Awesome Chronographs for Under $5,000

Awesome Chronographs for Under $5,000

| 02.19.24

Shame on us if we’ve led you to believe that a chronograph need be an expensive proposition.

Of course, you can easily spend plenty of money on a chronograph — and to that end, we carry many fine models from high-end brands — but just because a watch features a complication doesn’t mean that it must come with a 5- or 6-figure price tag. Au contraire: At Analog:Shift, we pride ourselves on carrying a wide variety of chronographs at different price points, some of which start at under $2,000.

From quartz-powered pieces from the early 2000s to hand-wound and automatic models from the golden age of the complication — approximately the 1940s through the 1970s, to our minds — our offices are simply packed to the absolute brim with compelling pieces from brands big and small. Whether you’re on the lookout for a restrained, dual-register piece in gold to help dress up your daily office wear, or a brightly colored, sporty three-register model from the 1970s to accompany you as you hike up a mountain in South America, you can trust that we’ve got you covered.

What you’ll find below is truly a mere teaser of the sub-$5K chronos that we have on offer. (Indeed, it feels almost criminal not to show you the entire lot in one go!) But as our stock is constantly changing — and as we add more and more watches to our inventory — it behooves you to check back with us frequently and see what we have available at any given moment. Feel free to reach out to us if you’re looking for something specific, as we’re happy to help you try and source a watch.

Once you’ve owned a chronograph, the tactile excitement of the buttons, the usefulness of the complication, and the detail in the dial will no doubt elicit a feeling of love and excitement for the complication that simply never subsides.  

Breitling Colt Chronograph ($1,990)

Breitling Colt Chronograph - IN THE SHOP

Breitling Colt watches from the early 2000s, like many pieces from that era, have a ton going for them: Excellent sizing, bulletproof build quality, and great value. This one, a 38mm, quartz-powered, three-register chrono on a matching, stainless steel bracelet, is perfect for someone who wants an inexpensive, knockaround watch for day-in, day-out wear.

Sinn 130 Chronograph ($2,000)

Sinn 130 Chronograph - IN THE SHOP

Given its build quality, good looks, legendary movement, and vintage influence, it seems almost absurd that this hand-wound, Valjoux 7750-powered piece will run you only $2K. But it’s true! For that price, you get a 40mm stainless steel case, a lumed dial with a triple-register layout, a day-date display, and a fine leather strap with a signed buckle. 

Bvlgari Diagono 'Panda' Chronograph ($2,900)

Bvlgari Diagono 'Panda' Chronograph - IN THE SHOP

Bvlgari’s Aluminum line represents a firm departure from the stainless steel norm of the early 21st century. Still part of the brand’s catalog today, they pack useful features into super lightweight cases paired to comfortable rubber straps — all of which makes for excellent summer watches. This one’s cream dial is particularly fetching. 

Fortis Stratoliner Mercedes-Benz Special Edition Chronograph ($2,990)

Fortis Stratoliner Mercedes-Benz Special Edition Chronograph - IN THE SHOP

Produced in collaboration with Mercedes-Benz, this fantastic, 39mm steel chrono is simply packed with features: Powered by the legendary, automatic Lemania Calibre 5100 movement, it has a triple-register layout with a 12-hour recorder; a central minutes recorder hand; and a handy day-date display. Paired with an aluminum tachy bezel, it’s also handsome as heck.

LIP Mach 2000 'Dark Master' Chronograph ($3,150)

LIP Mach 2000 'Dark Master' Chronograph - IN THE SHOP

The LIP Mach 2000, with its colored rubber chronograph pushers, black plastic construction, and asymmetric case, is far and away one of the most outrageous watches from the 1970s…and we mean that as a compliment! Powered by a hand-wound Valjoux movement, it’s a study in thoughtful, envelope-pushing piece from noted French industrial designer Roger Tallon.

Zodiac Zodia-Chron 'Hermetic' Chronograph ($3,350)

Zodiac Zodiac-Chron 'Hermetic' Chronograph - IN THE SHOP

You don’t have to pay Daytona money to get the beloved Valjoux 72 movement on your wrist. Indeed, this hand-wound beauty from Zodiac, with its silvered dial, black aluminum tachymeter bezel, tritium dial, pump pushers, signed crown, and matching J.B. Champion bracelet, packs a stunning amount of value for a fraction of the cost of its more famous chrono cousins. 

Sinn 756 Chronograph ($3,500)

Sinn 756 Chronograph - IN THE SHOP

Sinn’s chronographs are some of the most respected tool watches in the biz. The 756 in particular — with its 40mm ‘tegimented’ stainless steel case, matching H-link bracelet, luminous black dial, and Valjoux 7750 automatic movement — has become a sort of modern-day classic. A pure and simple tool, this is a watch begging to be taken on serious adventures.

IWC Pilot's Chronograph ($3,750)

IWC Pilot's Chronograph - IN THE SHOP

Looking for a larger chronograph from one of the watch world’s top chronograph specialists? Look no further than this IWC Pilot’s Chronograph. Measuring 43mm in steel, it boasts pump pushers and a screw-down crown for increased water resistance, plus a highly legible dial with a triple-register chronograph display as well as a day-date display. 

Breitling Premier Chronograph ($3,900)

Breitling Premier Chronograph - IN THE SHOP

The Breitling Premier is proof positive that the Swiss manufacturer is more than capable of designing an excellent chronograph outside of the well-known Navitimer line. This restrained and elegant Premier from the 1940s, with its 35mm case and ‘paddle’ pushers, would make an excellent, dressier chronograph and stylish accessory.

Franck Muller Conquistador Chronograph ($4,200)

Franck Muller Conquistador Chronograph - IN THE SHOP

Back in the early 2000s, Franck Muller was making some of the funkiest watches on the market. This Conquistador Chronograph, with its rectangular case, matching steel bracelet, and stylized ‘Arabic’ dial, subtly mixes bright colors and a dual-register chronograph — plus a handy date display — into an everyday watch that works equally well for men and women.

Gigandet Three Register Chronograph ($4,500)

Gigandet Three Register Chronograph - IN THE SHOP

While you might not be familiar with the Gigandet name, the brand was once a distributor for companies such as Breitling, Wakmann, and Buren. This private-label chronograph — with its oversized, 38mm steel case, black dial, triple-register layout, and Valjoux 72 movement — would cost much more than its sub-$5K price with a different name on the dial.

Movado M95 Sub-Sea Chronograph ($4,600)

Movado M95 Sub-Sea Chronograph - IN THE SHOP

The M95-powered, manually-wound Sub-Sea chronograph line is a fine example of what makes vintage Movado such a compelling area of watch collecting. Featuring a restrained dial with applied steel markers, red and blued steel chronograph hands, and an outer 1/5th-seconds scale, its dressy appearance will prove a fine addition to any collection. 

Universal Genève Uni-Compax ($4,900)

Universal Genève Uni-Compax - IN THE SHOP

There’s something about a solid-gold chronograph that just oozes class, and none more so than this 1940s-era offering from Universal Genève. Constructed from yellow gold and housed in a 34.5mm case, it features a simple dual-register layout, an outer tachymeter scale, and the in-house Calibre 285 hand-wound movement ticking away within.