If you want a decent mechanical chronograph today, be prepared to pay handsomely. Even the most affordable ones, usually running a Valjoux 7750 movement, will set you back around $2,000 at the least. But look at the vintage market — even where tool watches and complications are prized — and you’ll find plenty of excellent chronographs from respected marques that sell for even less. Here are three great examples from Wakmann, Seiko and Croton that have bold, sporting looks.
What we like: The Regatte must have one of the funkiest dial designs ever conceived. The middle chapter ring features five weeks worth of days, with each week highlighted in color, and this in turn matches up with the inner-most ring that displays numbers one through 31. The idea is that you can rotate the day(s) ring to correspond with the inner ring, so you know which day of the month falls on which date. Is it all that useful? Not necessarily, but it’s a unique function nonetheless. Pair that with a gold-plated case and a chronograph and you have one wild watch.
From the seller: Gold is fully intact with some minor brassing towards the lug tips and some small surface hairlines. Watch runs well, keeps time, and chronograph functions appropriately.
Seiko 6139 “Pogue”
What we like: The 6139 already took its place in history for being one of the earliest automatic chronographs ever made, but it’s got a double-whammy under its belt for being the first automatic chronograph worn in space. More specifically, a yellow, red and blue reference was taken on the 1973 Skylab 4 mission by Colonel William Pogue. This version here is the same reference and appears to be in pristine shape.
From the seller: Excellent condition; original case, bezel and dial. Comes with a two-year warranty and has recently been serviced.
Croton Chronomaster Aviation Sea Diver
What we like: So are you a pilot’s watch or a diver? Pick one, Croton! In all seriousness, though, Cronton, perhaps seeing the success of recreational dive watches, decided a rotating dive bezel was a necessity for this burly, sporty chronograph. It also has a tachymeter scale around the chapter ring as well, a feature usually seen on aviation and racing chronographs. Either way, it’s a handsome design (with an excellent red accents in the three o’clock sub-dial) running a Landeron 249 hand-winder.
From the seller: Case is in very good condition overall with moderate signs of use and wear in keeping with its age. Dial is in very good condition with some signs of age, including patina to the luminescent elements of the hour markers and hands. Unsigned crown.