Analog Vs Chronograph Watches: What’s The Difference?

In this article, we will explore the differences between analog Vs chronograph watches. This subject is one of those topics that can cause a bit of confusion to people not familiar with the different types of terminology surrounding watches.

So, what is exactly is an analog watch, and what is a chronograph watch anyway? To start off, we will provide the simplest explanation of each, and what we mean when we are talking about “analog”, and “chronograph” watches.

analog watch

An analog watch is a watch with a non-digital display. This usually refers to watches that possess a dial that displays numbers, and also has an hour, minute, and seconds hand. This has been historically the most common type of watch. Even these days, most of the high end, luxury watches will have analog displays.

chronograph watch

A chronograph is a type of analog watch that can function as a stopwatch. Chronograph watches are easily identified by the presence of sub dials (usually 3). These sub dials represent the seconds, minutes, and hours. The difference between these sub dials, and the regular seconds, minute, and hour hands, is that the sub dials apply to the stopwatch function only.

So, as you can see here a chronograph is actually a type of analog watch. Therefore, the difference between an analog vs a chronograph is simply in the way in which the watch functions. We will get more into that topic later. Now that we know that a chronograph is an analog watch that can function as a stopwatch, let’s look at what chronographs are actually used for.

What Are Chronographs For?

analog vs chronograph uses

A chronograph is basically a stopwatch, so why even use one at all, especially considering digital watches have that same functionality, only with an easier interface.

Well, originally, when chronograph watches first debuted, they were used to track time in automobile races. These days, however, chronographs are worn either for the style, or an appreciation of the mechanism itself.

Digital watches are a lot more practical for these types of features, as they are simple, easy to use, and require much less maintenance over time. But we’re here to talk about chronographs!

Now with that out of the way, let’s get back to the topic. A chronograph is an analog watch, however, there are actually a couple of different types of analog watches. This is the next thing that we’ll be discussing.

Types Of Analog Watches

Analog watches come in two main types. These are quartz, and mechanical. Each one has their pros and cons. Let me explain those in a bit more detail.


analog vs chronograph mechanical

A mechanical watch does not need to use batteries. Instead, a mechanical watch is powered by something called a mainspring. It is basically what it sounds like. This is a spring inside of the watch which must be wound up. Once this mainspring is wound, it is the slow unwinding of this spring that powers the gears and mechanisms on the inside of the watch.

Mechanical watches come in two types: manual, and automatic. A manual mechanical watch has to be manually wound, usually, by winding up the crown of the watch.

An automatic mechanical watch, on the other hand, doesn’t need to be manually wound. Instead, it is wound by the natural movements of a person’s arm while wearing it. This is by way of a weighted rotor inside of the watch that rotates as your arm swings, thus winding the watch. Automatic watches can also be manually wound as well, if necessary.

The cool thing about mechanical watches is that they can last for a very long time as long as they are properly maintained.


analog vs chronograph quartz

As indicated by the name, a quartz watch is powered by a quartz crystal. The way this works is by means of vibration. Quartz watches are powered by batteries. It is actually this battery that provides the current needed to cause the quartz crystal to vibrate.

From here, there is a circuit inside of the watch that receives power from the battery. The circuit then sends this energy into the quartz crystal, that then causes it to vibrate. This vibration then powers the mechanisms within the watch.

A benefit to quartz watches is that they are easier to maintain as there are fewer moving parts. This also helps with impact resistance as there are less components that can be damaged.

Now that we know about the two different types of analog watches, the next question would be, “Is a chronograph quartz or automatic?”

Is A Chronograph Quartz or Mechanical?

So then where does a chronograph watch fall between quartz and mechanical? Is it one or the other? This question has an interesting answer. A chronograph can be quartz, mechanical, or in some cases, both! So, yes chronographs can be mechanical, or quartz. Most commonly, however, chronographs will be quartz. And then, of course, there is the case of a chronograph being both a quartz, and mechanical watch at the same time! This type is known as a meca-quartz watch.

The Meca-Quartz Chronograph

A meca-quartz combines properties of both mechanical, and quartz watches. meca-quartz chronographs do run off of a battery. The difference is that they use 2 separate motors. Here, the normal watch functions that control the seconds, minute, and hour hands are controlled by quartz movement. The chronograph sub-dials, on the other hand, are controlled by mechanical movement.

Seiko was the company that first introduced the concept of the meca-quartz. This was in 1982, with the release of their Caliber7A28. After that, other companies started producing meca-quartz watches, but this type of watch never truly gained momentum. While these types of watches are still being produced today, they are seen as something more of a novelty than anything.

Wrapping Things Up

We have thoroughly covered the topic of analog vs chronograph watches. Hopefully this article has cleared up some of the confusion surrounding this topic.

I hope that you enjoyed this article and found it to be helpful. If you want to learn more interesting facts about watches, you can feel free to check out more of our info articles. Those can be found here

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