Chronograph watches, with their unique blend of functionality and style, have captivated the attention of watch enthusiasts since their inception in the early 19th century. Originally developed for astronomical tracking, these timepieces have evolved significantly, finding their niche in various sectors such as aviation and motorsport due to their precise timekeeping capabilities. Today, chronographs are celebrated not only for their practicality but also for their aesthetic appeal, making them a beloved choice among a diverse range of watch collectors and aficionados. In this article, we explore three distinct chronographs, each representing a different segment of the market: affordable, mid-range, and high-end. These watches not only differ in price but also in design, craftsmanship, and the unique value they offer to the wearer, showcasing the versatile and rich landscape of chronograph watchmaking.
Studio Underd0g Pizza-inspired 01SERIES Chronograph
Studio Underd0g, a relatively new player in the watchmaking industry, has quickly carved out a niche for itself with its distinctive and playful watch designs. Founded with a spirit of fun and creativity, the brand stands out in a market often dominated by traditional and conservative styles.
The hallmark of Studio Underd0g’s design philosophy is a blend of bold colors and unconventional design elements, which make their watches instantly recognizable. Their timepieces often feature vibrant dials, with a mix of quirky and whimsical motifs. This approach not only sets them apart from more conventional luxury watch brands but also resonates with a younger, style-conscious audience looking for something unique and expressive.
Despite their playful aesthetics, Studio Underd0g does not compromise on quality. Their watches are known for their precision and reliability, featuring robust mechanical movements. This combination of playful design and serious craftsmanship appeals to both watch enthusiasts and casual wearers alike.
Moreover, Studio Underd0g often engages in collaborations and limited-edition releases, adding to the exclusivity and collectibility of their watches. These collaborations are not just with other brands in the watch industry but also with artists and designers from various fields, further emphasizing their commitment to creativity and innovation.
Chronograph watches have long been celebrated for their intricate functionality and distinctive designs, and the Studio Underd0g 01 SERIES Chronograph Pepper0ni and Hawaiian models are no exception. These timepieces, initially introduced as April Fool’s pranks, have transcended their joke origins to become real, highly sought-after products. This transformation is reminiscent of other playful products that have made the leap from jest to reality, a trend once popularized by ThinkGeek and now embraced by Studio Underd0g in collaboration with Time+Tide.
The Studio Underd0g 01 SERIES watches, inspired by popular pizza flavors, showcase a daring and whimsical approach to watch design. The Pepper0ni and Hawaiian models, both powered by the Seagull hand-wound ST-1901 movement, share a 38.5mm stainless steel case. This movement, known for its reliability and precision, operates at a 21,600vph frequency and boasts a 50-hour power reserve, ensuring that these watches are not just visually appealing but also functionally robust.
The design of these watches is where Studio Underd0g’s creativity truly shines. The dials of the Pepper0ni and Hawaiian are a playful homage to their respective pizza namesakes. The Pepper0ni features toppings like pepperoni, mushroom, black olives, and basil, while the Hawaiian is adorned with ham and pineapple. These designs are set against a vibrant orange and tan background that mimics pizza sauce, crust, and cheese. The dials are multi-layered, with a satin sandblasted base and a coarse dégradé top, further enhancing the visual depth and appeal. The familiar coarse finish of the dials is cleverly interrupted by smooth score marks, suggesting pizza slices.
Both models feature a double-domed sapphire crystal, ensuring durability and clarity. The case back is also sapphire crystal, allowing a view of the intricate movement within. Despite their playful appearance, these watches are practical, with a water resistance of 5 ATM. They come on either brown or beige Epsom calfskin straps from The Strap Tailor, adding a touch of elegance and comfort.
The dimensions of the watches are thoughtfully designed for wearability. The case measures 38.5mm in diameter, with a lug-to-lug span of 44.5mm and a thickness of 13.6mm. This size makes the watches suitable for a variety of wrist sizes, balancing presence and comfort. The watches also feature rectangular pushers and a signed push-pull crown, adding to their classic chronograph aesthetic.
Functionally, these watches offer the standard time-telling capabilities, along with a chronograph function that includes a 30-minute counter and a central seconds hand. The presence of a tachymeter adds to the utility and sporty character of the watches.
In a unique twist, Studio Underd0g and Time+Tide have decided to make these watches available exclusively through in-person delivery, either directly from Richard Benc or Andrew McUtchen or at the Time+Tide store in Melbourne. This approach not only adds to the exclusivity of the watches but also encourages engagement within the watch enthusiast community.
Priced at £550 / €600 / US$650, these watches are not just timepieces but conversation starters, embodying a blend of playful design and serious horology. They are a testament to the creativity and innovation in the world of microbrand watches, offering a unique take on the classic chronograph.
The Medini Celeritas is a testament to the idea that elegance and functionality in a timepiece can be achieved without an exorbitant price tag. This chronograph, hailing from Dubai-based Medini, is part of a collection that emphasizes affordability without compromising on quality. The Celeritas stands out as a fine example of a well-crafted, accessible chronograph.
In terms of design, the Celeritas strikes a balance between classic elegance and modern functionality. The case, measuring 38mm in diameter, 45mm lug-to-lug, and 14mm in thickness, is crafted to suit a variety of wrist sizes comfortably. Despite its seemingly robust thickness, the watch maintains a lightness of 75 grams, enhancing its wearability. This comfort is further aided by the compact lug-to-lug measurement and a domed sapphire crystal that adds a few millimeters to the height. The case is constructed in a three-part design, featuring a polished fixed bezel, a satin-brushed mid-case, and polished caseback edges. This interplay of finishes not only adds visual depth but also gives the illusion of a slimmer profile. The lugs, short and curved, ensure a snug fit on the wrist.
The dial of the Celeritas is available in three color variants: an all-black model with polished silver accents, a ‘reverse panda’ with black dial and white subdials, and a white dial with gold subdials. Each variant maintains the same layout: polished applied baton hour markers, Arabic numerals at 12 and 6 o’clock, and a clean look with no markers at 3 and 9 o’clock to accommodate the sub-registers. The left sub-register is a 60-minute totalizer, while the right one serves as a 24-hour indicator. The main section of the dial features a delicate sandy texture, contrasting nicely with the polished hands and markers. This matte finish aids in legibility by reducing light reflection.
The hands of the Celeritas are simple, fully polished batons, with the seconds hand featuring a circular counterbalance, adding a subtle visual detail. Around the dial’s periphery lies a fully indexed tachymeter scale, complemented by a fully graduated minute track outside the hour markers. These elements, along with the 60-minute counter, underscore the watch’s functional appeal. The dial is protected by a domed sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating, ensuring clarity.
Strap options for the Celeritas are diverse, with six choices of leather straps featuring a crocodile pattern in various colors, and two silicone straps that match the dial color. All straps are equipped with quick-release spring bars for easy swapping, allowing for versatile styling.
At the heart of the Celeritas is the Seiko VK64 meca-quartz caliber, a reliable movement with a frequency of 32,768 Hz and a three-year battery life. This movement powers the watch’s timekeeping functions, including the 60-minute totalizer and 24-hour indicator, while omitting a date complication to maintain dial symmetry.
Priced at US$350, the Medini Celeritas is a compelling option for those seeking an elegant yet affordable chronograph. It is available for purchase on Medini’s website and comes with a leather strap, two silicone straps, and a PU leather pouch in various colors. The watch’s specifications, including its 50-meter water resistance and sapphire crystal, make it a practical choice for everyday wear, while its design ensures it remains a stylish accessory for any occasion.
Davosa Newton Rally Chronograph
Davosa is a Swiss watchmaker known for its specialization in homage watches, offering a range of timepieces that pay tribute to classic designs in horology. The brand combines traditional watchmaking techniques with a focus on replicating the aesthetics of renowned watch models, making high-quality craftsmanship accessible to a wider audience.
In their approach, Davosa emphasizes precision and durability, utilizing reliable Swiss automatic and quartz movements. This commitment to quality ensures that each watch is not only visually appealing but also robust and functional. The designs of Davosa watches are generally conservative, reflecting the classic and timeless elements of the models they pay homage to. This makes them suitable for a variety of settings, from formal to casual.
Davosa’s collection includes a variety of styles, with a particular strength in dive watches. These pieces showcase the brand’s ability to blend functionality with a classic, sporty look, appealing to enthusiasts who appreciate the history and design of iconic dive watches.
While Davosa may not be at the forefront of innovative design, their watches are respected for their faithful homage to classic styles and their solid construction. The brand offers a straightforward, no-frills approach to watchmaking, focusing on delivering well-crafted, reliable timepieces that resonate with those who have an affinity for traditional watch designs.
However, Davosa has introduced a notable shift in their approach with the launch of the Newton Pilot Rally Chronograph collection. This new series marks a departure from their traditional homage designs, showcasing Davosa’s capability to create original and compelling timepieces.
The Newton Pilot Rally Chronograph collection features three dial versions – Silver, Black, and Blue, each limited to 300 units. These watches are housed in a 42mm stainless steel case that artfully combines polished and brushed surfaces, lending a sophisticated and modern aesthetic.
The collection is distinguished by its chronograph functionality, featuring two sub-dials positioned at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock. This layout offers a balanced and uncluttered dial, a refreshing variation from the more common three-sub-dial chronograph design. The sub-dial at 3 o’clock serves as a 30-minute counter for the chronograph, while the one at 9 o’clock functions as a running small-seconds dial. A thoughtfully integrated date window at 6 o’clock uses a color-matched date disc to maintain the dial’s cohesive design.
The chronograph elements, including the sub-dial and the central chronograph second hand, are accentuated with red highlights, adding a dynamic contrast to the dial. Surrounding the main dial is a minute ring, further encircled by a tachymeter scale, enhancing the watch’s functionality and sporty appeal.
In terms of texture, the main dial boasts a sunray brushed finish, while the sub-dials feature a snailed pattern, creating a subtle interplay of textures and adding depth to the overall design. The collection offers versatility in its strap options, with the choice of a metal bracelet or Italian-made leather straps, catering to different preferences and styles.
At the heart of these watches beats the DAV 3052 caliber, Davosa’s adaptation of the Sellita SW-510. This self-winding movement operates at 28,800 vibrations per hour and offers a substantial power reserve of 60 hours. The beauty of this caliber is not hidden; it’s showcased through the transparent case back of the watches. Here, enthusiasts can admire the black wheel-shaped rotor, a design choice that aligns seamlessly with the racing theme of the collection. This visible movement adds an extra layer of appeal, allowing wearers to appreciate the intricate mechanics that power their timepiece.
For those well-versed in luxury or Swiss watches, the specifications of these timepieces clearly align with those of a high-end chronograph. However, such quality and features come at a price. Davosa has positioned these watches at $2,499 USD for the leather strap version and $2,599 USD with a metal bracelet. This pricing places them in a similar bracket to brands like Longines or Mido and even surpasses the typical price range of brands like Tissot or Hamilton. This reflects Davosa’s commitment to offering premium features and quality, targeting a segment of the market that values advanced horological craftsmanship.
With the Newton Pilot Rally Chronograph, Davosa demonstrates its versatility in watchmaking, stepping beyond homage pieces to offer an original chronograph that combines functionality, thoughtful design, and the brand’s commitment to quality.
Chronographs Made Different – Studio Underd0g, Medini, Davosa – In Conclusion
In conclusion, this exploration of chronograph watches from Studio Underd0g, Medini, and Davosa presents a fascinating cross-section of the market, showcasing how different brands interpret this classic complication. Studio Underd0g’s 01 SERIES, with its playful, pizza-themed designs, breaks the mold of traditional watch aesthetics, offering a unique and whimsical take on the chronograph. These watches, with their vibrant colors and creative motifs, cater to a younger, style-conscious audience, while maintaining the precision and reliability expected of a quality timepiece.
Medini’s Celeritas, on the other hand, represents the accessible segment of the market, proving that elegance and functionality in a chronograph can be achieved without a hefty price tag. Its balanced design, combining classic elegance with modern functionality, makes it a versatile choice for everyday wear. The Celeritas stands as a testament to the idea that quality and affordability can coexist in the world of horology.
Davosa’s Newton Pilot Rally Chronograph marks a significant shift for a brand known for its homage watches. This collection steps into a more premium segment, offering original designs that rival established luxury brands in terms of features and craftsmanship. The Newton Pilot Rally Chronograph, with its sophisticated design and high-end specifications, caters to a discerning audience that appreciates the finer details in watchmaking.
Together, these three brands and their chronograph offerings illustrate the diverse approaches to watch design and functionality across different price points. From playful and unconventional to elegant and accessible, to premium and sophisticated, these timepieces reflect the rich and varied landscape of chronograph watchmaking, highlighting the creativity and innovation that microbrand companies bring to this beloved watch complication.