We’ve mentioned the chronograph complication here before, and touched not only on how useful it can be, but more importantly, how complicated it is to produce. This means, of course, nearly all chronograph timepieces are quite expensive, but there are affordable options that look and feel just as good as their more expensive counterparts. While there is the option of looking for a cheap vintage chronograph, what can you do when vintage just isn’t your thing? It can be a very difficult task to look for an affordable mechanical timepiece with a chronograph complication. So, we’ve decided to look at a few options from two prestigious watchmaking brands that both have great lineage.
Longines Column-Wheel Single Push-Piece Chronograph
Longines has a long history when it comes to chronographs, and the company has pioneered some of the best chronograph movements. This is due to its close link with the aviation industry. As a traditional watchmaking company, Longines has been producing exceptional timepieces since it was founded. While the Swatch Group has shifted Longines’ position in the industry since its acquisition in the 1970s, it is still one of the most respected brands when it comes to chronographs. Longines chronographs are no longer produced in the same fashion, but history alone makes the watches attractive options when searching for an affordable chronograph.
It is one thing to buy an affordable chronograph, but it’s a whole other story to purchase an affordable mono-pusher chronograph. Vintage mono-pusher chronographs are the timepieces that collectors dream of. Why is that? Well, they are usually made exclusively by more luxurious watch brands due to their elegance, simplistic nature, ease of use, and smoothness. These qualities inherently require more time to produce. However, in 2012, Longines introduced the self-winding chronograph movement with a single push-piece button in the 180th anniversary timepiece. The watch had a more archaic external design.
This Heritage Single Push-Piece Chronograph sports a more up-to-date design, but is still classically elegant. With a black or white dial, two subsidiary dials, a date aperture at 6 o’clock, and Arabic numerals, this timepiece harks back to the Longines chronographs of yesteryear. The case is 41 mm, and made of steel. It is mounted on a black leather strap and inside the watch is a heavily modified ETA/Valjoux 7750. If you consider these specifications against its price, it is one hell of a value proposition.
Junghans Meister Telemeter
Junghans doesn’t have quite as deep a history with chronographs as Longines does. One of their most notable chronograph timepieces debuted in 1949. They planned to produce an in-house movement, which used a column-wheel system, for pilots of the newly formed Bundeswehr. Junghans submitted their plans for the robust and reliable J88 movement. The company won the contract to make the pilots’ chronograph timepieces, and later produced a chronograph timepiece for civilians.
Today’s Junghans Meister Telemeter follows design cues of the 1950s. Again, the dial of the Meister Telemeter is a throwback to the chronographs of yesteryear with large Arabic numerals, two subdials, and a series of reference scales around the outer edge. One references the tachymeter and the other, the telemeter.
The Junghans Meister Telemeter makes use of an uncommon domed acrylic crystal, giving it a more vintage feel. The case of the Meister is nicely sized at 40.8 mm, which is a touch larger than its vintage original. While the timepiece is available on a bracelet, I think the black saddle leather strap suits it better. Beating away at its core is a self-winding calibre J880.3, which is a modified ETA 2892 with a Dubios-Depraz 2030 chronograph module. However, unlike the Longines, the Meister Telemeter makes use of a more conventional chronograph function with two push-pieces.
As mentioned, if you love chronograph wristwatches and are opposed to buying vintage, but have to take a budget into consideration, I think you’ll find these more affordable chronograph timepieces too hard to resist.