Did you know those dials on your watch face aren’t just to look cool?
Chronograph –one of the most popular styles of watches. Also easily the most underutilized and misunderstood of the watch complications (any feature in a timepiece beyond the simple display of hours and minutes). Chronograph is watch speak for stopwatch. Utilizing one to three buttons (or pushers) allows the wearer to start, stop and reset the timer function while not interfering with the regular time-telling of the watch.
While stylish, these pack a lot of punch in terms of everyday use: timing when to flip the perfect burger or steak on the grill, your next interval training session or just timing how long the Mrs. takes while getting ready for date night.
The first chronograph was invented in 1815 by Louis Moinet. The first one to hit the marketplace was built by Nicholas Mathieu Rieussec in 1821 to help King Louis XVIII keep time while racing horses. Starting in the 20th century, chronographs started to include fixed bezels known as tachymeter’s which allow the wearer to compute speed based on time, or measure distance based on speed.
Now you can’t talk about Chronographs without talking about 1969. That year marked the introduction of the first self-winding chronograph. Breitling, Heuer and Hamilton unveiled their Calibre 11 movement on March 3, 1969. At the same time, Zenith debuted the El Primero using a central mounted full rotor. While this was all going on, Japanese brand Seiko threw their hat in the ring releasing the 6139 Auto-Chrono. This was also the same year that Seiko released the world’s first ever quartz watch.
How they work
Some watches only record up to thirty minutes at a time, others are able to time as much as 12 hours. The timing is read from the sub dials (or registers) found on the dial of the watch. They count elapsed seconds, minutes and hours when the start pusher is pressed. Pressing the pusher again allows the wearer to “stop” timing and the reset pusher, setting the timer back to 0.
Now that you’re an expert on horology history, let’s show you some watches…
Coming in at $175, this white dial chronograph is the perfect watch to enter the chronograph world. With the blue crocodile leather strap and waterproof stainless case you’re getting a lot of bang for your buck. It also comes in rose gold with blue or green dials.
Dive watch plus chronograph equals the perfect combination in a watch. What if you added in that it’s charged by ample sunshine? This blue-black bezeled chronograph is water resistant to 200 meters and with a 60-minute quartz chronograph, it’s the perfect go-to for water sports. All for just around $200.
A great option when venturing into the automatic watch world is the Hamilton Pioneer Auto Chrono. With its stainless steel case, automatic movement and awesome blue hands this watch ticks a lot of the boxes for us. On a leather strap, this is a great everyday watch pairing well with suits or jeans and a blazer.
This watch holds a special place in our hearts as being one of our first “real” watches as we started the collection. The Carrera line is an excellent model to suit any and all situations. The Calibre 16 Auto Chronograph 43mm with its black dial and stainless steel bracelet create a great piece.
You can’t talk chronographs without talking about the first watch worn on the moon, the Omega Speedmaster Professional. Originally designed for auto racing, Astronauts used the watch during their flight when their onboard computers malfunctioned. The Speedmaster has taken the watch world by storm recently with vintage model pricing skyrocketing. No watch collection is complete without one.
If you’re wanting to look like Maverick, this is the watch for you. With the black cockpit style design and the insane TOP GUN logo on the case back you will look the part of a badass! The highest price point of the watches in this article, you can never go wrong with this model.