Chronograph Watch

Written by Jeremy Horelick
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There are many definitions of a chronograph watch. Broken down to its constituent parts, a chronograph--comprised of "chrono," meaning time or number, and "graph," to depict--is any instrument that draws or represents time. By that definition, any watch should be considered a chronograph. So where's the difference of opinion?

A more useful definition of the chronograph might be any device that records time intervals. By this definition, a chronograph watch is really just a stop watch, useful for sporting events, races, breath-holding competitions, or any number of other situations in which time is elapsed. Usually, the type of event dictates the precision with which its participants are to be measured, which in turn dictates how many complications--or time-metering instruments--a chronograph must have.

More on the Chronograph Watch

A downhill ski race, cycling competition, or marathon usually requires a multi-gauge chronograph to allow for tiny incremental differences. Less pressing events and meets, on the other hand, may only call for a general measurement of elapsed time. And while some affairs require intermittent stops and resets, others simply require continuous movement and recording.

These disparities are the reason for the differences in definition, but there does seem to be consensus on one matter--the chronograph is a useful tool. Even most replica watches today are considered chronographs, and those that aren't are likely to have cousins within the same family of brands that are. Hence, you can buy a Rolex, Cartier, Breitling, or Tissot chronograph and still get the same essential features, even if the design specs are radically different from watchmaker to watchmaker.

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