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Who Produced the First Automatic Chronograph

  • Zenith

    Votes: 70 36.3%
  • Heuer/Breitling/Hamilton-Buren/Dubois-Depraz

    Votes: 65 33.7%
  • Seiko

    Votes: 58 30.1%
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It looks like my question has already been asked on this forum:
https://www.watchuseek.com/f27/any-historians-crowd-98709.html

But unfortunately the important link to another article no longer works :-(

... and that seems to be the best that Google has to offer o|

That 'press conference' is starting to look like a private party to which, sadly, none of us were invited.
 

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Heuer was the first to present an automatic chronograph with micro-rotor
...
Zenith was the first to present an automatic chronograph with 36000 bph and running seconds
And that is pretty close to the way the respective companies present their claims.

Except Seiko, who just got on with selling the watch.

(But if we were talking about the Astron quartz.... ;-))
 

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Must be close to the record for zombie threading here, but just wanted to add a note to this thread as a point of clarification.

There are posts here which cast doubt on the date SEIKO first made automatic chronographs available to purchase. I thought this odd so reached out to SEIKO and after some back and forth they've confirmed that the 21st May 1969 was the first day watches with caliber 6319 were available to purchase in the Japanese domestic market only.

If the other dates provided earlier for the other two camps are to be believed, this means that the first automatic chronograph available to purchase anywhere in the world was a SEIKO.

Cheers,
 

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Like a previous poster, I don't like "polls", show me the money! When I was on R&R in Hong Kong in 1970 I bought at a retail store, a Seiko 6139-6010 Serial number 970066, which indicates it was manufactured in July 1969. Does anyone have a documented earlier one?
 

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In my view...from what I've read, Zenith wins: the Seiko was not a "real" chrono as it had only a 30-minute timer and no seconds hand, so clearly it was rushed to market incomplete. The Heuer/Hamilton was also rushed to market and required a quick revision to make it work. As such, Zenith was the first to get a watch to market that was a full-function auto chrono, that did not get replaced in short order by the "real" finished version. It was the only one that people today would consider buying to actually use as a chronograph.

Treating *any* chronograph the same makes no sense in this case: to properly and easily answer this question, the key is to define what is producing a chronograph.

I'd volunteer that producing a chronograph means producing a full-featured chronograph, with no base features (such as a seconds hand) removed and all standard chronograph features included (hours, minutes and seconds), that is reliable enough to not require immediate replacement by a "version 2.0".

In my view, Seiko is not even in the discussion...the answer comes down to whether the cal. 11 was really stable an reliable enough to be considered a finished movement when it debuted.



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What? the Seiko 6139 did have a seconds hand on its chronograph, where it matters for this discussion. it was a fully featured chrono capable of measuring seconds and up to 30 minutes. It didn't have a running seconds hand for the watch part, but many many watches don't have a running seconds hand.

Was it the first? Impossible to know because Seiko never bothered with a press release to announce a working prototype (that couldn't be tested by the public), and the world learned of its existence when it hit the shelves, which happened before Zenith's or Heuer's availability. Zenith gets credit because they were better marketeers.
 

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In my view...from what I've read, Zenith wins: the Seiko was not a "real" chrono as it had only a 30-minute timer and no seconds hand, so clearly it was rushed to market incomplete.

In my view, Seiko is not even in the discussion...the answer comes down to whether the cal. 11 was really stable an reliable enough to be considered a finished movement when it debuted.
Usual fan boy twaddle.

Watches don't need second hands. Plenty of two handers out there.

You dismiss the Seiko because it doesn't have a second hand but consider Heuer and it didn't have a second hand either!!!!

I think you just don't like the idea that a Japanese company was first to put one on sale to the public.

Mitch
 

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In my view...from what I've read, Zenith wins: the Seiko was not a "real" chrono as it had only a 30-minute timer and no seconds hand, so clearly it was rushed to market incomplete. (...)
The truth is: Seiko revived the vertical chronograph clutch because the idea was that the chronograph second hand could be run permanently this way without causing additional wear.

Best,
Tomcat
 
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