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Extra help on Santa’s wrist

Chronographs to time the annual sleigh ride

You probably know the fateful song, “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer”, with which Gene Autry topped the US Billboard charts in 1949. It tells the story of how the oddball reindeer with the bright shiny red nose got to lead all the others. The weather was terrible, there was hardly any visibility and Santa realised the value of Rudolf’s luminous nose. And so he got the place at the very front of the sleigh, for the very same reason that he had been bullied in the past by the other reindeer.

NORAD has been helping track Santa on his annual sleigh ride across the globe for over 60 years.

Santa gets a little bit of help from postal services around the world, which have special departments making sure all children’s letters reach him in the North Pole. In the UK is the Post Office, in Spain is Correos, in France La Poste … pretty much every country ensures its children’s wishes get safely to Santa. The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) went even further and on the 24th, sent its planes to track Rudolf and his sleigh across the night sky.  You can watch it for yourself HERE.

All pilots though need a backup plan if the cockpit instrumentation fails, even Santa. So, although Rudolf is practically infallible, should its self-powered navigation lose its luminosity? With its, directional ability, it’s back to the stars, a compass, and the watch on Santa’s wrist. Our watch editor, Dr Andrew Hildreth, has selected six high-visibility chronographs to make sure Santa can clearly monitor if he is keeping up with the pace necessary to get presents to all the good children in the world. As to which one out of our list has been the one selected, neither Rudolf nor Santa have been available for comment.


Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph

The perennial tough sports watch now comes in a stealthy all-black ceramic case with an integrated bracelet of the same material. Perfect for the night-time flight, where the dial with luminous markers, would show up clearly against the darkened surroundings.

Designed in 1993, by Emmanuel Gueit, this AP Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph remains as avant-garde today as it did 30 years ago.

The design, 30 years old this year, has lost none of its avant-garde nature and looks as modern today as it did when it was first released. Water resistant to 100 metres. Further information HERE.


MB&F LM Sequential EVO

The unique rethinking of the complication from the brilliant minds of Stephen McDonnell and Max Busser, the Sequential is more than just a single timing instrument, it is a two-column-wheel chronograph, with a groundbreaking “Twinverter” binary switch, allowing multiple timing modes, including split-second and lap timer, a combination never seen before.

Necessary flight accessories: helmet, goggles, and the MB&F LM Sequential EVO with its unique chronograph movement.

Perfect for timing descents down chimneys of varying size, as well as the elapsed time of the flight. The case is made from zirconium, with 80 metres of water resistance (should the snow fall get heavy), and an integrated white rubber strap that matches the outline elements of Santa’s suit. More details HERE.


Parmigiani TONDA PF Sport Chronograph

A more traditional yet sporty option for Santa would be this Tonda, with is classic Panda dial. Its accuracy is guaranteed by its COSC (Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres) certified automatic integrated chronograph movement with a column wheel and a high-beat frequency, all housed in a robust steel case, resilient to all the bumps and blows it may suffer going up and down chimneys.

The applied hour markers of the Tonda PF Sport Chronograph are coated with black SuperLuminova for extra visibility in the dark.

The enlarged pushers that operate the stop, start, reset functions would be particularly advantageous for Santa when wearing gloves. More information HERE.


IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 Top Gun Oceana

If this watch is good enough for Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, then it is good enough for Santa ”St. Nick” Claus. While the red-nose-guided, reindeer-powered, gift-laden sleigh would still out-manoeuvre and outrun the standard Boeing F/A 18F Super Hornet (judged by the distance Rudolf and team cover in one night) the need for a flight instrument remains the same for both pilots.

The IWC Chronograph is designed and tested in collaboration with the United States Navy’s Fighter Weapons School (Top Gun).

The IWC, designed and tested in collaboration with the famous US Navy aviator flight school, features a blue ceramic case, an automatic, self-winding movement, a matching blue dial with luminescence, and rubber strap with textile inlay. More details HERE.


Vacheron Constantin Historiques Cornes de vache 1955 Chronograph

For traditional aesthetics, the Historiques would suit Santa’s more senior station in life. A pure form of the complication, where the movement is Vacheron’s proprietary manual wind calibre 1142, featuring two subdials, one for the regular seconds, another for the minute counter, and a central chronograph hand with a tachymeter scale that makes it possible to calculate average speed.

Santa’s reindeer are bound to envy the sculptured “cornes de vache” lugs of the Vacheron Constantin Historiques 1955 Chronograph.

The only potential downside of the watch in this instance is the classic, beautifully crafted steel case, with its sculptured “cornes de vache” lugs, that are likely to give the reindeer horn envy and distract them in their flight. More information HERE.


Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel Time Chronograph ref. 5924G

No strangers to the extreme requirements for watches, the esteemed Geneva-based maison in the past designed timepieces for Admiral Byrd as he mapped Antarctica, as well as producing flight instruments for WWII pilots.

The Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel Time Chronograph ref. 5924G takes design cues from Admiral Byrd’s chronometer, as well as WWII pilot watches.

The latest, ref. 5924, is the first combination of a chronograph with a travel time function, along with a date indication coupled to local time. In other words, not only can Santa set the watch to his North Pole home time, but also to the time zone through over which he is currently flying, along with the ability to accurately measure his time to the second. In a deep shade of khaki green, with luminescent numerals and hands, this watch is the ideal instrument for the nighttime mission. Learn more HERE.

With so many extraordinary chronometers for Santa to choose from, it is difficult to guess his final choice. Which would be your pick?

Words: Dr Andrew Hildreth

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