The Watch Facts

I know its a quartz mass produced movement – but hold on to your preconceptions and have a read.

ETA released the quartz 251.262 movement in 1988. It featured three counters at 2 o’clock, 6 o’clock and 10 o’clock. But most importantly it featured 7 hands. On a normal watch you have 3 hands (hour, minute and second). On a normal three counter chronograph you have 6 hands.

So what’s the 7th hand for?

This movement has been used in a whole range of watches from Omega and Breitling to Sector and Pryngeps. The price range varies from £100 to £2000. Some might say that there were modifications made to improve thermal compensation in the higher end watches – but they all boil down to the same thing.



When using a chronograph to measure something, be it speed or distance, the final reading is taken when the stop pusher goes down. You can quickly start the chronograph mechanism off again but time or distance will have passed and your overall conclusions will be reduced in accuracy.

This is where this quartz champion comes in to its stride. It’s certainly not the first movement to do this – but it’s so widely used it’s got to be good. When the chronograph starts it’s possible to interrupt and pause the timing with the reset button.

On a normal chronograph pushing the reset once started does nothing. It only snaps the second hand back once the chronograph has been stopped again. In this movement however once paused – if you push the reset button again it snaps back to the time it would have been recorded if not interrupted.



It’s seamless and very clever.

This allows for quick and easy readings of lap times whilst remaining accurate to the total time elapsed.

It gets better

This movement also has another trick up its sleeve.

If you’re not satisfied with being accurate to the nearest second – the register at 3 o’clock has got you covered. Once the movement is paused or stopped the tiny hand whirls round and reads out the time elapsed to the nearest 1/10th second.

This allows for ultra precise readings, or as precise as your reaction to push the button fast enough.


The 7th Hand

Most chronographs have a small register on the dial that measure minutes elapsed. One whole revolution of the chrono second hand ticks this on by one minute at a time. Normally this is limited to 30, 45 or 60 minutes. The 7th hand – shown on this Wyler Vetta in red is the minutes elapsed hand. 

Using this hand allows for much greater legibility when grabbing those quick glances. It also makes for a stylish flurry when resetting the system as the two hands chase each other back to 0.

The sub dial at 9 o’clock measures hours elapsed allowing this piece to measure up to 12 hours. That’s just enough to time me choosing what watch to wear in the morning.


Fancy a date?

Nestled in the running seconds at 3 o’clock is the date. This movement does not feature a quick set for changing the date. It does however have a real nifty GMT style function.

If the crown is pulled out one click and turned – it will only adjust the hour hand. This is perfect for quick changes over time zones. As you keep spinning the hours round the date changes with it.

Pull the crown out again to change the minutes and hours together.



Regatta mode

This Wyler Vetta has a dial specifically designed for yacht racing. It also has a screw down crown and 100 metres of water resistance – so it’s ready for the harbour when you inevitably fall in.

As it’s not practical or possible for boats to line up in a cute little line and begin all at once – there is always a jostle for position to pass the start line first at the correct time. Between 10 and 12 there are markings for the 10 minute countdown starter for the beginning of the boat race.



Using the speed of the boat, distance to the start and amount of time before start it is possible to cross at the perfect time. In most cases first across the start is the first across the finish so the beginning is everything.

To get this function to work the central seconds and minute hands have to be realigned to the beginning of the counter. This is achieved by pressing the pushers with the crown pulled out in positions 1 and 2. This countdown timer functionality is not explained in the Breitling Colt Chono Transocean instruction book so I do wonder how often it was used – or if it was used at all.

The other reason I know this watch is to do with yachts is the tiny little red sailing boat on the dial. Huge giveaway.



On the back

This really is a tool watch and it serves a function. It’s a lump of steel with easy grip crown and pushers. It’s no overly flash. But the one thing I enjoy most about this watch – is that on the case back is a really helpful temperature conversion chart.



I know now what the hell US weather reports are going on about.

The bottom line was that I wanted this complicated and fun to use movement. I didn’t want to spend Omega or Breitling money but I wanted the same functions. I spent hours digging around the various brands that used the 251.262 and found this quite rare Wyler Vetta. 

The lower end models often feature quite frankly awful 90s style two tone cases that are larger than life and look down right cheap. This case is 40 mm and just about falls into an acceptable steel case. I picked this up cheap and you can too – get out there and have a look. 

2 thoughts on “Legendary Watches – ETA 251.262

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