What Is a Chronograph Watch?
The chronograph watch has always been somewhat of a pinnacle in wristwatch technology.Dubbed the ‘tool watch,’ these expert watches are for the man who needs everything at his disposal. When the clock is ticking, you’re keeping score. When the minutes go by, you’re keeping watch.At the very heart of it, a chronograph watch is basically any old timepiece that has a stopwatch in addition to just telling the time. Not that fancy, right? Wrong.
While a chronograph watch has dials that keep track of seconds, minutes, and hours, it’s because of these intricacies that make these timepieces so heavily coveted. Whether through the allure, appeal, or aesthetics, there is a chronograph watch for every gentleman.
The Nordgreen Pioneer is a modern chronograph watch for the 21st century gentleman.
What Is a Chronograph Watch?
A chronograph watch is a special type of watch that works as both a display watch for telling the time, and a stopwatch for timing things.
When it comes down to brass tax, the chronograph has a myriad of use cases. From workouts to figuring out just how long it takes to fill up with gas. Whatever you plan to use it for, you’re guaranteed to find the same function throughout the entire array of options on the market.
Kickstart the chronograph by pressing the button at the 2 o’clock mark. To stop it, press the button again. Then when you’re ready to reset it back to zero, push the 4 o’clock button. Simple.
Most chronographs display three dials for registering how much time has elapsed. The second dial, often referred to as a sub-second dial, generally sports a minute dial and an hour dial.
However, positions may vary from brand to brand. Take the Pioneer Chronograph from Nordgreen. The dual sub-dials sit opposite each other at 9 and 3 o’clock.
The term used to describe wristwatch additions like a chronograph is called a ‘complication,’ named because of the added level of difficulty and mechanics added to a traditional mechanical watch.
Here’s where things get more interesting. Almost every chronograph watch you can find will have a tachymeter on the bezel.
To put it simply, a tachymeter is used to measure speed based on time traveled over a fixed distance, or distance based on speed. Not good with numbers? Don’t worry; there’s an easy way to figure it out.
The formula is T = 3600/t. T represents the numbers on the tachymeter’s scale, and t represents the time measured in seconds by the all-important chronograph function. 3600 is the number of seconds in one hour.
Now that we have all that, let’s measure speed. If, for example, it takes you 30 seconds to travel one mile, the corresponding number on the tachymeter is 120. That means you’re traveling 120 miles per hour.
You need to know your speed to measure distance with a tachymeter. Firstly, start at zero seconds, and stop once the tachymeter indicates your traveling speed.
For example, if you’re moving along at 60mph, every time it hits 60 on the tachymeter, that means you’ve traveled one mile.
Things do get a bit tricky for lower speeds, so your best bet is to multiply the rate by two, then divide at the end once you’ve got your number.
Because nobody likes working decimals, if it’s your first time with a chronograph, don’t worry. As with most things like this, practice makes perfect.
History of the Chronograph Watch
The story begins in 1816, when Louis Moinet invented the very first chronograph. The stopwatch would be crucial to early discoveries of the great unknown and was used to track astrological movements.
It wasn’t until 1821 when Frenchman Nicolas Mathieu Rieussec created the first widely available chronograph. Its inception came about when King Louis XVIII requested the device to time the horse races he loved to watch.
The early days of chronographs saw dials made of paper and dropped with ink to number them. Though rudimentary compared to today’s standards, this how the name chronograph was born.
Chronograph comes from the Greek words chronos (time) and graph (writer). Together they literally translate to “time writer.”
It would not be until the early 20th century that chronographs made their way to the people’s wrists. Previously kept in pockets, it would take the Swiss watchmaker Longines to popularize the first chronograph wristwatch in 1913.
It didn’t take long before it caught the eye of adventurers, pilots, and navigators of all kinds. However, early advertisements took it upon themselves to revive history and market it towards horse racing, just as it was initially intended.
Many chronographs celebrate history in their unique ways. The Nordgreen Pioneer shows its admiration for the Danish tradition of Science for Humanity. Using hands indicated by the red tips, this minimal and sustainable watch represents the same red tips on wind turbines.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Chronograph Watch
When selecting a chronograph, you need to take into consideration how you plan on using it.
While you can certainly choose one purely based on aesthetics, you need to understand the different attributes of chronograph wristwatches in order to choose the right one.
Telling the time
Many brands take it upon themselves to get highly creative with the design of the watch face, and some may have gotten a little carried away. While you can go for a minimal design like that of the Pioneer, other watches out there may not be so easy to read.
Some designers, like Wegner, have omitted a dial for the sake of design. Some luxury watches can so far as to add lunar phase modules and other more complicated features.
Something that must be considered before purchase, what do you need from your wristwatch?
Though the chronograph features may seem a little complicated, the intricacies of watchmaking are far more complex.
With movements coming in varying styles and constructions, watchmakers can offer you more options than you know what to do with. For example, the Nordgreen Pioneer features a Japanese quartz Miyota 6S21 movement.
First invented in Japan back in the late 1960s, Japanese quartz movements are some of the most accurate. Made famous because of its automatic functionality, meaning it doesn’t require winding as other mechanisms do.
Powered by a single battery and a piece of crystal quartz, the battery sends an electrical signal through the quartz, making it vibrate. This vibration then pulses to make the hands move consistently and accurately.
The Miyota 6S21 movement is accurate to ±20 sec per month and has a battery life of about three years.
The watch case
Character, taste, style. All these words conjure up several connotations depending on who you’re talking to. This is why, when it comes to choosing a chronograph, size matters.
While modern aesthetics have gravitated towards big and bulky watch cases, the Nordgreen Pioneer remains subtle, even with a 42mm case size. Measuring only 12mm thick, it’s almost 150% the thickness of their other watches. Much bigger considering its Scandinavian design, the look is crafted from 316L crystalless steel.
Your average wristwatch ranges between 37-39mm, with chronographs usually measuring anywhere between 40mm and 45mm. Ultimately the correct size comes down to individual preferences, though Next Luxury reckons the sweet spot is the 42mm case.
Straps, bands, and bracelets
There are several different ways to wrap a watch around your wrist, from width to thickness to material choices and design. Though the width of your watch strap or bracelet will depend on the case diameter and lug width, customization is ever-present through a selection of different band styles.
For example, the Nordgreen Pioneer offers a range of additional leather straps, including vegan leather options and mesh straps, all at 20mm. Though for the full chronograph experience, we recommend the 3-link stainless-steel strap version.
Side note: don’t forget to consider the size of the lugs. These are the metal extensions where the watch case attaches to the bracelet or strap. While they’re not factored into the case diameter, they do stick out much further.
Remember to leave some breathing room, as the lugs can slightly elongate the height of the watch. Lugs that extend out over your wrist tend to be uncomfortable to wear, so watch out for that.
Dials on dials
Not every watch will have the option of multiple dial colors. Most will feature either a black or white dial, depending on the design. While others may not feature a dial at all, opting instead for an exposed look straight through to the mechanics and hardware. The Pioneer does offer either a black, white, or Navy-blue dial, with the latter being the most eye-catching of the three.
The glass on watch faces is equally as crucial as the dial that sits below. Called crystals, watch glass is made from a bunch of different materials.
A majority of watches are crafted using sapphire, acrylic, or minerals. Sapphire crystals are second only to diamonds in toughness, making them highly scratch-resistant.
Nordgreen uses domed sapphire crystal for the Pioneer watch glass for these exact reasons. Acrylic faces or crystals are found mostly on the more affordable end of the spectrum for wristwatches, which leaves them open to scratches.
Mineral crystals are treated with chemicals or heat to improve the shatter and scratch-resistance of the glass. While certainly not as durable as sapphire, they are still a superb middle-range choice.
Chronograph Watches aren’t typically designed for underwater use. That’s a job for their dive watch counterparts. That doesn’t mean your new timepiece will fall apart in the rain. It just means you have to be conscious of that all-important water resistance rating.
Rated up to 5 ATM for rain resistance, the Nordgreen Pioneer can survive a depth of up to 50 meters. While that is super deep, we don’t recommend diving with a non-diver’s watch. This is different from an IPX rating, which measures how much water exposure a product can handle.
These are the ATM ratings:
- 1 ATM means a device can withstand a depth of 10 meters
- 3 ATM means a device can withstand depths of 30 meters
- 5 ATM means a device can withstand depths of 50 meters
- 10 ATM means a device can withstand depths of 100 meters
These are the IPX ratings:
- IPX-0 offers no protection against water whatsoever.
- IPX-1 protects against dripping from above for up to 10 minutes.
- IPX-2 protects against dripping from any direction for up to 10 minutes.
- IPX-3 protects against spraying water from any direction for up to five minutes.
- IPX-4 offers protection from splashes from any direction for at least five minutes.
- IPX-5 protects from large sprays, 12.5 liters per minute, from any direction for up to three minutes.
- IPX-6 offers protection for larger sprays, 100 liters per minute, from any direction for up to three minutes.
- IPX-7 allows protection against complete submersion, up to one meter of water for 30 minutes.
- IPX-8 is the highest grade of water resistance, although its specifications are wholly dependent on the manufacturer. Typically, ‘waterproof’ products will have an IPX7 or IPX8 rating.
The Nordgreen Pioneer Chronograph Wristwatch
The Nordgreen Pioneer is an elegant men’s chronograph watch designed by Danish designer Jakob Wagner. It combines traditional chronograph elements with a clean modern design inspired by the sustainable future we all, and in particular the Danes, aspire to. The Pioneer is available in with a range of straps and a range of dial colors. Whatever your personal style is, there’s a Nordgreen Pioneer to match.
Top 29 Best Watches Under $500 For Men
With cellphones so ubiquitous, your watch choice can be less about telling time and more about personal style. However, a watch is not ‘just’ a watch. For example, the vast majority are made for right-handed people, but a select few cater to the lefties among us. There is a wide range in functionality and size.
The wristwatch is also one of the few socially acceptable accessories for men, so why not have a small selection? If you’re not cashing a CEO’s paycheck just yet, here are the top 28 most handsome watches for men that retail for under $500.
Got a bigger budget? Then check out our guide to the best men’s watches under $1000 instead.
Top 29 Best Watches Under $500 For Men
1. Tommy Hilfiger Stainless Steel Men’s Watch
If you like the feel of a pliable, non-metal band but aren’t comfortable with genuine leather, this watch comes equipped with a handsome synthetic band. At 46mm in diameter, this watch is perfect for men of smaller stature, as it will not overpower your hand or make it look like you’re wearing your father’s watch. With bold Arabic numerals, a stainless steel case, and classic styling, this watch is an outstanding choice for an everyday watch and the man on a budget.
2. Nordgreen Pioneer – Black Dial
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Not everyone has an endless amount of cash to drop on a luxury timepiece. If you’re money-conscious but want something high-end, then why not consider the Nordgreen Pioneer.
An inspired take on a classic Chronograph, Nordgreen celebrates the Danish with what they call a timepiece “that captures the sustainable future.” Available in various dial colors from blue, black, and white. There’s even the choice of three case colors – gunmetal, silver, and rose gold. A perfect addition to the collection of any watch enthusiast.
3. Fossil Grant Brown Leather WatchCheck Price
This lovely offering by Fossil features slim Roman numeral hour markers and delicate cut-out hands. The casing is stainless steel and is water-resistant to 165 feet, making it a great dive watch. The band is made of supple, soft calfskin leather and uses a buckle closure.
Of course, this timepiece also comes with the generous 11-year warranty and it’s own fun tin. This watch oozes class and is great for nearly every occasion in your life.
4. Citizen Sport Stainless Steel Men’s Watch With Brown Leather Band
If you don’t want to deal with changing out a battery in a digital watch, this watch is powered by either natural or indoor lighting. The mineral crystal face and stainless steel case make this watch water-resistant to 330 feet, making it a great choice for swimmers and snorkelers.
Handsome and utilitarian, this is a great watch for everyday wear. It’s one of the best watches for men who are always on the go.
5. Fossil Men’s Machine Chronograph Silicone Watch
This watch was designed with the active man in mind. The knurled silicone band stands up to sweat and oils without issue, and the timepiece itself is water-resistant to 165 feet.
The patterned bezel and quality craftsmanship of the black dial is excellent, as is to be expected from a Fossil watch. It even comes in the iconic and collectible tin!
6. Citizen Men’s Eco-Drive Watch
This men’s watch features Japanese quartz movement that charges itself indoors or out when exposed to light, making it a great choice for those who don’t want to change out the battery too often. The stitched canvas strap is soft against your skin and will wick away moisture, while the mineral crystal face stands up to the rigors of your everyday life.
Water-resistant to 330 feet, this dive watch is a classic and simple design you’ll be proud of for years to come.
7. Invicta Pro Diver Chronograph Men’s Watch
Another gorgeous offering by Invicta, this watch features a bold design with a slightly nautical feel to it. It will look at home whether you’re wearing a business suit or are going for a dive of less than 660 feet. This piece is also covered by a one-year warranty as a matter of course. The luminosity feature and magnified date window make it a great choice if you work or play in low light.
If you want something that looks like a Tag Heuer but without the luxury watch brand price tag, this is a good option!
8. Casio Edifice Multi-Function Men’s Watch
This watch has three sub-dials for 12 hour, 60 minute and 60-second displays, in addition to the standard time. It also features a fold-over, push-down clasp on the stainless strap, keeping it secure throughout your activities. If you’re looking for a classy timepiece that shrieks sophistication, this is a great choice.
9. Fossil Machine Three Hand Stainless Steel Men’s Watch
This quality watch is a chameleon piece. It looks at home as a dress watch riding below the cuff of your best suit, and it also looks great paired with jeans and a t-shirt. Backed by Fossil’s 11-year warranty as a matter of course and beautifully crafted, this smoke-colored piece is guaranteed to become the go-to accessory for nearly every occasion.
10. MVMT Watches Black Face Men’s Watch
If you like the look of a simple watch, this minimalist offering from MVMT is right up your alley. With just a plain black face, tick marks to denote the hours and a single date window, there is nothing overdone or extravagant about this design. The is understated and suited to the simple design. It’s definitely a classy, low-key piece for the budget-conscious.
11. Timex Weekender Watch
If you’re looking for a fun watch to pair with casual outfits, this is a great option. The band is blue and yellow woven nylon, and the face features both civilian and military timekeeping. An Indiglo night light is also included. This watch is water-resistant to 99 feet, meaning it can withstand splashes of water or exposure to rain but you won’t want to submerge it.
12. PUMA Ultrasize Black Sport Men’s Watch
Boasting a 50mm diameter, this piece is perfect for the large-framed man or one who likes to wear his accessories oversized. A true fashion statement, this sports watch comes in eight different colors schemes to match your favorite hues.
Do be aware, however, that the dial knob is configure for left-handed men!
13. Timex Easy Reader Men’s Watch
Another dress watch designed with the older gentleman in mind, this watch features a white dial with generously sized numerals that do not appear comical to the casual observer.
It’s also an excellent choice if you take your contacts out at night and still want to be able to check the time. With classic lines and a simple white face, the watch would not be out of place at any casual gathering. It comes with Timex’s one-year warranty at no additional charge.
14. Fossil Nate Men’s Chronograph Watch
For men who like a more gritty, industrial feel to their accessories, this Fossil watch is right on point. The bezel is gear-edged and the face is utilitarian black and gray. Water-resistant to 165 feet, this watch is a great choice if you like your adornments to be understated yet add visual interest.
It’s definitely a stand-out piece, for those who would take notice!
15. Timex Expedition Field Chronograph Men’s Watch
Featuring an indigo night light, tachymeter, a date window and a buckle closure, this watch is perfect for men who like to work or play outdoors. It is also water-resistant to 330 feet, making it a great choice for snorkeling or swimming.
You won’t want to wear it for diving, however. With classic, black styling and a genuine crystal face, this is a timepiece that will stand the test of time in both form and function.
16. Seiko 5 Automatic Stainless Steel Men’s Watch
This Seiko automatic watch has all the bells and whistles you need, but presents it all in a plain and strikingly attractive manner. It features a date window in either English or Spanish, sword-shaped hands, a sweeping second hand and a mineral dial window. This is a great option for the man on the go. The canvas strap can be removed and hand-washed if sweat or other odors become an issue.
This watch is not water-resistant, so you’ll only want to wear it when you won’t be popping by the pool for a swim!
17. Invicta Pro Diver Collection Silver-Tone Men’s Watch
For those who prefer an all-metal timepiece, the stainless steel Invicta fits the bill nicely. It has a similar aesthetic to a Tag Heuer watch, but at a more affordable price. Equipped with a unilateral bezel and removable links, the band can be customized to fit your wrist perfectly. The face is flame fusion crystal and features a magnifier to highlight the date window.
It’s also water-resistant to 660 feet. If you’re looking for a gorgeous watch that stands up to an active lifestyle, this is an excellent choice.
18. Seiko Men’s Adventure-Solar Classic Casual Watch
This Seiko watch derives its power from either natural or indoor light and can withstand water depths of up to 330 feet. The supple brown leather strap and timeless brushed steel give this piece an attractive look, and the alarm chronograph is easy to set.
If you’re looking for a watch that can serve as a backup for your wake-up call while traveling, stand up to the elements and look awesome, this casual wrist watch is a winner.
19. Nautica Men’s Stainless Steel Watch with Blue Resin Band
Featuring a plethora of options and a smart, snappy style, this a great casual watch with a eye-catching blue dial. The hardy resin band is adjustable, and the face is protected by a mineral window. Whether for work or play, this bold blue design is handsome and substantial on the wrist. It comes with Nautica’s five-year warranty at no additional charge.
20. Citizen Sport Men’s Stainless Steel Watch with Black Leather Band
The black, red and white face of this piece eschews the traditional two-tone color scheme so often employed in other watches, and the contrasting stitching on the band adds creative flair. It comes backed by Citizen’s five-year warranty and will compliment any casual outfit.
21. Alessi Tic15 Analog Display Analog Quartz Black Men’s Watch
Another not-quite-round offering on our list, the curved square casing of this piece gives it instant visual appeal. Sleek and clean, this unfussy design will be a compliment to almost any occasion. It has quartz movement and is water-resistant to 99 feet, making it a great choice for everyday wear.
22. Invicta 1517 I Force Collection Watch
Another on our list designed for left-handed men, this watch is something special. Water-resistant to 330 feet and featuring oversize stenciled numbers and a sub dial, this watch is great for any casual outfit. The cloth band is extremely durable and stands up to dirt, sweat and grime.
If you lead an active lifestyle, this watch will be right at home in your collection.
23. TRIWA Blue Steel Nevil Canvas Watch
This watch comes in a whopping 14 color variations, all of them beautiful. You may decide to add more than one to your collection!
Designed in Sweden, this watch features Japanese quartz movement, a stainless steel casing and a strap made from Tärnsjö organic leather. TRIWA, which stands for Transforming the Industry of Watches, believes in the artistry of fine jewelry and it shows in their product.
24. Victorinox Swiss Army Alliance Watch
Another fine dress watch from the makers of the Swiss Army knife, this watch is emblazoned with the internally recognized cross and shield emblem. It has no sub-dials, tachymeter or other add-ons to detract from its simple and appealing style.
This watch will be at home with all but the most formal of outfits and carries a two-year warranty.
25. Ingersoll Automatic Stainless Steel Bull Run Watch
Again, Ingersoll remakes the classics and brings them into the present day. With a highly polished stainless steel casing, two sub-dials, a date aperture and arrow-shaped hands, this quartz watch is beautiful.
The band features contrasting stitching on the fine-grain leather, adding depth and detail to the workmanship. This watch will compliment any casual occasion and can be relied upon for years to come.
26. Tissot Quickster Chronograph Black Leather Men’s Watch
Made with scratch-resistant sapphire crystal and Swiss automatic movement, this watch is a smart and utilitarian choice. If you’re looking for a solid Swiss watch that isn’t flashy, this is an excellent option. It’s also guaranteed for two years.
27. Seiko Sport Solar Men’s Beige Watch
Are you getting tired of squinting down at your watch or holding it closer and closer to your face? Don’t worry, we all get a bit nearsighted with age, especially over the age of 40.
If you’re not quite ready for reading glasses or a comically huge watch, this is a great choice from Seiko. The numerals, indices and luminous hands stand out in stark white against a black background, and the numerals are generous in size. It’s a perfect casual watch for the older gentleman.
28. Seiko Men’s 5 Watch Blue Canvas Band
This simple and affordable watch has a clean, crisp aesthetic to it and doesn’t bog down its design with a ton of bells and whistles. It’s time and date, end of.
If you want a watch for casual wear, this Seiko is a shoo-in. The band is forgiving and comfortable against your wrist, and it’s blue color will likely compliment your existing wardrobe. The price is also extremely affordable.
29. Tommy Hilfiger Men’s Stainless Steel Watch With Brown Leather Band
Featuring the Hilfiger logo at the three o’clock position, this wrist watch is a statement piece. It is a bright, shiny stainless steel work of art that you’ll be proud to wear at all but the most stuffy of workplaces. The calfskin leather band uses a buckle closure and the date window is beside the logo at three o’clock.
If you’re a fan of Tommy clothing, cologne or luggage, you can complete your look with this stunning accessory.