Chronograph Watch – A Brief History of the Stylish Accessory

Chronograph watches are common, and can be seen on the wrists of many stylish individuals today. Read on to dig into the history of these amazing watches, which come with a rich heritage.

The Louis Moinet Version

Louis Moinet, a French horologist, is credited with the invention of the first chronograph in the year 1816. It was initially intended only to be used with astronomical equipment. Quickly, the geniuses of the time saw a good prospect in this unique specimen of engineering, long before its design was being developed, improved and advanced by other inventors.

The Rieussec Version

It was in 1821 that King Louis XVIII commanded the creation of the first-ever marketed chronograph. It was developed by inventor Nicolas Mathieu Rieussec in 1821 to ensure proper schedule of horse races. The King loved the sport and wished to know the exact span for each race. The chronograph was the right equipment for this purpose.

As compared to the chronograph of Moinet, Rieussec focused on his invention specifically with the intention of time measurement. He left an ink dot on the dial of his chronograph, which was styled like a pocket-watch, and when the dot stopped to display the time period that had passed. It showed accuracy to within 1 second, and was a technological revolution for its time. It marked the beginning of the creation of the modern chronograph-making tradition.

The Adolphe Nicole Version

In 1844, the chronograph found its next updated version in the device made by Adolphe Nicole, which came with a resetting feature. Nicole’s version, as compared to Rieussec’s model which consisted of a continuously moving needle, allowed consecutive measuring – which was ideal for more complicated computations.

The Early 20th Century

With time, chronographs started becoming more economical to buy and more precise in measurements. They started to be more popular, as scientific tools as well as stylish accessories. These enjoyed widespread use by aviators during the 20th century, as pilots could use them to make precise measurements and calculations quickly even as they were flying. With the growth and development of the aviation industry, this became more essential. Even in space travel, these were seen as utilitarian. The earliest astronauts sported many complicated and advanced chronographs on their wrists even as they travelled into outer space.

The Later 20th Century

With varied industries taking up the use of chronograph, individual demands began to be satisfied with specialist features, such as Flyback or Rattrapante. The year 1969 saw another breakthrough in the automatic, self-winding chronograph which was invented through a partnership between three big watch manufacturing companies – Hamilton, Breitling and Heuer and the efforts of Dubois Depraz, the specialist of the movement. Ever since, the device has become more and more complicated with many manufacturers adding more complicated functions to show their technical expertise.


These days, most chronographs are being designed like wristwatches although some companies still make them like the old-fashioned, stylish pocket watches. Chronographs today are unique, technically amazing and designed beautifully. These are as popular with scientific users as fashion connoisseurs.