How does a chronograph work? For most experienced watch enthusiasts, the answer to this question is second nature. However, for watch enthusiasts who are new to the world of watches, they may not be aware of the purpose of a chronograph or how to use a chronograph. While it is one of the most popular complications on a wristwatch, many watch owners do not actually know how to use it.


How To Use a Chronograph

Before starting the chronograph, make sure that the watch is properly wound. To activate the chronograph, press the top pusher, usually located at 2 o’clock, and the chronograph hand will begin making its way around the dial. This OMEGA Speedmaster has two subdials, one is a continual seconds hand and the other is a minute counter for the chronograph. Many watches will also have an hours counter. Once the chronograph reaches one minute, the minute recorder will jump to reflect that one minute has elapsed, while the chronograph hand continues to rotate. Press the start/stop button to stop the chronograph, while the continual seconds hand continues to run. The bottom pusher resets both the chronograph hand and the minute recorder.

Here is a video that will show you how to use a chronograph:

What is a chronograph?

A chronograph is used to measure elapsed time. Today, it is often used by pilots, race car drivers, divers, and sail boat racers. Watches with a chronograph will have a chronograph hand that travel around the dial of the watch to measure elapsed time. A watch with a chronograph will have at least one subdial that will keep track of the minutes elapsed and will often have a subdial that to track the hours. A chronograph is activated by pressing on pushers, which are typically located on the side of the watch case.


How to use a chronograph - OMEGA Speedmaster

Types of Chronographs

Most dive watches have chronographs to help the diver measure the amount of time that he has been underwater. To make it as easy as possible for the diver, the watch most likely also comes equipped with a rotating bezel. The bezel is rotated counter-clockwise until the zero marker on the bezel is even with the minute hand. This will help remind the diver of the exact time he entered the water.

Many watches have a tachymeter scale along the bezel of the watch. The tachymeter scale allows the wearer to measure the distance traveled over an elapsed amount of time. The wearer starts the chronograph and once the desired distance has been reached, the point on the scale that lines up with the second hand indicates the average speed reached while traveling this distance.

Unless the watch has a flyback chronograph, when one stops a chronograph hand and then restarts it, the chronograph hand will usually start back up from the spot where it was stopped. To reset the chronograph hand, the sweep seconds hand has to be spun around clockwise to zero. If the watch has a flyback chronograph, the sweep seconds hand can quickly “flyback” clockwise to zero when the pusher is pressed. This allows for a much quicker reset.

The split-seconds, or rattrapante, chronograph is useful when timing multiple events that start at the same time, but may not end together. The chronograph hand and the split-seconds hand will start together. At the end of the first event, the chronograph hand will stop once the pusher is pressed, while the split seconds hand continues to time. After recording that amount of time, the wearer can press the pusher again and the chronograph hand will catch up with the split seconds hand as it continues to travel around the dial. This can continue until all events have been timed.

How do you use a chronograh - OMEGA Speedmaster


It is important to know how to use a chronograph as it is a very useful function. Hopefully this video is helpful for those that are not familiar with how to use a chronograph.

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Latest comments
  • Diver bezels rotate counter-clockwise so in the event it gets moved during a dive, the elapsed tiMe appears to be More rather than less.

    • You’re right. We’ve updated this with the correct info.