Chronograph

Watch able to indicate a length of time that has elapsed.

1820, CHRONOMETERS WITH DOUBLE OBSERVATION SECONDS

A watch that both measures and displays elapsed times and shows conventional time. The chronograph mechanism, driven by the movement of the watch, controls a centre seconds hand that can be started and stopped to time an event. A subsidiary dial records the elapsed minutes. Two pushpieces in the caseband serve to operate and return the chronograph to zero.

With his "chronomètre à doubles secondes, dit d'observation", developed in 1820, which permitted the measurement of intermediate periods or of the length of time taken by two separate and simultaneous events, Breguet anticipated the modern chronograph. In 1822, moreover, he sold his first inking, or “Fatton”, chronographs, the fruit of a joint venture with the watchmaker Fatton, one of his most gifted pupils. This instrument was equipped with a seconds hand which deposited, as required, a minuscule drop of ink on the dial, thus literally marking out a length of time. The system was to be brought to perfection by Louis-Clément Breguet, who confirmed to the Academy of Sciences in 1850 that the idea for an inking chronograph belonged originally to his grandfather and not to the Parisian watchmaker Rieussec, who had patented a very similar system some thirty years before, in 1821.

CALIBER 2320, A CHRONOGRAPH LEGEND

Breguet’s manual wind chronograph movement, the Caliber 2320 or 533.3, as it is known to the public, dates from the 1940s. The caliber, which debuted under the designation CH 27, was conceived by head movement designer Albert Piguet at Lémania, who practiced his art in the Vallée de Joux. Initially sold without elaborate finishing embellishments, it quickly acquired its reputation thanks to its reliability and performance.

The development of a chronograph movement from scratch is a daunting undertaking. For the haut de gamme watchmakers seeking to introduce a sophisticated chronograph, there was a decision to be made: utilize the CH 27 which was fully refined and perfected or undertake the forbidding task of trying to develop a movement that could match its performance.

The path was evident and the CH 27 evolved into a highly finished version, renamed the 2310, which for decades enjoyed widespread adoption and recognition as the movement of choice for the finest chronographs offered by the top Swiss brands. In a word, it became a watchmaking landmark. Throughout a substantial period of its history, the movement has run at a frequency of 18,000 beats per hour. A greater precision was achieved by increasing the beat rate to 21,600 per hour, that is 3 Hz.

Today, Breguet makes the world’s smallest column wheel, self-winding chronograph movement with date and small seconds. Measuring 10½ lines and 6 millimeters in height, it is a masterpiece of technicality and elegance for demanding ladies.

Gentlemen are not left out in the cold when it comes to world firsts: the Marine Tourbillon Chronograph, the first tourbillon movement equipped with a silicon escapement (spiral, lever, escape wheel). A column wheel also controls the chronograph functions of this masterpiece, which perpetuates the prestigious titles of Member of the Board of Longitudes and Horologer to the French Royal Navy (appointed by Louis XVIII in 1815), synonymous with exceptional scientific competencies.

Models with this invention

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