As much as we love chronographs, sometimes they can feel a bit formulaic. Round case. Two or three sub-dials. Black, white or blue dials. A staid movement (probably a Valjoux 7750). Obviously, it’s a formula that sells a lot of watches, but depending on your tastes, it can feel as though there’s a certain something missing.
In the ’60s and ’70s, though, when mechanical, wrist-worn chronographs were still an essential timekeeping technology, watchmakers seemed more inclined to think differently. You’ll often see very colorful watches from this era, or chronographs with unique movements or layouts for specific tasks (yacht timers, soccer timers). Because they’re considerably unconventional today, they seem to hit a soft-spot with watch enthusiasts and can add some flair to a collection.
Seiko Reference 45899
What We Like: This is Seiko’s very first chronograph model, made in 1964 for the Tokyo Olympics (for which the watchmaker was the official timekeeper). Up to this point, Seiko had no real experience in sport-timing but created the reference 45899 and a variety of other stopwatches and timing devices from the ground up in a relatively short period of time. As such, the 45899 is simple, featuring just a single pusher for stopping, starting and resetting the sweep seconds hand, while minutes can be timed out on the rotating bezel.
From the Seller: Stunning original silver sunburst dial with beveled and polished hour markers; original handset; original black plastic external rotating bezel displays elapsed time in minutes for extended chronograph recording; 37mm solid stainless steel case with desirable “Olympic Torch” case back.
Omega Seamaster Soccer Timer
What We Like: Watches don’t come much more specifically designed than a soccer timer. This Omega Seamaster chronograph comes with a beautiful white dial with eye-catching black-and-red sub-dials, ostensibly for the purpose of timing soccer matches. For example, on the minute register there’s an additional scale measuring up to 45 minutes outside the subdial to make timing out a soccer half easier.
From the Seller: Beautiful condition original snow-white dial with brilliant black and red accents and with black outer tachometer scale. Exceptionally clean example. Guaranteed genuine and offered with one-year warrantee of accurate timekeeping and operation.
Movado Astronic HS360
What We Like: The dial may say Movado but underneath this is all Zenith. The Astronic HS360 uses a special version of the famous high-beat El Primero chronograph movement but has an added annual calendar function and moon phase. Given that at the time of its production automatic chronographs were still in their infancy, this had to be one of the most advanced watches of its time. The big chunky case is far from the most attractive we’ve ever seen, but the metallic blue sub-dials and moon phase set against a brushed silver background make up some ground.
From the Seller: Thirty-eight-millimeter case with very light wear from use; comes with a service crown. Excellent silver, triple-date, moon phase chronograph dial. The inner bezel ring has some aging.