It turns out that the first ever chronograph was created in 1816 by Louis Moinet in Paris.
The recent discovery of a previously unknown timepiece by Moinet is rewriting the history of watch development.
According to hallmarks on the dust cover of this timepiece, the chronograph was started by Moinet in 1815 and finished a year later – putting its completion well ahead of Adolphe Nicole’s patent of 1862.
Moinet originally made the timer to track the stars.
According to a letter he wrote in 1823, “I came to Paris in 1815 with the sole purpose of devising and making a ‘compteur de tierces’. The difficult and seldom attempted realisation of this instrument of a new construction, has achieved my purpose most satisfactorily.”
This instrument is of an entirely original design for its day. It measures events to the sixtieth of a second as indicated by a central hand. The elapsed seconds and minutes are recorded on separate subdials, and the hours on a 24-hour dial.
The stop, start and reset functions for the central hand are controlled by two buttons which qualifies it as a chronograph in the modern sense, although the term was coined much later.