What makes a better chronograph movement?
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  1. #1
    Member wuyeah's Avatar
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    What makes a better chronograph movement?

    I was never interested in chronograph watches until recently when I set my eyes on Zenith. I have done a little research and of course Rolex Zenith came up. I am not really interest in answers like "Rolex Dayton" is better or "Zenith El Primero" is better. I am more curious in, what makes a "better" chronograph. Obviously Breitling Navitimer 01 is an in house chronograph, Omega has Mechanical Speedmaster chronograph, Tag Heuer makes chronograph....many other chronograph. What make a chronograph movement better than the other? is it on Accuracy? pieces of jewels? number of gears? smoothness? So far i only know it definitely has to be in-house.

    Thanks,

    W.
    Last edited by wuyeah; November 23rd, 2011 at 05:50.

  2. #2
    Member wuyeah's Avatar
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    Re: What makes a better chronograph movement?

    I did get some helpful answer from Dave Knoll. Not sure if he also is a WUS member but thanks for knowledge. Here I'll share to whoever interested.

    Rolex movement VS Zenith movement?

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    Member Sodiac's Avatar
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    Re: What makes a better chronograph movement?

    Thinner also seems to equate with 'better' or 'more expensive'. some of the basic 7750's are pretty thick around the middle; I was just looking at a Hamilton Maestro, a nice-looking watch but at 45 mm by 15-16 mm or so thick, too big even for me. It seems that some of the high-zoot chronos are slimmer?

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  5. #4
    lvt
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    Re: What makes a better chronograph movement?

    El Pimero and Grand Seiko are the best chronograph movements (at least for what most of consumers could buy without going bankrupt or becoming criminal).
    Last edited by lvt; November 23rd, 2011 at 03:54.
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    Member Gary123's Avatar
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    Re: What makes a better chronograph movement?

    Here is some reading: https://forums.watchuseek.com/f2/colu...ph-239859.html
    and some more: Those Wonderful Piguet Chronographs - Part 1 - TimeZone

    There are numerous performance issues inherent in a chronograph design. The more of these you overcome, the more expensive the movement. The second hand jumping when actuated is a common problem in lower tier mechanical movements. A basic competent movement such as a 7750, is a cam actuated movement and would cost around $400 for the movement. It is nothing fancy, but does offer the best price for accuracy and the ability to modify the movement. Column wheel is the preferred design, but is more costly to manufacture. Many regard the Frederic Piguet as the finest chronograph movement to date (Rolex virtually copied it for their Daytona) and this movement alone would cost about $4,000.

    If you are not an horological aficionado or a lover of fine mechanics, it may not be worth buying into a finer chronograph. The Zenith El Primero chronograph movement has been called "the finest mass produced chronograph movement" and may be the best intersection of price and fine machinery. It is a column wheel design. The finest movements, like the F. Piguet or the modular unit used in Audemars lineup, have a wonderful "feel" to them - not too much pressure required, and very crisp and clean clicks. I have one of each, at least at the moment, and can attest. Some of my 7750's can take a bit of force to get them going, and the click is very imprecise, muddy, like several small clicks rolled into one. Some feel like I break glass when I start the movement. I described this to a friend of mine wearing a $10,000 chronograph and he said he never notices such things.
    Last edited by Gary123; November 23rd, 2011 at 04:55.
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  7. #6
    Member lysanderxiii's Avatar
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    Re: What makes a better chronograph movement?

    A jumping second hand on the start of the chronograph is indicative of the movement being in poor adjustment. It can be fixed with a slight twist of an eccentric screw.

    Even a Zenith can exhibit this phenomenon if poorly handled during service......
    Last edited by lysanderxiii; November 23rd, 2011 at 05:09.
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    Member Ray916MN's Avatar
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    Re: What makes a better chronograph movement?

    Chronographs or any "complications" for that matter can be compared based on all sorts of qualities.

    Size. Watches inherently are about size. Celestial clocks and clocks capable of incredible accuracy (eg atomic clocks) have long existed, but watches are about making time keepers that fit on a wrist. Integrated chronograph movements are the most compact and are the product of watch companies producing movements specifically designed to be chronographs. Modular movements tend to be larger and are the product of watch companies adding modules on to a 3 hand movement to support the timing features of a chronograph.

    Power reserve. Watches require energy to run, and given size limitations, complications not only have to be compact, they have to be energy efficient so a watch can tolerate low activity levels or not being worn continuously or every day.

    Feel. These are fine mechanical devices and the feel of the crown during winding or setting or the feel of the pushers when working the timing section of a chronograph matter. Different movements have different feels. Some, for example the Breitling B01 and Piaget 880P require noticeably higher amounts of pressure on the pushers to work. Others like the 7750 offer lighter pressures, but the action isn't as definite as the action of a Lemania 5100 or Piguet 1185.

    Precision. There are different way to start and stop timing Generally column wheel control and vertical clutch are the most positive and precise ways to control chronograph timing. Timing interval is another characteristic of precision. The beat frequency of a watch's movement determines the minimum interval a watch can time. The Zenith El Primero can time intervals as short as 1/10 of a second. The Valjoux 7750 with a beat frequency of 28800 bph can time intervals as short as 1/8 of a second, while the Piguet 1185 with a beat frequency of 21600 bph can time intervals as short as 1/6 of a second. Innovations in materials has enabled Breguet 589F to operate at 72000 bph and time in 1/20th of a second intervals.

    Robustness. All of this fine timing is great, but complication without robustness equals fragility. The shock testing required for NASA certification of chronographs for space flight presented a significant challenge to the chronographs available at the time. The reliability and robustness of different movements is also important. Design features like vertical clutches and column wheel control as well as integrated construction are generally considered to be capable of handling more use cycles. Things like fewer moving parts, and plastic in the Lemania 5100 movement were considered to make the movement more resistant to shock, which has made this a chronograph movement of choice for military use.

    Of course, much of the preceding is subjective, so in the end what makes one movement better than others is as with all multifaceted things, a matter of opinion.
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  9. #8
    Member Tragic's Avatar
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    Re: What makes a better chronograph movement?

    A 7750 has always been good enough for me.
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  10. #9
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    Re: What makes a better chronograph movement?

    From the first linked thread:

    Quote Originally Posted by lysanderxiii View Post
    There are actually, three types of chronograph:
    1) column wheel
    2) lever actuated
    3) cam actuated

    The Seagull ST19 series, on the lower price end and the El Primero on the high end are column wheel designs.

    The Heuer 11, Landeron 48 and its sisters, are examples of lever actuated designs.

    The ETA/Valjoux 7750 series and the Lemania 5100 are cam actuated.

    As stated above, the
    Quote Originally Posted by lysanderxiii View Post
    castellated (column) wheel controls the movement by openning and closing gates to allow fingers to drop in a nd be forced out. A cam operated movement operates the same way, except that the controller is not a wheel that rotates 360 degrees as on the column wheel, but a cam that switches between two positions.

    Lever actuated rely solely on various levers to operated the chronograph. Careful arrangement of these levers prevents inadverent simultaneous operations.


    I'm not so sure about the 5100 being cam actuated; you could say either, (column or cam), at a push but as per the definition: "A cam operated movement operates the same way, except the controller is not a wheel that rotates 360 degrees as in the column wheel, but a cam which switches between two positions", it isn't technically speaking a cam operated movement. Neither is it a column wheel in the accepted guise, and it's definitely not lever actuated...so what is it?

    If you have a look here, you'll see that it's a 'cam wheel' as I call it, or 'rotary cam' as per the movement technical description.

    (At 11 o'clock as you look at it)
    Name:  mv51005.jpg
Views: 605
Size:  44.6 KB
    (JM/Lesmala.net)


    It follows the description of the column wheel better than the description of a cam, although in effect it is a cam...but then so to is the column wheel in an engineering sense... ;)

    I think of it as a cleverly designed way to get the column wheel functionality in combination with the ease of manufacture and commensurate cheapness - primary features when the 5100 was designed - of a cam actuated movement. Clever Mr Piguet/Baumgartner...


    Quote Originally Posted by Ray916MN View Post
    Things like fewer moving parts, and plastic in the Lemania 5100 movement were considered to make the movement more resistant to shock, which has made this a chronograph movement of choice for military use.


    Again, only a small point, first the plastic: "The ‘plastic bits’ are actually Delrin™, this was chosen as it self-lubricates, (as it’s a plastic – well, a DuPont acetal polyoxymethylene resin designed for strength, light weight and self-lubrication), and is used for day/date wheels and the day change cam amongst other things, these are areas where wear is low anyway, so Delrin™ was the functional, deliberate material of choice rather than being just a cost-cutting shortcut. (Incidentally, the 7750 uses some plastic too, but again, in a deliberate way, even more incidentally, a lot of the cheap Chinese 7750 fakes use metal parts instead!). "

    Secondly the resistance to shock is more specifically the resistance to 'shock ('g' load) that can stop a normal chrono hand; whereas a 5100 features directly driven chrono hand(s), so therefore more resistant to shock - although the fewer parts/rustic construction and other features certainly all add up to a very hardy chrono movement.

    Otherwise, completely agree Ray.
    Last edited by andy_s; November 23rd, 2011 at 19:51.
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  11. #10
    Member Chronopolis's Avatar
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    Re: What makes a better chronograph movement?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tragic View Post
    A 7750 has always been good enough for me.
    +1

    I imagine that when it first came out, people poo'd their pants with delight, being one of the very few to even know of it existence.
    Just goes to show ya: make something perfect, then make it available to everyone, people will start to pay outrageous sums of money to just to get away from being "common".
    Sean779 likes this.
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