Sometime in the winter of 1859, the clockmakers at the American Watch Company in Waltham, Massachusetts, made a breakthrough. They created the first-ever mass-produced stopwatch – expressly to allow enthusiasts of a sport sweeping the nation – horseracing – to measure just how fast thoroughbreds could get from a start gate to a finish line. Not long after, the Kentucky Derby was born, a race that would in time be known as the most exciting two minutes in sports.

The chronodrometer (from the Greek roots: chrono for time, drom for running/race and meter for measure) to their line of conventional watches. The chronodrometer was the first mass-produced stopwatch.

The chronodrometer’s dial could mark quarter seconds, but it was unlike any other stopwatch in use then or now. A sweep hand in the center of the dial revolved once every four minutes; at the bottom of the dial, a small hand revolved once every four seconds. At the top was a conventional dial with numerals 1 through 12 and hour and minute hands for indicating the correct time of day. When the watch was used as a timer, the time train inconveniently stopped.

Between 1858 and 1861, the American Watch Company made about four hundred chronodrometers – not a huge number by mass-production standards. The stopwatch sold for $50, compared to $150 to $250 for a high-grade import. At that time, stopwatches of any kind were still rare.

Longines is now the official timer of the Kentucky Derby

Mark Sirianni Watch Repair
25 Fraley Street
Kane, Pa. 16735
814-558-4818 (cell)
[email protected]

CHARLEY PHOTO OF THE WEEK: Did someone say “treat”?