Chronographs and those with a military look and/or history are doubtless among the most popular watch types purchased today. So put those together, and a military chronograph is going to be a compelling proposition for a lot of people. More than the convergence of multiple cool factors, military chronographs have a genuine and interesting history.
Today, you can get new military chronographs in a few flavors: There are reissues of the watches that were actually made to government specs for use by military personnel, modern interpretive creations that might reference historical watches, and fully contemporary designs that nonetheless have an undeniable military feel.
Here are some of the best examples worth checking out.
You know the absolute classic Hamilton Khaki Field watch, in part because we can't stop recommending it as one of the best values out there. It's based on a field watch Hamilton made for the military decades ago, and this new-for-2021 Automatic Chronograph is based on that. The similarities in the design are evident, with the basic case shape and dial design being adapted for a chronograph, but there's one significant difference from the basic field watch: it's a whopping 44mm wide as opposed to the Khaki Field's easy-wearing typical dimensions of 38mm. Still, this is an exciting new offering from Hamilton, and it remains a strong proposition as a Swiss automatic chronograph at under $2,000.
Movement: ETA-based H-21 automatic
Heuer made a watch essentially just like this one for the German armed forces (the Bundeswehr) in the 1960s, and Sinn was contracted to refurbish them in the 1980s — some were rebranded with Sinn dials and sold to the public as the "155." Watch enthusiasts love this kind of story and the value the watches represent (since Heuer versions are particularly sought-after), and rejoiced when Sinn recently brought back the look in its 158 chronograph. It stays pretty true to the 155, but doesn't offer the exotic flyback function.
Movement: Sellita SW 510 automatic
The German brand Tutima originally made its M2 watch for NATO forces in the 1980s. It's a classic among military watches today, and the brand's modern lineup draws heavily upon it. Not only does it have a badass history and unique look among chronographs and military watches in general, but it's also a bit special for being produced in titanium. The lightweight material has all kinds of cool properties, and it should help these boldly sized watches of 46mm wear a bit easier on average-sized wrists. It's definitely coolest on its integrated titanium bracelet, but is also available on a kevlar strap.
Movement: Valjoux 7750