Chronograph Wristwatches: The History of the Chronograph, a Symbol of Modern Man

The Chronograph from the 18th Century to the Present

There was a time when the smallest unit of time that could be measured by a clock was one second.

Watchmakers around the world have dreamed of breaking that one second, and have been working on developing it every day, using large clocks.

And then their dreams become reality.

That was the introduction of the chronograph watch.

The chronograph function is really good.

Its high functionality has led to increased demand among collectors in recent times.

Owning a chronograph has even become a status symbol among collectors.

It was George Graham who developed the first grandfather clock that ticked in quarter-second increments.

George was an engineer who was active in England in the early 18th century.

He had invented the straight escapement.

Later, Jean Moizes-Pouzet built on this achievement by inventing the "independent (straight) seconds hand" watch.

Jean Moyes Pouzet was a watchmaker active in Geneva, Switzerland.

In 1775, he succeeded in creating the "independent (straight-line) second hand" watch, which he had developed in order to separate the second hand from the movement of a normal clock.

Invented by Puzet, this "independent seconds hand" watch has two independent transmission devices.

One kept the clock running normally, and the other moved the seconds hand.

The second hand could be moved one second at a time by using a pawl on the fourth wheel which was designed to separate from the escape wheel pinion while the hand was moving.

By moving a lever on the case of the watch, the second hand could be stopped and recorded.

However, although it was possible to record data, once the second hand was stopped it could not be reset.

When you release the lever that was being pressed, the second hand will start moving again.

There was one person who was indispensable in the invention of the chronograph.

The man in question was a famous Parisian watchmaker named Ruseck.

This famous watchmaker, Luzet, actually succeeded in developing a model that originally defined the meaning of a chronograph in 1882.

The word chronograph comes from the Greek word meaning "to record time." As the word suggests, chronographs were originally capable of marking and recording time.

Ruszek invented a watch with a small pen tip as a central seconds hand.

This central seconds hand later came to be known as the "Trotoz."

Furthermore, by pressing down on this central seconds hand it was possible to make marks on the dial which had 60-second markings.

This chronograph was then first tested at equestrian competitions.

The modern chronograph was developed in 1844.

It was perfected when a Swiss watchmaker named Adolphe Nicolle invented the heart-shaped cam for use in chronographs.

Then, at the World's Fair held in London in 1862, watchmakers from the Jura Valley of Switzerland, who ran the firm of Nicolai & Capt, also in London, exhibited chronographs for the first time.

The chronograph had a second hand, the "trotose", that could be reset and also recorded time.

What's more, this chronograph could measure to 1/5 of a second.

Soon after, chronographs were equipped with minute counters as well.

Towards the end of the 19th century, an hour counter was also added.

The many talented watchmakers from the Jura Valley used their unique ideas to push the chronograph ever further.

Among the watchmakers involved in the development of the chronograph, Louis-Elisée Piguet is known for having made particularly significant contributions.

Using Piguet's exceptional craftsmanship and the Type 13 movement, Patek Philippe produced a split-second chronograph in 1927 that quickly became available worldwide.

The period was short, just two years.

The chronograph's convenient functions led to a rapid rise in its popularity.

Its high functionality has made it popular in the sports and military worlds, and it is becoming increasingly in demand.

The early chronographs had a single button, or push button only.

Then, towards the end of the 1920s, the number of buttons increased to two.

Until now, chronographs with only a single button have been able to measure time continuously.

However, once the chronograph's seconds hand was stopped, it could not be restarted from the exact place where it had stopped.

Once you pressed the button, you could only start and stop the second hand, and after stopping it would return to the zero position.

However, the new chronograph with two buttons makes it possible to continue measuring time no matter how many times you press the button during the measurement.

When you press one of the buttons, the hands stop moving, and when you press the same button again, the hands start moving from the exact place they stopped, rather than returning to zero.

And when you want to reset it to zero, just press the other button.

Among these chronographs, there is one that is considered the king.

That's "split seconds."

It is also known as "wariken."

This type of chronograph has two seconds hands, known as split seconds.

When you press the button, one of the seconds hands stops and displays the elapsed time up to that point, while the other hand continues to move without stopping.

Then, when you press the button again, the second hand will start moving again.

It moves forward all the way to the second hand, which had been moving without stopping, and then starts again.

With this function, the chronograph is able to measure two different times at once.

This is made possible by the presence of three buttons, including the crown, and two second hands.

At that time, split-second chronographs could only measure to 1/5 of a second.

The scale on the dial was divided into five equal parts.

However, some of today's quartz models are much more sophisticated.

Some are even capable of measuring down to 1/100th or even smaller units.

Thus, the precision of the chronograph has made it an essential watch for modern humans, who are tasked with managing time more precisely.

Chronographs were generally known as watches owned by athletes, pilots, military personnel, and engineers.

This is not because it just so happens that these kinds of people use it a lot, but because it is actually used by many people in these fields.

The first chronographs were made during World War I.

The chronograph watch equipped with a 30-minute counter and a second counter, developed by Breitling in 1915, was highly praised for its military use.

Furthermore, a leaf through old Canadian documents reveals that sporting officials who tested OMEGA chronometers recognized their usefulness in sport.

All of these chronographs were equipped with either type 15 or type 17 movements.

It was big and had a very imposing impression.

In horological terms, 1 ligne is the same as 2.56 mm, which is 1/12 of a French inch.

This is a unit of measurement for the size of a watch, and is the diameter of the “PLATE” that forms the base of the watch.

The 10-type has a base plate diameter of approximately 22.5 mm.

Chronographs continued to shrink in size.

In particular, ladies' chronographs produced in the 1940s are very small in size.

When choosing a chronograph, the most important things to pay attention to are the functions it offers and how easy it is to read the dial.

But what you need to pay more attention to is the quality.

When purchasing an old watch, especially at an auction, quality checks are essential.

Old watches are expensive, so be sure to check them carefully.

Before making a purchase it is important to get advice from a trusted professional.

In order to avoid any regrets, be sure to take the time to do so.

The chronograph movement also features a stopwatch function.

It works in conjunction with a normal clock mechanism, but can also be separated.

This mechanism is very beautiful.

The colors are very rich, and the levers installed in various places add a nice accent.

One of the attractions of this series is that each model shows a different side of themselves.

And with technological advances, the watch has come to show diverse changes in design.

Early chronographs had enamel dials.

A single push button controlled three functions: start, stop and reset.

This single button was located at either the 3 or 6 o'clock position.

It was also coaxial with the winding stem.

But later on, this button moves to the 2 o'clock position.

Then, when it became a two-button watch, one was placed at the two o'clock position and the other at the four o'clock position.

Generally, when operating the central second hand, start and stop are performed with the button at 2 o'clock, and reset with the button at 4 o'clock.

It's not just the buttons that have changed.

Just like the buttons and cases, the crown has also changed over the years.

The crown and buttons were originally intended to protect the valuable mechanisms from dust, moisture, etc.

This was an important role to play in areas with drastic climate changes.

During the 1930s, various improvements were made to this function.

Rather than being content with the status quo, master watchmakers used their natural rich imaginations to create new types of models to meet the increasing demand, and they continued to develop a wide variety of chronographs.

Let's introduce the different types.

First, there is a central minute counter, or both a minute counter and an hour counter.

Has a calendar function.

A dial-type watch that displays the date in a date window or has markings on the dial ranging from 1 to 31, and displays the date by pointing a hand at the date marking.

Equipped with a calendar and moon phase.

There are also some stunning split-second chronographs that incorporate these two elements.

There are also chronographs with special functions.

It's a tachymeter.

This is a function for measuring the speed of an object.

The most well-known recent example of a chronograph equipped with a tachymeter is probably the Longines Formula 1.

Next is the telemeter.

This is because sounds like thunder and flashes of lightning take different times to reach the observer depending on their location.

However, by using the telemeter, it is possible to measure the time lag between the lightning flash and the thunder being heard, and thus determine the distance from the observer to the location where the lightning occurred.

Another advanced feature is the medical model, which can count your pulse.

A model with a slide rule for engineers.

Then there are models with small memento dials for recording the time of specific events.

This model has a separate crown for setting the time on the dial.

By using it, you can display appointment times, scheduled times, etc.

There is also a tide chronograph that can display the tides.

There are also models equipped with a compass.

As you can see, the chronograph has a long history and many functions that many watchmakers have struggled with.

And it was Bovet Freres of Fleurier, Switzerland, that was the first to obtain a patent for the split-second chronograph, which can be arguably the greatest invention in the history of the chronograph.