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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
First off, forgive my butchering of terminology or limited knowledge of watches. I am somewhat new to this world, and the only experience I've had is watch shopping for my boyfriend--after which I decided to get him the Ball Trainmaster Cleveland Express. It took about a month of research to choose this watch, so you can understand how "picky" I am. Also, based on my choice, you see how much I appreciate "quality for price-point", as well as gravitation towards brands that are not widely known by the masses (Omega, Rolex, TAG etc.).

Another occasion for a gift is coming up and I'd like to get him another watch, but one under $350 (i know, totally diff ballpark, than BALL, but times are tough) and one that is more sporty and rugged, versus classic and sleek. I would like similar features that drew me to the Ball:

- Bang for the buck (tho the Ball was in no way "cheap")
- Chronograph/Automatic
- Sapphire Crystal
- Diameter around 41mm, Height 12-14mm
- All-around durability, can be worn everyday
- Not too heavy and bulky

He is a Mechanical Engineer and loves cars. So far I've seen one watch called a Brosway Mustang that looks like a design he would like. Something his friends would say, WHOA, that watch is SICK. Help??
 

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Kudo's for picking a Ball as a gift! Quite amazing brand, not very well known mainstream indeed. I still want to pick up a Ball Fireman Nighttrain with tritium tubes myself some day.

- Bang for the buck (tho the Ball was in no way "cheap")
- Chronograph/Automatic
- Sapphire Crystal
- Diameter around 41mm, Height 12-14mm
- All-around durability, can be worn everyday
- Not too heavy and bulky

He is a Mechanical Engineer and loves cars. So far I've seen one watch called a Brosway Mustang that looks like a design he would like. Something his friends would say, WHOA, that watch is SICK. Help??
Bang for the buck auto chrono, I'd immediately say Prometheus CR1. See this review by Jittery Jim for an idea of the watch:
https://www.watchuseek.com/showthread.php?t=222245


(image lifted from linked review)

It has more of a traditional chrono look than the Mustang you posted and goes more for the diver style with a rotatable bezel than the tachymeter scale that a racing watch would traditionally have - but it might still appeal to him and his friends.

One bad though: you just missed out on the big sale that ended the official run so they're all out now, but they're popping up in sales corners regularly. I bought mine (waiting for me at the post office as we type, frustratingly enough) secondhand online like that, it was just worn once, previous owner had it for 2 days and didn't bond with it so put it up again. That's basically the same as new to me and it cost me $200 + shipping, which is well beneath your limit.
 

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I would look at Zodiac watches. Affordable Swiss Made with very cool chronographs.
These are mine.





But Zodiac also has much more rugged looking ones. Here are just a couple of many available:





You could get a Tissot T-Race, also affordable Swiss Made.
This is mine. Many variations of this available.


 
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Really great ideas so far! I'm so excited that people are responding to me. Much love to the Watchuseek community, thank you thank you thank you! Any other ideas out there? :)
 

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The Tissot PRC200 T17.1.586.52 meets all of your criteria, except it has a quartz movement. Available for around $280 new (~$175 used).
 

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I was too going to recommend a PRC200- sapphire crystal, 200m WR, cool, uncommon Swiss brand, can be worn with everything, feels quality.
But it's a quartz. A very good quartz, but a quartz nonetheless.
For automatic chronographs in that price range, you'll probably have to look to the East.
Is it the chrono (stopwatch) functions, or the chrono (subdial) look you're going for?
 
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