What Is a Chronograph Watch and Can You Mod One
A chronograph watch is a traditional timepiece fitted with an extra feature to act as a stopwatch. Most chronograph watches come with a few dials within the watch face and two buttons on the right-hand side of the case.
These watches are used to measure time to different levels of accuracy. When a watch comes with three dials on the face, they likely cover three different measurements of time—hours, minutes, and seconds. The placement of these dials will differ from watch to watch.
In addition to a crown typical of any timepiece, there are two additional buttons on the right side, which are a start-stop and a reset for the stopwatch feature.
What makes a watch a chronograph is having a second hand that moves independently of the timekeeping function and that hand can be started, stopped, and reset. To do that, a chronograph has to have additional mechanisms to control each of its functions.
As chronograph watches have a lot more moving parts, watchmakers have to make sure these mechanisms do not interfere with each other, this explains why they are often more expensive than other kinds of watches.
Here are some unique features of a chronograph, and why they matter!
This is the most important feature in any chronograph. By simply using the two additional buttons on the side of the watch, you can start, stop, and reset this function.
The chronograph feature will be an extra hand that goes around the face of the watch and will use the dials on the watch face to measure elapsed time. In that, the second hand will start counting first and then the minutes and the hours will move.
The second hand is almost always the central hand on the face, and the sub-dials will log longer amounts of time.
Source: Gear Patrol
Besides measuring time, you can also measure speed with a chronograph. This feature uses the bezel or rehaut, and is used to measure speed and distance.
This feature is most commonly used by athletes or in motorsports, on many watch models, it is labeled as the tachymeter, and is simple to use.
By using the feature to calculate your speed, you can know the time and the distance. Furthermore, if you know time and speed, you can also use them to calculate your distance.
Examples of Chronograph Watches
Omega Speedmaster 57
The Omega Speedmaster 57 Chronograph Co-Axial Master Chronometer takes its styling cues from the past. It is a typical vintage-inspired model with modern features, like a modern Omega co-axial movement.
The name says it all, the Speedmaster 57 is modeled after the first ever Speedy, the CK2915-1 with its straight lugs and symmetrical case. Also, there are the brushed steel bezel with a black tachymeter scale, the unprotected protected crown, and the dial with broad-arrow hands.
Source: Monochrome Watches
The watch has a vintage feel. Retro-styled elements are visible everywhere, from the classic bezel, to the box-shaped sapphire crystal, bevel on the side of the lugs, classic pump pushers, and many more.
The Speedy 57 is not only a strong alternative to many chronograph watches but also a watch with its own personality. All in all, there’s a lot that you can find to love in this Omega Speedmaster 57.
Tissot PRX Chronograph
The term “PRX” stands for Precise, Robust, and Ten for the 10 atmospheres of water resistance, X in roman numerals. The timepiece is for those who want a watch with great finishing that comes with an automatic chronograph movement, but don’t want to spend a ton of money.
Source: Worn and Wound
Tissot’s approach to dial design is straightforward with a legible dial and tasteful finishing. There are three chronograph subdials on the dial, at 3, 6, and 9 positions. Meanwhile, a central seconds chronograph hand takes care of timing seconds. However, there’s no tachymeter scale on the Tissot PRX Chronograph.
Seiko Prospex Speedtimer SSC813
Chronographs don’t have to be super expensive. The Seiko Prospex Speedtimer SSC813 is an amazing modernized sporty Speedtimer featuring a solar movement inside.
In addition to the sapphire glass from Seiko, the timepiece also has a lot of utility such as a tachymeter on the bezel, with easily readable numerals and hash marks thanks to the black and white contrast design.
Not only that, when the chronograph is not in use, one of the sub-dial shows the charge level of the movement. This charge indicator is shown with an “E” for empty and an “F” for fully charged. When fully charged, the V912 movement can provide approximately 6 months of use.
Can You Build a Chronograph Watch with Mods?
If you want to do your own chronograph mods, you can technically achieve them although you may have to collect a lot of donor watches as aftermarket parts are not as readily available as they are for regular timepieces. Still, if you are determined to build yourself a personalized chronograph, here are potential movements that you can use.
Source: KeepTheTime.com / Caliber Corner
The Seiko caliber VK64A is part of the hybrid mechanical quartz movement line. It is a chronograph movement that not only uses quartz technology for the main functions of the watch but also uses a mechanical module for operating the chronograph.
The movement has subdials at 3,6,and 9, but the 3 o’clock subdial is a 24-hour indicator. The 9 o’clock subdial is the running seconds, while the 6 o’clock sundial is a minute register. The chronograph second hand on the VK64, has a smooth sweeping motion. This movement also has a date complication, and is highly reliable.
The OS10 is from another Japanese watchmaker Citizen, the amd Miyota caliber 0S10 is a quartz chronograph watch movement with no jewels. Its main functions are central hours, central minutes, central chronograph seconds, with running seconds indicated at 6 o’clock, and a 60-minute chrono subdial at 12 o’clock.
Source: Soldat Watch
When compared to other chronograph movements, the NE88 has some features that stand out.
First off is a classic Seiko feature that uses a triple-tipped hammer that simultaneously and instantly resets all the subdial counters back to zero. Another is a column wheel style chronograph mechanism that is extremely reliable.
Not only that, the NE88 uses a vertical clutch to solve many problems that chronographs face with jumping second hands, and excessive wear on the center wheel. It has three sub dials, with a running seconds complication at 3 o’clock.
Working with mechanical chronographs will be more expensive than a quartz model, but mechanical chronographs look amazing, and are a pleasure to operate!
Parts Compatibility with Current Mod Parts
It is worth noting, that given that the most popular form factor for aftermarket parts compatibility is the SKX007, its parts cannot be used for chronograph watch builds. The reason for this is that the SKX007 is not a chronograph watch, but rather a time-only watch with a date function. It is powered by the Seiko 7S26 automatic movement, which does not have chronograph features.
Chronograph watches require specific parts and components that are designed to work together to enable the timing functions of the watch, such as the movement, chronograph hands, pushers, and subdials. These parts are not interchangeable with those used in time-only watches like the SKX007.
Not all hope is lost, as there are niche sellers on markets like Ebay that actually offer cases and other parts that are compatible with the chronograph movements noted above. If more and more people develop an interest in building their own chronograph watch, it is entirely possible that independent retailers like namokiMODS will also release compatible parts.
Building a chronograph watch from scratch can be a challenging and complex project that requires a high degree of skill and experience. If you are new to watchmaking or modding, it may be best to start with a simpler project and work your way up to more complex builds as you gain more experience and confidence.
If you need watch mod parts, namokiMODS is at your service. We have a huge selection of watch spare parts for the famous SKX007, SKX013, as well as the more recent Seiko 5 series of watches. Check out our extensive online catalog for more!