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How to Read a Stopwatch

By James Johnson

There are two main types of stopwatches, the traditional non-digital watch with a large hand that circles the clock in a clockwise motion and more modern digital clocks that typically show readout times up to one-hundredths of a second. Depending on which clock you use you'll want to know how to read them.

Reading a Non-Digital Stopwatch

Look at the big hand that rotates around the outside numbers of the stopwatch. This is the "seconds" hand. You can see the stopwatch in the picture to the left side of this step.

Examine the smaller inside hand; much like the bigger seconds hand, this smaller hand also rotates clockwise but measures the minutes used.

Combine the small minutes hand with the larger seconds hand to receive the full time used. For instance if the small hand is on the 3 and the big hand is on the 45 mark, then you have used 3 minutes and 45 seconds.

Press the button at the top of the stopwatch to reset the hands to the zero mark.

How to Read Digital Stopwatches

Look at the first two digits on a digital stopwatch. Those numbers represent the minutes used. You can see a digital stopwatch in the picture to the left.

Look at the new two larger numbers after the ":" mark. Those numbers are the seconds used.

Look at the two smaller numbers after the second. Those numbers move much faster because they are the "hundredths of seconds" used.

Combine the number for your full time used. For instance 11:14:01 would be 11 minutes, 14 seconds and 01 hundredths of a second.

Some stopwatches also offer "lap" times in which a second button is pressed to measure each "lap" completed. The numbers are read in the exact same manner, however, you may have more than one time displayed. The picture to the left of this step shows a "lap-enabled digital stopwatch"; the bottom time is a combination of all the laps.

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