Choosing the five best chronographs? Is that even possible? If you had asked me that at the beginning of the year, I would’ve said you were crazy. But as the months progressed, we saw some downright amazing chronographs that stood out immediately. In a category of watches that are notoriously hard to develop, we have seen some absolute stunners in 2022. And as the year comes to an end, we talked about the best and most stunning chronograph releases of the past 12 months. As it turns out, five releases rose above the rest. These are our top five chronographs of 2022.

Admittedly, back in August, I compiled a list of 10 chronographs that came out in 2022. It’s always fun to see how many will be on a year-end list like this one. But it’s also great to see how many amazing releases followed the 10 watches we selected in the summer. And as it turns out, this list has a few watches that I didn’t pick back then. Either they came out after that list was published, or I missed them the first time around. Looking back at 2022, it’s safe to say that it’s been a great year for chronographs. Now let’s jump in and find out about the five best.

Grönefeld 1941 Grönograaf

Earlier this week, I was in my hometown of Oldenzaal to visit my family. While in town, I passed the beautiful residence downtown that the Grönefeld brothers have called their home for a little over a year now. It’s a special feeling every time I pass by there, knowing that some of the most stunning timepieces in the world are being created in that small Dutch town that I called home for a little over 20 years. And talking about stunning timepieces, the 1941 Grönograaf that Bart and Tim Grönefeld unveiled this year is another display of technical wizardry combined with amazing looks. As Lex explained in a Coffee Corner Watch Talk article, the name Grönograaf is a fun play on words that combines the last name of the two brothers with the Dutch word for chronograph (chronograaf).

The Grönograaf features the brand’s signature 1941 case. It measures 40mm in diameter and is nice and slim at 11.3mm thick. The dial side features three registers with hours and minutes placed at 1 o’clock, small seconds at 9 o’clock, and a 30-minute counter at 6 o’clock. Additionally, there is a power-reserve indicator at 11 o’clock. But the special element is the “centrifugal governor” or soft-reset mechanism at 4 o’clock, which prevents excess force when resetting the chronograph. The 408-part hand-wound column-wheel chronograph caliber G-04 that makes it all possible is visible through the sapphire case back and is a joy to see. All 25 “Premiere Edition” pieces in tantalum have sold out at €165,000. The stainless steel version is limited to 188 pieces and costs €155,000. What you get in return is one of this year’s absolute best releases, chronograph or otherwise.

MB&F Legacy Machine Sequential EVO

Straight on to another technical stunner that came out this year. When I wrote the introduction article for the MB&F Legacy Machine Sequential EVO, I had to read all the press info twice to comprehend what Max Büsser and Stephen McDonnell had come up with. This is not just MB&F’s first chronograph or simply the brand’s 20th caliber in 17 years of existence. No, this one is even more special. The Legacy Machine (or LM) Sequential EVO features a single movement with two column-wheel chronographs. The watch also features what the brand has named a “Twinverter” binary switch. This switch allows access to multiple timing modes, including split-second, independent, and lap-timer modes. It’s an achievement that we have not seen before in any existing chronograph.

The watch features a 44mm bezel-less EVO case that’s made of zirconium. Underneath the characteristic sapphire crystal dome, the dial plate features two chronograph displays and a time display. The time display is positioned at 6 o’clock. The first of two chronograph displays shows elapsed seconds at 9 o’clock and elapsed minutes at 11 o’clock. The second chronograph display mirrors this layout, showing elapsed seconds and minutes at 3 o’clock and 1 o’clock, respectively. Both chronograph mechanisms are operated independently using the pushers on either side of the case. But the “Twinverter” pusher at 9 o’clock is the true magic of the watch. It allows the user to control both chronograph systems, operating as a binary switch that inverts each chronograph’s current start/stop status to be used in four different modes. This masterpiece can be yours for €160,000 before taxes. You just have to choose between orange and black.

Omega Speedmaster Chrono Chime

A hugely impressive step in watchmaking for Omega, this Speedmaster Chrono Chime was definitely one of this year’s most impressive chronographs. Robert-Jan wrote an article about the release in which he reveals all the details of this stunning piece. Omega made sure to make this Speedmaster Chrono Chime both a visual and technical masterpiece. The 45mm Speedmaster Chrono Chime is made entirely of Omega’s proprietary 18K Sedna Gold. Omega added the blue aventurine Grand Feu enamel dial and the 18K Sedna Gold bezel filled with blue aventurine enamel for a great contrast. Additionally, you will find a Sedna Gold inner bezel and two sub-dials with guilloché engraving. It’s a feast for the eyes.

But turn the watch around, and you can see the unique Omega caliber 1932. It’s by far the most complicated movement that Omega has ever made, resulting in 13 new patents. What makes it so special is that it is not just any old chronograph. This chronograph chimes the elapsed time. So it’s not a minute repeater either, but instead, the movement chimes the time you measured with the chronograph function. The split-timer is operated with a pusher at 2 o’clock, while the mono-pusher chronograph is operated by the pusher within the crown. At 8 o’clock, you will find the chime pusher with an embossed music note. When activated, the hammers will hit the gold gongs, and the watch will chime the lapsed minutes, 10-second intervals, and additional seconds. It is hard not to be impressed by this breathtaking Speedmaster. At CHF 450,000 (ex. VAT), it is grandiose in all its facets.

Patek Philippe Ref. 5935A-001 World Time Flyback Chronograph

Okay, I admit you could insert any of this year’s stellar Patek Philippe chronograph releases into spot #4. We have seen a string of brilliant releases from the brand that, in my humble opinion, far outweigh the reintroduction of the Nautilus. Whether it’s Lex’s favorite 5270P-014 Perpetual Calendar Chronograph, the brilliant 5172G Chronograph with its salmon dial, the 5204G Split-Seconds Chronograph Perpetual Calendar, or this stunning 5935A-001 World Time Flyback Chronograph, they are all jaw-droppers. I picked the 5935A-001 World Time Flyback Chronograph for this list because I love a good travel watch. It was part of that series of releases that also included the new Nautilus. While the Nautilus 5811 took the spotlight, the 5935A was my favorite of the drop.

The watch features a 41mm stainless steel case that is 12.75mm thick. Inside it, you will find the automatic in-house caliber CH 28-520 HU. This marks the first time that Patek Philippe has equipped a stainless steel watch with this movement. The caliber combines a traditional world timer showing the time in 24 time zones and a day/night indicator with a 30-minute flyback chronograph. The combination of two complications often leads to “complicated” dials. But Patek has created a wonderful salmon dial with what the brand calls a “carbon motif.” Combine the rose gilt dial with charcoal elements, and I am sold. On top of that, the brand has managed to create a wonderful layout that works miracles for readability. While not a completely new watch — it was first released in 2016 in white gold and platinum — this new stainless steel version is rather spectacular in every sense of the word for €63,400.

Baltic Tricompax

Four chronographs, four hefty price tags. But we have also seen some amazing affordable chronographs in 2022. The one that stood out for us at Fratello is the Baltic Tricompax, which was released in the iterations seen above only a few weeks ago. First, we saw the release of the Baltic Tricompax × Peter Auto limited edition that I liked but didn’t love. But when Nacho showed me this new Tricompax, I was immediately sold. Both the panda and reverse panda versions of the Tricompax look stunning. As Thomas explained in his review, the Tricompax features a 39.5mm stainless steel case that measures 47mm from lug to lug and is 13.5mm thick (including the 2.8mm domed sapphire crystal).

Baltic Tricompax

Inside the case, you will find the Sellita SW510 M movement. This manual-winding chronograph ébauche operates at 28,800vph and delivers a power reserve of 63 hours. The beautiful layout features running seconds at 9 o’clock, a minute counter at 3 o’clock, and an hour counter at 6 o’clock. I love that layout, and when combined with the incredible design of these dials, it makes for two handsome chronographs. Are they original? Well, they’re not totally unlike anything we’ve seen before. But only seldom have we seen chronograph designs executed so well. The visual balance, the eye for detail, and the overall presence are impressive, especially considering the price tag of €1,585 on leather and €1,645 on a bracelet (both excluding VAT). The pre-order period ended just a couple of days ago, so hopefully, we will see a return of the Tricompax if you missed it. I did, unfortunately.

Final thoughts on the best chronographs of 2022

There you have it — five standout chronographs for a list of this year’s greats. But if you are a regular reader of this series of list articles, you know that it is only the starting point of a bigger discussion. This year, we have so many great chronographs that at least deserve a mention. Just think of the Omega Speedmaster ’57, the Tissot PRX Chronograph, the Czapek Antarctique Rattrapante Ice Blue, the Aquastar Deepstar Chronograph, the pink gold Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph, or the brilliant Airain Type 20 Vert Militaire. This is just a small selection of possible contenders for the best chronograph watches of 2022.

I’m sure you have your own picks that would be great for this list, so please tell us your favorite chronographs of 2022 in the comments section!