What Is A Tachymeter Watch?

The concept of a tachymeter watch is one that merges precision timekeeping with practical utility, creating a device that is as useful as it is fascinating.

Designed to calculate speed based on travel time or measure distance based on speed, these watches are more than just timepieces – they are sophisticated tools that are essential in several professions.

A tachymeter watch is essentially a chronograph watch (a watch with a stopwatch function) that has a tachymeter scale inscribed around the rim of the watch’s face.

This scale can be used to compute a speed based on travel time or measure distance based on speed, making it a versatile instrument in various fields of work.

While these watches may initially seem complex, their practical uses are extensive and intriguing. Whether it’s in the world of racing, aviation, or medicine, the application of these watches proves invaluable, offering precision and convenience in one sleek package.

What is a Tachymeter Watch?

Understanding the Basic Definition and Origin

A tachymeter watch, often recognized by the distinctive scale printed on its bezel, is a type of chronograph designed to measure speed. The word “tachymeter” is derived from Greek origins, meaning “speed measurer.”

Tachymeter watches date back to the early 19th century when they were first used to calculate speeds in horse races. Since then, their use has expanded significantly, finding relevance in diverse fields from motor racing to aeronautics, and even in medical practice.

How Does a Tachymeter Watch Work?

Deciphering the Tachymeter Scale

The key to understanding a tachymeter watch lies in its scale. This scale, typically inscribed on the watch’s bezel or dial, ranges from about 500 to 60. This is a logarithmic scale, which means that the values decrease as they move around the watch face. The tachymeter scale is used in conjunction with the chronograph, or stopwatch function, to calculate speed or distance.

Reading a Tachymeter Watch and Practical Application

To use a tachymeter watch, start the chronograph at a known point, and stop it at another known point – for instance, between two mile markers. The second hand pointing to the tachymeter scale will indicate the speed (in miles per hour, if you’re measuring miles) of the movement between those two points.

The Different Types of Tachymeter Watches

Standard, Telemeter, and Pulsometer Tachymeters

While a standard tachymeter measures speed over a known distance, there are other types of tachymeter watches that offer more specific functionality.

A telemeter tachymeter watch measures the distance of a phenomenon that is both visible and audible, such as a lightning strike.

A pulsometer tachymeter watch, on the other hand, measures the pulse rate. This type of watch is particularly useful in the medical profession, where quick and accurate pulse readings are essential.

The Role of Tachymeter Watches in Different Professions

Aviation, Auto Racing, and Medicine

In the realm of aviation, tachymeter watches are used by pilots to calculate their speed and distance covered, aiding in navigation and fuel management.

For auto racers, these watches offer a way to measure their speed and performance on the track.

Even medical professionals can benefit from the use of a tachymeter watch. As mentioned earlier, a pulsometer tachymeter watch can provide quick and accurate pulse readings, making it a practical tool in a healthcare setting.

Omega, and TAG Heuer

The Rolex Daytona, first introduced in 1963, is a legendary name in the world of tachymeter watches. Famous for its association with actor and racing enthusiast Paul Newman, the Daytona is sought after for its precision, quality, and timeless design.

The Omega Speedmaster, often referred to as the “moon watch”, is another iconic tachymeter timepiece. As the first watch worn on the moon, the Speedmaster made history and established its place in the realm of tachymeter watches.

TAG Heuer, known for its pioneering role in auto racing watches, also offers an impressive line of tachymeter watches. Its Carrera collection, in particular, has gained prominence for its precision and sleek design.

How to Choose the Right Tachymeter Watch

Considering Various Factors

When choosing a tachymeter watch, several factors should be considered. The type of tachymeter watch—standard, telemeter, or pulsometer—depends on the intended use. Additionally, the watch’s design, brand reputation, durability, and price are other important considerations.

Weighing the Pros and Cons

Owning a tachymeter watch has its pros and cons. While they offer practical utility and a sophisticated appeal, they may be considered complex and unnecessary for those who don’t require their specific functions.

How to Maintain and Care for a Tachymeter Watch

Regular Cleaning and Maintenance

Like any high-precision instrument, a tachymeter watch requires regular cleaning and maintenance. This includes regular cleaning of the watch’s exterior, careful handling to avoid damage, and keeping it away from extreme conditions that could affect its performance.

Professional Servicing

Regular professional servicing is crucial for maintaining the longevity and accuracy of a tachymeter watch. Experts recommend getting your watch serviced every four to five years, depending on the manufacturer’s instructions.


Tachymeter watches are remarkable tools, blending precision timekeeping with practical functions. Their appeal lies not just in their sophisticated design, but also in their diverse applications, making them indispensable in several professions.

As technology continues to evolve, the future of tachymeter watches is set to become even more exciting, with innovations that further enhance their utility and appeal.

Sherry's editorial journey seamlessly merges with her passion for horology at WatchReflect. As a seasoned editor and watch enthusiast, she curates insightful guides that cater to novices and connoisseurs alike. With a penchant for research and a flair for storytelling, Sherry transforms horological complexities into engaging narratives. Her mission is to illuminate the path for those navigating the multifaceted realm of timekeeping.

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