Horology Terminology

A bit of horology terminology with a touch of history

So what is the difference between Chronograph and Chronometer?

Chronograph is derived from the Greek words “chronos” and “graph”, which means “time” and “chart”. In Greek mythology, Chronos is a god and is also known as the personification of time. Interestingly, his consort (wife) is Ananke is known as the personification of destiny or fate. A chronograph is a watch or timepiece with functions as a timekeeper and as a stopwatch as well. To put it simply, it can measure time in more ways than one. Chronograph is also mostly mistaken with the term Chronometer because in some cases the latter designation is for a chronograph watch that has pass strict precision test certification from an official Swiss institute. Only then, a chronograph could be called a chronometer. Usually, you can see the inscription “Officially Certified Chronometer” on the dial. A Chronograph dial has several sub-dials with a scale – which the measurement can be read. Second hand can be started and stopped without interfering with the time. Pocket chronograph became popular sometime before the mid 19th Century. At the beginning of the 20th Century, chronographs were used by the military, scientists and sporting establishments. They were essential to measure time events accurately. Today, wearing a chronograph watch is a matter of fashion, rather than practicality. The appeal of the chronograph is because of its adventurous, glamorous and exciting image – it is a watch that actors and actresses, rich and famous, racing drivers, explorers, mariners, aviators and astronauts wear. A certified chronograph or chronometer is generally more valuable than a normal wristwatch due to the craftsmanship and complication of manufacture. Maintenance and repair are quite costly too. The brand of the watch also plays a part on the value as well.


What’s the complication?

Here is some explanation on the horological terms used in articles related to chronographs and chronometers on this site.  The list is not exhaustive and is updated regularly.

Complication(s) – A special feature(s) in a watch that complicates the design of the watch movement to be more complicated.

Horology – An art or science of measuring time.  A person engaged in horology is called a horologist.