From Paul Newman to Steve McQueen, the chronograph became a quintessential piece of automotive history.
While most avid watch collectors and enthusiasts can spot a specific reference from a mile away, the rest of the world views luxury timepieces as a simple and traditional way of telling time. Inside the world of Haute horology are an array of categories and complications, each equipped with innovative tools and functions that focus on a specific area of expertise. One of the most iconic watch types is the chronograph, a popular configuration that combines multiple sub-dials that act as miniature stopwatches.
MUST-READ: The Top 10 Luxury Chronograph Watches
Now that the chronograph stands out as a staple in the industry, all leading Swiss watchmakers take a crack at perfecting the recipe with their own rendition. The chronograph defines itself as one of the earliest tools in automotive racing, allowing drivers to track lap times during iconic endurance races like The 24 Hours of Le Mans. With icons like Paul Newman and Steve McQueen sporting chronographs throughout time, it’s easy to see why it’s the gateway for car enthusiasts to get into collecting luxury watches.
How does a chronograph work?
A chronograph watch takes on the same basic design as a traditional wristwatch, using a complication that powers the timepiece and its functions. To achieve the ability to track time like a stopwatch, an extra and or multiple complications have been added to measure time at different levels of accuracy. An independent sweeping secondhand stands at the ready while distinctive pushers operate the art of starting and stopping time.
When was the first chronograph watch made?
The first modern chronograph watch was created in 1816 by the pioneers at Louis Moinet, a luxury French watchmaker that continues to instill its DNA into a collection of modern examples. Displaying an unrivaled degree of precision, the Louis Moinet Chronograph was able to measure time accurately to 1/60th of a second.
What makes a chronograph watch perfect for racing?
On any race track, time proves to be the most important aspect for a driver, team, and spectators. Meticulously tracking lap times help to tackle areas of improvement, whether related to a race car’s performance or the driver’s confidence to go faster. The chronograph presents the perfect tool for manufacturers to observe its team of drivers using the watch’s multiple levels of accuracy. Although drivers and race cars continue to evolve, the simplicity of the traditional chronograph lives on as a timeless icon.
Our Favorite Chronographs
Rolex Daytona Cosmograph
Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch
Richard Mille RM 65-01 Chronograph
TAG Heuer Monaco
Patek Philippe 5990/1A Nautilus