5 Amazing Chronograph Watches Under $300 That Will Turn Heads
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Nordgreen.
I’m an outrageously slow runner.
All my friends in high school were on the track team, and like any kid wanting to fit in, I joined up. The track coach watched my 100-meter sprint and couldn’t stop laughing.
Well, I wasn’t there to win any medals anyway. I was there for moral support. Or at least to be the butt of many jokes.
The team pitched in and bought me a twenty dollar chronograph when the holidays came around to commemorate my historically bad footspeed.
Having a stopwatch on my wrist didn’t make me any faster like the team had hoped.
But I did fall in love with the style of the watch.
Chronographs are versatile. Some brands go minimalist, others go old-school. Some come in with an attitude, and others base their design on the city they were founded in.
Sooner or later, most watch brands produce a chronograph. It’s almost inescapable.
Complicated, functional, and ornate, chronograph watches are casual staples.
With so many amazing options out there, it’s hard to know which to choose.
Are you looking for a new stellar chronograph watch that’s as stunning as it is affordable? Well, start your timers, because you’re going to see why our favorite chronograph timepieces might just become your favorites, too.
What Are Chronograph Watches?
To break it down as simply as possible, a chronograph is a timepiece that uses subdials to measure more than just the hour and minute.
Chronographs will either have two or three subdials, depending on which complications the watchmaker chooses to include.
The style came from the original aviation watches used by pilots to measure distance traveled and judge their fuel consumption.
They’ve never gone out of style, but over time have become less for function and more fashion-forward.
While there’s a ton of variation in chronograph styles, there are a few key features that are distinctive to all chronographs:
1. The Sub-Dials
If it doesn’t have subdials, it’s not a chronograph. Beyond their timekeeping functionality, these add visual depth to the watch and can be as complicated or simple as the designer chooses.
2. A Way to Adjust the Subdials
Most chronographs have two pushers at two and four o’clock which can start and reset your timer. The timer is measured by subdials, though there’s no set standard for what these dials should read.
There are the rare chronographs that don’t feature two-button pushers, and we’ve featured one in our list if you love the subdial look but you want to keep the crown simple.
3. More Features than Just Telling the Time of Day
Do you know what all those subdials and pushers are for?
Whether the subdials just measure seconds and minutes, or seconds, minutes, and hours, your chronograph should do more than simply tell the time of day.
Not all chronographs can act as stopwatches, though. Some swap out second-reading subdials to record the day of the week. There are hundreds of different complications watchmakers add to their chronographs. Just make sure you’re getting the style you like with the function you need.
3 Things to Consider When Buying a Chronograph Watch
Chronograph watches tend to be larger. It’s rare to find a chronograph watch these days under 40mm.
These timepieces need to fit complicated movements and still stay readable. If watchmakers tried to squeeze all that information on a 38 or 36mm dial, you wouldn’t be able to read a thing. Some watches are so complicated, they’re still hard to read even with an oversized dial.
If you’re not sure what size watch you prefer, take a look at your wrist size. If you have average-sized wrists, 38-42mm is your sweet-spot. You can venture into 44mm territory no problem, but the watch will look noticeably large on your wrist—sometimes that’s exactly what you want.
If you’ve got a smaller wrist, 36-40mm is the way to go, and for that reason, you should double-check to see that your chronograph comes in a 40mm case size.
How Complicated Do You Want It?
I’m a big fan of the complicated and busy styles of some chronographs. But recently, I’ve come across some minimalist designs that have changed the way I think about the style.
With the thousands of brands out there, you can have it any way you want.
If you need to use your watch for a specific function, that should make a huge difference in the type you go for. Back in the day, pilots needed to use their chronos to calculate their fuel consumption. If their watch was bogus their lives were at risk.
Maybe you’re not putting your life on the line, but if you need a precise chronograph, make sure you go with a trusted brand.
Similarly, picking a watch with outrageous detail might not be the best fashion choice, while picking a minimalist masterpiece might not have all the markings you need from a functionality standpoint.
Tips for Wearing Chronograph Watches
A Casual Stunner
Chronographs are casual watches. They’re often too complicated for formal wear, and you’re better off sticking with something simple, sleek, and shiny.
They’re best used as standout pieces in a casual wardrobe. I love to pair a chrono with a denim or leather jacket, jeans, and boots. Any sort of look where you’re going more rugged—the chrono will look great.
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Do you have small wrists?
Chronographs are hard to find under 40mm. There’s just too much going on under the hood to gracefully fit everything in a smaller dial.
That being said, you can still get away wearing a 42mm watch, but that should be the largest you go. Even then, the watch will look oversized, but there are a time and place for oversized watches.
The 5 Best Chronograph Watches for Men Under $300
A chronograph won’t help you run faster, but it’ll definitely give you style points. Especially if you pick up one of our top recommendations.
If you don’t already have one, a chrono is one of the best ways to nail the smart casual style. They’re ornate and elegant, but ultimately have the masculine profile of a sports timepiece.
With this list, you’re sure to find a look that fits your wardrobe. Heck, you may even find a couple.
Unlock timeless elegance in your casual look with a great chronograph watch.