Chronographs and the MGJVB collection

If you browse our collection here (, you will notice that all MGJVB watches, originally designed as sports watches, belong to the chronograph family. Therefore, at the heart of every MGJVB automatic chronograph is the Valjoux 7750 automatic mechanical movement. This movement is extremely reliable, and despite dating back to 1974 is still used in a great majority of today’s automatic mechanical chronographs, and so is used here under tight quality control standards. For example, the balance wheel is so finely calibrated that it performs more than 345600 movements per day and is lubricated only with a single drop of oil!

In case you didn’t know then, chronographs are a specific type of watch that are used as a stopwatch combined with a regular display watch. Basic chronographs have an independent sweep second hand which may be started, stopped, and returned to zero by successive pressure on the stem. The more complex chronographs, as with MGJVB, have multiple independent hands to measure seconds, minutes, and hours, or even tenths of a second, as well as the original time. Many watches now, though not MGJVB, also use rotating bezels as tachymeters for other measurements, such as calculations of speed or distance in association with the chronograph features.

The origins of the chronograph date back to early Greek periods where the term “chronograph” actually means “time recording”. Originally time would be written with a pen on a rotating index and the length of the line would indicate how much time had passed. Chronographs have since undergone a number of engineering solutions and rebuilds over the centuries, with a great deal of history in their modelling. This includes watches filled with ink, tapes marked with pens, additions of pushers and quick-reset buttons, and the addition of other complications such as tourbillons and rotating bezels.

The first modern-day chronograph however was actually a fairly simple affair, designed in 1816 by famous horologist Louis Moinet, and sported a 60 second, 60 minute, and 24 hour indicator. This first modern-day chronograph was used solely for working with astronomical equipment and it wasn’t until 1821 that the first marketed chronograph, designed by French watchmaker Nicolas Rieussec would be made for King Louis XVIII so that he, the king, could time horse-races, one of his favourite pass-times.

As mentioned, over the years chronographs underwent significant engineering with the addition of extra features. This made the watches more marketable and useful, with extra roles and uses being found for the watch as it kept up with industry standards. Examples include the use of chronographs in the aviation industry, where the watches allowed for rapid calculations and precise timing of movements. This made the watch popular not only amongst aviators, but also test flight pilots, and, following the limitation of US space exploration by President Eisenhower to test pilots only, astronauts would soon adopt the chronograph as their favourite watch type. Other uses for a chronograph’s timing accuracy included artillery uses in the early 19th century, car racing & driving, and submarine manoeuvring.

As the development of chronograph features would find new roles for it within industry, so would too industry affect the development of the watch, with the addition of tachymeters, flyback chronographs, and water resistance, so it may further suit roles it adapted to. Interestingly, although self-winding automatic watches had been around since the late 18th century, it wasn’t until 1969 that the first “chrono-matic”, that is automatic chronograph, would be invented. This means that the Valjoux 7750 at the heart of the MGJVB collection wasn’t too far behind, and indeed is considered a “god send” and “greatest chronograph movement ever” in its own right – just see this article here (

) which highlights how each MJGVB with the Valjoux 7750 at its heart really is a slice of history.