What Is a Chronograph Watch?
The chronograph watch has always been somewhat of a pinnacle in wristwatch technology.Dubbed the ‘tool watch,’ these expert watches are for the man who needs everything at his disposal. When the clock is ticking, you’re keeping score. When the minutes go by, you’re keeping watch.At the very heart of it, a chronograph watch is basically any old timepiece that has a stopwatch in addition to just telling the time. Not that fancy, right? Wrong.
While a chronograph watch has dials that keep track of seconds, minutes, and hours, it’s because of these intricacies that make these timepieces so heavily coveted. Whether through the allure, appeal, or aesthetics, there is a chronograph watch for every gentleman.
The Nordgreen Pioneer is a modern chronograph watch for the 21st century gentleman.
What Is a Chronograph Watch?
A chronograph watch is a special type of watch that works as both a display watch for telling the time, and a stopwatch for timing things.
When it comes down to brass tax, the chronograph has a myriad of use cases. From workouts to figuring out just how long it takes to fill up with gas. Whatever you plan to use it for, you’re guaranteed to find the same function throughout the entire array of options on the market.
Kickstart the chronograph by pressing the button at the 2 o’clock mark. To stop it, press the button again. Then when you’re ready to reset it back to zero, push the 4 o’clock button. Simple.
Most chronographs display three dials for registering how much time has elapsed. The second dial, often referred to as a sub-second dial, generally sports a minute dial and an hour dial.
However, positions may vary from brand to brand. Take the Pioneer Chronograph from Nordgreen. The dual sub-dials sit opposite each other at 9 and 3 o’clock.
The term used to describe wristwatch additions like a chronograph is called a ‘complication,’ named because of the added level of difficulty and mechanics added to a traditional mechanical watch.
Here’s where things get more interesting. Almost every chronograph watch you can find will have a tachymeter on the bezel.
To put it simply, a tachymeter is used to measure speed based on time traveled over a fixed distance, or distance based on speed. Not good with numbers? Don’t worry; there’s an easy way to figure it out.
The formula is T = 3600/t. T represents the numbers on the tachymeter’s scale, and t represents the time measured in seconds by the all-important chronograph function. 3600 is the number of seconds in one hour.
Now that we have all that, let’s measure speed. If, for example, it takes you 30 seconds to travel one mile, the corresponding number on the tachymeter is 120. That means you’re traveling 120 miles per hour.
You need to know your speed to measure distance with a tachymeter. Firstly, start at zero seconds, and stop once the tachymeter indicates your traveling speed.
For example, if you’re moving along at 60mph, every time it hits 60 on the tachymeter, that means you’ve traveled one mile.
Things do get a bit tricky for lower speeds, so your best bet is to multiply the rate by two, then divide at the end once you’ve got your number.
Because nobody likes working decimals, if it’s your first time with a chronograph, don’t worry. As with most things like this, practice makes perfect.
History of the Chronograph Watch
The story begins in 1816, when Louis Moinet invented the very first chronograph. The stopwatch would be crucial to early discoveries of the great unknown and was used to track astrological movements.
It wasn’t until 1821 when Frenchman Nicolas Mathieu Rieussec created the first widely available chronograph. Its inception came about when King Louis XVIII requested the device to time the horse races he loved to watch.
The early days of chronographs saw dials made of paper and dropped with ink to number them. Though rudimentary compared to today’s standards, this how the name chronograph was born.
Chronograph comes from the Greek words chronos (time) and graph (writer). Together they literally translate to “time writer.”
It would not be until the early 20th century that chronographs made their way to the people’s wrists. Previously kept in pockets, it would take the Swiss watchmaker Longines to popularize the first chronograph wristwatch in 1913.
It didn’t take long before it caught the eye of adventurers, pilots, and navigators of all kinds. However, early advertisements took it upon themselves to revive history and market it towards horse racing, just as it was initially intended.
Many chronographs celebrate history in their unique ways. The Nordgreen Pioneer shows its admiration for the Danish tradition of Science for Humanity. Using hands indicated by the red tips, this minimal and sustainable watch represents the same red tips on wind turbines.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Chronograph Watch
When selecting a chronograph, you need to take into consideration how you plan on using it.
While you can certainly choose one purely based on aesthetics, you need to understand the different attributes of chronograph wristwatches in order to choose the right one.
Telling the time
Many brands take it upon themselves to get highly creative with the design of the watch face, and some may have gotten a little carried away. While you can go for a minimal design like that of the Pioneer, other watches out there may not be so easy to read.
Some designers, like Wegner, have omitted a dial for the sake of design. Some luxury watches can so far as to add lunar phase modules and other more complicated features.
Something that must be considered before purchase, what do you need from your wristwatch?
Though the chronograph features may seem a little complicated, the intricacies of watchmaking are far more complex.
With movements coming in varying styles and constructions, watchmakers can offer you more options than you know what to do with. For example, the Nordgreen Pioneer features a Japanese quartz Miyota 6S21 movement.
First invented in Japan back in the late 1960s, Japanese quartz movements are some of the most accurate. Made famous because of its automatic functionality, meaning it doesn’t require winding as other mechanisms do.
Powered by a single battery and a piece of crystal quartz, the battery sends an electrical signal through the quartz, making it vibrate. This vibration then pulses to make the hands move consistently and accurately.
The Miyota 6S21 movement is accurate to ±20 sec per month and has a battery life of about three years.
The watch case
Character, taste, style. All these words conjure up several connotations depending on who you’re talking to. This is why, when it comes to choosing a chronograph, size matters.
While modern aesthetics have gravitated towards big and bulky watch cases, the Nordgreen Pioneer remains subtle, even with a 42mm case size. Measuring only 12mm thick, it’s almost 150% the thickness of their other watches. Much bigger considering its Scandinavian design, the look is crafted from 316L crystalless steel.
Your average wristwatch ranges between 37-39mm, with chronographs usually measuring anywhere between 40mm and 45mm. Ultimately the correct size comes down to individual preferences, though Next Luxury reckons the sweet spot is the 42mm case.
Straps, bands, and bracelets
There are several different ways to wrap a watch around your wrist, from width to thickness to material choices and design. Though the width of your watch strap or bracelet will depend on the case diameter and lug width, customization is ever-present through a selection of different band styles.
For example, the Nordgreen Pioneer offers a range of additional leather straps, including vegan leather options and mesh straps, all at 20mm. Though for the full chronograph experience, we recommend the 3-link stainless-steel strap version.
Side note: don’t forget to consider the size of the lugs. These are the metal extensions where the watch case attaches to the bracelet or strap. While they’re not factored into the case diameter, they do stick out much further.
Remember to leave some breathing room, as the lugs can slightly elongate the height of the watch. Lugs that extend out over your wrist tend to be uncomfortable to wear, so watch out for that.
Dials on dials
Not every watch will have the option of multiple dial colors. Most will feature either a black or white dial, depending on the design. While others may not feature a dial at all, opting instead for an exposed look straight through to the mechanics and hardware. The Pioneer does offer either a black, white, or Navy-blue dial, with the latter being the most eye-catching of the three.
The glass on watch faces is equally as crucial as the dial that sits below. Called crystals, watch glass is made from a bunch of different materials.
A majority of watches are crafted using sapphire, acrylic, or minerals. Sapphire crystals are second only to diamonds in toughness, making them highly scratch-resistant.
Nordgreen uses domed sapphire crystal for the Pioneer watch glass for these exact reasons. Acrylic faces or crystals are found mostly on the more affordable end of the spectrum for wristwatches, which leaves them open to scratches.
Mineral crystals are treated with chemicals or heat to improve the shatter and scratch-resistance of the glass. While certainly not as durable as sapphire, they are still a superb middle-range choice.
Chronograph Watches aren’t typically designed for underwater use. That’s a job for their dive watch counterparts. That doesn’t mean your new timepiece will fall apart in the rain. It just means you have to be conscious of that all-important water resistance rating.
Rated up to 5 ATM for rain resistance, the Nordgreen Pioneer can survive a depth of up to 50 meters. While that is super deep, we don’t recommend diving with a non-diver’s watch. This is different from an IPX rating, which measures how much water exposure a product can handle.
These are the ATM ratings:
- 1 ATM means a device can withstand a depth of 10 meters
- 3 ATM means a device can withstand depths of 30 meters
- 5 ATM means a device can withstand depths of 50 meters
- 10 ATM means a device can withstand depths of 100 meters
These are the IPX ratings:
- IPX-0 offers no protection against water whatsoever.
- IPX-1 protects against dripping from above for up to 10 minutes.
- IPX-2 protects against dripping from any direction for up to 10 minutes.
- IPX-3 protects against spraying water from any direction for up to five minutes.
- IPX-4 offers protection from splashes from any direction for at least five minutes.
- IPX-5 protects from large sprays, 12.5 liters per minute, from any direction for up to three minutes.
- IPX-6 offers protection for larger sprays, 100 liters per minute, from any direction for up to three minutes.
- IPX-7 allows protection against complete submersion, up to one meter of water for 30 minutes.
- IPX-8 is the highest grade of water resistance, although its specifications are wholly dependent on the manufacturer. Typically, ‘waterproof’ products will have an IPX7 or IPX8 rating.
The Nordgreen Pioneer Chronograph Wristwatch
The Nordgreen Pioneer is an elegant men’s chronograph watch designed by Danish designer Jakob Wagner. It combines traditional chronograph elements with a clean modern design inspired by the sustainable future we all, and in particular the Danes, aspire to. The Pioneer is available in with a range of straps and a range of dial colors. Whatever your personal style is, there’s a Nordgreen Pioneer to match.