Not all complications are created equal. Some are relatively easy to understand, such as a simple date function, while others require a little more explanation. The split-seconds chronograph definitely falls into the second category. Also called a rattrapante, this variation on the simple chronograph allows the wearer to time two different events simultaneously, also calculating the difference between then (the so called “split”). Over the years we’ve done a number of stories on split-seconds chronographs, how they work, why you should be interested in them, and the most interesting examples to look out for.
Here’s a look back at seven stories that you’ll absolutely want to read to learn more about splits of all kinds. Let us know down in the comments if there’s another split-seconds-related topic that you’d like us to cover too.
A Primer On The History Of Split-Seconds Chronographs
If you’re unfamiliar with splits, or think you could use a refresher course, this is where you should start. This story digs deep into the origins of the complication, how it came about, why it was useful, and what models you need to know in order to appreciate this genre of watches. Get a cup of coffee and settle in though – this is one to take your time with.
The First Modular Split-Seconds Chronograph Ever Made
In 1992, IWC changed the chronograph game forever with the introduction of the Pilot Double Chronograph ref. 3711, which was the first watch ever to feature a modular split-seconds movement. This caliber was built on the base of a Valjoux 7750 by Mr. Richard Habring (more on him in a minute). Here we go in-depth with this truly generational watch and explain why it’s so important.
How The Doppel Chrono Movement Actually Works
Okay, if Jon’s look at the IWC Doppel wasn’t nerdy enough for you, Jack has a little follow-up too. In this piece he focuses on the creation of this new modular movement, actually going under the hood of the reference 3711 to figure out what Habring was doing with this movement and how he achieved something so special. Get out your loupes, people.
The Best Value Rattrapante In The World
Completing a trio of relatively recent stories involving Richard Habring and his Doppel work, we’ve got this hands-on look at the latest take on the split-seconds chronograph from Habring², the brand founded by Richard and his wife Maria. The Doppel-Felix is a world-class watch with a killer movement, and it costs well under $10,000. Yeah, like we said, this is one hell of a horological deal.
That Time We Spotted A Rolex Ref. 4113 In The Wild
When you’re talking about vintage splits, this is the granddaddy of them all. Only 12 of these totally insane watches were made by Rolex in the 1940s and only a few of those are accounted for today. It’s also the only time Rolex ever made a split-seconds chronograph of any kind. So you imagine how surprised we were to spot one of these $2.4 million watches on someone’s wrist at Dubai Watch Week 2016.
The Coolest Modern Patek Might Just Be A Split
Sometimes at Baselworld and SIHH it’s hard to figure out which watches are going to have staying power after the shows are over. With this one though, there was never any question. The reference 5370P has a platinum case and a black enamel dial with applied Breguet numerals, not to mention the completely insane movement inside. Ben in fact called it “arguably the best Patek in years” during Baselworld 2015 and in hindsight he was spot on.
Rarer Than Rare
So, you think 12 examples makes something rare? Think again. There are only three known examples of the Patek Philippe reference 1563, which is essentially a split-seconds version of the famous ref. 1463 chronograph. One belonged to Duke Ellington, one is safely ensconced in the Patek Museum in Geneva, and then there’s this example, which, to make things even cooler, has luminous hands and luminous Breguet numerals on the dial. This is the stuff horological dreams are made of.