The History Of Chronograph Watches

If you ask watch historians when the first wristwatch was made you will get different answers. Some will say it was Patek Philippe – a Swiss watchmaker, and others will say it was Abraham-Louis Breguet – a Prussian watchmaker living in France.

You will also get differing opinions about when the first Chronograph wristwatch was made. Although experts agree Louis Moinet – a French watchmaker – designed the first Chronograph pocketwatch for astronomers in 1815. This timepiece was made with incredible precision and could record time to 1/60th of a second.

A Chronograph, by description, is simply a watch that combines the function of a stopwatch with a timekeeping display watch; by utilising an independent sweeping motion second hand.

Fast forward almost 100 years and the first Chronograph wristwatch was produced by Longines in 1913 – a luxury Swiss watchmaker founded by Auguste Agassiz in 1832.

Chronographs began to evolve, and in 1958 Heuer started to incorporate a rotating tachymeter bezel on the dash board of race cars. A tachymeter is a scale that can measure speed based on time travelled over a fixed distance. This allows elapsed time in seconds per unit to then be the converted to speed in units per hour.

The tachymeter was soon introduced to the bezel of wristwatches, and from this point forward Chronographs become an invaluable tool within aviation, naval operations and submarine navigation.

In the 1960's prolific watchmakers secretly began to create the first automatic Chronograph – a mechanical watch where the natural motion of the wearer provides energy to run the watch, making manual winding no longer necessary.

The first automatic Chronograph was released in 1969 and iconic Chronographs such as the Breitling Navitimer and the Heuer Carrera were among those that were released in this year.

Automatic Chronographs watches are now commonplace and have continued to remain a timeless fashion accessory for 50 years.

Take a look at our collection of contemporary and wooden Chronographs watches in our store, which can be found on the following link.

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