French inventor Rieussec invented the first stop watch, accurately named a "chronograph" at the time, in 1821. In 1910, the Chronograph timer was integrated into a very popular wrist watch. Throughout future decades, watch manufacturers sought to create even more functional stop watches and offer them to the public. The Swatch Company made a small fortune by introducing a line of fashionable yet affordable chronograph/time pieces in the early 1990s. Today, practically every high quality watch company includes at least one stop watch in its collection.
Stop watches are incredibly important to the coaches and training professionals who seek to push their athletes to faster speeds and quicker paces. Using a stop watch can tell an athlete exactly how he or she did with a lap, sprint or mile. Some watches can even be accurate to within 1/1000ths of a second, which can often be the difference between a gold and a silver medal during Olympic games. Measuring each athletic performance and graphing this data over a period of time can provide both coach and sportsman the information needed to train for any upcoming competition. However, amateurs and everyday fitness enthusiasts can also use them test their own endurance speeds and to keep themselves on track with their own workout plans.
Multiple-timer stop watches are integral for team or competitive sports, especially those in which one start time is followed by multiple end times. Most high grade digital stopwatches allow a single person to gauge stopping times of up to five competitors as each of them crosses the finish line. This can occur without erasing the previous player's time. Some stop watches are so advanced that they can print out the results of each event onto a thirteen-digit-wide piece of paper for archival or instructional purposes.
The Use of Stop Watches in Other Professions
Accurate time measurement is also a demand in professions other than sports or athletics. Many laboratories use stop watches to time chemical reactions, the speed and rate of intelligence in mice and rats, and in a number of other physics tests. They are also employed in manufacturing plants to test how good employees are in constructing and assembling mechanical parts. In addition, most branches of the military use stop watches to make sure soldiers are efficient at dismantling and assembling their weapons and to train them on completing mission-essential drills within a specified allotment of time.