Modern watches do far more than tell you the current time. They now include stopwatches, calendars and many other practical and unique features.
A chronograph watch is unique because it offers several methods of measuring time. This feature alone is a reason that many people want at least one of these watches added to their collection. Ladies chronograph watches and men’s chronograph watches are generally considered sport watches, but a chronograph is useful in many different situations. Take a look at the chronograph watch buying guide information below to understand and define the many functions available in chronograph watches so you can make an educated buying decision.
Chronograph Basics: A Chronograph is an instrument which measures and registers time intervals. It is a timepiece that offers more than one way to measure time; however, there are many functions available in chronograph timepieces. Chronograph watches are available in many designs, including luxury, casual and sport watches. Men’s chronograph watches are more common, yet ladies chronograph watches are also widely available. The most easily identifiable chronograph watches have three subdials set into the main dial. The subdials display the stopwatch and other extra functions. Basics of a chronograph watch include:
SECONDS, MINUTES, AND HOURS: The more common dials of a chronograph watch will measure seconds, minutes, half hours, and hour increments. A very handy function for just about anyone.
SPLIT SECOND: Timed events, such as sports and racing events, require split second measurements. This split second measurement feature exists only with chronographs with either minute counters or with minute and hour counters. Many of these “sports-features” are how watches became reputable brands.
SIMPLE CALENDAR: Beyond the normal time indication, a calendar indication on a watch is probably the most useful function. The simple calendar has only a date hand or date aperture.
Chronometers and Chronographs: These two terms are very similar only because they apply to watches and time, but both terms mean very different things. A chronograph watch has multiple functions for measuring time, and a chronometer is a certification of accuracy. A chronometer timepiece has been tested for accuracy by a Swiss laboratory, the Controle Officiel Suisse des Chronometres [COSC]. Timepieces qualifying as chronometers are accurate to 5 seconds per day and include a COSC certification number.
Style: Chronograph watches are considered sports watches, but they are not limited to one style. For office and casual wear, stainless steel and titanium watches are durable and attractive. Watches with fine leather straps are also available with chronograph features; leather watchbands can be dressy or casual. Outdoor enthusiasts and divers may prefer the durability and style of rubber straps. A watch with a colorful dial may add style to your weekend wardrobe while a chronograph watch with a gold case will enhance your luxury watch collection.
Additional Features: The chronograph watch is a timepiece that features more than one method of measuring time and includes a stopwatch function. However, many watches feature multiple functions, but may not necessarily be chronograph watches. On the other hand, many multifunction watches do combine chronograph functions with other features and dials. Below is a list the various chronograph dials and features including:
TACHYMETER: The tachymeter scale is for the measurement of speeds of a moving object (such as a race car, bicyclist, or pedestrian) over a known distance. On modern chronographs with tachometer scales, speeds from 40 to 620 mph can generally be read.
TELEMETER: With the telemeter scale it’s possible to measure the distance of a phenomenon which is both visible and audible. For example, during a thunderstorm the time that has elapsed between the flash of lightening and the sound of the thunder is registered on the chronograph scale allowing the distance to be determined. The telemeter scale is usually at the very outside of the dial.
PULSOMETER: Known as the “doctor’s watch” the pulsometer scale, or pulse-register, is used for taking a patient’s heart rate, and shows at a glance the number of pulse beats per minute.
ASTHMOMETER: For athletes and doctors it can be important to determine breathing rates. The asthmometer, or breath-register chronograph dial shows the number of respirations, or breathing rate, per minute.
PRODUCTION-COUNTING CHRONOGRAPH: Industrialization, which led to mass-production of products, required that planning and production times for a particular product be calculated. The production-counting scale is especially useful to large-scale manufacturers, as it enables them to determine the number of articles produced per hour.
FULL CALENDAR: A chronograph with a “full” calendar displays the date, the day of the week, and the month.
THE PERPETUAL CALENDAR: The highest degree of technical perfection is that of chronographs with a “perpetual calendar.” This type of calendar requires a “four-year wheel” that takes into account the varying days of each month plus leap year. The moon phase is also controlled so that no correction is needed.
MOON PHASE: The moon phase dial is usually combined on a chronograph with the calendar dials. A moon face rotates throughout its cycle and displays through a cutout often located within the hour-counter dial.
TIDE CHRONOGRAPH: This type of chronograph watch has two different indicators. The left auxiliary dial shows tides. This will show when high and low tides occur at given coastlines and harbors. The dial on the right is divided by color into six sectors of five minutes each. These dials are designed for yachting and yacht racing, and also to show so-lunar periods and tides.
CHRONOGRAPH WITH A DIRECTIONAL HAND (INDICATING NORTH): This type of chronograph has an additional “compass” hand bearing the letter “N” which completes one turn of the dial in 24 hours. Bearings may be taken by turning the watch, held horizontally, so that the hour hand points towards the sun, in which case the direction of North is shown by the indicator hand.
CHRONOGRAPH WITH COMPASS: On a cloudy day the system of orientation by using the directional hand (described above) would naturally be useless, because the north pointer could not be set when the sun was not visible. In the mid 1930’s a method was developed to integrate a small compass onto the face of a chronograph. Since the compass was on the dial it was now necessary to make all steel parts out of non-magnetic material so that the watch itself would not interfere with the compass readings.
CHRONOGRAPH WITH CALCULATOR: For numerous scales such as the telemeter, tachometer, production register, etc., a mathematical calculation was presupposed by appropriate gradations on the scale, and you would have to know the basis for the calculations. To help with this, a set of logarithmic graduations could be fixed onto the bezel of the case. Calculations could now be carried out easily on the watch. In the 1950′s and 1960′s, when the pocket calculator was not yet widely used, aviation watches for pilots were also equipped with these calculating rings.