Le premier chronographe Depancel

The first Depancel Chronograph

The Chronograph is the most important watchmaking complication in the world of cars. Participate in the creation of the future Depancel chronograph, the favourite accessory and indispensable tool for every Gentleman Driver.

Updated: December 2022
Thank you all for your enthusiasm! Thanks to over 10,000 responses to our questionnaire, we were able to design and produce our first Allure chronograph! This first limited edition reached the wrists of our loyal customers before Christmas, and we're extremely proud of this achievement! Below is the original blog post. See you soon for new chronographs!

Original article

3 years after the launch of Depancel, and after several collections inspired by the exciting world of automobiles, it's time for our first chronograph!

As usual, it's up to you to tell us what you really want: are you ready to create the chronograph of your dreams?

While we wait for your answers, we'll tell you more about the chronograph: how it works, its history and what's at stake in the Depancel project.


From the Greek khrónos, time, and gráphô, to write, the chronograph is a somewhat magical, and above all complex, mechanism: it is used to measure short times on demand, such as the time intervals of a race, to the nearest fifth or tenth of a second... and this, independently of the watch's other indications. It draws its energy from the watch movement, but is only connected to it when the chronograph is activated, thanks to a clutch system that limits the complication's impact on the movement's precision for the rest of the time.

Push-buttons are used to start, stop and reset the time-measuring mechanism without stopping the main movement. A single button can also control all three actions: this is known as a single-pusher chronograph (the oldest version), as opposed to multi-pusher chronographs (more modern and intuitive to use).

There are many configurations, but the most common is where the chronograph seconds hand is placed in the center. The hour and minute hands, which totalize the number of revolutions made by the chronograph hand, are located in two small counters, for maximum legibility. By answering our questionnaire, you can tell us your preference for the dial configuration!

Chronograph vs. chronometer: what's the difference?


© Getty Images

A chronometer is a designation affixed to a high-precision watch. To qualify for the "chronometer" appellation, a watch must obtain a certificate from the Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres (COSC), which tests the watch on various criteria to certify its conformity. The chronometer is therefore not a function, but an indication of a watch's high degree of accuracy and reliability.

A 3-hand watch can therefore be a chronometer without being a chronograph, and a chronograph can be qualified as a chronometer, but only if it obtains the precious sesame!


A mechanism closely linked to the automobile

Cars and watches are jewels of technology and design. These two worlds have crossed paths for over a century, with the start of motor racing marking the beginning of a long love affair between watchmaking and the automobile. The chronograph watch, a true mechanical racing car, enabled drivers to track their performance with precision.

Today, watches are no longer really used to analyze driver performance, as new technologies have largely replaced watchmaking on the racetrack. Nevertheless, the story of motorsport and watchmaking continues, with collaborations pushing back the frontiers of design, technology and materials.

Given the unbreakable link between watchmaking and automobiles, we at Depancel couldn't imagine putting off the launch of our first chronograph! Take part in its co-creation by answering our questionnaire:
Discover the collection

A bicentenary French invention

The earliest known chronograph is the "Tierces counter", made in 1815 by Louis Moinet and rediscovered in 2013. It was an astronomical measuring instrument equipped with a central hand that made one revolution per second and could be started, stopped and reset by means of a pusher. To achieve this precision, this centraile hand beat at 216,000 vibrations per hour... an impressive figure given that today, a standard mechanical movement beats at around 28,800 vibrations per hour!

The word "chronograph" appeared six years later, when the king's watchmaker, Nicolas-Matthieu Rieussec, devised a mechanism capable of measuring intervals of time by marking a dot in ink on a rotating dial. The etymology of the word, "to write time", then took on its full meaning!


While many chronographs exist on the watch market, Depancel's ambition is twofold:

1. to guarantee you a chronograph with unrivalled value for money, which, like all our watches, is guaranteed for life.

2. To offer you a chronograph with a singular design, symbolizing your passion for fine mechanics.

To create the perfect chronograph, it's up to you to tell us what you really want by answering our questionnaire:

Discover the collection

Here are a few technical details to help you understand how a chronograph works.
Inside the workings of a chronograph movement


There are two types of mechanism: the movement-integrated mechanism, and the additional module mechanism.

Most watches have a chronograph mechanism whose components are placed directly on the movement, on the bridge side. This "integrated" architecture allows for fine finishing and reduced thickness. It's this integrated construction that we'd love to offer you for our first Depancel chronograph!

Conversely, in a chronograph with additional module, the chronograph movement is totally independent of the basic movement, and attached to the movement with screws.

Cam or column-wheel chronograph?


A chronograph can have two systems for controlling the start-stop pusher: the column-wheel system or the cam (or shuttle) system. cam: a cam (or shuttle) controls the clutch rocker, hammers and other levers that engage the chronograph mechanism. This part does not rotate, but moves back and forth regularly, like a shuttle.

Chronograph with column wheel: the system consists of a toothed wheel topped by columns, which forms the mechanism's control center for starting, stopping and resetting the measuring functions. Each time it is pressed, this wheel rotates in a single direction to control the movement of the various levers.

From a technical point of view, these two control systems are equivalent, and their reliability is the same. The column-wheel system is the original chronograph mechanism, and is often the preferred configuration in fine watchmaking, not least for its aesthetic appeal. Incidentally, it's also our preferred control system...

The chronograph now holds no secrets for you... 


Free shipping worldwide for all our watches with DHL Express.