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The author's aim, as connoisseur and authority about the matter, is to help you to understand the subject by making these informations comprehensible and digestive.
Chronograph and chronometer

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The author

Expert in communication and marketing, Pierre F. Brenzikofer was for more than 25 years in charge of the Marketing-Services of an important swiss watch group. He had a deep knowledge of watches communication. He was very active in professional basic and further training, and invested a lot of energy in the management of training centers and the setting up of modern didactic instruments.

2. Don't merge chronograph and chronometer

In the professional watch terminology, the words “chronograph” and “chronometer” have a very different signification. Many consumers and sometimes even professionals don’t make the difference!
Well then, let us try to define both items.

The chronograph is a mechanical or quartz watch displaying besides hours, minutes, seconds and possibly the date, through a centre jumping hand the calculated seconds, a 1/10 or even a 1/100 of a second with a minutes and often an hours counter in a little display.
Push buttons allow the user to set in motion the chronograph function, i.e. the calculation and display of short times and to stop it.
A chronograph is at first a sport’s watch, but can be useful in science, medicine, cooking, etc.

You can find different pattern of chronographs.
The most famous is the chronograph “rattrapante” (fly back) equipped with two centre jumping hands instead of only one.
The second hand allows the user to measure several times starting together but having a different duration. At the end of the first time measure, the second hand stops and the user can read the covered time.
After some seconds, this hand flies back to the first one. Both carry on their run together until the next measure.
Among the mechanical with manual or automatic winding mechanism and the quartz chronographs, often called multifunctional, one of the most famous is the ETA 13 ¼’’’ movement 251.265 with double display, analogical and numerical (LCD) with the following functions:

  • display of hours, minutes, seconds, small jumping seconds at “6 o’clock”
  • time zone mechanism -stop-second device
  • numerical date display programmed for 4 years,
  • numerical chronograph 1/100 second (LCD)
  • counters: 60 seconds, 30 minutes, 12 hours
  • function ADD: adding up of the start time - stop - start - stop - etc.
  • function SPLIT: record of intermediate times cumulatively
  • function LAP: time keeping of successive laps
  • alarm device (LCD)
  • battery end-of-life indicator (EOL)


The chronometer is a mechanical or quartz watch of high precision which obtained an official rating- certificate issued by the Swiss Institute for Official Watch Time-keeping Office (in french COSC).

To accede to this certificate, each watch has to go through a number of strict tests: the COSC will control every subjected piece in different positions, and let them go through thermal cycles in order to check their precision at different temperatures (sweating-rooms at 8°C, 23°C and 38°C).
If the running variations don’t exceed the maximum tolerances decided for each test, the submitted pieces are acknowledged and officially attested as “chronometer”. Such a control gives the user the guarantee that his “chronometer” is of high running and production quality.

The requirements of the official rating-certificate are not the same for mechanical and quartz products due to the fact that the quartz watch has a resonator oscillating 32'768 times a second which confers a very high precision and a stronger stability.


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