The Top 3 Watch Complications
A classic watch can do so much more than tell you the hour of the day. Okay, maybe you’ll never be able to respond to text messages, but most high-quality watches have different complications, or extra features, that make it more functional and handy to have on your wrist.
A watch complication is any function a watch is able to do other than telling time. So anything outside of displaying the hour, minutes, and seconds, counts as a watch complication. These complications can range from simple to complex and vary in price, rarity, and usefulness.
Watch technology continues to evolve every year. Now and days, almost all watches have some sort of complication, whether it is just something as simple as a date function, or as complex as Bluetooth. However, even with all the developments, it’s interesting to see that some of the most popular complications never go out of style.
The three most popular functions on watches are the chronograph, the tachymeter (or tachymetre) and the dual time zone. They are three of the most functional choices because they help with everyday tasks. Depending on your needs, one might make more sense than the other, but if you don’t know what they do, it can be hard to choose.
That’s where we come in. We’re going to break down all three, so you know what functions you need, which ones you might be able to pass up, and which ones you will find in our affordable luxury watches.
What is a Chronograph?
Chronograph watches have a stopwatch movement built-in and have different subdials that can act as a stopwatch. There are a few different types of chronographs, including:
- Monopoussoir (one button chronograph) - The monopoussoir chronographs are the original and only have one button to measure the different types of time.
- Flyback chronographs - Flyback chronographs are designed so that when a second button is pushed, all the counter reset and start from zero. This feature was originally made for pilots that needed split-second accuracy.
- Rattrapante (split-second chronograph) - Split-second chronographs have two second hands, one right on top of the other. They also have three pushers on the case.
- Tachymeter - Tachymeter chronographs measure both time and speed. We’ll talk about those later.
Today’s chronographs measure seconds, minutes, and hours, in addition to the watch’s normal timekeeping. This makes them useful in a number of practical situations.
The History of Chronographs
Most people don’t think much of stopwatches and use their smartphone to set their timers, but stopwatches and chronographs have a rich history of timekeeping.
The first chronograph was invented in 1816 and was used together with astrological equipment. The watch could measure time accurate to 1/60th of a second, which was extremely precise for the period. In 1821, the French King Louis XVII requested a chronograph watch to record the lap times of his beloved horse races. The interesting thing about this early chronograph is that it actually used ink to measure the time elapsed. This obviously wouldn’t work for multiple uses, so in 1844, a Swiss watchmaker added the re-setting feature, which allowed for successive measurements to be taken without ink.
With further developments, chronograph watches were used for horse racing and even the Olympics. But they were still just stopwatches, albeit accurate ones. The introduction of timekeeping abilities combined with the chronograph stopwatch came in 1913 when recognized watchmakers Longines and Breitling introduced their chronograph wristwatches.
How to Use a Chronograph Watch?
Today’s chronographs are really easy to use and you can get a lot of information from their many dials. Generally, a chronograph watch has two “pushers” which start and stop the stopwatch and reset the timer. There can be many dials on the watch face and they usually include showing the watch’s second hand and the chronograph minute counter.
Using the pushers, you can set a certain duration (such as 30 minutes) or time an event by adjusting the chronograph. You can also reset the second hand to zero anytime you need to by pulling the crown all the way out and pushing the first pusher until it’s on zero. This video further explains how to use your chronograph and some of the watch’s practical uses.
How Are Chronographs Useful?
While chronograph watches got their start for timing horse races and the Olympics, there are lots of other practical uses for chronograph watches today. Whenever you need to set a timer, such as when you’re cooking, you can easily do it with your watch without having to find your phone. You can also set a certain time. For example, if you’re at work and want to focus on a specific task for 30 minutes, you can set your chronograph watch and easily see how much time you have left. The modern-day uses for these awesome watches are pretty much endless.
One of the best things about chronograph watches is that they come in nearly any style and aren’t just limited to a certain type of watch, meaning that you can have an automatic or quartz chronograph watch. Casual chronographs, like our Chrono S collection, are perfect for everyday wear and can be either dressed up or dressed down depending on the occasion.
You can also find beautiful chronograph watches that are made to impress. These chronographs are perfect for formal occasions and pair well with a suit. Plus, you don’t even have to spend an arm and a leg to get a dressy chronograph watch.
Lastly, action chronographs are perfect for when you’re on the go and need to keep tabs on your active lifestyle. Whether you’re trying to beat your mile benchmark or timing how long it takes you to crest that hike, action chronographs are perfect for athletes or anyone with an active lifestyle. Even more, lots of these action chronographs, like our Rogue collection, have tachymeters so you can also see your speed.
What is a Tachymeter?
Speaking of tachymeters, these super watches are next on our list of complications. Tachymeters are a type of chronograph that not only has stopwatch functions but also has a special system to determine speed and distance. The markings on the bezel can be used to gather a lot more data.
The History of Tachymeters
When you think of smartwatches, you might think of the recent ones that let you text from your wrist. Tachymeters were kind of like the original smartwatch.
Tachymeters have nearly as rich of a history as the chronographs we talked about before. After watchmakers were able to combine the stopwatch and timekeeping abilities in a small wristwatch, they added tachymeter scales on either the bezel or around the edge of the dial. These tachymeters were super helpful for racecar drivers and pilots in the 19th and 20th centuries
How to Use a Tachymeter Watch?
Tachymeter watches might seem complicated, but they’re actually pretty simple and are a visual representation of the math you already know. To calculate speed using a tachymeter, start the chronograph as you pass your starting point and stop it at your stopping point. The watch’s second hand will be pointing at the corresponding tachymeter value. That’s your average speed.
One of the coolest things about tachymeter watches is that as long as you use the same units (miles, kilometers, minutes, etc.), they can work in the same fashion no matter what you’re measuring. This video shares how you can use a tachymeter for measuring everything from race cars to Usain Bolt.
How are Tachymeters Useful?
With all of these practical uses, it’s no surprise that tachymeters continue to be a great timekeeping and measurement tool, even in an era of smartwatches and phones. There’s nothing quite like taking your own measurements using technology that has been around for centuries. You can average your speed while driving, see how many words per minute you can write when working on that late-night work project, or see how far you go in a car, boat, train, or plane. The uses are endless.
Tachymeter watches are as functional as they are beautiful. Casual tachymeters add a touch of masculinity to any wardrobe with their dramatic dials and markings. They can be worn at work, at the gym, or on a trip. We can’t help but love our sport tachymeter, Rogue, with a leather band.
Sports tachymeters are probably the most common style of this useful watch because you can get so much data just by the flick of your wrist. Whether you’re swimming, hiking, lifting, running, or biking, you can easily calculate your speed, time, and distance with a tachymeter watch.
Are Chronographs and Tachymeters the Same Thing?
Although they accomplish similar things, chronographs and tachymeters aren’t the same things. A watch can be a chronograph without having a tachymeter. Remember, chronographs have various dials on the watch face that measure time in seconds, minutes and hours.
Technically, a watch can have a tachymeter without being a chronograph, but it wouldn’t be as easy to use because you wouldn’t have the ability to start and stop your measurement as easily. Because of this, almost all tachymeters are on chronographs. You can tell a watch is a tachymeter by the markings on the bezel.
What is a Dual Time Watch?
The last type of watch complication we want to explain is the dual time watch. Have you ever traveled abroad and wondered “what time is it at home right now?” Sure, you can do some mental calculations with the time change or add a new location to the clock on your phone, but if you travel a lot, have family in different time zones, or just want to know what time it is somewhere else, dual time watches are your friend. With dual time watches, you can quickly look at your watch and see what time it is locally and anywhere you want in the world
The History of Dual Time Watches
Dual time watches were originally created for pilots that crossed different times zones on long-haul flights. One version, unveiled in the 1950s, used GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) to add a different time zone. Watches that use GMT display the local time on a 12-hour dial and the GMT time on a 24-hour dial, usually on the bezel.
Earlier, though, watchmakers used the world time complication. A world time watch displays the time for cities across the globe concurrently on the dial, meaning that the watch can use a single movement to update both time zones. This helps eliminate synchronization issues sometimes found in GMT watches because with GMT watches, the local and 24-hour times are running from different movements.
How to Use a Dual Time Watch?
Dual time watches have two hour hands that mark your local time and the secondary time zone you want to set. Most dual time watches have the second time zone in 24-hour time in case you want to set a time zone that is further away than 12 hours. Also, this helps you differentiate between AM and PM.
How are Dual Time Watches Useful?
Dual time watches are super helpful for people who travel a lot, do business with other time zones, or have loved ones living abroad. If you travel a lot for work, you can easily set one dial to your local time and the other to where you’re going and quickly know what time it is at both places. Now for jet lag, we can’t really help you there.
Dual Time Watch Styles
There are different styles of dual time watches. Some have a dedicated dial for the second time zone, some only have a single hand, and some show the second time zone on the watch’s bezel. You can also have a dual time watch that uses either automatic or quartz movement. Some dual time watches are super dressy and can be worn for formal occasions, and some are more casual.
Watch technology continues to evolve, but it’s interesting to see that some of the most popular complications never go out of style. Chronographs, tachymeters, and dual time watches are some of the most functional choices because they help with everyday tasks. Depending on your needs, one might make more sense than the other. But, you can have your cake and eat it, too. With our affordable luxury watches, you really can have it all.