By Carl Turner
The armoire of manhood chronicles many possessions: whiskey, wine, and watches. The chronograph watch is distinct because of its particular feature—it measures the timing for objects, events, automobiles, and so on. If you have reached the precipice of manhood and wish to add this accoutrement to your collection, then there are some basic things you should consider. Here are five distinct features to look for in a chronograph watch.
The defining characteristic of chronograph watches are that you will be interacting with them frequently. For this reason, tactile response is of the utmost importance. How does the watch feel? Is the movement when you use the chronograph functions pleasing? The design of a chronograph can never be understated.
You should select a chronograph that is pleasing to the touch when you manipulate it. Although this may seem pedantic, if you don’t like the feel of your chronograph, you will be extremely less likely to use it.
Column Wheel vs. Coulisse Lever
A vast majority of the joy and tactile response that you will receive from chronograph watches will be directly related to the type of timing mechanism that is employed. A column wheel has a small gear that rotates one increment with each click of the chronograph. It is a very precise movement and reveals the exquisite construction of the chronograph. It is extremely pleasing to manipulate and the precise movements are eye-catching.
The coulisse lever is a heart-shaped gear that moves back and forth to measure time increments. These are easier to manufacture, extremely robust, and far-less finicky than column wheel chronographs. The action is firm and requires more effort to engage and offers less tactile pleasure.
Flyback vs. Rattrapante
A flyback chronograph allows for the second hand to be rapidly reset, whereas a rattrapante has multiple second hands that can be stopped and started independently. How many things do you plan on timing simultaneously and how fast will you need to time them? The flyback has a cleaner look than the rattrapante, but the rattrapante has a look and feel of sophistication merely from the knowledge required to know how to use it.
Mechanical vs. Automatic
Mechanical watches do not keep time as well as automatic watches because they must be physically wound. This can cause all kinds of inaccuracies as you attempt to get an accurate split time on Ferrari’s LMP1 car at the end of the back straight.
Automatic chronographs watches don’t suffer from this, but an automatic chronograph undercuts the romanticism and desire of owning a chronograph. Chronograph watches are not about efficiency or practicality. A chronograph represents culture, status, accomplishment and appreciation for the things in life that matter.
1 ATM, 5 ATM, and 10 ATM
ATM stands for atmospheres, and one atmosphere is equal to 10 meters. While it can be used as a rough guide for the depth that the watch can endure, it can also be very misleading. Fine watches are susceptible to chlorine and salt, and will require cleaning after exposure.
Additionally, humans also can’t exceed 100 meters in depth, so these ratings aren’t worth making a decision over. On the other hand, length of time is something to take very seriously. Some chronographs can time 30 minutes or an hour maximum, whereas others can time 12 hours. It’s best to pay attention what increment of time you require most.
The chronograph is the sign of an accomplished man who knows what he wants. While initially daunting, the choice of what to look for in a chronograph does not have to be overwhelming. With a little patience for honing in on how you will use your chronograph watch and what you would like it to do, the choice will become clear. Find the chronograph of your choice and join the ranks of accomplished men.
Carl Turner is a menswear expert and freelance lifestyle writer from Los Angeles, California. With over 10 years of experience, he has trained many clients and has helped them to reach their personal fitness goals. During his free time, he enjoys kayaking, hiking, and reading.
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Jake Fogarty is the founder of It's All About Watches and writer for most of what you will read here. If you want to contact me you can visit the contact and advertising page.