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Classic chronographs are rich with character and history. However, the stopwatch feature that defines them is complex and expensive to produce. As a result, manufacturers are quicker to prioritize reissues of time-only pieces — like dive and field watches — but a new wave of chronographs suggests the tides may be turning. What's more, a trend to shrink the chronograh's case size has made the category more wearable than ever.
You won’t find many automatic chronographs at this price point, much less any that look as good as Yema’s. Based on racing chronographs the French brand produced in the 1960s, the Speedgraf features vintage-inspired elements that feel genuine, from its raised sapphire crystal to its contrasting subdials and red-tipped seconds hand.
Movement: Seiko NE86 automatic
Nivada Chronomaster Aviation Sea Dive
When Nivada re-emerged decades after disappearing, its new watches looked just like those that have since made the brand a favorite of vintage collectors. The Chronomaster of the 1960s was captivating — and it is again, offering surprising value considering Swiss movements and thoughtful detail
Movement: Sellita SW510 manual or automatic
Hanhart 417 SE
First built for the German military in the 1950s and later popularized by actor Steve McQueen, the Hanhart SE is an OG pilot’s chronograph. At 42mm, it's 3mm larger than the original, and it packs famous German construction and an iconic "Bund" strap for a reasonable price.
Movement: Sellita SW 510 manual
Breitling Avi 765 1953 Re-Edition
Breitling is a watchmaker steeped in aviation that largely specializes in chronographs. In recreating a pilot’s watch from 1953, the brand upgraded the AVI 756 with modern features like an excellent in-house movement but also included throwback elements, such as manual winding and a Hesalite crystal to give it an extra kick of authenticity.
Movement: Breitling B09 manual
IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Tribute to 3705”
Before ceramic watches were popular, IWC created the all-black 3705 chronograph. It bombed upon release but later became a grail among collectors. This modern re-creation updates the case to a 41mm version in Ceratanium, the brand's proprietary ceramic-and-titanium material, and includes an in-house, automatic movement in place of the original Valjoux 7750.
Movement: IWC 69380 automatic