Chronograph – 7 fascinating factlets

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Chronograph watches are sometimes purchased because they look good, sometimes as a functioning tool, and sometimes both, but what do you know about them?

A Chronograph is a watch that can also be used as a stopwatch or timer. Modern chronographs also incorporate a moveable bezel tachometer which can be used for rapid calculation of distance or speed.

• A chronograph should not be confused with a chronometer. A Chronometer is a specific type of timepiece tested and certified to meet certain precision standards. In Switzerland, only timepieces certified by the Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres (COSC) may use the word ‘Chronometer’ on them.

• 1816 ; It is believed that the first modern model of chronograph was made by Louis Moinet to track astronomical objects .

• 1821, the first commercialised chronograph was made by Nicolas Mathieu Rieussec at the request of King Louis XVIII , who wanted to time horse races.

• Beyond timing of sporting events, one of the early uses of a chronograph was by artillery to calculate the velocity of missiles – if you could time the interval between seeing an artillery shell being fired in your direction, and hearing it, you could calculate the distance, and therefore were able to calibrate your own guns to return fire.

Omega Speedmaster

Omega Speedmaster circa 1969

• President Eisenhower, a renowned watch collector, ordered that all NASA test pilots and astronauts had to wear a chronograph – NASA chose to equip their pilots with the omega speedmaster

• Not only was the speedmaster the watch worn on the surface of the moon, but it also played a critical role in the survival of the Apollo 13 mission in 1970. When all the computer systems on board had failed, the astronauts were able to use the chronograph function to accurately time an engine burn, leading to a successful reentry and splashdown.


• Another chronograph that played a famous role in history is the Rolex Oyster chronograph No. 122. A model owned by Corporal Clive Nutting was used to time the movement of the guards, and aid the escape of prisoners from a POW camp, during what has become known as “the Great escape”.

Rolex Oyster Chronongraph

Rolex Oyster chronograph

Chronograph – 7 fascinating factlets was last modified: June 19th, 2017 by Admin