A chronograph is basically a watch that has stopwatch functions. The first marketed chronograph was made in 1821. When France’s King Louis XVIII, who enjoyed watching horse races, wanted to know how long a race lasted, Nicolas Rieussec, a watchmaker, was appointed to create a timepiece that would provide such information. The chronograph has evolved a great deal since then.
Using the complication may not be so common, but is fairly simple. In a chronograph, the seconds are actually indicated in a sub-dial, while the third, narrow hand at the centre is the chronograph hand. There are usually two push-pieces flanking the crown of the watch. One is the start-and-stop button and the other is the reset and lap-timer button. When the chronograph hand is at 12 o’clock, and you push the start-and-stop button, which is usually above the crown, the chronograph hand moves counting the seconds, while the two sub-dials other than the seconds indication sub-dial, which are usually 30-minute and split-second counters, totalise the revolutions of the chronograph hand. The start-and-stop button may be pushed again at any time in order to stop the timing, and the reset button brings the chronograph hand and the counters back to zero. The reset button is also the lap-timer button, which is used when one wants to make note of, say, how long a lap in a continuing race takes. When the chronograph hand is in motion, the lap-timer button may be pushed in order for you to make note of the lap-time, as the hand stops. However, the mechanism inside continues the seconds count, and as soon as you press the lap-timer button again, the chronograph catches up to where the seconds count has reached.
There are also monopusher chronographs, which, as the name suggests, feature only one push-piece that can perform all the chronograph functions. One notable monopusher chronograph is Montblanc’s Star Nicolas Rieussec Monopusher Chronograph, which debuted in 2008, and paid tribute to the Rieussec, drawing inspiration from the first chronograph that he made. Patek Philippe, known for their grand complications, also has quite a few monopusher chronographs in its offering. Brands like TAG Heuer are taking the chronograph to the next level, with watches like the Mikrogirder that can measure down to 1/2000th of a second, and the Mikropendulum, the world’s first magnetic chronograph. If you truly wish to invest in a good chronograph, you should consider the pioneering options offered by TAG Heuer and Montblanc. Breitling has also made some significant advances with the chronographs in their Breitling For Bentley series. However, if you’re looking for more affordable options, The TAG Heuer Formula 1 series even offers quartz chronographs, as does Tissot, among its wide range of sporty as well as classic watches.
Written By : Ranvijaysinh Jhala