Know your watch: How to use a chronograph the right way

We’ve previously discussed Know your different parts, complications and components of your watch and how to use themand this time will be no different, because we’ll be talking about how to use your chronograph watch.

But first, let’s talk a bit about the feature itself: What is it? What it is for?

Well, for starters, let me tell you that the concept itself is very old. The name, translated from the original Greek, means “time writer”, and refers to the practice (as old as mankind itself) of tracking time. Now, as pretty much every piece of tech and invention created since man first started to walk this Earth, the process has gotten more refined and complex with the passing of ages, and racing watches are no exception of this.

While a chronograph watch is one of the most sought-after types of watch, this particular function gets often overlooked or ignored, because most of the time it seems more difficult to use than it really is. But you’re here because you want to get the most of your Formula 1 timepiece, so we’re gonna tell you how to use it properly.

Chronographs commonly make use from one to three buttons. These buttons start, stop or reset the chronograph function without interfering with the watch proper. Some watches only record as long as 30 minutes, while others can record up to 12 hours. The time that you have recorded can be read on the recorders found on the dial of the watch. These count elapsed seconds, minutes and hours when the buttons (or “pushers) are activated.

How do you use one? 

As we previously said, a chronograph watch usually has about three hands, and luxury watches have often three sub-dials: One for tracking hours elapsed, other for the minutes, and other for the seconds. As is logic, each one of these three sub-dials have their own hand, and the second hand is the long, thin central hand. This hand only moves when you start the stopwatch (unlike watches with the chronograph function).

The chronograph’s minute hand lets you know how many minutes have passed since you started the chronograph, and the hour hand lets you know how many hours have passed. Pretty simple so far, right? Good.

In case your watch is not a flyback, you have to manually wind the chronograph hand to 12 using the crown of the watch. On a flyback chronograph, though, this process is much simpler. In that case, there will be two buttons or “pushers” instead of just one, and with a simple press on the pusher, the chronograph’s hand on the watch spins back to 12 on its own.

One thing to note is that the chronograph must be reset after each use, or else you will be just resuming the previous recording process.

To use it, you simply have to press the appropriate button on your watch and the chronographer hand will measure the seconds, and once a full minute has passed, the hand on


the minute sub-dial will move, and the hands will keep moving until you press the button again to stop the process.

Maybe you’ll find this piece of data hard to believe, but actually, some studies show that for the most part, watch users don’t know how to use this complication on their watch, but thanks to this little guide on your watch chronograph, you won’t be a part of that demographic anymore. How cool is that?


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