Different Types of Chronographs Explained

Chronographs are a fascinating and versatile complication found in watches. C’Q, in the video “Different Types of Chronographs Explained,” explores various types of chronograph complications, delving into their history and discussing situations where a chronograph might be necessary. From the monopusher to the flyback chronograph, there are different functionalities to suit different needs. Understanding the intricacies of chronographs can enhance your experience of using them. So, take a moment to watch the video and discover how these timepieces can be even more useful than you may have realized.

In the video, C’Q explains that the term “chronograph” comes from the combination of “chrono” for time and “graph” for measure. Essentially, chronographs are just stopwatches that can measure time intervals ranging from 60 seconds to 12 hours. Initially, chronographs had only one button known as the monopusher, but advancements led to the introduction of two-button chronographs. Each type of chronograph has its own unique features and functions, with complications like the split-second chronograph and flyback chronograph enabling the measurement of multiple events simultaneously or a swift reset process. Delve into the world of chronographs and uncover the multitude of possibilities they offer.

Types of Chronographs

Chronographs are an interesting and useful yet polarizing complication in watches. They are designed to measure time and come in different types with various functions and features. In this article, we will explore the different types of chronographs and their unique characteristics. So, whether you’re a watch enthusiast or just curious about these timekeeping devices, read on to learn more!

Mono Pusher Chronograph


A mono pusher chronograph is a type of chronograph that has a single button to start, stop, and reset the timing function. This type of chronograph was one of the earliest versions and was commonly used in the past.


The function of a mono pusher chronograph is simple and straightforward. By pressing the single button, the user can start the timing function. Pressing it again will stop the timer, and pressing it once more will reset it back to zero.


However, mono pusher chronographs have a limitation – they cannot stop and restart at the same time. So, if you want to keep track of consecutive timing sessions without resetting, a mono pusher chronograph may not be suitable.

Two-Button Chronograph


The two-button chronograph, also known as a double pusher chronograph, is a type of chronograph that consists of two buttons – one at the top and one at the bottom.


The top button of a two-button chronograph is used to start and stop the timing function, while the bottom button is used to reset it. This design allows for more flexibility in timing sessions, as the user can stop and restart the timer without having to reset it completely.


The main advantage of a two-button chronograph is its ability to pause and resume timing sessions. This makes it more convenient for timing events that require breaks or interruptions, such as races or sports activities.

Three Subdial Chronograph


A three subdial chronograph is a type of chronograph that features three smaller dials or subdials on the main dial of the watch.


The three subdials in a chronograph serve different purposes. The first subdial, often located at the 9 o’clock position, measures seconds. The second subdial, usually at the 3 o’clock position, measures minutes. And the third subdial, typically at the 6 o’clock position, measures hours.

Subdial Breakdown

Each subdial operates independently, allowing for precise tracking of time intervals. This feature is especially useful for timing events that span different durations, such as races or intervals during a workout.

Layout Variation

The layout of the three subdial chronograph can vary from watch to watch, depending on the brand and model. Some watches may have additional subdials for other functions, such as measuring the date or moon phase. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the layout of the subdials to fully understand the chronograph’s capabilities.

Split Second Chronograph


A split-second chronograph, also known as a rattrapante chronograph, is a type of chronograph that allows for the timing of two separate events simultaneously.


When timing two events with a split-second chronograph, the user starts the chronograph with the top button. As the events progress, the user can press the split button, which stops one of the seconds hands while allowing the other to continue. This feature enables the user to time two events with a single watch and obtain two separate results.

Application in Timing Two Events

The split-second chronograph is advantageous in situations where precise timing of multiple events is necessary. It is commonly used in sports competitions, such as track and field events, to accurately record the finishing times of multiple participants.

Flyback Chronograph


A flyback chronograph is a type of chronograph that allows for quick and seamless timing of multiple laps or intervals without needing to stop, reset, and restart the timer.


In a flyback chronograph, the user can simply press the flyback button to reset the timer to zero and immediately start a new timing session. This eliminates the need to go through the usual process of stopping, resetting, and then restarting the timer.

Application in Timing Multiple Laps

The flyback chronograph is commonly used in sports activities that involve multiple laps or intervals, such as swimming or racing. It allows for efficient and accurate timing without interrupting the flow of the activity.

Rattrapante Chronograph


A rattrapante chronograph, also known as a split-seconds chronograph, is a type of chronograph that can time two events simultaneously, similar to a split-second chronograph.


The rattrapante chronograph operates by using an additional seconds hand, known as the split-seconds hand, that can be stopped independently while the main seconds hand continues to run. This feature allows for the timing of two events concurrently and provides separate results for each event.

Difference with Flyback Chronograph

While the flyback chronograph allows for quick resetting and starting of the timer, the rattrapante chronograph focuses on timing two separate events simultaneously. The two types of chronographs have different applications and functions, depending on the specific timing needs.

Other Variations

Aside from the aforementioned types of chronographs, there are other variations that incorporate additional complications or integrate with other functions in a watch.

Chronographs with Additional Complications

Some chronographs may have additional complications, such as moon phase displays, calendars, or even minute repeaters. These additional features add complexity to the watch and provide additional functionality beyond basic timing.

Integration with Other Functions

Chronographs can also be integrated into watches with other functions, such as dive watches or pilot watches. This integration allows for enhanced timekeeping capabilities tailored to specific activities or professions.

Chronographs as Complications

Chronographs are often considered complications in watchmaking. They are integrated into watches to add functionality and enhance the timekeeping capabilities of the timepiece.

Incorporation into Watches

Watchmakers carefully design and incorporate chronographs into watches, taking into account the movement, layout, and aesthetics. The chronograph mechanism is synchronized with the watch’s other functions, ensuring precision and accuracy in timekeeping.

Examples of Chronograph Complications

Some notable examples of watches with chronograph complications include the a Lange & Söhne Triple Split Chronograph, which can measure not only seconds and minutes but also hours. Another example is the Breitling Navitimer, a famous pilot’s watch that features a chronograph function. These watches showcase the complexity and versatility of chronographs as complications.


In conclusion, chronographs are versatile and useful complications in the world of watches. From the early mono pusher chronographs to the modern variations, such as the two-button, three subdial, split-second, flyback, and rattrapante chronographs, each type offers unique features and functions. Whether you’re timing a race, multiple laps, or simply using the chronograph as a stopwatch, understanding the various types of chronographs and their applications can enhance your appreciation of these timekeeping devices. So, the next time you come across a chronograph watch, take a moment to appreciate its intricate design and the precision it offers in measuring time.