Our Predictions In The Chronograph Category Of The 2022 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG): It’s Down To A Pair Of Aces
Welcome to the 2022 edition of Quill & Pad’s early Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève predictions in which the team picks favorites and explains why.The panelists are:
Elizabeth Doerr (ED), co-founder and editor-in-chief
Ian Skellern (IS), co-founder and technical director
Joshua Munchow (JM), resident nerd writer
GaryG (GG), resident collector
Martin Green (MG), resident gentleman
Timepieces entered into the Chronograph category are mechanical watches comprising at least one chronograph indication. Additional indications and/or complications are admissible.
JM: Hmm, this is often a relatively simple category due to the inclusion of one wildly complicated or innovative chronograph among five other high-quality yet somewhat normal chronographs. This year we have two that are mechanically innovative, two more that are rather similar and visually enticing, and finally two more that have broad wrist appeal, one of which is relatively attainable.I have a hunch which watch will win, but it is quite possible that the jury could be more split this year than normal. Or perhaps we and the jury will be unanimous!
ED: Oh, I think you’re right, Joshua. I believe the jury – and we – will be fairly split on who is the winner here. Three of the six nominated watches display their mechanics in the dial on full, while a fourth shows an important component only, leaving the rest of the dial covered. One is wildly busy from design and functionality while the last one is very calm and refined in its design. All have very different mechanics powering their time measurement capabilities, but only two of these do it in a way that hasn’t been done before. I predict the fight will come down to these two pieces.
GG: Battle of the titans! I wouldn’t be surprised to see both the Aiguille d’Or and Innovation Prize winners come from this category, so it’s possible that the number three watch in this group of six will be called the Chronograph winner for 2022.
ED: That is also entirely possible, Gary!
MG: I the chronograph still everybody’s favorite complication? The brands most certainly think so as a vast number are introduced each year. The six that are nominated in this category represent the cream of the crop.
IS: Now the judging gets serious. I thought that all six finalists in the Mechanical Exception category had a good chance of winning; however here, while we have four strong contenders for best chronograph 2022, I think it will come down to two: traditional versus avant-garde.
Breitling Navitimer Cosmonaute Limited Edition
JM: The Navitimer is by far the most accessible and broadly appealing chronograph in this bunch, largely because it has a long history with collectors and is the most affordable, with all the other models ranging from three to 18 times as expensive.
Affordability should definitely be taken into account for the best chronograph watch in my opinion as it should be a watch that presents a clear value. But that is where the real benefits for the Navitimer end against the group of nominees. Against the others in this category, the Navitimer Cosmonaute does feel a little like a high school athlete playing against professionals; it just isn’t fair. That isn’t to say that Breitling couldn’t compete if it wanted to, but I feel like it just isn’t on the same level of chronograph as the others in this competition; it’s just too pedestrian.And that is not something I would have ever considered the Navitimer, but it feels right this year and makes me think that Breitling probably won’t take the crown.
MG: Shouldn’t this watch be in the Iconic category? As enthusiastically as I would have received it there, so reserved am I about it here. While a watch with very interesting pedigree, it is more old wine in a new bottle than anything else. Yes, that can taste fantastic but is not enough in my book to win the Chronograph category.
ED: This is by far the busiest watch in the half-dozen, which is saying a lot when you look at that MB&F. However, it is only half as interesting as that watch, which will either be the eventual winner here or runner up – or even take a discretionary prize home. Nothing against the Navitimer, which is an absolutely iconic model, but it’s just not going to be the winner here this year.
GG: I had the pleasure of attending a collector event at the launch of Breitling’s Navitimer Cosmonaute Limited Edition, so I do have a soft spot for the watch as well as its foundation in the watch worn by Astronaut Scott Carpenter during his 1962 flight. The key Cosmonaute features including 24-hour dial and bezel slide rule are all in place, and it’s a crisp-looking watch in person, but it’s not equipped to fight it out with the MB&F and Grönefeld chronographs.
IS: While I appreciate that pilot’s watches need to display a lot of information, as a general chronograph I find the dial of the Breitling Navitimer Cosmonaute Limited Edition to be far too busy. The Cosmonaute may well have been the first Swiss wristwatch in space, but I don’t think its backstory will be enough for it to win in this field.
Quick Facts Breitling Navitimer Cosmonaute Limited Edition
Case: 41 x 13 mm stainless steel with fluted, bidirectional slide rule bezel in platinum; cambered sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coatings on both sides; 3 atm water resistance
Movement: manually wound Breitling B02 chronograph; 70-hour power reserve; 28,800 vph/4 Hz frequency, officially certified C.O.S.C. chronometer
Functions: hours, minutes, subsidiary seconds; 30-minute and 12-hour chronograph subdials; aviator slide rule; date
Limitation: 362 examples, available through Breitling boutiques or online
Price: $10,800 / CHF 10,800
Czapek Rattrapante Ice Blue
ED: Czapek is just killing it right now, and with good reason: it is making great watches that are visually and mechanically interesting. This split-seconds chrono wearing its mechanics on its sleeve is no different, either. What a gorgeous watch!
MG: I’ve been loving watching the development of Czapek, as this brand only seems to get better. In fact, this watch is one of my favorite rattrapantes currently available. It has a refreshing, sporty look to it, cleverly highlighting the mechanics of the complication, and the integrated bracelet is even original in its design.
IS: Czapek has been going from strength to strength over the last few years, and the new Rattrapante Ice Blue has given the brand yet another boost. The fact that it is a column wheel split-seconds chronograph increases its chances here, as does the fact that the displays are still all very legible despite the open dial revealing the movement. The Czapek Rattrapante is certainly a great chronograph, but I don’t think it will win here.
GG: The Czapek Rattrapante Ice Blue is for me a slight visual improvement on the silver-grey version of the same watch introduced in 2021, and it is fun – if visually confounding if you want to read the time – to see the column wheel assemblies on the dial side of the watch. Changing the color of the chapter rings from the 2021 watch, however, isn’t enough for me to consider this a new reference.
JM: Czapek has been one of my favorite brands ever since it launched thanks to its transparency, mechanical quality, and design ethos. The direction it has taken with the Antarctique Rattrapante is nothing short of mouthwatering. Using the Antarctique case has made it a fantastic chronograph to wear every day, and the visible mechanics on the dial side give the wearers of mechanical chronographs exactly what they want: a miniature spectacle that they can play with. This is why four of the six nominated watches also display their mechanics as well.
Being a split-second chronograph (rattrapante) sets it apart from every watch save one, and that other one is the one I’m picking for my winner. So since I’ve said I don’t think it’ll win, why is it also not my first runner up? Innovation, that’s why. This is an awesome caliber and a great everyday chronograph, supremely wearable, and the third most affordable piece in the competition. But regardless of how cool it is, it doesn’t present much horological innovation, while two other watches do, so they take my top two spots and this one comes in third.
Quick Facts Czapek Rattrapante Ice Blue
Case: 42.5 x 15.3 mm, stainless steel
Movement: manual winding Caliber SHX6, created in collaboration with Chronode, 60-hour power reserve, 28,800 vph/4 Hz frequency
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; split-second chronograph
Limitation: 99 pieces
Price: CHF 53,900
Grönefeld 1941 Grönograaf Tantalum
MG: This is simply the best watch that the Dutch brothers have made to date. The movement is a mechanical gem, but also the aesthetics of the watch are on point. For sure my winner in this category. I now only have to look for a Spyker (car) to wear this fantastic Grönograaf in.
GG: The Grönefeld 1941 Grönograaf Tantalum is chasing hot on the MB&F Legacy Machine’s heels. I’ve always been fascinated with centrifugal clutches and other forms of motion regulators in watches, so seeing one prominently displayed on the Grönograaf’s dial is a big plus. Obviously, a great amount of thought has gone into this very inventive watch, and if the jury is more inclined to select a conventional-looking piece this one could easily walk away with the prize.
JM: This is my saddest first runner up of the competition because the Grönefeld brothers are some of my favorite people in the industry, their watches are some of my favorites when it comes to movement aesthetics, and the history behind the family is just so cool.This is the Grönefeld brothers’ first new complication in a while and it was well worth the wait, sporting a stunning slow return-to-zero mechanism that channels a minute repeater governing system. The purpose of the chronograph, therefore, isn’t to be the fastest resetting timer for rapid successive tracking of times, but a poetic dance of time where you time your event and then, when it’s over, gracefully reset the hands to time something new.It is both horologically interesting and beautiful to behold. The movement, as usual, is absolutely gorgeous and the dial is easy to read, yet visually distinct to the brand. And if it wasn’t for the MB&F LM Sequential Evo, it would take this competition hands down. Alas, it just doesn’t have enough insane mechanics to take the crown this year, but it has easily stolen my heart.
ED: As much as I love the inventive MB&F Legacy Machine Sequential Evo for its wonderfully inventive qualities, I find the almost equally as inventive Grönograaf much more legible and much more wearable in size. I’m totally torn between the two but will be going with this tantalum-encased beauty as my winner in part because I think the jury will do the same. And the jury may well hand MB&F a discretionary prize or even the Aiguille d’Or in my view.
IS: When Tim and Bart Grönefeld showed me their 1941 Grönograaf prototype at Watches and Wonders earlier this year, I thought that it was a fantastic watch but not quite innovative enough to win this category. Then, as I got deeper into the Grönograaf, I felt that it would win (and the movement is simply gorgeous); however, when I delved deeper into another finalist here I changed my mind yet again. I love the Grönograaf and would be happy to see it win here and I suspect that it will have serious support in the GPHG jury, but it’s (by a whisker) my runner up.
Quick Facts Grönefeld 1941 Grönograaf Tantalum
Case: 40 x 11.3 mm, tantalum
Movement: manually wound Caliber G-04, lateral clutch column wheel chronograph, soft reset mechanism with centrifugal governor and ruby-jeweled reset hammers; 53-hour power reserve, 3 Hz/21,600 vph frequency, variable inertia free-sprung balance, 408 components including 45 jewels, some set in gold chatons
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; chronograph with instant jumping minute counter
Strap/bracelet: buffalo leather, 20 mm tapering to 18 mm, steel or tantalum pin buckle to match case
Limitation: 25 pieces
Price: €165,000 / CHF 180,500
Louis Moinet Time to Race
MG: I spent extensive time at Watches and Wonders 2022 examining and playing with Time to Race. Of course, it is a variation on the brand’s Memoris, but it offers a different appeal that makes my racing heart rev. The customizable numbers are fun as are the color-coded designs referring to the time when it wasn’t brands competing on the race track but countries.
Time to Race is sophisticated and fun at the same time but also well-proportioned with tons of details and made with obvious craftsmanship. I wouldn’t mind starting an extensive love affair with the version representing Great Britain (green), in line with my automotive country of choice.
ED: This is the watch for racing geeks for sure! What a cool idea.
IS: Louis Moinet’s Time to Race is certainly an eye-catching chronograph, and while it may be a new model for 2022 its movement isn’t as new and I think that will count against it here.
JM: Louis Moinet has always been one of the boldest brands making custom watches. Most of the models it releases are customizable in some way; some models are even built around the idea. The Time To Race chronograph is one such piece that provides a person the ability to essentially pick out a custom livery to go with their racing number. Of course, it can be any lucky number the buyer wants (that hasn’t been chosen) and the brand will ensure that each combination of colors and numbers is a unique piece.
On top of that, the chronograph itself is visually arresting, following in the same footsteps as the Czapek but focusing even more on the chronograph functions. The case and the large domed sapphire crystal that wraps around the movement protruding from the case is awesome and has become a favorite feature of recent releases from the brand. But even with all of that, I don’t know if the customization and relatively affordable price compared to the others gives it enough oomph to take the title. Other watches have fundamental innovations in their pieces, so for that reason I think it will likely fall short of the winner’s circle for this watch.
GG: If I were in the market for the Louis Moinet Time to Race, I’d take advantage of the opportunity to specify a unique color and large numeral on the dial to ask for Rosso Corsa and Gilles Villeneuve’s immortal number 27. Sadly, the watch is not for me as there’s just too much going on to make it visually pleasing to me.
Quick Facts Louis Moinet Time to Race
Case: 40.7x 17.92 mm, titanium
Movement: automatic skeletonized Caliber LM96 with dial-side visible chronograph assembly, 48-hour power reserve, 28,800 vph/4 Hz frequency
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; chronograph
Limitation: 99 pieces per color (red, green, and blue), numeral determined by owner
Price: CHF 30,500
MB&F Legacy Machine Sequential Evo
IS: I’m sorry, MB&F, I was tempted off the true path but have found my way back. The GPHG isn’t (or shouldn’t be) just about recognizing superlative traditional horology, but also encouraging brands to push the boundaries and innovate so that there’s still a GPHG in 100 years. LM Sequential isn’t just an ultra-functional twin chronograph, its Twinverter button offers timing functionality beyond anything previously seen in chronographs. And for that reason it’s my pick for Chronograph 2022. But there’s also a good chance that the LM Sequential will win the discretionary Innovation or Audacity prize, in which case it’s the Grönograaf.
GG: I know that opinions will vary between the top two choices in this class, but I’m going to go with the MB&F Legacy Machine Sequential Evo. With its multi-functional design using two chronograph trains in several ways, the topsy-turvy button that makes all of the chrono functions immediately do the opposite of what they were doing a moment before, and the brilliant colorful and dimensional design I’m fully convinced.
JM: Winner, winner, chicken dinner, I can’t make a rational claim why this watch won’t win the title of best chronograph this year. Brand recognition and provenance aside, the LM Sequential Evo boasts so many new functions that we have never seen before in a chronograph that it is a bit hard to wrap your head around it without a demonstration.
The ability to have two chronographs running independently or simultaneously and the ability to control them relative to each other to create new functionality is pretty darn groundbreaking, and it’s all down to the typical MB&F level of flair and aesthetics.If I had to make one big complaint about the finished product it would be that it is too expensive for me to afford, and that stinks. Obviously, this is not problem for the watch, just for my dreams. Against everything in this category, it stands out by leaps and bounds. The Grönefeld may have stolen my heart, but the MB&F is poised to run away with the title this year.
ED: I hate to bet against MB&F. Ever. So I’m just gonna say that I think this watch will take one of the other prizes for sure.
Quick Facts MB&F Legacy Machine Sequential Evo
Case: 44 x 18.2 mm, zirconium
Movement: hand-wound caliber developed by Stephen McDonnell with Twinverter switch, 3 Hz/21,600 vph frequency, 72-hour power reserve, double mainspring, flying balance wheel, 585 components
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; dual chronographs
Price: CHF 172,000
Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF Chronographe Steel
JM: I have loved every iteration of the new Tonda PF, and the Chronographe is no exception. As an everyday watch it hits all the right marks for someone who wants a classically reserved-looking steel sports watch with the added functionality a chronograph offers. It can fly under the radar or stand out depending on how you wear it, and only you will know that the bezel is an extra-special ring of platinum, elevating your watch to the level of secret luxury.I think it might present the best case for wearability among everything in the category this year, but that doesn’t help it stand out as something earth shattering. The Tonda PF Chronographe, while fantastic, isn’t meant to be innovative, it is meant to be a bestseller, which I am sure it will likely be. As the last watch alphabetically in the group it definitely is not the last in consideration, but I don’t see it winning as the best chronograph, not in the company of MB&F.
GG: The Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF Chronographe Steel is another deserving finalist for Parmigiani this year with its fast-beat 36,000 vph movement and use of subtle color and surface treatment variations to make reading the dial-side indications easier. I’m not so sure about that date window, but I do appreciate that the background of the date wheel matches the dial color.
IS: If you are after a clean-looking column wheel chronograph you can wear with both a suit and shorts, then the Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF Chronographe Steel fits the bill. The stunning barleycorn guilloche on the dial is an added bonus. But I do have one gripe: looking at how far the date display and the three subdials are from the edge of the dial, the movement is too small for the watch; it looks to me as though the case should be 39-40 mmm rather than 42 mm.
ED: The Tonda PF is a beautiful, luxurious, and very wearable line. And with five pieces from it running in various categories at the GPHG this year I certainly hope it takes home at least one award. It’s just not going to be this category, that much I know.
MG: While an awesome watch, the chronograph is my least favorite version of the Tonda PF. I am not a fan of the date and the way that it is integrated into the design. While Parmigiani toned down the chronograph functions quite a bit, I feel that this is also why this version is less appealing to me. There is more clutter on the beautiful dial, yet not a clear change of character.
Quick Facts Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF Chronographe Steel
Case: 42 x 12.4 mm, stainless steel with a platinum bezel
Movement: automatic Caliber PF070; 36,000 vph/5 Hz frequency; power reserve 65 hours, pink gold full-size rotor, officially C.O.S.C. chronometer certified
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date, chronograph
Price: $31,000 / CHF 28,000
Elizabeth: Grönefeld 1941 Grönograaf Tantalum
Martin: Grönefeld 1941 Grönograaf Tantalum
Ian: MB&F Legacy Machine Sequential Evo
Joshua: MB&F Legacy Machine Sequential Evo
Gary: MB&F Legacy Machine Sequential Evo
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