Pulsometer chronograph watches (sometimes they are called pulsimeter chronographs) were once more common than they are today. They were used by doctors for taking a patient’s pulse. A pulsometer chronograph is a normal chronograph with an extra scale around the edge of the dial: all you do is start the chronograph, count 30 pulse beats, stop the chronograph and read off the pulse rate. Today it is a lonely category, because most chronographs have a tachymeter scale instead of a pulsometer. In this selection, the watches are in order of appearance, the most recent first. I have also included three-hand watches with a pulsometer scale (i.e. not chronographs). This article was first published on 9 September 2014, latest update 9 January 2018.
1. Zeppelin Automatic Pulsometer with Big Date
The watch has classical looks with its graceful Breguet-shaped hands, and the pulsometer scale which recalls those long-gone days when a doctor would sit by the bed and take a patient’s pulse as a way of establishing an initial rapport. Usually pulsometer watches are chronographs: in this piece it’s a normal 3-hand watch and so you just have to settle down, find the pulse, and wait until the second hand reaches 12, and then count thirty pulse beats and read off the pulse rate. The watch also provides the big date function, based on the ETA 2826-2 movement with two discs for the date, the top one with a window showing the first 16 numbers. Read more here.
2. Bell & Ross Vintage Garde-Côtes Chronograph
This new chronograph by Bell & Ross was introduced in 2017 together with the Vintage Garde-Côtes Automatic, and it shares the same grey-orange-white colour scheme based on the equipment used by the French coastguard service. The Vintage Garde-Côtes Chronograph could be described as a “sports chronograph” with a water resistance of 100 metres with the crown and chronograph pushers screwed down. The steel bezel is fixed, marked with a pulsometer scale with white markings on a black anodized aluminium ring. You just find the patient’s pulse, press the chronograph start pusher, count thirty heat beats, press the stop pusher and read the heart rate from the scale. The pulse scale is marked with single units from 40 to 80, and then in units of ten. The movement is the self-winding BR-CAL.301, based on the ETA 2894-2. It has a power reserve of 38-42 hours and runs at 28,800 vibrations per hour. Price €3,900 with rubber strap, €4,200 with steel bracelet. Read more here.
3. A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Chronograph Black Dial Pulsometer
The A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Chronograph has been reintroduced with a black dial and a pulsometer scale, powered by the L951.5 hand-wound movement. It has a 39.5 white gold case, 11 mm thick (admirably slim for a chronograph). The dial has a practical, legible layout, with extra visual interest provided by the recessed areas and the snailed finish on the subdials. The fractional chronograph fifths-of-seconds scale is complete, but the pulse scale is curiously minimal, with just divisions of five shown up to 100, then tens. The Calibre L951.5 hand-wound movement, visible through the sapphire crystal caseback, has a column wheel and a horizontal clutch, and the chronograph minutes counter is jumping, making it easier to read the number of elapsed minutes on the right-hand subdial. Power reserve is 60 hours. Price €49,000 inclusive of VAT. Read more here.
4. Oris Royal Flying Doctor Service Limited Edition II
This is a watch made as part of Oris’ support for Australia’s Royal Flying Doctor Service. It has a bi-directional rotating bezel with a pulsometer scale, calibrated for 20 heartbeats, which makes taking the pulse even quicker, but provides less room for a detailed scale. It has markings for units of five up to 90, and then every ten. This scale in a dusky orange is on the bezel along with hour numerals in white. This gives the watch the possibility of showing a second time zone, but it reduces the clarity of the pulsometer scale. The bi-directional rotating bezel makes it quick to start the pulsometer count from whenever you like. The watch is powered by the Oris calibre 735, which is the self-winding Sellita SW 220-1. Price 1,900 Swiss francs with leather strap and stainless steel pin buckle, or 2,100 Swiss francs with stainless steel bracelet or crocodile leather strap with folding clasp. Read more here.
5. Vacheron Constantin Harmony Chronograph Calibre 3300
The Harmony Pulsometer Chronograph, introduced by Vacheron Constantin in 2015, is a beautiful watch, with a pulsometer scale subdivided into units as far as is practical, up to a pulse rate of 80. The Harmony series was inspired by one of the brand’s first wristwatch chronographs, introduced in 1928, which was in fact a pulsometer, with the distinctive cushion-shape used for this piece. It is 42 mm across and 52 mm from top to bottom, and fairly slim at 12.81 mm thick. The dial was designed for optimum legibility: in addition to subdials for 45 chronograph minutes (right) and running seconds (left), there is a subdial for power reserve at 6 o’clock, particularly useful on a hand-wound watch. The movement has a column wheel, with a horizontal clutch, but this is more advanced than most horizontal clutches and is based on a friction coupling instead of the usual toothed wheels. The Harmony Pulsometer Chronograph by Vacheron Constantin is a limited edition of 260 numbered pieces. Price is around $69,000, £64,700. Read more here.
6. Blancpain Chronographe Pulsomètre
In 2014 Blancpain launched a new Chronographe Pulsomètre, a watch type designed to enable you to take a pulse. It is part of its Villeret collection. You just start the chronograph while holding the patient’s wrist, count 30 heartbeats and stop the chronograph. The pulse rate is displayed on the scale right at the edge of the dial, outside the Roman numerals. It is a rather approximate scale, with just numerals in multiples of five up to 90.
The watch is also a normal chronograph, with two subdials, one for chronograph minutes (at 3 o’clock, 30 minutes), one for chronograph hours (at 9 o’clock, 12 hours), and a date window at 6 o’clock. The chronograph is of the column wheel, vertical clutch variety, and it has a flyback function so that while the chronograph is running, you just have to press the pusher at 4 o’clock and the chronograph immediately returns to zero and starts timing again.
The detailing of the dial is excellent, and the dial itself is in grande feu white enamel. The case in red gold is fairly large at 43.6 mm diameter. The sapphire caseback reveals the oscillating weight decorated with honeycomb motif, and part of the Calibre F385 movement can be seen. This is a 5 Hertz movement (36,000 vibrations per hour), with 322 components, including a balance spring in silicon. The watch has a brown alligator leather strap. Reference 6680F-3631-55B. Price of the watch is CHF 29,500 (inclusive of VAT). More at www.blancpain.com
7. Montblanc Meisterstück Heritage Pulsograph
The Montblanc Meisterstück Heritage Pulsograph reached the market in autumn 2014, a limited edition of 90 pieces, and featuring the superb Minerva Villeret MB M13.21 monopusher movement with column wheel and horizontal clutch. The movement is hand-wound, and runs at 2.5 Hertz, 18,000 vibrations per hour, making it possible to time intervals to an accuracy of a fifth of a second. There are three scales at the edge of the dial: the most external is for measuring the pulse, graduated for 30 heartbeats. Just inside this, chronograph seconds, with fifth-second intervals. Then a seconds/minutes scale. The effect is both technical and elegant, though both scales call for a degree of approximation in readings, with pulse shown in units of 5 or 10, and some of the fifth-second markings omitted to make room for the red numerals. The Montblanc Meisterstück Heritage Pulsograph was launched at the price of €27,000, $34,500. Read more here.
8. Longines Asthmometer-Pulsometer Chronograph
This watch was released in 2013, based on a 1963 model designed at that time for use by the medical profession. It has two scales at the edge of the dial, one in red to measure the pulse (you just count 30 heartbeats), and one in blue, the asthmometer, for the number of breaths per minute (you time five breaths), two functions ideal for fitness fanatics. The pulsometer scale is marked with units up to a pulse of 80, and from then on, in units of five. The three subdials are for chronograph minutes and hours, and for continuous seconds (at 9 o’clock). There is a date window on the lower subdial. This watch has a diameter of 38.5 mm (the same as the 1963 model, when most men’s watches were around that size), a steel case, and a black alligator strap. It is powered by the self-winding ETA 2094 movement, modified and renamed by Longines as the Calibre L652.2. Power reserve 37 hours. Reference L2.7188.8.131.52-2. Price €1,720.
9. Kobold Pulsometer Chronograph
This watch is by American company Kobold, specializing in equipment for sports adventures. Its pulsometer scale is calibrated to measure pulse rate by counting thirty heartbeats. The watch is 41 mm in diameter, and rather thick at 17 mm. The dial has just one subdial at 3 o’clock, for continuous seconds. To operate the watch as a chronograph, you use the centre-sweep chronograph seconds hand, and the rotating bezel, which you align with the minute hand in order to record chronograph minutes. There is a date window at 9 o’clock. The crown and pushers are on the left-hand side of the case, designed for easier use when wearing the watch on the left hand. You are using your left hand to hold the patient’s wrist (easiest if it’s the right wrist), and operating the pushers with your right thumb. The watch case is made in the U.S.A. in stainless steel, with good detailing and brushed, polished and satinized surfaces, and a screw-down steel caseback. Brown calfskin strap. The movement is the Swiss-made ETA Calibre 7750. Reference KD 310694, price about €2,990 ($3,850), available from the manufacturer online. For more info, see www.koboldwatch.com
10. Jaeger-LeCoultre Pulsometer Master Compressor Diving Chronograph
This is a tough diving watch with water resistance rated to 1,000 metres depth. It has a titanium case, 44 mm in diameter, 16.3 mm thick, a unidirectional rotating bezel, and a satinized titanium bracelet. The automatic movement, calibre Jaeger-LeCoultre 751D, has a power reserve of 65 hours. The pulsometer scale is at the edge of the dial, for thirty beats. The two subdials are for chronograph minutes and chronograph hours; a semicircular subdial at 6 o’clock is a movement operating indicator, rotating once every minute. The pushers are equipped with Jaeger-LeCoultre’s compression system, with a small wing nut at the base of the pusher that compresses a toric gasket. To use the chronograph, you rotate the wing-nut half a turn, releasing the pusher. Reference 186T170, the watch costs €13,100, available from the manufacturer online.
First published 9 September 2014, latest update 9 January 2018