The Chronos Chess Clock: America’s Favorite

Chronos Chess Clock
A classic beige “long” Chronos with buttons, and box.

The Chronos chess clock is the most popular timer in U.S. tournaments, and has been for years. I say that as a longtime tournament director who has walked through countless playing halls. These clocks can accomodate time delay and increment, so they can be used in USCF and FIDE-rated events.

The Chronos is extremely durable and reliable. I’ve owned mine since January 1998, only having to replace the batteries a few times. The $120 I paid is worth $191.18 in 2020 dollars. You probably won’t pay $120 for a Chronos even today!

The Chronos Chess Clock has options galore

In the 1990s, the Chronos only came in one style: long with buttons (as pictured above), in an off-white color. You can activate the lights signalling the player to move, and turn its beep on or off. You can even change the pitch of the beep!

Later, Chronos introduced a “touch” version, with silver disk-like buttons in place of the push-buttons. Many players preferred this as it was “cooler” and the push buttons can come off accidentally.

Nowadays, it’s hard to find “long” Chronoses. The newer versions are about 3/4 the size of the originals: easier to fit into chess bags, but less available digits on the LED. In addition, you can now buy the Chronos in a variety of colors.

Years ago, the downside of the Chronos was learning to set it. In an age where games are almost exclusively timed with digital clocks, they all have their quirks with settings. On the plus side, adjusting the times (for example, in case of an illegal move) is easier and more intuitive with the Chronos than other timers.

I said in a previous review that I now prefer DGT clocks aesthetically, but the Chronos chess clock is still the go-to for a lot of players, and I don’t blame them! The Chronos has unmatched sturdiness; I wouldn’t expect my DGT North American to last 20+ years.

Author: Andre Harding

Since 2003 I've taught chess to thousands of students in public, private, and charter schools in the New York City area, and have given countless private lessons. I also direct USCF- and FIDE-rated chess tournaments.

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