Updated July 2022
History of the Chronograph Watch
The first historical record of a chronograph watch was invented in France by Louis Moinet in 1816. Moinet invented the new technology used in the chronograph to use in astrology, as it could measure time more precisely than most watches from the era—accurate down to 1/60th of a second. Although he invented the first chronograph in the early 1800s, his first watch never made it to market. The first publicly marketed chronograph was subsequently released in 1821, just a few years after Moinet designed the initial one.
Another Frenchman by the name of Nicolas Mathieu Rieussec, who was a watchmaker for King Louis XVIII, built upon Moinet’s concept by implementing two separate watch faces. King Louis XVIII wanted to keep time for racehorses running laps around the track, so Rieussec’s watch drew power reserves from one face’s movement to advance the needle around the other watch face. This second needle was also covered in ink, which allowed it to mark the elapsed time. However, this new method was impractical, so by the mid-1800s, other watchmakers had created new versions of the chronograph that could be reset, which removed the wastefulness of ink from the design. During this era, chronographs functioned merely as stopwatches but were revolutionary for the times.
What is a Chronograph Watch?
Before the invention of the chronograph, it was impossible to time events like horse races and other time-based events to such a high degree of precision. Athletes and runners could know exactly how long they elapsed on each lap, allowing them to log their times and push themselves to improve their times. In addition to sports, the military also found a use for the chronograph function. Although great strides were made in the 1800s, it wasn’t until the early 1900s that we started seeing retail wristwatches with built-in mechanical chronographs. Breitling was one of the original manufacturers that included a separate stopwatch function on the side of their watch, which operated the chronograph hand.
Around the same time, we also began seeing the introduction of new watch complications such as the tachymeter, automatic chronograph, and a variety of new watch manufacturers creating their own chronograph variations.
How Does a Chronograph Watch Work?
The only element that differentiates a chronograph from a standard wristwatch is the introduction of a second hand that functions independently from the timekeeping function. If that second hand can be started, stopped, and reset independently, then you have a chronograph watch. The inner functions of a chronograph watch are similar to other quartz movement watches with one main difference—chronographs need to have additional systems and mechanisms built-in to control each of the functions or each complication of the watch. This is the main reason why chronographs are often more costly to produce and subsequently more expensive than other types of watches. Essentially, chronograph watches have many more moving components, and watchmakers have to ensure that these mechanisms do not interfere with one another.
Chronographs keep time the same way as any other watch, building tension on a mainspring that slowly releases to move the gears and keep time, but it also has multiple independently functioning systems within the timepiece to track different sets of time. Typically, there are at least two separate systems, if not more.
How to Use a Chronograph Watch?
It may sound complex to the standard wristwatch enthusiast, and many people and collectors already own Chronograph watches but end up using them simply as a timepiece. If you’re one of these users, it may be time to learn how to use all the additional features your Chronograph Watch comes with, and we’re going to cover a few of those features below.
What to Look for in a Chronograph Watch?
When it comes to buying a Microbrand Chronograph Watch, there are a few things you should consider. Each of these following features will be important when considering which watch best suits your needs.
All Serket Watch Company Chronograph Watches are made in stainless steel, with sapphire crystals, meca-quartz movements with high beat frequency that provide a sweep hand’s charm and style, underpinned by the precision and reliability of quartz engineered horology. We want you to own a luxury watch that not only you can use day-to-day, but one that you can also treasure and pass on to your children and grandchildren. That’s the real beauty behind owning a quality Serket Watch Co. timepiece.
As with any product, you want to make sure you buy what you like and ultimately buy something you’ll want to wear. Our SERKET CHRONOGRAPHE with its meca-quartz-powered movement and a stainless steel case is one of our favorites. It can be dressed up for the office or dressed down for a night on the town—this chronograph watch has a real presence on your wrist.
Shop Serket Microbrand Chronograph Watch Collection
The advent of Microbrand Online Retailing has allowed us here at Serket Watch Company to produce timepieces that use high-quality materials and precision engineering for the everyday consumer. Whether you need to catch the train for your daily commute, or you’re heading out to dinner with a friend or catching late-night drinks with a client—our watches will keep you on time and in style.
Many brands that started during this period are now called "legacy microbrands" within the watch enthusiast community. If you’re curious about learning more about our products or want to see what truly sets us apart, check out our Online Shop and join the exclusive Microbrand Watch club.