Looking for my first mechanical chronograph. I've pondered on this for a couple of months now, and have seen dozens of options. My wrist size is exactly 7 inches. I don't necessarily have to get it right now, but I need to know what to get so I know how much to save for. If I wait for more than a year, it can also be my graduation watch.
So, here's my criteria and top 3 options. Feel free to show me what else you think I will like - likely I have already looked at it but you never know. I am however, more interested in how I could make a decision between the three I mention, considering they are at different price points. This is not my only watch - I have about 10 other watches (mostly divers and a couple dressy) but no chronographs.
- Valjoux 7750 or 7753 (or equivalent automatic movement)
- Budget is 1-2k USD but can be stretched a bit if needed - the tradeoff is that the higher the budget, the longer I have to save up.
- Have a strong preference to buy new since I don't flip too many watches, but if the price is on the higher end, I will probably have to go used
- Prefer sporty to dressy - due to this, I prefer a black face to a white one
- My wrist is 6.8 to 7 inches, so probably 40-44 mm case size
- 30 min or 12 hr total chrono doesn't matter, but non-chrono second hand is must
- Prefer to have a displayback just to see the Valjoux wobble since this is my first Valjoux. I have a few watches which wobble a lot (G. Gerlach Lux-Sport, Halios Tropik SS, Damasko DA44) but none of them has a displayback so I just have to listen in.
- Preferably want to buy on bracelet
- Preferably should not have a tachymeter scale (Not a big fan of racing watches or dive chronos in general; like pilot chronos, or classic dressy chronos)
- Prefer to buy from a bigger brand (I already have a lot of micro/small brand watches)
- No screwdown pushers
- I am trying to keep the thickness within control but this is likely moot with Valjoux movements
I know some of you guys will suggest the Speedmaster Professional without reading further, so I'm getting this out of the way first - I tried one on at an Omega boutique and it didn't do it for me. Without going into more details, let me just say that it was a little too plain for me. Also it would not be possible in my current budget. It was a good fit on the size though - here's a wristshot.
Also I have a Helgray Silverstone on pre-order, I will be picking a green one. This is one reason why I think a three subdial chrono may be better suited to complement the two subdial Helgray.
Here are my front-runners, in decreasing order of price.
#1 Sinn 103 St Acrylic (costs me $1900 new)
Love most things about this watch. It is a great size for me. The acrylic crystal attracts me a lot. I have an attraction to stylized hands on watches (also a reason I didn't like the Speedy) and the hands on this watch are absolutely charming. Sadly, this one does not have a displayback (the Sa model does but I don't want to lose the acrylic crystal). Also sadly, this watch is very expensive with no scope of dealer discounts (Watchbuys). I just can't bring myself to buy this new for the retail price of nearly 2k, and I haven't seen one used in great condition with the bracelet for a good price in the last 3 months. The copper dial 356 is also something to consider but I suspect I'll tire of the copper dial in the long run.
#2 Hamilton Khaki Pilot Pioneer Auto Chrono (costs me $1200 new)
Love this watch - actually like the beige version more than black. Great size for me as well and has a displayback. Nice extended power reserve and I have wanted to add a Hamilton since quite some time. I chose this over a Pan Europ chrono since I'm not big on racing watches. However, the one thing which I don't like on this watch is the date window, mainly because it is not color-matched (and doesn't even look centred) and I know if I buy it, it will bug me.
#3 Steinhart Nav B-Chrono II 44 (costs me $800 new)
Absolutely love the design of this watch too, and it gets the details very right - date window, subdials, excellent blue lume, displayback. It actually does everything I want at the lowest price of all watches I have considered (and I have considered many more which I haven't listed here). It is also a great value now with the Euro falling and Steinhart set to increase their prices by 10% on Feb 2. Also I have the money for this right now. However, the only thing stopping me is the size. At 44mm case size and 16mm thick, it is very big and heavy (236g on bracelet). In some ways, this might be a good thing for variety as I do not own a big watch currently. I have my 42mm CW C60 which wears big, and I used to wear a 43mm Citizen BL5250-02L which was fine on me. But this one still worries me. If it wears too big, I will likely have to flip it later and I don't want to buy something I'm not sure of keeping. However, selling this one should not be too hard because of the excellent prices now which is why I'm a bit tempted right now. If I had never joined WUS and somehow magically discovered this watch, I wouldn't have understood what 44mm means and bought this one. However, this place has turned me into a bit of a size snob as well.
In the past, I ordered the Stowa 1938 Chrono Black and then canceled my order. It is an excellent watch no doubt, but I wasn't too sure about it for my most expensive purchase till now. Also, the polished wide bezel on the Stowa kept bugging me (and it was quite thick for a dressy watch as well). I have also considered Archimede - I like their Klassik chronos more than their pilot chronos - but Archimede is neither here nor there - I like the Steinhart Nav B Chrono design more and the Archimede costs 1.5 times the Steinhart - however, they have a more manageable case size of 42mm. I've looked at the Hamilton Pan Europ (big/racing), Longines Master Collection ones (too dressy, white dial), Stowa, Junghans (too dressy), Ball (not a big fan), Tissot, VSA, Damasko (I own a DA44 already) and a few others. The strange thing is I do not see any chronographs very attractive to me in the 2k to 5k USD range either (since I eliminate the Speedmaster and I don't like the Tudor Heritage Chrono as well). However, at 5k, I absolutely love the tri-color Zenith El Primero. That could be a potential grail watch for me (I am obsessed with the Milgauss too for a potential grail in the future). What am I missing ?