Flyback Chronograph Guide (Watches 101)


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You may have heard of the term Flyback Chronograph or even seen it on a watch you have been looking at, but are wondering exactly what this function does.

A Flyback Chronograph a type of watch complication that allows the wearer to reset the Chrono timer without having to first stop the chronograph.  On a “regular” (non-fly-back) chronograph, the user must first stop, reset, and then restart the chronograph before timing the next event. The benefit of the flyback is that you can skip the hand-stopping and restarting steps.

The name itself comes from the motion you see, the Chrono hand will “fly back” to the zero position when you push the reset pusher when the hand is running.

What is a Flyback Chronograph?

Seiko Flyback-Automatic-Chronograph Cal. 7016 “Seiko-Monaco“ (1976). Image Credit CC BY-SA 3.0

As we alluded to above, the Flyback is a variant of the Chronograph, which has quickly become one of the most popular styles of watch. While Breitling is known for creating the first Chorograh in 1923, Longines patented the first flyback chronograph in 1936. You can see an example by Seiko above from the 1970s. An iconic example of a flyback Chronograph is the Panerai Luminor 1950.

The Chronograph complication has become one of the most recognizable elements of modern-day watches and can be found on a lot of luxury watches. Simply put, a Chronograph is a watch’s answer to a stopwatch and is used to measure time.

Chronographs are said to have originated from the need to track time, be that from a diving perspective or the popularization of air travel and pilots favoring these timepieces.

This means that any Chronograph can be used for both traditional timekeeping, and as a form of a stopwatch, albeit a lot of people will only use them for a fashion statement due to their unique look.

The Flyback element is the ability to be able to reset the stopwatch with one button push, as opposed to stopping it, then resetting it on a traditional Chronograph.

How Does a Flyback Chronograph Work?

Panerai Luminor 1950 44 Marina P9010 Automatic Mens Watch PAM00661
Panerai Luminor 1950 44 Marina ( PAM00661)

A wide range of people have a Flyback or Chronograph watch and do not use them for their secondary purpose of timing events or tracking times.

The look has become synonymous with certain watch types and to most people gives the watch a more fancy look than a plain watch face.

A Flyback Chronograph works similar to a standard Chronograph watch when activating the complication, you push the ‘start button’ and the timing will commence. The core difference is that when you reset the timer, a Flyback completes the sequence in one instead of three steps.

When you reset the Flyback the timer hand will reset quickly from movement and as the name suggests ‘fly back’ to the starting position. In the same motion, it will automatically reset once it reaches the zero mark and starts a new timer.

Now we have a better idea of what a Flyback Chronograph watch is, we are going to look at a few of the notable timepieces with this complication.

Let’s look at a few watches that have shaped the Flyback Chronograph market or are a staple when looking for one of these styles.

7 Flyback Chronographs You Can Currently Buy Online

Timex Intelligent Quartz Fly-Back Chronograph (TW2P60600)

Timex Men's TW2P60600 Intelligent Quartz Fly-Back Chronograph Silver-Tone/Blue Stainless Steel Bracelet Watch
Timex Intelligent Quartz Fly-Back Chronograph (Image: Amazon)

It is hard to make a list of watches and miss out on one of the most iconic brands, so with that being said, we start with Timex’s Intelligent Quartz Fly-Back Chronograph watch.

Not only does this watch look professional with the blue face and silver stainless steel strap, but it is functional too.

Timex is renowned for making watches that not only look the part but walk the walk too, with the 330ft water-resistant features it pays homage to the diving watches of old.

The Flyback Chronograph on this watch goes up to 4 hours, so will fit almost everyone’s timing needs. The watch is both aesthetically pleasing and robust so it can easily be worn for a range of occasions.

Seiko White Dial Stainless Steel Chronograph (SSB095)

Seiko Chronograph White Dial Stainless Steel Brown Leather Mens Watch SSB095
Seiko Stainless Steel Chronograph (Image: Amazon)

Seiko has been in the industry for a while and consistently creates nice-looking and functional watches that are versatile and practical. They know their niche and perfectly design everyday timepieces that are affordable.

The Seiko SSB095 Flyback Chronograph looks great with the white face, stainless steel, and brown leather strap, the SSB095 can work as a professional watch and an everyday timepiece too.

The white accents on the hands are luminous and have a sleek cyan glow to them in low light, which gives the watch a nice uniqueness.

Frederique Constant Silver Dial Chronograph  (FC-760V4H4)

Frederique Constant Silver Dial Leather Strap Men's Watch FC-760V4H4
Frederique Constant FC-760V4H4

Frederique Constant is one of the newer Swiss luxury watch brands, being founded in the late 80s, but still upholds the values and methods of the traditional Swiss brands.

Based in Geneva and now part of the Citizen watch group, the brand has maintained its roots despite being bought by the Japanese watch giant.

The Frederique Constant FC-760V4H4 Rose Gold polished steel case gives the watch a really elegant look and paired with the brown alligator leather strap this Flyback Chronograph is one of the best to do it.

This Swiss-made Tachymeter watch showcases some of the best elements of a luxury watch and pairs it with a casual yet smart-looking timepiece.

Fossil Women’s Flyback Chronograph (CH2975)

Fossil Women's CH2975 Land Racer Stainless Steel Watch with Link Bracelet
Fossil Women’s CH2975

Fossil has been consistently putting out a wide range of timepieces that cover a lot of markets and are popular with a wide audience.

This Land Racer Stainless Steel women’s watch is no exception to the rule. The watch face is very clean and surprisingly uncluttered for a chronograph watch, making this timepiece minimalist and sleek by design.

The addition of the water-resistance is a nice touch, up to 165ft is more than ample for everyone as this would never be worn as a diving watch, let alone for swimming or near the water.

Citizen Eco-Drive Promaster Tsuno Chronograph (AV0071-03A)

Men's Citizen Eco-Drive Promaster Tsuno Chronograph Racer Watch AV0071-03A
Citizen Eco-Drive Promaster Tsuno Chronograph Racer Watch

Citizen has made a habit of developing watches that are a lot more niche and absolutely hitting the nail on the head. They are great innovators in the watch market and are often ahead of the curve.

ThisEco-Drive Promaster Tsuno Flyback Chronograph watch has a very Formula 1 style and would not look out of place as part of team Ferrari with its bold black and red design.

The Eco-Drive technology means this timepiece is solar powered and does not need a battery. Pair this with the 200m (650ft) water resistance and you have a durable and practical watch.

You may also notice the unique look of this watch with the crown and pusher on top of the dial as opposed to the traditional side placement, the distinctive look is called a Bullhead Watch, due to the fact that it resembles a bull’s horns.

Montblanc TimeWalker Chronograph (104286-N)

Montblanc TIMEWALKER Black Dial Mens Watch 104286-N
Montblanc Timewalker 104286-N

Not only is this Flyback timepiece up for the award for the best model name, but the Montblanc Timewalker is also incredibly sleek and elegant looking. The classic-looking black face on the silver strap is timeless and will never go out of fashion.

Montblanc has been a pioneer in the timekeeping industry since the early 1900s, and despite what people think they are not a Swiss luxury brand, but in fact, they are German.

Based out of Hamburg, the commitment to quality is very high and the watches have become popular across the world.

This Flyback Chronograph has a range of features from the 72 power reserve to the self-winding automatic movement, to the minimalist and clean face. This timepiece would look great in any collection and can be worn for any occasion.

Casio Edifice Super Slim Chronograph (EQB1000XD-1A)

Men's Casio Edifice Super Slim Black Stainless Steel Chronograph Smartphone Link Watch EQB1000XD-1A EQB1000XDC-1A
Casio Edifice Super Slim Chronograph

One of the most unique watches on our list, this Casio combines the slick black stainless steel with light blue accents to make a modern-looking Edifice Super Slim Flyback Chronograph.

Most of the Flybacks follow a fairly simple set of design rules, this watch throws those out the window and redesigns this popular style of watch.

One of the most interesting features of Casio Edifice Bluetooth watches is their ability to link with your smartphone which opens up even more functionality with the chronograph and beyond.

This Casio also benefits from a solar power system that allows your watch to be charged via direct light and fluorescent light sources too.

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