The Best Affordable Automatic Chronograph of 2024

The Best Affordable Automatic Chronograph of 2024

Founded in Korea in 2021, Pitzmann is a new microbrand that’s been catching attention with excellently crafted watches that combine both western and eastern influences. Today we’ll be looking at their latest offering, the Pitzman 3 automatic chronograph powered by Seiko’s renowned NE88 (8R48) column wheel chronograph movement with a vertical clutch. At a glance it bears a striking resemblance to the Rolex Daytona, with it’s wide ceramic bezel, tricompax chronograph layout and excellent finishing. But look just a little closer and you’ll find tons of unique design elements that reflect Pitzmann’s Korean heritage and make this much more than a simple homage. All of this comes in at a very reasonable price of $1,499.

The Pitzman 3 Automatic Chronograph Review

The Pitzmann 3 automatic chronograph watch emerges as a compelling timepiece with several notable strengths. One of its standout features is its utilization of the Seiko NE88 automatic mechanical movement, which is Seiko’s third party designation for their legendary in house 8R48 Caliber. The NE88/8R48 offers advanced functionality and precision comparable to luxury Swiss counterparts at a relatively affordable price point. The watch’s design showcases a harmonious blend of Eastern and Western influences, evident in its tri-compax Panda layout, black ceramic bezel, and enamel dial. Craftsmanship and build quality are commendable, with meticulous attention to detail evident in the finishing and design elements.

However, the watch is not without its drawbacks. Some design choices, such as the placement of the date window at 6 o’clock, may polarize enthusiasts, and the lack of micro-adjustments on the bracelet’s clasp could pose comfort issues for some wearers. Do these drawbacks negate the otherwise excellent design? Let’s dive under the hood and check it out.

East meets West Design Philosophy

The Pitzmann 3 automatic chronograph watch showcases a plethora of distinct design elements that contribute to its visual appeal and overall uniqueness. On the panda color way a stunning enamel dial, crafted through a cold enameling process, boasts a porcelain-like finish, adding a touch of refinement rarely seen in sports chronographs.The markers and handset exhibit intricate detailing, with complex facets and angles coupled with a high polish finish, creating a visually striking appearance.

Stunning details even under macro

When viewed up close the multifaceted hour markers resemble islands with steep cliffs dropping into a pool of enamel. A silver ring encircling the dial divides it from the rehaut, which is finished with the same cold enamel coating as the dial. The flared lug design, influenced by classical Korean architecture, creates a distinctive silhouette that sets the watch apart, enhancing its overall aesthetic appeal. Collectively, these design elements come together to form a timepiece that seamlessly blends tradition with modernity, making the Pitzmann 3 a standout choice for discerning watch enthusiasts.

Chronograph Functions

The chronograph function of the Pitzmann 3 automatic chronograph watch is both sophisticated and visually captivating. Each subdial is is textured with a grooved concentric circle pattern and printed with crisp detailed markings. At the 3 o’clock position, a running seconds subdial provides continuous tracking of seconds for timekeeping. Positioned at 9 o’clock, the 30-minute chronograph minutes counter offers easy readability and efficient timing capabilities. Meanwhile, at 6 o’clock, a 12-hour totalizer enables you to track your times on long road trips. And if you’re at the track the detailed engraved tachymeter scale on the ceramic bezel enables the speed over short distances.

The inclusion of red accents across the chronograph functions not only adds a visually striking element but also serves to unify and distinguish them from the timekeeping functions. This cohesive design choice enhances readability and usability, further elevating the watch’s appeal. But look under the hood at the engine of this watch and you’ll find an advanced, high tecch automatic chronograph caliber in the Seiko NE88.

The Outstanding Seiko NE88/8R48 Movement

The Seiko NE88 movement stands as a testament to Seiko’s commitment to innovation and excellence in horological engineering. Born from Seiko’s renowned 8R series, the NE88 represents a significant advancement in automatic chronograph technology. Equipped with a column wheel and vertical clutch mechanism, the NE88 offers superior precision and smooth operation, surpassing traditional cam-actuated movements commonly found in its Swiss counterparts.

Why the NE88/8R48 is the best affordable automatic chronograph movement today

Notably slimmer and more compact than its competitors, the NE88 enables a sleeker case design without compromising on functionality or performance. With its robust construction and advanced features, the Seiko NE88 movement embodies Seiko’s legacy of excellence and sets a new standard for affordable automatic chronograph movements.

The inclusion of a vertical clutch and column wheel mechanism in the Seiko NE88 movement offers several notable benefits that elevate the performance and functionality of the Pitzmann 3 automatic chronograph watch. Firstly, the vertical clutch ensures seamless engagement of the chronograph function, eliminating the jarring start often associated with horizontal clutch systems. This results in smoother operation and more accurate timing, enhancing the overall user experience.

Additionally, the column wheel, renowned for its precision and reliability, facilitates precise control over the chronograph’s start, stop, and reset functions. Its intricate construction and hand-finished detailing contribute to a satisfying tactile feel when operating the chronograph pushers, reflecting the craftsmanship and attention to detail synonymous with luxury watchmaking. Together, these advanced mechanisms not only improve the functionality of the chronograph but also underscore Seiko’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of horological innovation within an affordable price range.

A few Drawbacks

Despite its many strengths, the Pitzmann 3 automatic chronograph watch is not without its drawbacks. One notable issue is the placement of the date window at 6 o’clock, which can disrupt the overall symmetry of the dial and may be perceived as awkward by some enthusiasts. While I like the use of red accents to distinguish the chronograph functions of the watch, Pitzmann decided to also employ red accents on the rehaut and on the font on the date window, drawing unnecessary attention to a date window that interupts the 6 ‘oclock subdial.

Furthermore, while the bracelet does feature half-links, the lack of micro-adjustments on the clasp presents a potential comfort issue for wearers, as achieving a precise fit may be challenging. Lastly, the polished chronograph hands against the dark gray subdials can pose legibility challenges, especially in certain lighting conditions, potentially hindering the user’s ability to read elapsed time accurately. These shortcomings, while relatively minor, are important considerations for prospective buyers seeking a flawlessly balanced timepiece.

A Unique Value Proposition

In conclusion, the Pitzmann 3 automatic chronograph watch presents a compelling value proposition, especially considering its price relative to other timepieces featuring the Seiko NE88 movement. With its advanced movement technology, impeccable finishing, and distinct design elements, the Pitzmann 3 offers a level of quality and craftsmanship typically associated with higher-priced luxury watches. Given the rarity of watches equipped with the Seiko NE88 movement and the level of refinement exhibited by the Pitzmann 3, its price point represents a noteworthy opportunity for enthusiasts seeking a standout timepiece without breaking the bank. As such, the Pitzmann 3 stands as a testament to the brand’s dedication to delivering exceptional value and innovation within the realm of affordable horology.

Strap Options

Looks right at home on a leather rally strap
For a more sporty look try pairing with an Artem Sail Cloth Strap
Horween Leather Strap from Nomad Watch Works

Pitzmann 3 Specifications

Price: $1499 (Launch Psecial $1,299)
Seiko NE88 Automatic Chronograph Movement
40mm Case
20mm Lugs
47.5mm lug-lug
13.25mm Thick
50M WR
Sapphire Crystal


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