vintage Seiko Flightmaster Chronograph

What is a Chronometer – Updated Guide 2024

If you are looking for information on What is a Chronometer then this updated 2024 article is for you.

All watches aren’t created equal; this explains why the watch industry features myriads of bizarre names.

Speaking about names, the watch industry has seen quite a couple of iconic names.

A stopwatch isn’t just a stopwatch but also a chronograph.

A watch that is great at its job is a chronometer.

So yes, the watch industry has seen its fair share of dramatic names.

That said, we want to delve deeper into chronometers, precisely what it is and why it is so popular, especially among collectors.

What is a chronometer watch?

The watch industry has many complicated jargons that can be tough to understand, especially for newbies.

Sure, the word chronometer may sound like a handful for some people, but let us tell you right from the get-go that it is just a fancy name used to describe a super accurate watch.

A dial back to history shows that the word chronometer was first used in the early eighteenth century.

This coincided with the launch of a vacuum-sealed clock built by English clockmaker Jeremy Thacker.

Because his clock had no air resistance, it was super accurate.

Looking at the performance of his clock, Thacker called it a chronometer.

Several decades later, the word was used to describe marine chronometers.

These clocks were suspended in gyroscopic boxes.

They became an incredible tool for sailors as they helped them determine longitude as they travel the length and breadth of the world’s oceans.

Today, chronometers have become commonplace in the watch industry as more watch enthusiasts crave watches with impeccable precision.

What criteria must a watch pass to be called a chronometer?

If you know anything about the Swiss watch industry, you’ll know that it is closely guarded, so the word chronometer is only ascribed to deserving watches.

For a watch to carry the chronometer tag on its dial, it must be certified by the contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres (COSC).

For those who have no idea, the COSC is a watch testing institute.

Thanks to their incredible years of experience, these guys are responsible for subjecting watch movements to multiple tests to gauge their performance.

For your watch to get the chronometer tag, it has to be put through five different orientations as well as three different temperatures to test its precision under different conditions.

To pass this test, a watch has to have a variation of not more than -4 or +6 seconds per day.

And just so you know how difficult it is to pass the chronometer test, only 3 percent of watches built in Switzerland successfully pass the COSC certification.

Let us also add that some watches, even though they are precise, aren’t submitted for testing.

Factors that can make watches pass COSC certification

Many factors can either contribute to watches passing COSC certification or failing it.

That said, two factors must be present for any watch submitted to the COSC to qualify as a chronometer, and they include quality control and premium quality materials.

Quality metal alloys like silicium which are used in high-end watches are less susceptible to expanding when subjected to unusual temperature changes.

More so, these materials aren’t easily degraded by friction.

Again, even if your watches are built using premium materials, they need to be assembled with utmost care for them to function at their very best.

A watchmaker who is serious about getting the chronometer tag has to ensure that his watches have well-oiled pinions.

Also, gears need to be precisely cut while ensuring that everything is correctly assembled and tightened.

Top chronometer watches on the market.

If you love chronometers and looking for one that suits your personality, we are sure you’ll find one of these chronometers worth checking out.

Tissot Le Locle

You don’t have to dig too deep into your savings to get a decent and reliable chronometer.

These days, brands like Tissot have built great chronometers that don’t cost a fortune.

An example is the Tissot Le Locle that cost $1,295.

If you know the price of some high-end chronometers, you’ll agree that the Tissot Le Locle is fairly priced.

And just so you know, the souped-up automatic movement fitted in the Tissot Le Locle won the national chronometer competition in 2012 when the watch first launched.

Ball trainmaster standard time

Marine chronometers were super important to sea exploration.

Also, accurate pocket watches helped to improve the railroad industry in the US.

In terms of accuracy, Ball has been a household name in the watch industry.

While they were incredibly popular in the 1800s, they have continued to build watches in their original style.

The Trainmaster Standard Time is one of the finest chronometers to ever grace the watch industry.

While it features an enamel dial and bright luminous markers along with a gas-filled tube, let us tell you right away that this watch doesn’t come cheap as it starts at $7,669.

Bremont MBIII

While this British brand may not submit its watches to Swiss chronometer regulations, most of the watches in their lineup are fully certified by COSC.

The MBIII is one of the first watches under the Bremont brand.

A famous fighter-jet ejection inspired this watch.

The unique thing about this watch is that it features a second time zone on its dial.

Also, we like that it is easy to read and almost indestructible.

Like many chronometers, this watch is quite expensive and starts from $6.395.

Frequently asked questions

Are chronometers still used today?

Thanks to advancements in technology, marine chronometers are no longer used for navigation at sea.

Nevertheless, they are still considered as backup, especially since radio systems can fail in the middle of nowhere.

How accurate is a chronometer?

Chronometers are considered the most accurate watches out there.

Thanks to fine engineering and quality materials, chronometers can achieve a precision of 0.1 seconds per day.

Why are chronometers so expensive?

Given the impeccable engineering, quality materials, and rigorous tests watches have to go through before they are certified to carry the chronometer tag, it’s easy to see why these watches cost a fortune.


When it comes to accuracy, chronometers are in the league of their own.

And given the rigorous test watches have to go through before they wear the chronometer tag, you can understand why only a few brands are able to achieve this fit.

For people who are psyched about watch accuracy, going for a chronometer wouldn’t be such a bad choice.