When discussing watches as a newbie to the watch world it can be difficult to keep up and it is important to understand what you’re talking about. I regularly find myself hearing big, fancy words and then end up googling the meaning. This week I’ve found myself discussing a chronograph watch which we have in to be listed and, of course, I’m sitting there thinking what is a chronograph? Also, another word I’ve found comes together with chronograph is chronometer. So, if like me, you’re unaware of the difference between these two terms (or the meaning of both!) don’t worry! I’m diving into the depths today.
The first thing I read about these two terms whilst conducting my research is that a ‘Chronograph’ is an instrument for recording time with great accuracy and a ‘Chronometer’ is an instrument for accurately measuring time. Yes, I know exactly what you’re thinking, and I did too, they’re the same thing, right? Well no, although they are related, they do not mean the same thing.
What is a Chronograph?
Chronograph watches have a built-in stopwatch feature which allows it to measure elapsed time. Chronograph watches can be visually distinguished by their two or three sub-dials that display the hours, minutes, and seconds. They also will usually feature a return to zero button, or pusher, on the side of the watchcase that start and stop the chronograph function without interfering with the watch. The top pusher will start the chronograph whereas the bottom pusher will stop the chronograph.
Whilst this sounds great, I won’t lie, I’m thinking why do I need such precision? Well, I don’t personally and for all things sports related we now have the electronic stopwatch to record timings accurately. But before the electronic stopwatch the Chronograph watch allowed a comparison of observation between time bases. One of the chronograph watches first uses was to record the time elapsed between horse races. So, whilst we have a more accurate way of recording time today chronograph watches are still extremely popular in the modern market. I wonder if this is due to the sense of adventure and aesthetic that they prevail.
What is a Chronometer?
For a watch to be referred to as a Chronometer it has obtained an official rate certificate from the COSC (the guarantor of traditional precision Swiss watchmaking). The watch will have passed intense precision tests over a 15-day period. These tests measure the movement of the watch towards a set of accuracy and to receive this certification the watch must remain within +6 and -4 seconds per day. Watches who have met this calibre will usually have ‘Chronometer’ displayed on the dial and will be a superior timekeeper.
In conclusion a watch can be both a certified chronometer and have a chronograph function. They can also be separate. No more wondering what ‘chronometer’ on the front of your watch means or what those snazzy sub-dials do. Jump into the next watch conversation with confidence and know exactly what you’re talking about!