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Chronographs: Their types and functions

November 19, 2021 3 min read

chronographs: their types and functions

The chronograph

The chronograph is a very popular watch among watchlovers. They tend to be of greater technical complexity, and therefore, higher quality. A chronograph makes it possible to measure intervals of time.

Zeppelin 100 years

Zeppelin 100 years


The term chronograph comes from the Latin chronogrăphus (chronos: time and graphein: to write), and this one from the Greek χρονογράφος which literally means “it writes the time”.

A chronograph is a watchmaking function that allows us to measure time in a given space, independent of the main time function. In analog watches it is perceived through three dials. One measures the hours, another the minutes and the third the seconds, which can range from a small fraction of a second to 12 hours. Two push-buttons on the side of the watch, where the crown is located, is what allows you to control this function.

It is important not to confuse it with a stopwatch. For a watch to be a chronograph it has to pass the exhaustive evaluations of the Official Swiss Chronometer Control (C.O.S.C). Among other tests, these clocks cannot be delayed by more than 2 tenths of a second every 24 hours.

Chronographs were created to accurately measure the time it took for racehorses to travel the track. Today it is used to measure specific lapses in tenths, hundredths and even thousandths of a second, depending on their complexity.

Junghans Form C

Junghans Form C case details


Beyond its technical complexity, for the user the chronograph is relatively simple. Its main features are two buttons, one to start and stop the measurement and the other to restart it.

Chronographs tend to have sub-dials in their design to measure times. Some have three, measuring up to 12 hours, others have only two, being able to measure between 30-60 minutes.

Briston clubmaster and Victorinox field force

Victorinox Fieldforce Classic with 3 sub-dials and Briston Clubmaster Sport with 2 sub-dials.


Single-push: These are chronographs with a single push-button to start, stop and reset the chronograph hand. These watches usually belong to the most luxurious range of brands, because of their complex technical composition, however the accuracy of their mechanism surpasses even new technologies. This type of chronograph is slightly unusual.

Foudroyante: These contain an additional sphere in which the hand completes one revolution in one second, allowing timing from 15 minutes to 1/10 seconds.

Fly-back: This type of chronograph originates from military aviation. Its peculiarity is that it incorporates a button that allows it to be restarted instantly, without having to stop it first, simplifying the buttons, from four actions to two.

Rattrapante: This chronograph is one of the most difficult horological complications to perform. Equipped with two central hands to measure intermediate times. By pressing the initial button the main hand starts working, by pressing again the second needle reaches the main one, hence its name, in French retrepe (catch in French). By pressing the second button, both hands return to their initial position. This type of chronograph is used to measure time in races.

Chronographs are authentic multipurpose watches, they are very practical and feature original and functional designs.

Visit our website and discover our wide collection of watches.

Of course, if you require more information or want to place your order, do not hesitate to contact us or visit our store in Madrid, at Núñez de Balboa 90.
It will be a pleasure to help you.

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