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In the world of luxury watches, chronographs are a touchy subject.
By that, we mean they tend to have extra buttons and functions and they really make you want to touch them.
In all seriousness, though, we love chronographs. They're luxury with a look of utility. They’re real watches for real people who are doing real things, like pilots, sailors, race car drivers, and pretty much everybody in-between who needs, or just wants, a watch that can be more than the sum of its parts.
Chronographs are often somewhat bulky and sit heavy on the wrist, which in itself is a whole vibe that can accompany just about any occasion.
In this article, we’re going to jump into what exactly a chronograph is. Then we’ll explore some of our favorite in-stock chronographs from the illustrious WatchMaxx catalogue.
The word “chrono” comes from the ancient Greek word “krono,” which means time. “Khronographos” means “time recording.”
There was also a Greek god named Chronos, or Chronus, the god of time and, depending on who you ask, the head honcho of the mythological titans. He has been referred to in literature and storytelling beginning in pre-socratic Greek culture, through the renaissance, all the way to the modern day.
The first chronograph, however, first appeared much later than the god Chronos in 1816 when it was invented by a man named Louis Moinet.
Moinet wasn’t trying to revolutionize luxury watch fashion, at the time. He actually had no idea that such a thing would one day exist. He just wanted to help facilitate a better way to work with astronomical equipment.
It was 5 years later when Nicolas Rieussec created the first marketed chronograph. It was developed for his patron, King Louis XVIII in 1821. Lois was very interested in watching horse races and wanted to know how long each race lasted. We’re guessing his wife, Marie Josephine of Savoy, wanted him to spend less time at the track and more time at home with the family.
Anyways, it was Rieussec’s invention that eventually became the chronograph we all know and love today. In fact, nobody even knew that Louis Moinet had invented the chronograph before Mr. Nicolas until 2013. It turns out marketing wasn’t really a thing back then.
There is one basic function that sets chronographs aside from clocks or watches. Whereas a regular watch has to be able to show the time, a chronograph has to be able to show both the time and elapsed time. Essentially, they have to have a way to function like a stopwatch.
What chronographs actually end up being are usually a lot more complex than that. A basic chronograph will usually just have a second hand that sweeps independently from the minute and hour hands and which works in conjunction with a separate minute hand that lives within a sub dial.
However, chronographs often feature 2 or 3 sub dials along with other complications like date, moon phase, or who knows what else. There are even chronographs out there with temperature sensors.
Tachymeters are another common feature of chronographs, though they’re a little more complicated to explain. A tachymeter is essentially a way to measure a unit of travel distance by matching a constant speed with a period of time. For a much more in-depth explanation, check out this Wikipedia article.
Needless to say, these functions and complications come in real handy for a lot of the more active professionals in the world. Even today when smart watches are a thing and very prevalent, chronographs continue to be worn on the wrists of pilots and sailors and the like. Why? Well, since the advent of automatic chronographs in the 1960s, chronographs are just more dependable than digital technology. Their batteries won’t run out when they’re needed, to put it simply.
Beyond the functionality, chronographs also just look better on the wrist than smart watches. Comparing an analog, hand-crafted Swiss chronograph to even the most impressive smart watch in the world is like comparing a vintage merlot to a garishly colored can of energy drink, if you ask us.
Speaking of which, now feels like a great time to dive into some of our favorite chronographs from our own selection.
Since we spent so much time talking about the superior functionality of a chronograph, we thought we might as well describe the most functional chronograph of all time.
Used by pilots everywhere since the early to mid 20th century, Breitling’s Navitimers are in a class of their own when it comes to function. There are three sub dials for minutes, hours, and seconds, along with a calendar, a tachymeter, and even a working slide rule that uses the bezel for operation.
This dial is absolutely exploding with activity. It’s a look that says “Listen, Jack. I’d love to stay and help, but I’ve got things to go and calculate.”
The reason we picked this particular Navitimer is that it says those things with a rose gold accent and a beautiful brown leather strap.
Whereas functions like tachymeters and slide rules are great for pilots and sailors, what about a watch for today’s werewolf living that high-speed lycanthropic lifestyle?
Well, don’t worry. Longines has you covered with the Master Collection Moonphase.
Like the name implies, this chronograph features a moon phase complication in the lower sub dial at 6 o’clock. We think moon phase complications are incredibly cool, and are probably also meant for more practical things, like planning for natural nighttime light during outings or something, rather than helping werewolves plan their full moon transformations.
Longines is a company that’s known for their high-end Swiss pieces and their impeccable aesthetic that feels like it should come with a glass of bourbon and a pipe. This Master Collection chronograph, however, feels like it goes above and beyond in communicating that sense of classy refinement. This is a watch for gentlemen of fine taste.
For a brand that’s built around fast cars and melting rubber smoking from high-speed contact with hot asphalt, they sure do know how to make us want to slow down for a second look at their beautiful watches.
This Formula 1 Chronograph is TAG all over. From the large tachymeter print around the perimeter of the bezel to the way that the three sub dials are arranged to look like an instrument panel on the dashboard of a sports car, this is a quintessential racing chronograph.
Another very TAG feature of this watch is its incredible build quality. Not only does it look like it was built to withstand every situation, it actually can. The top-of-the-line Swiss craftsmanship is visible across every detail, from the laser blue bezel down to the clasp of the polished stainless steel bracelet.
If you’re sick of being the pace car and you’re ready to take the lead in life, you can get your Formula 1 Chronograph today for 18% off.
While these are three of our favorite chronographs in the WatchMaxx catalogue, we could easily have replaced any one of them with any of the other stunning chronographs in our collection.
Take a look for yourself and you’re bound to find the perfect chronograph to fit on your wrist for the more adventurous situations in your life.
Whether you’re a werewolf, a super spy infiltrating a speeding yacht in the middle of the ocean, or an ace pilot, there’s a chronograph that’s made just for you.