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August 1999

For Your Staff:Selling Timepieces

What Does That Button Do?

Learn, demonstrate and explain chronograph functions

By Paul White, Watch Division Director, Reis-Nichols Jewelers, Indianapolis, IN

With the strong demand for chronographs today, it's likely your store stocks more of these multiple subdialed watches than ever before. To sell them better, you have two important responsibilities:

  • You need to understand how these watches work and what functions they perform.
  • Equally as important, you need to explain – and demonstrate – these functions to a potential customer using basic terms.

Reduce "Chrono Fear"
Some sales associates have "chronograph fear." Perhaps it's the buttons, the subdials or the generally complicated appearance of these watches.

Think of the chronograph in its simplest form – as a stopwatch. The button on the upper right side of the case, at about two o'clock, starts the stopwatch. When you depress this button, it typically starts a larger hand in a clockwise countdown around the dial. This hand continues to run until you depress the same button to stop the hand.

Example: You want to time a short-duration event, such as a 60-yard dash. Push the button to start the larger chronograph hand and push it again at the end of the race to stop it. Look where the hand stopped, and that's the number of seconds the race took. For longer events, check the reading on the minute subdial. (If the dial has a different layout, read the manual that comes with the watch.) Once you've recorded this information, use the lower right hand button to restore the chronograph hand to its zero position at 12 o'clock. It really is that simple – start, stop and reset once you've recorded the elapsed time.

Now that you've mastered that function, what do you do with the other dials?

Different Subdial Setups
One of the dials on the chronograph is likely to be a small sweep-seconds hand, which continually measures elapsed time of one minute. On most non-chronographs, this is a larger hand that moves clockwise around the full dial each minute. But on a chronograph, it's often a smaller dial that may be located at the three, six or nine o'clock position.

Whether the watch is self-winding, manual winding or quartz-powered, this dial moves continuously. You don't affect the small seconds dial by pressing or operating any of the buttons. Just think of it as your second hand in miniature.

If the chronograph has another small subdial, calibrated to "30," or perhaps "10," this is an elapsed-minute counter. It starts counting minutes during a timed procedure. After one minute, you'll see it move one notch. This subdial is used to record events longer than one minute, lasting up

to 30 minutes. When you're done recording the elapsed time, press the reset button and the minute counter and the large chronograph hand returns to zero.

Additional Subdials
Your chronograph also may have another subdial showing three- or 12-hour calibrations. This times longer events, such as airplane flights. It takes 60 revolutions of the large chronograph hand to move this subdial to record one hour's elapsed time.

In some cases, one of the aforementioned subdials, perhaps the minute counter, may be replaced by a subdial that moves rapidly when you stop the timing function. It's likely you're seeing tenths or hundredths of a second measured.

Please read the watch manual if additional subdials or functions (such as a tachymeter for measuring speed) are on the dial. Better yet, ask your supplier for a training session.

Each month Paul White fills this column with tips for sales associates who want to sell more watches. If you have suggestions for topics, questions for Paul or specific examples from your store, send them to Professional Jeweler, 1500 Walnut St., Suite 1200, Philadelphia, PA 19102; askus@professionaljeweler.com.

Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.


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