Ah, the tachymeter. You’ve definitely seen them around, and you may even own a watch with one on it. It’s the seemingly ubiquitous scale that has graced some of the most famous chronographs in history. Thus, when tasked to come up with my top five picks for the best tachymeter watches, usual suspects like the Rolex Daytona and Omega Speedmaster Professional immediately sprung to mind. And there’s a good reason for that. These models are indeed classics with an unquestionably iconic status. The more I thought about it though, the more I realized that I wanted to make this list a bit different. No taking the easy way out this time! After all, just because a watch is famous doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best.

If you read my article on chronograph scales, you’ll be armed with all the knowledge you need to use a tachymeter to its full capacity. With that in mind, I wanted to choose not simply the most iconic tachymeters, but the most usable, legible, and available ones I could find. Let’s be honest — while the modern Rolex Daytona’s ceramic tachymeter bezel may be one of the boldest in the industry, that doesn’t really do you much good if you can’t even get your hands on one. I hope the choices I’ll present today will serve as approachable options for anyone with the need for speed and a nifty new watch with which to track it.TAG-Heuer-Carrera-Sport-Chronograph-44-mm-Calibre-Heuer-02-Automatic-Watch-16

TAG Heuer Carrera Sport Chronograph in green

I find the green version of the Carrera Sport to be a terrific choice in the world of tachymeters. My love for the color aside, I think that when compared to the shiny ceramic-bezel variants in the line, the brushed steel bezel of this version lends itself to greater legibility in a variety of lighting conditions. The black numerals on the bezel are large and nicely engraved. They are also just bold enough to contrast the brushed steel backdrop for quick reading at a glance.  The inner facet of the bezel has a highly polished finish. Depending on how precise you wish to be when reading your tachymeter, this could perhaps require slight angling of your wrist in certain lighting. This is only a slight issue, as I feel that the general readability of the tachymeter bezel from most angles is superb.

TAG Heuer Carrera Sport Chronograph CBN2A10.BA0643.009

At 44mm, the watch is not the smallest option out there. But the relatively short 51mm lug-to-lug measurement keeps it reasonable for wrists around 17cm or larger. The radially brushed olive green dial and three-dimensional sub-dials provide plenty of visual interest. The Carrera is no slouch under the hood either. The TAG Heuer in-house Caliber 02 features an 80-hour power reserve and a column wheel for smooth chronograph engagement. A steel bracelet and 100m of water resistance mean that this watch is not merely a great daily driver but also a capable swimmer. As a standard release, this Carrera Sport model is readily available worldwide. New examples retail at €5,450, with even greater deals possible if you go for a pre-owned piece. The Carrera Sport is a truly competitive offering as an in-house chronograph, with an extremely legible tachymeter to boot. Check out Rob’s review of it here for more details.

Hamilton Intra-Matic Auto Chrono panda dial

Panda dials are all the rage these days. In the case of this Hamilton Intra-Matic, there is no mistaking why — it is supremely legible! While I’m generally a huge fan of colorful dials, the extremely effective contrast of this black-and-white beauty really takes the cake. What jumps out to me is the attention paid to the tachymeter scale, the chronograph seconds hand, and the relationship between them. If you look closely, you’ll notice how the seconds hand actually extends past the minute markers and into the tachymeter scale. Not only that, but it also touches the individual hash marks on the tachymeter scale. This facilitates the accurate reading of the measurement indicated on the scale. That’s something we never see with external tachymeter bezels and rarely see with internal ones. I also love Hamilton’s choice in making this hand black to perfectly contrast the off-white dial.

Another small but effective detail is how the tips of the hands are slightly curved. This vintage touch is not purely stylistic, but practical. The shorter distance between the tips of the hands and the dial itself reduces parallax, allowing the user to read the time more precisely. The super-legible display is housed in a 40mm case with a lug width of 20mm and water resistance of 100m. As such, the Intra-matic meets the gold standard for modern-day wearability and versatility. The H-31 movement inside is based on the workhorse Valjoux 7753. While it retains the base caliber’s 28,800vph frequency, an upgraded mainspring provides an extra 12 hours of power reserve for a total of 60 hours. At a retail price of €2,095 on a mesh bracelet, the Intra-matic offers good looks and functional value in spades, with one of the most legible tachymeters on the market today.

Nezumi Voiture, in any of the colors available

If you’re looking for an inexpensive, no-nonsense tachymeter with ’70s-inspired aesthetics and phenomenal contrast no matter the color, look no further than the Nezumi Voiture. Although the watch features an external tachymeter bezel, it is a fantastically legible one. The matte anodized aluminum insert ensures that you’ll never have to deal with the dreaded “SUBS” — shiny, unreadable bezel syndrome. The chronograph seconds hand extends almost to the very perimeter of the dial. I find this detail critically important. The less space there is between that hand and the tachymeter scale, the more accurately the user can read it at a glance. The color contrast between the seconds hand and the outermost track enhances readability even further.

The watch measures 40mm in diameter,  47mm lug to lug, and 11.5mm thick without the domed crystal/12.7 with. This fairly slim profile is thanks to the Seiko VK63 mecha-quartz movement. As the owner of a couple of “beaters” with this movement inside, I can personally testify to its durability. The quartz base caliber ensures you’ll never need to worry about shock or magnetization. In addition, the sweeping chronograph mechanism provides a visual experience similar to a more expensive mechanical caliber. With a current retail price of just €310, you not only get fantastic vintage looks but also immense value and everyday durability. You can read more about Rob’s personal ownership experience with these watches here.

Longines Heritage Classic Chronograph L2.830.4.93.0

Longines Heritage Classic Chronograph

I’ll admit, it feels like a cop-out to put another black-and-white dial on this list. But just take a look at this stunner! In my defense, the dial of the Longines Heritage Classic Chronograph is actually silver and black with tasteful blue accents. The contrast between the black sector, the wide silver tachymeter scale, and the crisp blue numerals help the tachymeter leap off the dial. The blue chronograph seconds hand extends to the outermost edge of the scale, making this one of the most legible tachymeters I have ever seen. In my research, I’ve found that far too many watch brands throw illegible tachymeters onto chronographs, almost as an afterthought. Perhaps they think, “No one will actually use this. Let’s make it tiny.” I take my hat off to Longines, however. This, dear Fratelli, is a tachymeter done correctly!

Longines Heritage Classic Chronograph L2.830.4.93.0

The Heritage Classic Chronograph is a 2020 addition to the brand’s line of vintage throwbacks. In recent years, Longines has been a pioneer in this genre, with plenty of gorgeous designs in its back-catalog from which to draw inspiration. This watch is no different, as it emulates a Longines chronograph from 1943. With an upgraded case size of 40mm wide, 50mm lug to lug, and 13.6mm thick, this reissue model perfectly straddles the line between vintage aesthetics and present-day proportions. The L895.5 caliber inside is produced by ETA exclusively for Longines. The 37-jewel automatic movement beats at 28,800vph and provides 54 hours of power reserve with a 30-minute chronograph. My only gripe with this watch is the underwhelming 30m of water resistance. Aside from that, at €2,900, I feel the Heritage Classic Chronograph provides reasonable value, exquisite aesthetics, and remarkable tachymeter legibility. Check out Bert’s review here.

Sometimes I reference ’90s tunes, sometimes a watch goes to the moon…

Just when you thought my chance had passed, I go and save the best for last! Honestly though, what would a Fratello list of chronographs be without a Speedy? I must say, I racked my brain pretty hard on this one. While the standard Speedmaster Professional is a prime example of a legible chronograph, I simply felt that another model could do better as a tachymeter. How, you ask? By luming the scale! So what did that leave me with? To start, there was the ceramic “Side of the Moon” series. Those models, however, are 44mm, and we already have a watch of such presence on this list. There were the CK2998 “blue panda” and the 45th anniversary Silver Snoopy models, but I wanted to stay away from limited editions for the sake of accessibility. Then it hit me — the lumed tachymeter Speedmaster that anyone can find.

Omega Speedmaster Mark II with black dial

Of course, how could I forget the Mark II? This underappreciated model may not share quite the same reputation as its predecessor, but it is a phenomenal choice for the enthusiast who wants an accessible Speedy, which lies just a little bit off the beaten path. As opposed to its more famous brothers, the Omega Speedmaster Mark II features a wider internal tachymeter bezel. As you may have noticed in this article, I do tend to find wide or well-contrasted internal tachymeters more legible choices than external ones due to their proximity to the chronograph seconds hand. While the color of the tachymeter on this model indeed matches that of the dial, I feel that the raised ring upon which it can be found provides the amount of visual depth necessary to contrast the scale with the relatively busy layout. Of course, the scale’s luminescence only enhances this effect.

Out of all the tachymeters I listed today, the Speedmaster Mark II’s scale is the only one that the wearer can use in the dark, thanks to the lumed tip of the chronograph seconds hand. At 42.4mm in diameter, 46.2mm lug to lug, and 15mm thick, the Mark II is admittedly a bit of a squat choice. The case, however, done in an all-brushed finish, except the generous bevels on its flanks, will be able to handle most anything the average wearer will throw at it. The watch is equipped with a sapphire crystal, 100m of water resistance, and the automatic Omega 3330 caliber. This 28,800vph movement features the date at 6 o’clock, 52 hours of power reserve, 12 hours of elapsed timing capability, a column wheel and silicon hairspring, and COSC chronometer certification. The retail price of the Speedmaster Mark II is €5,500, and it is currently available worldwide.

The end of the line

There we have it, dear Fratelli — my picks for the five best modern, available tachymeters on the market. Should you be itching to get a new tachymeter for your wrist, the “unlimited” availability of these watches ensures you won’t have much trouble tracking one down. If you’d like a refresher on how to use a tachymeter, please check out my article on chronograph scales here. Most importantly, I want to know what you think of my reasoning and choices. Is there anything on this list that you would replace? If so, let all of us know in the comments below. See you back here in a few weeks when I present my top five picks for the best telemeters!