a 44mm titanium watch with a hand-wound P.2004/9 calibre. The movement has three spring barrels providing a power reserve of eight days, plus a seconds reset function that sets the seconds hand to zero, synchronising the watch with the reference time signal.

The winding crown on the left side of the case is a reference to the watches provided to the Italian navy in the 1940s, when frogmen already wearing a compass or depth gauge on the left wrist needed a watch that could be worn on the right wrist.

Baume & Mercier has also boosted its classic Hampton collection with a new chronograph reference. The Hampton ref. 10031 is an automatic chronograph version with counters sporting just a touch of red to dress up the dial, a size of 30mm x 47mm and an ETA 2894 movement. It comes with an elegant dark brown alligator strap. Breitling combines the mechanics of a chronograph with a dual time zone for its new Chronomat GMT. The watch contains a new calibre 4 that evolved from the watchmaker's high-performance, self-winding calibre 1. The movement is paired with a patent-pending differential system that disconnects the local hour hand from the gear train when switching time zones, thereby not affecting precision or performance.

Gilbert Ho, general manager of Breitling Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, says the watch boasts unprecedented travel friendliness without losing any precision in counting the minutes. "It is one of the rare chronographs to offer a smoothly functional dual time zone system," he says.Three new models join the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore chronograph series. Each model is fitted with a self-winding movement with an instant-jump date mechanism, 60-hour power reserve and stop seconds device.

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