What is a chronograph watch? We will explain everything you need to know about how to use it! Tachymeter, split-second, flyback

What is a chronograph?

First of all, what exactly is a chronograph?

I guess that's why you've come to this page with these questions.

Indeed, before I learned about chronographs, I also thought that it was just a watch with a cool dial...

That's all I thought about it.

Maybe that's true for you too.

But don't worry.

In reality, most people who wear chronographs don't actually use the chronograph function, so they buy them primarily for their design, and in the end it all comes down to them looking cool.

So, let me explain what a chronograph is.

A chronograph in simple terms

A watch with a stopwatch function.

That's the simple answer, but if you're not satisfied with just this information, I'll explain in more detail.

When most people choose a watch, they often just decide, "Wow! This is cool."

Generally, I think this is the best choice.

We will explain this in more detail later.

However, since it has a chronograph function, you can enjoy it more if you understand how it works.
The word chronograph is a combination of the Greek words "chronos" (time) and "graphos" (to write).

Now, we will explain the "10 things you should know about how to use a watch" that will help you choose the chronograph that best suits your needs.

Basic usage of chronograph watches

How to use a chronograph watch: start button and reset button

First, please see the image above.
The start button is located at the 2 o'clock position on the watch.
The reset button is located at the 4 o'clock position.

When you press the start button, the red needle in the image above will start moving.
(The position of the hands varies depending on the watch.)

Basically, you press the start button to start the measurement, and press the start button again to stop the measurement.
Pressing the reset button will reset it to the 0 o'clock position.

The steps are explained with images.

Press the start button at the 2 o'clock position

How to use a chronograph watch: Start button

? Press the button at 2 o'clock again to stop the movement.

How to use a chronograph watch: Stop button

Press the button at 4 o'clock to stop it.

How to use a chronograph watch: Reset button

This is the stopwatch function.

Below is a video of it in action.

The important thing to remember is to press the start button, then stop the machine, and then press the reset button.

Pressing the reset button suddenly can cause misalignment.

Let's take a look at the chronograph dial!

How to read the dial of a chronograph watch

There are second and third chronographs, but the second chronograph does not have a 12-hour counter. (It varies depending on the watch, such as a 6-hour counter.)

When you start the chronograph, the chronograph second hand will start moving.
When one minute has passed, the 30-minute counter will move by one note (this varies depending on the clock, such as the 60-minute counter).
The 30-minute counter can measure for 30 minutes.

Then, after one hour has passed, the 12-hour counter will move one note.

Recent watch trends

In the past, manufacturers envisioned their chronographs as a reliable tool, so making it easy to read the time was important to them.

But today, legibility is often sacrificed for fashion.
Manufacturers often put visibility on the back burner in order to create designs that will make customers say, "That design is cool," and reach for their wallets.

But if you are actually going to use a chronograph, you want a display that is easy to read and use, so you should pay close attention to the dial and make sure nothing is missing.

ZENITH 3-Register Chronograph Wristwatch

Next, let's talk about the tachymeter.

What is a tachymeter and chronograph function?

Breitling Tachymeter Dial

Breitling Chronomat Evolution Tachymeter Scale

The tachymeter scale is usually displayed on the outside of the bezel or dial and ranges from 500 to 60.

A tachymeter is a useful device designed to measure speed (rate) required to travel a certain distance, or conversely, distance traveled in a certain amount of time.
In addition to speed and distance, a tachymeter can also be used to measure anything that can be measured regularly, or to determine the average amount of work that can be done per hour.

Let's look at a simple example.

Suppose you want to measure the speed of a racing car as it laps a track.

The course is exactly one mile, with drivers running consistent laps.

When the driver starts, the chronograph is started and stopped after one revolution.

Where does the seconds hand point on the tachymeter?

It took the driver 25 seconds to complete the lap, reaching 145 on the tachymeter scale.

This means the driver was traveling at 145 mph.

Brightening wristwatch tachymeter chronograph

How to measure speed with a tachymeter

If you measure in kilometers, the result will also be in kilometers.

The tachymeter works independently of the units it measures, so whether you're measuring in leagues, miles or furlongs, you can measure it with a tachymeter.

As long as the units are consistent, the tachymeter will give an accurate calculation.

Rolex Daytona Stainless Steel Chronograph

Here's another way to use a tachymeter, to measure distance instead of speed.

Imagine you are cruising in a boat at 70km/h.

And let's say there's a sunken treasure chest exactly 1 kilometer away from your current location.

Start the chronograph while maintaining a speed of 70 km/h, and when the second hand reaches the 70 position on the tachymeter, it will have traveled exactly 1 kilometer.

The tachymeter allows you to convert any event that occurs in one second into an event per hour.

When you're typing, think about how many sentences you can type in an hour.

Start the chronograph, type one line, then stop the chronograph.

Ten seconds had passed and the tachymeter was reading 360.

This is the number of sentences you can type per hour.

Rolex Daytona 18K Chronograph

Chronograph with minute counter

A chronograph has a separate chronograph hand that can be started, stopped and reset to zero by pressing a button.

The chronograph hand, commonly known as the chrono-hand, is often a long seconds hand that is located between the hour and seconds hands on the face of a watch, with zero at exactly 12 o'clock.

When started, the chronograph hands will begin to move rapidly.

Each of these small movements represents the smallest angle of one scale mark on the dial (1/5 second = 0.2 seconds), allowing you to read the most precise 1/5 of a second.

This movement is due to the construction of the watch, as the balance wheel vibrates 5 times per second, or 18,000 times per hour.

There is a short pause between each movement, but with each vibration the escapement moves one tooth on the escapement wheel, causing the wheel train to "reverse".

In this case, the power of the wheel train's "reverse" is transmitted directly to the chronograph wheel train, so the chronograph hands initially swing widely and then "reverse", which can be seen with the naked eye.

Both the minute and hour hands rotate in the opposite direction, but the amplitude is so small that it is not visible to the naked eye. Later wristwatch chronographs rotate at rates of over 1800 vibrations per hour, which allows the seconds hand to move more precisely.

Usually, the minute scale is for the chronograph hand which indicates 1/5 (seconds), the finest scale for the minute, and sometimes the scale for the chronograph hand is located on the outside of the minute dial.

Also, it is common for the dial to have both a chronograph hand and a minute counter, and the minute counter advances one notch when the chronograph hand makes one revolution (60 seconds). In this way, it is possible to measure several minutes.

In early models, the button to start the chronograph is located inside the crown or on the side of the case (the part that holds the dial) at the 2 or 4 o'clock position. In addition, there are also models that allow the chronograph to be started by operating the crown itself. In this case, it is called a one-button chronograph, and all functions such as start, stop, and return are in the same order.

In early models, the button to start the chronograph is found inside the crown or on the side of the case (the part that holds the dial), at the 2 or 4 o'clock position. In some models, the chronograph can be started by operating the crown itself. In this case, it is called a one-button chronograph, and all functions such as start, stop, and return are in the same order.

Two-button chronograph

In 1934, G.-Leon Breitling's company introduced the first two-button chronograph wristwatch (Patent No. 172129).

In this design, the two pushers are located at the 2 o'clock and 4 o'clock positions on the case where the crown sits. The pusher at 2 o'clock starts and stops the chronograph, allowing it to be repeated as many times as desired, and the pusher at 4 o'clock resets it to zero after it has been stopped. Since this was a new chronograph feature, it was quickly adopted by other manufacturers, and is sometimes advertised as a chronograph with added features, or with similar claims.

These two buttons make it possible to measure the total time over a series of steps in a single process, and only when you have finished measuring the total time do you reset the chronograph to zero. Measuring the total time over multiple steps without resetting it to zero each time was not possible with a one-button chronograph.

However, the two-button chronograph was not originally developed as a wristwatch. In fact, G.-Leon Breitling's company (La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland) patented the two-button design for a pocket watch in 1923 (patent no. 105532). It wasn't until 1934 that they obtained two patents for the wristwatch chronograph (patent no. 172129, no. 175564).

Chronograph with hour counter

Most wristwatch chronographs have a small seconds hand at the 9 o'clock position (the regular watch second hand that completes one revolution in 60 seconds), a minute counter at the 3 o'clock position, and 10, 20, and 30 minute markers.

Other designs include a small seconds hand at 6 o'clock and a minute counter at 12 o'clock.

The chronograph hand completes one revolution in one minute.

The number of revolutions the chronograph hand has made, in other words how many minutes have passed, can be seen on the 30-minute counter, which displays the measurement results for 30 minutes.

Similarly, the 12-hour counter indicates how many revolutions the 30-minute counter hand has made.

The constantly moving small seconds hand is at the 9 o'clock position, the 30-minute counter is at the 3 o'clock position, and the 12-hour counter is at the 6 o'clock position.

In 1939, Mido (Bienne, Switzerland) introduced a wristwatch chronometer with a central small seconds hand. This design (patent no. 209685) had all four hands centered on the dial.

The two functioning hands are at the bottom, the small seconds hand is above, and the chronograph hand is at the top. Generally, the shape and color of the small seconds hand is different from the other hands, so that no additional indications are required on the dial. This hand is long enough that the regular minute display is also used for timing. For the chronograph hand, the finest 1/5 second scale is indicated.

Split-Second Chronograph

A split-second chronograph is capable of measuring two different times.

Wristwatches with a second measuring hand, called a split-seconds chronograph or split-seconds hand, began to replace the pocket watch.

The history of the double chronograph dates back to the Joseph It dates back to around 1870, when Thaddäus Winnerl (1799-1886) exhibited.

There were already many pocket watch designs and patents, so the focus was on how to make it as small as possible while still maintaining its functionality.

Typically, split-second chronographs have three buttons, two of which function as they always have: a start/stop button at 2 o'clock on the side of the case, and a zero reset button at 4 o'clock.

The third button (the split button) is located at the 10 o'clock position and controls the split hand.

When started, the chronograph hand and split hand will start moving simultaneously.
When the split button is pressed, only the split hand stops and the chronograph hand continues to run.
When the split button is pressed again, the split hand instantly catches up with the chronograph hand and they start moving together.
This partial time measurement can be done any number of times.

Pressing the button at the 2 o'clock position once will stop both hands, and a second push will start both hands.
This can also be repeated multiple times.
After both hands have stopped, the only way to end the measurement is to press the button at the 4 o'clock position and have both hands return to zero.

If the split hand is already stopped and in a different position than the chronograph hands, the chronograph hands will return to zero and the split hand will remain in that position.
If you want to reset the split hand to zero as well, you need to press the split button on the crown.

This button has the function of catching up with the chronograph hands even if they are at zero.

Now the two hands are back in the same position again.

A split-seconds chronograph has a dial with either a minute counter only or both a minute and hour counter.

George Dubey and Rene Schaldenbrand (La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland) received a type patent (patent no. 260791) for a simplified split-second chronograph, which has two stationary chronograph hands connected to a thin, visible spring.

The split hand remains stationary as long as the split button is pressed. When the button is released, the spring rebounds and catches up with the split hand. This system can only measure to 60 seconds. This split second chronograph is shown with a minute counter.

Single split-second chronograph

A "true" single split-second chronograph would not look like one just by looking at the dial: it looks like a regular chronograph, with a chronograph hand and two pushers in the usual arrangement.

However, the button at 2 o'clock serves all three functions - start, stop and zero setting - and the button at 4 o'clock acts as a split-seconds hand, stopping the chronograph hands the first time it is pressed and held down.

When you release the button, the chronograph hands instantly move to where they would be if the button had not been pressed.

For example, say you start it and then stop it for 20 seconds.

When you release the button, the hand will instantly move from the 20 second position to the 30 second position as if nothing happened, unless you stop it again.

The stopping time is also limited to 60 seconds. Anything longer than that will cause the clock to stop.

Generally, single split-second chronographs do not have any special markings on the dial other than the 1/5 second markings that can be read on any other simple chronograph.

TAG Heuer Single Split Second Chronograph
TAG Heuer Single Split Second Chronograph Movement

Chronostop function

A watch with a chronostop function is not a chronograph by the original definition, even if it has a pusher to give the appearance of a chronograph.

With the chronostop, the chronograph hands return to zero when you press the button or crown, but start moving again immediately when you release the button.

This watch does not allow the chronograph hand to stay stationary in any particular place, or even at zero (12 o'clock), as a real chronograph hand can.

This type of clock can only measure short periods of time (up to one minute).
When timing is paused, the pause time must be read from the moving hands.

Additionally, these clocks are easier to set to the correct time than regular clocks.

In addition to the usual hour and minute hands on the dial, there is also a constantly moving seconds hand. The terms chronograph and chronostop can be easily confused and are often used interchangeably.

The flyback chronograph is essential for timekeeping

A flyback chronograph has a reset button that you press while the chronograph is running.

This function causes the chronograph's seconds hand to quickly fly back to zero, hence the name flyback.

Additionally, it has a very special function that allows it to fly back and immediately start the next measurement.

It boasts outstanding operability and is extremely easy to use, especially when you need to repeat measurements multiple times.

The flyback chronograph function was originally developed for air force pilots.

Pilots must time their flight every time they make a turn.

Other things that will need to be measured include turning time while waiting to land.

Since it can take repeated measurements quickly, it is often used by pilots.

However, the flyback function is a much more complicated mechanism than a typical chronograph.

Zenith Rainbow Flyback

Built in 1997, this Rainbow Flyback was created in collaboration with the French Air Force.

It was originally developed as a pilot's watch.

In the model used as a pilot's watch, the 30-minute counter was divided into three colored zones.

How to operate the flyback chronograph

The flyback chronograph start and stop buttons are located on the top right side.

The operation of this push button is the same for flyback chronographs as it is for other chronographs.

When you press the button to start timing, the chronograph hands will start moving.

Pressing the button again will stop the chronograph hands.

Once the chronograph hands have stopped, pressing the reset button will return the chronograph hands to zero.

However, instead of a reset button, pressing this button again will restart the measurement from that point.

How to operate the reset button

A reset button is a button used to reset the chronograph hands, returning them to the zero position on a typical chronograph.

Isn't that the same in the sense of the word?

However, in a flyback chronograph, the reset button has another function.

Press this reset button while working.

The chronograph hand will then immediately return to zero.

At this time, if you release your finger from the reset button, it will start measuring again.

Each time, you press the start button to start the chronograph hands, press the same button again to stop them, press the reset button to reset them, and then press the start button to restart them.

A normal chronograph requires multiple operations like these.

However, with this flyback chronograph, after you press the start button for the first time, all you need to do is press the reset button once.

If you need to make repeated measurements, this is a very convenient and suitable model.

Models with flyback function

A. Lange & Söhne Datograph

The most common mistake when measuring lap times is misreading.

Although this is a common mistake, it can lead to big problems.

The chronograph was created to reduce such misreadings.

That is the Datograph, which is equipped with a precision jumping minute counter.

The back is made of sapphire crystal and is see-through.

Furthermore, it is a hand-wound model with a platinum case and leather strap, and is priced at 5.95 million yen, making it an expensive model.

Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Grand Guiche Flyback

When it comes to the latest in mechanical watches, Maurice Lacroix is ​​probably the first to come to mind.

I think the defining feature of Maurice Lacroix is ​​its innovative ideas.

This is a brand that develops many watches full of unprecedented ideas.

Maurice Lacroix is ​​now proud to present this chronograph.

Not only does it have a flyback function, but the date is also large in size.

This chronograph has an impressive presence in both function and design.

It is an automatic watch with a stainless steel case and leather strap, and is priced at 470,000 yen.

Blancpain Classic Flyback

This chronograph has a military feel to it.

The dial is black and chic.

The Arabic numerals and hands are slightly larger and easier to read.

There is a 12-hour counter at 9 o'clock, a 30-minute counter at 3 o'clock, and a calendar at 6 o'clock.

It has an automatic movement, stainless steel case and leather strap, and is priced at 980,000 yen.

Breitling Shadow Flyback

This is an automatic model with a calendar.

In addition to 10-minute and 3-hour counters, the bezel also has what are called rider tabs, which are four prongs.

Furthermore, this model features a bidirectional rotating bezel for excellent operability.

This model was originally developed to be easy for airline pilots to operate.

This chronograph is said to be Breitling's masterpiece.

The tachymeter is located on the outside of the dial.

It has a stainless steel case and bracelet and is priced at 440,000 yen.

Breguet TypeXX Transatlantic

In 1994, a model with an automatic movement was introduced.

The pilot watch "Type XX" was originally created in response to a request from the French Navy.

This "TypeXX" then evolved.

The evolved model is the TypeXX Transatlantic.

This so-called fourth generation model features a date display.

It has an automatic movement, 18KYG case and is priced at 1,950,000 yen.

2100 Flyback Chronograph

The white dial with grey indexes gives this design a stylish and sophisticated look.

In addition, the back side is see-through.

Although this model is from the 2100 series, it is a limited edition model that was only sold in Japan.

The chronograph movement installed in this model is the smallest in volume in the world.

It has an automatic movement, stainless steel case and rubber strap and is priced at 1.1 million yen.

Chronograph function Telemeter

A device that calculates distance from the time difference between sound and light is called a telemeter.
For example, if you start a chronograph when you see lightning and stop it when you hear a sound, you can measure the distance between the object and the lightning.

Nowadays, this is the only use for it, but during World War II it was an important function used to measure the distance of artillery fire.

Chronograph function Pulse meter

A pulse meter is a display that measures your pulse rate.
Like the tachymeter and telemeter, this is a function with a long history.

Basically, only doctors and nurses use this function, so there are few watches that have it installed.
It is a watch that is hard to find these days.

Chronograph function digital

This function, which uses a decimal display method, was not included in most chronographs.

The main uses are production management and navigation.
For that reason, the case is designed to be waterproof, which was rare at the time.

What did you think?
A chronograph is simply a wristwatch with a stopwatch function added, but I think you can see that it actually has many functions built into it.

Even if you understand the functions of a chronograph, you may not find many uses for it in real life, but even just knowing about it in your head will make you even more drawn to the charm of chronographs.