What is a chronograph and how to use it?

The chronograph watch is one of the most desirable watches for men. Men love chronograph watches due to their sophisticated and classic design. Many watch lovers enjoy pairing leather watch straps with their chronograph watch to create a masculine look to their timepiece.

Meaning of chronograph

To begin with, lets dissect the word “chronograph”. The term chronograph is derived from two Greek words, “chronos” which is Greek for time and “graph” which is Greek for writing. To anyone who is unfamiliar to the term chronograph, it is a practically a stopwatch on the watch which features an physical independent sweeping second hand.

There are usually three pushers for modern chronograph watches. The first pusher is usually used to start or stop the timer, the middle pusher (or stem) is used to adjust the time and date and the third pusher is used to reset the timer to zero.

History of chronograph watches

While most watch lovers today enjoy chronograph watches probably due to their aesthetic looks, its chronograph functionality played an important role in the older days.

The chronograph grew extremely popular in the early 20th century. It was first used in the aviation industry, allowing pilots to make rapid calculations and precise decisions. Different uses for the chronograph were discovered later on especially in handling complicated performance machinery such as automobile racing and naval navigation.

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Though it has lost its practical importance in these industries today, watch brands such as Bretling and Tag Heuer use the aviation and automobile racing industry as their global marketing strategy for their chronograph timepieces.

Types of chronograph watches

There are generally two types of chronograph watches, namely mechanical and quartz. Mechanical movements are powered by a spiral torsion spring of metal ribbon called mainspring while quartz movements are powered by an internal battery within the case.

Mechanical chronograph watches

Mechanical chronograph movements are sophisticated machines. Underneath the seemingly minimalistic watch case, the movements that power these functions are very complex and often very beautiful.

Unfortunately, with such complicated movements comes with a hefty price tag but for horology lovers, they are worth every penny. We are watch lovers as well and we absolutely love the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona and Zenith El Primero, not to mention our favourite piece of all, the A. Lange & Söhne Flyback Chronograph (below) which sadly cost a whopping $120.000.

Valjoux 7750 (Cal 16) is the probably the most common automatic chronograph movement of all, powering timepieces such as Tag Heuer Carrera. While it is reliable and affordable, it is recommended not to change the date between 10pm and 2am. During this specific time, the date wheel is engaged with the movement and if you change time during this period, it may cause damage to the movement.

Quartz Chronograph Watches

If you are looking for affordable, best dress watches with chronograph functions, you might want to look at quartz chronograph watches. Unlike mechanical chronograph watches which lose a few seconds per day, quartz chronograph watches are incredibly accurate as the integrated quartz crystal will oscillate at a near perfect frequency when electric current powers the movement.

Quartz vs Mechanical

The downside? To many horology lovers, a quartz chronograph watch has no soul. The pushers on a quartz chronograph watch simply lack a satisfying click compared to its mechanical chronograph counterpart.

On the other hand, the quartz chronograph watch provides near accurate time, need no servicing of worn off parts and is usually affordable to the masses.

Perfect for formal and informal events

Nevertheless, the chronograph watch is a timepiece that every man needs and is a perfect accessory for both formal and informal events. If you are a watch lover who prefers a vintage touch, perhaps you should explore some of our artisan watches instead.