Chronograph Wristwatches The History of Racing Chronographs

Chronograph Wristwatches The History of Racing Chronographs

The chronograph, which began its history towards the end of the 19th century, has undergone great evolution alongside the automobile, which emerged around the same time.

In this article, we would like to introduce you to the racing chronograph, which has evolved to include necessary functions as automobiles have become more widely used and motorsports have become more popular.

Heuer has been actively involved in sports timing since its founding, and in 1916 it introduced the Mikrograph, the world's first revolutionary stopwatch capable of measuring time to 1/100th of a second.

This watch was also used as the official timekeeper for the Olympic Games, and Heuer came to be recognized as an essential brand in the sports scene.

In 1933, the company released the Autavia, the world's first dashboard chronograph for racing cars and aircraft. The name was derived from the words automobile and aviation.

In 1957, Omega released the Speedmaster, a chronograph that is still hugely popular today. This model, which was adopted as the official watch of NASA and is also known as the Moonwatch that went into space, was originally inspired by the dashboard of a sports car.

In 1958, Heuer created the Rallymaster. This was a dashboard chronograph for racing that combined the Mastertime, an 8-day winding watch that could run for 8 days without needing to be wound, with the Monte Carlo, which had a 60-minute counter and a 12-hour counter. It was a big hit in international rallies and long-distance races.

In 1964, the simple chronograph "Heuer Carrera" was released. This model was inspired by the "Carrera Panamericana Mexico", a car race that was said to be the toughest in the world. This is a clean and beautiful design, and it remains a popular model from TAG Heuer even today.

Five years later, in 1969, Heuer released the Monaco, equipped with the world's first automatic movement, the Chronomatic, which was developed jointly with another company. This cutting-edge chronograph was not only automatic, but also the world's first to feature a square waterproof case. This watch was famously used by the movie actor Steve McQueen, and was also used in the car racing movie "Le Mans," in which he starred.

Going back a little further in time, the Rolex "Daytona," which was released in 1963 and took the chronograph world by storm, was named after the Daytona International Speedway, a racing circuit in Florida, USA.

Thus, mechanical watches seemed to be on the rise with the arrival of the automatic caliber, but in 1969, the same year as the Chronomatic and Zenith's El Primero, the world's first quartz wristwatch was released. This marked an unprecedented boom in quartz watches, and the Swiss watch industry, which had been solely focused on mechanical watches, was devastated. This was known as the "Quartz Shock."

Furthermore, in the early 1970s, Grand Prix races required timing to the nearest 1/100th of a second. Although the limitations of mechanical watches were becoming apparent, Heuer was one step ahead of its competitors in electronic timing. This was the Microtimer, a small electronic sports timer developed in 1965 that could measure to 1/1000th of a second.

In 1971, the company developed the Centigraph Le Mans, which could also measure time to 1/1000th of a second, for the Ferrari F1 team, and served as the official timekeeper for the Ferrari team until 1979, contributing to the team's unprecedented string of victories.

Thus, electronic timing was adopted in the world of motorsports, and quartz electronic timing became the global standard.

Mechanical watch manufacturers suffered a difficult time following the advent of quartz wristwatches, but in the 1980s, there were signs of a comeback for the traditional mechanical chronograph.

The profound tradition, sophisticated and precise craftsmanship, analog timekeeping, and durability of mechanical watches were all reevaluated, and this prompted Swiss watchmakers to once again begin to focus on mechanical watches.

Having thus made a spectacular comeback, the mechanical chronograph saw the introduction of a succession of new models aimed at young people.

TAG Heuer, which has made a significant contribution to the development of motorsports, has released reissues of its classic models, the Heuer Carrera and Heuer Monaco.

Omega announced the "Speedmaster Racing" with F1 racer Michael Schumacher as its mascot. As mentioned above, although the Speedmaster has a strong image as a Moonwatch, it was originally made for car racing, and now it has finally entered the race as a racing chronograph.

Girard-Perregaux has partnered with Ferrari to launch the Ferrari Watch, featuring the Ferrari prancing horse emblem.

In this way, a number of chronographs have been released in collaboration with motorsports. What is particularly noteworthy is that many of these are equipped with mechanical calibers.