Updated July 2022

For new and seasoned watch enthusiasts alike, mastering the myriad of terms specific to timekeeping can seem challenging. However, a basic understanding of various features and functions is invaluable for any watch collector. In this article, we’ll be discussing tachymeters. You’ll learn what tachymeters are, how to use them, and what types of watches usually have tachymeters. We’ll also cover why you might want to consider adding a tachymeter-equipped watch to your collection of watches.

What is a Tachymeter?

A tachymeter is a specialized watch feature that relies on a scale inscribed around the outside rim of a watch, either as part of the rotating bezel or fixed on the watch case. A tachymeter can be used to calculate speed based on travel time or to measure distance relative to speed. One of the biggest benefits of using a tachymeter is that its functionality is independent of any unit of distance, so long as you stick to the same unit of length for your calculations. In simpler terms, a tachymeter can be used for calculating miles, kilometers, meters, or other units per hour. It can also measure the frequency of a regularly occurring event in occurrences per hour. Essentially, a tachymeter is a tool that allows the watch wearer to convert elapsed time (seconds per unit) to speed/rate (units per hour).

What Types of Watches Have Tachymeters?

Tachymeters are primarily found on racing watches, a style well-known for its sleek, attractive appearance and valued role in the world of competitive driving. However, even if you aren’t planning to find yourself on a racetrack anytime soon, you can still find many uses for a racing watch’s tachymeter and chronometer. In general, chronograph watches will always include a tachymeter, particularly watches produced by luxury brands such as Rolex or Omega.

How to Use Tachymeter Measurements

In order to learn how to use a tachymeter on a watch, there are four key steps you will need to understand.

Step One: Know the Formula

Basic math is an essential component of utilizing a tachymeter. There are 3,600 seconds in one hour. Therefore, the formula used to calculate speed based on the tachymeter’s reading will be T=3600/t. In this formula, T is the measurement of your tachymeter scale, and t is the time that has passed as displayed on your chronograph. Using this formula, you are able to calculate the average speed over a specific distance. Elapsed time will be divided by the number of seconds in an hour. Based on these calculations, you can figure out how fast you are traveling by starting your chronograph when you are at your initial “starting line” (Point A) and stopping it at the “finish line” (Point B). When you stop it, the number on the chronograph equates to the number of seconds it took you to get from Point A to Point B. Then, the number displayed on the tachymeter is your speed (in MPH).

Step Two: Does Your Watch Have a Tachymeter?

Not every watch has a tachymeter. Usually, a tachymeter will be clearly labeled on a watch. If it is not, you can check to see if the watch’s bezel rotates. If it does, it is unlikely that it has a tachymeter (though it is possible for a select few models). Usually, a rotating bezel with a numeric complication is a tool other than a tachymeter.

Step Three: Know the Distance Between Two Points

You will also need to know the exact amount of ground you (or the object you are tracking) will cover within the fixed period of time so that you can get an accurate measurement using your tachymeter. Select a Point A and Point B (referenced above), then measure the distance between points.

Step Four: Know How to Read Your Chronometer

If you are using a chronograph watch featuring a tachymeter, you first need to be familiar with how a chronometer works. The chronometer serves as the stopwatch, equipped with a start and stop hand for tracking elapsed time. Chronograph watches have a third hand (in addition to the standard minute and hour hands), which will spin when the chronometer is activated by the wearer. A chronometer’s numbers measured seconds, but a tachymeter’s units correspond to speed traveled (MPH). So, you’ll need your chronometer in order to read the tachymeter. Familiarize yourself with the chronograph’s stopwatch function, and you will be better equipped to use it for reading the tachymeter. Together, these two watch complications allow you to track speed over a specific distance.

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A watch with a tachymeter can prove helpful in a broad range of applications, even in everyday life when you least expect it. Regardless of the specific features you seek, investing in a high-quality watch is a decision you won’t regret. Explore the full selection of luxury watches curated by Serket Watch Company to discover your newest favorite today. A tachymeter scale typically starts at the 7 second mark at 500 units of speed but some models can be found starting at 6 seconds and 600 units or 9 seconds at 400 units. The tachymeter scale can also be found on either the bezel or as an internal scale around the outside of the dial. Mathematically speaking, the equation to calculate is T=3600/t (who said we would never need to use algebra again!). The “T” is the tachymeter scale value, “t” is the elapsed time and 3600 is the number of seconds in an hour. Depending on what you are measuring there may be more math involved in calculating the speed. To measure speed, you’ll want to first designate your measurement whether it is miles or kilometers. After you designate the measurement, you’ll also want to make sure that you have an accurate representation, such as the distance between two mile markers while you’re riding down the highway. In the following example, we are using a distance of 1 mile between two points.

  • Start the chronograph when you pass the first marker
  • Stop the chronograph when you pass the second maker
  • The seconds hand traveled around the dial to :45
  • On the outer point of the dial or on the bezel, this lines up with 80
  • This means that we were traveling at a speed of 80 miles per hour

We can also use our algebra equation and calculate the same answer: 3600/45=80.
You can also use the same principle to determine how much work can be completed in one hour. If it takes 20 seconds to chop an apple, you can chop about 180 apples in one hour. This is because the tachymeter reading is 180, 3600/20=180. Now, to make things difficult, you can still measure something even if it’s over 60 seconds. Lets say it takes us 100 seconds to box up a watch to ship. This is the same as saying that it takes us 50 seconds to box up 1/2 of a watch. This 50 seconds is still within the normal valid range of the tachymeter scale. As a result, you can calculate that 72 half boxes can be completed in one hour based off of where the 50 second mark lines up on the scale, or 36 full boxes per hour. Remember 3600/50=72 and 72/2=36. If we haven’t overwhelmed you with math just yet, you can also use the tachymeter to measure distance. First, you’ll need to know how fast you’re going, then you can calculate your distance in a similar fashion. Using our speed from above, we can determine that after starting the chronograph when the seconds hand passes the 80 mark on the scale, we know we’ve traveled one mile. This is useful if you no longer have mile markers or another way to measure distance but you know your speed. This calculation only works if you’re traveling at speeds over 60 regardless of your unit of measurement, due to the scale ending at 60. If you know you’re traveling at a lower speed, you’ll want to multiply the speed by 2. Once you reach that speed on the tachymeter scale, you divide the distance by the original multiplying factor. This means, if you’re traveling at 50 miles per hour, you multiply by 2 giving you 100 miles per hour. After starting the tachymeter and having it reach 100 on the scale, you divide the end distance of 1 mile by 2, giving you a distance of .5 miles traveled. Regardless of how you’re measuring distance, your speed will need to stay a constant. Tachymeters are useful to measure both speed and distance. They get easier to use with more practice, so don’t let a little math get in the way of using this function on your watch. The tachymeter scale isn’t just a random set of numbers engraved on the bezel or outer ring of the dial. We hope that you’ve learned how to use the tachymeter correctly and can start using it even if you’re not into racing! Have something other than a tachymeter scale on the outside of your watch? Read our guide on different types of bezels! TrueFacet Holiday Shops Sale A tachymeter scale is a very complicated-looking ring of numbers (from 700 to usually 60) that runs along your chronograph watch’s bezel. Besides its complex appearance, the tachymeter bezel serves a very helpful purpose and converts elapsed time (in seconds) to speed (in units per hour). So a tachymeter can tell you how fast a car, a plane, or even a runner is traveling over a fixed distance. What’s unique—and perhaps a little mind-bending—about a tachymeter is that it functions independent of a specific unit of distance (think miles, kilometers, etc.), so long as that same unit is used in all your calculations. So a 120 reading on the tachymeter scale can mean 120 miles per hour or 120 kilometers per hour. Here, we break down how to read and use your tachymeter bezel to calculate speed. The Difference Between a Chronograph and a Tachymeter One common point of confusion is considering a chronograph interchangeable with a tachymeter. These two functions are, in fact, different. Similar to how all squares are rectangles but not all rectangles are squares, all watches with tachymeters have chronograph functions, but not all chronographs include a tachymeter. A chronograph is, simply put, a stopwatch. A tachymeter, meanwhile, measures speed. How to Read a Fixed Tachymeter Bezel A tachymeter bezel is used to calculate speed or, in other words, measure elapsed time over a fixed distance. As daunting as the bezel looks, it’s incredibly easy—and surprisingly intuitive—to read a tachymeter scale rating. To use a tachymeter bezel, press the chronograph pusher to start the stopwatch. Once the object (for instance, a car driving one mile) passes the finish line, press the pusher again to stop the stopwatch. Then reference the tachymeter scale marker adjacent to the second hand; this figure tells you the speed of the car. So, if a car travels one mile in 40 seconds, the tachymeter scale reading will be 90 for a speed of 90 miles per hour. Calculating Slower Speeds The above example is a very straightforward way to measure speed. But, what if you’re measuring the speed of a runner? A tachymeter bezel can only be used to time an object traveling for less than 60 seconds. So, to determine a jogger’s speed, you’ll need to do some simple math. The tachymeter’s calculations rely on a fixed distance, so you’ll need a shorter distance that a runner can reach in under 60 seconds. In this example, we’ll use 200 meters as our fixed distance. Using your tachymeter as outlined above, you time the runner as traveling the 200 meters in 20 seconds. Your tachymeter will read that the runner was sprinting at an impossible 180 kilometers per hour. So, to get the actual speed, you have to do some simple calculations; knowing that 200 meters is 1/5th of a kilometer, you’ll divide 180 by 5 (since the runner traveled one-fifth of a kilometer) and your runner’s speed was 36 kilometers per hour. Calculating High Speeds On the flip side, what if you’re measuring the speed of a plane or racecar that will travel more than one mile in 60 seconds? In instances of an object traveling very quickly, you’ll need to extend the fixed distance (say from one mile to ten miles) for an accurate calculation. Let’s say a jet takes 30 seconds to fly 10 miles. Your tachymeter will indicate a speed of 120 miles per hour. But, because the fixed distance is actually 10 miles (or, differently said, 10 times further than one mile), you’ll multiple that tachymeter scale reading by 10 to calculate a speed of 1,200 miles per hour. To learn more about watch complications, check out our post on how to use the chronograph function here.

What Is A Tachymeter?

A tachymeter is a type of watch complication used to measure the speed at which the watch’s wearer travels over a fixed period of time. Tachymeters are typically featured on chronographs, specialized watches that feature multiple stopwatch functions in addition to the traditional watch display. A tachymeter is normally a part of a chronograph’s bezel. The bezel is an added component that orbits the face of your watch. Bezels are used to make different types of measurements, and different watches often include different features on their bezels. Many watch bezels are designed to rotate to make specific measurements and adjustments. For example, many aviation watches feature a dual-time display complication that can be adjusted by rotating the bezel of the watch. However, tachymeters are featured on watches with fixed, non-rotating bezels. Tachymeters can be used to measure the speed a watch’s wearer is traveling at over a specific period of time. Most tachymeters can make measurements over a period of anywhere from seven to 60 seconds. Chronograph watches feature a hand that can be started or stopped to make specific measurements. To use the tachymeter complication on your chronograph, you will line up this hand with a specific point on your tachymeter scale. You can then make some quick calculations using a simple formula to determine your speed over a specific period of time.

Tachymeter Measurements Step One: Know The Formula

Making measurements with your tachymeter relies on some basic math. There are 3600 seconds in an hour, and the formula that you use to calculate speed based on your tachymeter reading is T=3600/t. This formula translates the measurement on your tachymeter scale into speed traveled in units per hour by dividing the number of seconds in an hour by the amount of time elapsed on your chronograph. Knowing this formula means you can calculate your average speed over a certain distance by dividing the amount of time elapsed on your chronograph by the number of seconds in an hour. Based on this formula, you can determine how fast you are traveling from one point to another by starting your chronograph at point A and stopping it at point B. The number on your chronograph is the number of seconds it took to get from point A to point B. The number on your tachymeter is the speed (in miles per hour) you would need to be traveling to reach point B from point A at the speed that you did. That means you now know how fast you were going between point A and point B.

Tachymeter Measurements Step Two: Does Your Watch Have A Tachymeter?

Not all watches, and not even all chronograph watches, include a tachymeter. Tachymeters are often featured on racing watches, whereas the bezel on other specialized types of watches may include another complication. Tachymeters are typically labeled, making them easy to spot. Another easy way to tell whether or not your watch has a tachymeter is to see if the bezel on your watch rotates. Remember, tachymeters are fixed in place – unlike other complications located on the bezel of a watch, they do not rotate. If your watch has a numeric complication on its bezel that rotates, it is likely a tool other than a tachymeter.

Tachymeter Measurements Step Three: Know The Distance Between Two Points

Tachymeter measurements are based on prior knowledge of the amount of ground you are covering in a fixed period of time. To get an accurate measurement of your speed in miles per hour using your tachymeter, you need to know exactly how far you (or the object you are speed-tracking) have traveled. The easiest way to get an accurate tachymeter reading is to look for two points with a distance between them that you know. Thanks to smartphones, you can determine the distance between two points with relative ease using a navigation app. Because tachymeters can measure speed over up to 60 seconds, you can track speed over relatively long distances if you are traveling fast enough. Once you know the distance between points A and B, you are ready to make an accurate tachymeter measurement. All you need now is to start your chronograph at point A and stop it at point B.

Tachymeter Measurements Step Four: Know How To Read Your Chronometer

If you have a chronograph watch with a tachymeter, you need to familiarize yourself with your watch’s chronometer, which plays a key role in tachymeter measurements. Your chronometer serves as the stopwatch function on your watch, with a starting and stopping hand that can be used to track elapsed time. A chronograph has a third hand, which starts spinning when the wearer engages the chronometer using a button on the side of the watch. The numbers on your chronometer correspond to seconds passed. However, the units on your tachymeter correspond to speed traveled in miles per hour based on your chronometer reading. In other words, you need your chronometer to read your tachymeter. Once you are familiar with your chronograph’s stopwatch function, you are ready to use it to read the tachymeter on your watch’s bezel. With these two complications working together, you can track the speed of an object over a certain distance.

What Types Of Watches Have Tachymeters?

The main type of watch that includes a tachymeter is the racing watch. Iconic for its sleek design and its place in the rich history of competitive driving, the racing watch is a perfect timepiece for more than just car enthusiasts. Anyone can make good use of the chronometer and tachymeter included on a racing watch to track speeds and times, and these watches are uniquely stylish. Racing watches are characterized by a few key features. A high-contrast dial is a hallmark of the racing watch design, a must-have feature for drivers traveling at high speeds. Standard watch faces can be difficult to read when moving extremely fast, and the racing watch design has competitive drivers in mind, giving them a highly readable display. The racing watch design also features a stopwatch function, which can correspond with multiple chronometers for measuring times and distances. In addition to the chronometers, a racing watch includes a tachymeter on its bezel. When used with the stopwatch, the tachymeter can come in handy in many contexts at the racetrack, allowing for the tracking of speeds at certain points in a driver’s route. A less common complication featured on some racing watches is a pulsometer. This complication is designed for measuring the pulse of a driver. However, the pulsometer is not considered as much of a staple of the racing watch design as the tachymeter or chronometer.

Why You Should Consider A Racing Watch

Racing watches have a unique appeal that reaches far beyond the world of competitive driving. These watches have a number of distinct features that can be useful for anyone measuring times, distances, and speeds. The complications featured on a racing watch make this type of timepiece indispensable for use in a wide variety of competitive sports, from swimming and sprinting to eating contests. The chronograph has long been relied on in a host of contexts to measure elapsed time. Interacting with a chronograph watch is uniquely satisfying. A well-built watch with useful complications can quickly become not just a favorite accessory but also a highly useful tool that comes in handy in a wide variety of situations. The chronograph on a racing watch can be used in many day-to-day circumstances, and its applications reach beyond the realm of driving and other competitive sports. In addition to being highly useful, a racing watch has a look that is a unique blend of classic and modern. Jack Mason’s Mirabeau Racing Chronograph has a design that is modeled after components of classic cars from the mid-20th century, making it look like a timeless piece of automotive history that you can proudly wear on your wrist. The stylish looks and numerous uses of a racing watch make it a worthy candidate for everyday wear. Racing watches can be paired with straps made from a wide variety of materials but tend to look best with a metal or leather band. Using quick-release watch straps, you can easily swap out the strap on a racing watch to transform its appearance. With multiple straps at your disposal, your racing watch can be right at home on a weekend drive, at a formal gathering, at the office, or anywhere else you may find yourself. The versatile design of the racing watch makes it a jack-of-all-trades that is both stylish and practical. You won’t regret making it a part of your wardrobe, whether you like to drive fast or not. For automotive enthusiasts and casual commuters alike, racing watches have a lot to offer, and their looks and functionality set them apart from other types of timepieces. Sources:

How to Use a Chronograph and Tachymeter on a Wristwatch

https://www.caranddriver.com/features/g15376545/the-coolest-racing-watches-ever-made/ https://www.roadandtrack.com/motorsports/a27479488/tag-heuer-motorsport-history/

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