Thread: Rugged, Tough, Accurate Chronograph Movements

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  1. #1
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    Rugged, Tough, Accurate Chronograph Movements

    Hello, I'm looking to pick up something either vintage or modern that uses a really tough, long lasting, and fairly accurate chronograph movement. I know that the Lemania 5100 is popular among military watch enthusiasts, but are there any other recommendations?

    ETA, Lemania, Valjoux, in-house, whatever. If it's rugged and can take a beating, and I can expect about +/- 10 per day, I'd love to know what it is. I'll figure out who used it in what models after that, or maybe even put together my first watch.

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    Re: Rugged, Tough, Accurate Chronograph Movements

    The workhorse ETA Valjoux 7750 is the most commonly found Swiss automatic chronograph movement. In my experience even the lowest grade 7750 is capable of an accuracy of 1 to 2 seconds/day. Look at the Hamilton Khaki Automatic chronographs if you are interested in the 7750 and want good value for your money.

    Also for a lot less money you can obtain Chinese watches with the manual wind Seagull ST-19 movement version of the Swiss Venus 175. Seagull uses equipment purchased from Venus back in the 1960s. These movements are very visually striking. Go over to the Chinese watch section and peruse the stickies for info on the ST-19.

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    Re: Rugged, Tough, Accurate Chronograph Movements

    RON in PA has given some good suggestions. Also consider the Seiko 6139/6138 based chronographs and the Zenith El Primero (PHC3019, 400, etc.). Even today (after over 40 years), the El Primero is still one of the most accurate and reliable automatic chronograph movements.

    Plenty of sturdy handwind chrono movements from Valjoux, Lemania, Landeron, Angelus, Minerva, Leonidas, etc. (for the last four mentioned, you'll find just vintage examples).
    Last edited by v76; July 6th, 2010 at 17:34.
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    Re: Rugged, Tough, Accurate Chronograph Movements

    I guess you want to go modern, and appropriate suggestions have already been made. If vintage is your thing though, look at the Valjoux 72 - the original movement used in the Rolex Daytona, but a lot of less expensive watches also like some Longines (called the caliber 330 and 332), Breitling, and the first Benrus Sky Chiefs. For a more affordable Valjoux caliber, anything from the 77xx series (except the 7730 - not as durable or accurate) would be a good option. Venus 2 register (caliber 188) or 3 register (caliber 175) movements are good values too and were also found in some very nice watches including Breitling and later Benrus Sky Chiefs. There a a plethora of vintage chronographs out there, but that's good for now unless you want more info on the oldies.

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    Re: Rugged, Tough, Accurate Chronograph Movements

    Great suggestions, thanks! I didn't know the El Primero was so tough (though this is probably emblematic of my Zenith ignorance in general). I have had my eyes on the IV for a little while now, and if it can survive whack after whack after being tossed from a moving vehicle all the better.

    I'd heard some bad things about Seiko's mechanical watches (Bond watch breaks after being dropped on carpet, diver gains a twenty seconds a minute after being dropped on the ground), but I'll research the 6139/6138 movements.

    I've never been crazy about the look of Hamilton's Khaki watches, but I'll look at other companies that used or modded the Valjoux 7750. I know about the 72 being used by Rolex, but I didn't know it was famous for being so hardy. Thanks for the tips.

    On a side note my current "rugged" watch is a Speedmaster Professional: the Omega 1816 movement is great and the accuracy is fair, but in the event of something hitting me at a high velocity, I really don't want to lose it. It has already survived being thrown out of a car at fifty miles per hour, I don't want to put it through too much additional stress.
    Last edited by pandamonium; July 7th, 2010 at 01:49.

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    v76
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    Re: Rugged, Tough, Accurate Chronograph Movements

    The 6138/6139 Seiko calibers are vintages, they'd be pre-1980s. The 6139 is older and a single-register chronograph whereas the 6138 is a two-register chrono. I know plenty of El Primeros which are still running well after over 30 years of use (and daily abuse) with little to no servicing.

    The most robust chronograph movements would typically be handwind. If you're looking for toughness, you can't go wrong with the handwind movements from Valjoux, Lemania and Venus (all vintage now, the first two companies now held by Swatch), the ones mentioned by ulackfocus are famous calibers.
    Last edited by v76; July 7th, 2010 at 02:11.
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    Re: Rugged, Tough, Accurate Chronograph Movements

    Dont forget the russian Poljot 3133 movement or 3164x movement.

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    Re: Rugged, Tough, Accurate Chronograph Movements

    Quote Originally Posted by v76 View Post
    The 6138/6139 Seiko calibers are vintages, they'd be pre-1980s. The 6139 is older and a single-register chronograph whereas the 6138 is a two-register chrono. I know plenty of El Primeros which are still running well after over 30 years of use (and daily abuse) with little to no servicing.

    The most robust chronograph movements would typically be handwind. If you're looking for toughness, you can't go wrong with the handwind movements from Valjoux, Lemania and Venus (all vintage now, the first two companies now held by Swatch), the ones mentioned by ulackfocus are famous calibers.
    That's actually the reason I chose the Speedy Pro over the automatic: I'd emailed Robert-Jan Broer, the old admin at Omega Addict, about using the Speedy as an everyday beater. He suggested the manual over the automatic as there was less to go wrong inside. Great suggestion and it has probably saved my girl a couple of times.

    Apparently the Lemania 5100 was automatic only: the manual version was the 5200, which I cannot find (other than an auction or two on ebay). The Valjoux 7760 looks more popular (and inexpensive), and there are some other interesting members of that family with the 7761 and the 7765. Apparently the El Primero's all have automatic movement, but that doesn't sound right, I'm sure Zenith put out some that were manual. Anyone know a reference number?

    I'll also do some research on the Seagull ST-19: I hadn't really been very interested in Chinese watches in the past, but the Seagull has no quality issues and uses the same equipment that Venus used in the 60s, perhaps I'll find something I can use.

    I'm a little hesitant about picking up a vintage piece (early 1950s and before) because of the implied maintenance costs and availability of replacement pieces. Since I plan to make this watch my "hard" beater, I don't want to invest thousands and several hours of waiting just to find out I busted it.

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    Re: Rugged, Tough, Accurate Chronograph Movements

    Quote Originally Posted by pandamonium View Post
    Apparently the El Primero's all have automatic movement, but that doesn't sound right, I'm sure Zenith put out some that were manual. Anyone know a reference number?
    The caliber 420 was a manual wind El Primero, but I don't know if it's still currently in production.

    Quote Originally Posted by pandamonium View Post
    I'm a little hesitant about picking up a vintage piece (early 1950s and before) because of the implied maintenance costs and availability of replacement pieces. Since I plan to make this watch my "hard" beater, I don't want to invest thousands and several hours of waiting just to find out I busted it.
    Makes sense - scrap the vintage idea just to be safe. Something from the 80's or newer should be fine.

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    Re: Rugged, Tough, Accurate Chronograph Movements

    If you're after a true beater, and it really has to be a mechanical chrono, I don't think you'll do better than an Alpha USA 'Paul Newman'.





    It's got the Sea-Gull ST19 inside, display caseback, and I think it has an acrylic crystal (the standard Alpha version does). At US$140 (plus a few bucks for a NATO ), it's no great loss if and when you eventually kill it. And it's currently advertised at US$110.
    Last edited by jason_recliner; July 7th, 2010 at 13:18.
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