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How to read a tachymeter watch bezel

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Published on Apr 15, 2009

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Rich from Gray & Sons teaches how to read a tachymeter watch bezel.

A tachymeter scale is a scale sometimes inscribed around the rim of an analog watch. It can be used to compute a speed based on travel time or measure distance based on speed. The spacings between the marks on the tachymeter dial are therefore proportional to 1/t where t is the elapsed time.

The function performed by a tachymeter is independent of the unit of distance (e.g. statute miles, nautical miles, kilometres, metres etc.) as long as the same unit of length is used for all calculations. It can also be used to measure an industrial production process in units per hour. A tachymeter is simply a means of converting elapsed time in seconds per unit to units per hour.

A tachymeter-equipped watch can be used to measure distance by timing the travel over the distance while the speed is held constant. The tachymeter scale is rotated to align with the second hand at the start of the length to be measured. When the second hand reaches the point on the scale where the speed indicated equals the speed of the vehicle, one unit of distance (miles if speed is miles per hour, kilometres if kilometres per hour, etc.) has been covered. For example, if you travel at a constant 80 mph (or at 80 km/h), then the distance traveled while the second hand sweeps to "80" (45 seconds) will be exactly 1 mile (or 1 kilometer at 80 km/h).


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