7 things you probably don’t know about chronograph watches

The chronograph function is a popular one and for that reason, it’s seen on lots of watches. But what exactly is a chronograph watch? And how do you read a chronograph watch? These are a few of the questions we’re about to answer. Because we know from experience that while the majority of male watch buyers want to own a luxury chronograph, most of them don’t actually use the functionality correctly, if at all. But we’re out to change that. Here’s everything you need to know about chronograph watches.

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Chronograph literally translates as ‘Time writer’ 

A union of the Greek word “chronos” meaning time and “graph” meaning writing is where the chronograph gets its name. The very first versions of the chronograph were operated by marking the dial with a small pen so the length of the pen mark indicated how much time had elapsed. Invented in 1815, Louis Moinet created what would become the first chronograph.

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It’s basically just a stopwatch

So what actually is a chronograph? A chronograph watch, in the simplest terms possible, is the technical word for a stopwatch or timer. Most chronograph timepieces, such as our Chronus collection, feature between one and three buttons, which start, stop and reset the chronograph function. They’re commonly seen on the wrists of racing car drivers and during other activities where accuracy and precision are vital.

They’re not just for timing races

While chronographs were originally used by racing car drivers, they can be used to time pretty much anything. From the time you spend on a project at work to the time it takes for your dinner to cook. You’ll discover lots of ways to use your chronograph. Most chronographs aren’t designed to time events that last over 30 minutes, so if you want one that will time for hours, check the functionality before you make a purchase.

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Using a chronograph is simple

When learning how to read a chronograph watch, you just press the start then stop button on the side of the watch, and when you’ve finished, push the bottom button to reset back to zero. Watch chronographs usually consist of three hands: a second hand, a minute hand, and the hour hand. The second hand only moves when you’re timing something, and when you’re not, you can see the seconds display on one of the sub-dials which make up the chronograph.

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What’s a tachymeter? 

To know how to use a chronograph watch, you need to know what a tachymeter is. A tachymeter is usually found on the bezel of your chronograph watch and measures speed and time traveled over a certain distance. This allows the wearer to read elapsed time in seconds per unit and speed in units per hour.

How to read a tachymeter

Ok, so getting used to reading a tachymeter can require some simple maths, but once you’ve figured it out, you’ll be able to gauge the speed of an object using just your watch. All you need to know is the distance between two points. Let’s say you’re on a highway and you know the distance between junction A and junction B is 1 mile. As soon as you pass junction A, push the start button on your chronograph. When you arrive at junction B, stop it. According to your chronograph, it took you 58 seconds. Looking at your tachymeter on your bezel, 58 seconds lines up with the 72 mark on the tachymeter. That means you were averaging 72 mph.

They look great too.

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While the appeal of chronograph watches might be mainly about the technology, the best chronograph watches will look stylish too. Our Ascari collection, inspired by the Italian racing driver is a refined example of a chronograph that will also add a touch of sophistication to your looks. Originally a chronograph was a sports watch, which made styling it simple. But these days, chronographs like our Odyssey Collection make sophisticated everyday watches because you can style them up as well as down. Modern men wear their chronographs with pretty much everything – James Bond wears his with sharp tailoring, and well, if it’s good enough for 007. 

Have we convinced you of the style power and advanced technical benefits of the chronograph? Then browse our chronograph watches and add one to your collection.