A pulse meter, also known as a pulsometer, is a scale that can be found on the dial of a wristwatch. It is used to measure a person's heart rate, making it a useful feature for athletes and people with certain medical conditions. The pulse meter scale is typically calibrated in beats per minute, and is used in conjunction with the chronograph function of the watch.
To use a pulse meter, the user starts the chronograph function and begins counting their heartbeats for a set period of time, usually 15 or 30 seconds. The user then stops the chronograph function and reads the pulse meter scale on the watch to determine their heart rate in beats per minute.
Pulse meters were first introduced in the early 20th century and were primarily used by medical professionals to measure a patient's heart rate, being introduced into service after Charles-A. Heuer heard the complaints of nurses, midwives and doctors about the lengthy and stressful process of measuring their patients' pulse rate. This led to the watch manufacturer Heuer releasing the first pulsometer in 1908, initially in the form of pocket watches, which were latter converted into wrist watches as the latter gained gained huge popularity in the battlefields and field hospitals of the first world war.
They have since become a popular feature in many types of watches, including chronographs, sports watches, and even dress watches. They are highly valued by watch collectors and enthusiasts for their practicality and aesthetic appeal.
Pulse meters can be found in a wide range of watch styles and designs, from classic vintage models to modern sporty models. Some watches have pulse meters that are incorporated into the dial of the watch, while others have a separate scale that is used for the pulse meter function.