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Watch Terminology

Tags: watches


Alarm A watch feature that sounds an alarm at pre-set time or at regular intervals.

Annual calendarA watch displaying the day, date, month, and 24 hours that adjusts automatically for short and long months. An annual calendar requires only a single manual correction per year from the end of February to the 1st of March.

Analog Digital A watch that has both a digital display and hands of a conventional watch. Usually featured on sport watch styles.

Applique Numerals or symbols stuck or riveted to a dial.

Automatic movement A movement that is all mechanical and requires no winding as this is done every time you move your hand.


Baguette Ladies style watch with a thin, elongated face; usually rectangular in shape but may be oval.

Balance A wheel-like device which, by rotating back and forth, regulates the gear train movement as uniform as possible.

BarrelThick wheel featuring a toothed disc on one face and containing the mainspring of a watch movement.

Battery Life The minimum period of time that a battery will continue to provide power to run the watch. Life begins at the point of manufacture when the factory initially installs the battery.

The surface ring on the watch that surrounds and holds the crystal in place.A sports or divers watch could have a rotating bezel to be used as a timer.

Bottom plateA metal plate bearing the bridges and various parts of the movement.

Bracelet A metal band consisting of links that can be removed to change the length of the bracelet.Also could be a one-piece expansion style bracelet that contains no buckle but fits over the wrist.

Brass Copper and zinc alloy used to make the main plate and bridge wheels in the movement

Bridge (or bar, or cock) A metal movement part that is attached to a bottom plate and holds at least one bearing of a rotating part.

Buckle Usually matching the case, it attaches the two parts of the leather strap around the wrist.


Calendar A watch feature that shows the date and sometimes the day of the week and the month.

Carat (Karat) Unit of gold fineness (and gemstone weight). Pure gold is 24k. 18k gold is 75% pure.

CarillonStriking mechanism, or chime, that involves two or more bells of varying tones.

Case The metal housing of a watch's parts. Stainless steel is the most typical metal used but also titanium, gold, silver, and platinum can be used.

Case Back The cover for the back of the watchcase that can be removed to access the watch movement for service.

Caseband The watchcase edge between the bezel and caseback. Also called the middle

Chamfer (or bevel) To take down a sharp angle into a flat edge which often produces a luminous strip along the contours of the chamfered part or area. Hand chamfering results in particularly clean recessed and protruding angles.

Central piece Central part of the watch-case, which houses the movement.

Chronograph A multifunction sport watch with a stopwatch function. Most have two or three sub dials, or minidials, for measuring minutes and hours.

Clasp The attachment used to connect the two ends of the watch bracelet or strap around the wrist.

Circular Graining A surface decoration of slightly overlapping concentric circles, often found on the bridges and base of watch movements and even occasionally on dials.

Complications Supplementary time mechanisms, with the exception of the display of hours, minutes and seconds, that are added to a basic movement. Complications belong to three main categories: those that provide extra time indications; those that strike or chime the time of day; and those that provide a variety of astronomical indications. "Grand Complication" Watches feature mechanisms from all three above categories.

Countdown timer Measures remaining time from preset period of time. (Example: Can be used to countdown time of a basketball game.)

Crown The ridged winding knob on the right side of the case used to adjust the time, day and date.Most diving watches have a screw down crown, which must be unscrewed before you can utilize it.

Crystal The clear cover over the watch face. Several types of crystals are commonly found in watches. It can be made of mineral, synthetic sapphire, plastic, or acrylic material. The sapphire crystal is the most durable.


Day/date watch A watch that indicates not only the date but also the day of the week.

Dial The watch face. The numerals, indices, or surface design are usually applied; others have been printed on.

Digital Any watch that shows the time in numbers instead of hands on the dial

Digital Watch A mechanical or solid-state watch in which the time shows through changes of digits, rather than positions of hands on the dial.

Divers Watches -Diver's watches are designed and manufactured especially for divers whose lives depend on the reliability of their watch in the water.
-Seiko and Pulsar diver's watches meet ISO (International Standardization Organization) regulations. Diver's watches must meet various standards regarding water resistancy, pressure resistancy, readability in the water, time presetting function (rotating elapsed time bezel), anti-magnetic ability, anti-shock, rust resistancy in salt water, manageability in water, ability to withstand sudden temperature changes, etc.


Etablissage French term for the method of manufacturing watches and/or movements by assembling their various components. It generally includes the following operations: receipt, inspection and stocking of the "ébauche", the regulating elements and the other parts of the movement and of the make-up; assembling; springing and timing; fitting the dial and hands; casing; final inspection before packing and dispatching.

Etablisseur French term for a watch factory which is engaged only in assembling watches, without itself producing the components, which it buys from specialist suppliers.

Equation of time The amount of time used to compensate for difference between true solar time to the mean, or civil, solar time at any given time.


Face The visible side of the watch where the dial is contained, most are printed with Arabic or Roman numerals.

Fly-back Hand, (retrograde date hand) Usually, a hand indicating a date or time against a scale and then "flies back" to catch up with to another date or time. For example, a hand that "flies back" to the beginning of the month after reaching the 28th, 29th, 30th, or 31st day of the month.


Gaskets A rubber type ring used as a seal against moisture and dust.Normally located in the case back, crown and pushers.

Grand strike ("Grande sonnerie" in french)Mechanism that can automatically sound the hours and quarter hours and which repeat hours, quarters and minutes on demand.

Gold Yellow precious metal, which is stainless and very malleable. Used in alloys to make jewelry, bracelets and watches. The portion of gold in the alloy is indicated in karats (k).


Hands The pointing device anchored at the center and circling around the dial indicating hours, minutes, seconds and any other special features of the watch.

Hourly time signal Single beep/chime, which rings on the hour, every hour when it is engaged.

Horns The parts on a wristwatch case, usually joined to the central piece, to which the straps are attached.


Kinetic Based on a revolutionary technology, Seiko Kinetic® watches run entirely on sell generated energy from natural movement of your wrist. It never needs a battery.

Keeper A small loop on the strap near the buckle. It holds the strap end in place after the buckle has been fastened.


Jewel In watchmaking, a synthetic ruby used for making low friction bearing in which the delicate pivots of the movement wheels run in. In some deluxe watches, sometimes sapphires or garnets are used.Expensive watch movements are jeweled from the barrel to the balance, and all automatic work, date and complication movements are expected to be jeweled.

Jumping hours On a watch dial, the digital numbers representing hours appearing through a small aperture or window.


LCDLiquid-crystal display. Digital time display

LED Light emitting diodes.Displays the time in a red light.Found less frequently these days.

Lighted dials Several types of lighted dials are used so that you can tell time in the dark. A side button activates the light. This technology often appears under a name brand such as Timex' Indiglo or Seiko's LumiBrite.

Lugs The metal holding located at the 6 and 12 o'clock position of the case.This is used to attach the band to the case with pushpins.

Lesser strike ("Petite sonnerie" in french)Striking-mechanism setting limited to the automatic strike of hours

Lever Any pivoting element and anchor-shaped part made of steel or brass that is part of the escapement.


Manual A hand-wound mechanical watch.Wound by turning the crown back and forth until resistance is met.

Mother-of-Pearl Iridescent, milky interior shell of the fresh water mollusk that is sliced thin and used on watch dials. While most have a milky white luster, mother-of-pearl also comes in other colors such as silvery gray, gray blue, pink, and salmon.

Movement The inner workings or assembly that make up the main timekeeping mechanism. Movements are either quartz or mechanical. This is the engine of the watch.

Mirror polish Extremely meticulous and elaborate polishing operation resulting in a flawlessly bright and smooth surface, absolutely free from scratches and blemishes.

Moon-phase calendar On some watches, the display of the evolution of the lunar cycle: rising, full or waning moon.


Pallet Steel or brass part of watch that controls the small rotation of a ratchet wheel.

Perpetual A type of calendar that automatically adjusts for months of different lengths and indicates February 29 in each leap year.

Platinum One of the rarest precious metals, platinum is also one of the strongest and heaviest, making it a popular choice for setting gemstone jewelry and watches. It has a rich, white luster, and an understated look. Platinum is hypoallergenic and tarnish resistant. Platinum used in jewelry and watches is at least 85 to 95 percent pure. Many platinum watches are produced in limited editions due to the expense and rarity of the metal.

Pushers Button located on the case of multifunction watches used to operate the special functions.

Push Pins Spring action pins that attach the band to the case lugs.


Racks The striking mechanism incorporates three round-shaped parts called racks: one for the hours, one for the quarters and one for the minutes.

Repeater A watch mechanism that sounds hours, quarters or minutes or repeats them on request. First designed to help the wearer to tell the time in the dark, they were always the most complex of watches and were the most difficult to miniaturize to fit into a wristwatch.

Rotor In automatic winding mechanisms, an unbalanced, semicircular metal turns freely in both directions winding the mainspring.


Quartz movement Watch movement that is powered by a miniature battery, so there is no need to wind the watch.


Shock resistance If shock resistance is specified on a watchcase, a watch can withstand normal wear and tear, even during strenuous sport activities.

Skeleton Watch in which the case and various parts of the movement are cut away to reveal the watch's mechanical elements.

Snail Notched cam for the hours, quarters or minutes. Named after its shape, it is used to mechanically set a wide range of indications.

Solar-powered A type of quartz movement where the batteries are recharged via solar panels on the watch face. They have a power reserve so they can run even in the dark.

Stainless steel An extremely durable metal alloy that is virtually immune to rust, discoloration, and corrosion; it can be highly polished, thus resembling a precious metal. Because of its strength, stainless steel is often used even on case backs on watches made of other metals.

Sterling Silver A white and highly reflective precious metal. Sterling refers to silver that is 92.5 percent pure, which should be stamped on the metal, sometimes accompanied by the initials of the designer or country of origin as a hallmark. Although less durable than stainless steel and other precious metals, sterling silver is often employed in watches that coordinate or look like sterling jewelry. A protective coating may be added to prevent tarnish.

Strap A watchband made of leather, plastic or fabric.


Titanium The "space age" metal, often with a silvery-gray appearance. Because it is 30 percent stronger and nearly 50 percent lighter than steel it has been increasingly used in watch making, especially sport watch styles. Its resistance to salt water corrosion makes it particularly useful in diver's watches. Since it can be scratched fairly easily, some manufacturers use a patented-coating to resist scratching.

Tourbillon A regulating device that cancels the effects of gravitation on the precision of a watch movement by rotating the balance, lever and escapement around a single axis. The mechanism that even in its most conventional version, is extremely hard to manufacture.

Train A set of wheels and pinions in a watch movement.


Vibration Describes the movement of a pendulum or other oscillating element, limited by two consecutive extreme positions. The balance of a mechanical watch making five or six vibrations per second vibrates at 18,000 or 21,600 times per hour.


Waterproof An illegal and misused term: No watch is fully 100 percent waterproof

Water resistant A watch bearing the inscription "water-resistant" on its case back can handle light moisture, such as a rainstorm or sink splashes, but should not be worn swimming or diving. If the watch can be submerged in water, it must state at what depth it maintains water-resistance, i.e. 50 meters (165 feet) or more on most sport watches. Below 200 meters, the watch may be used for skin diving and even scuba diving depending upon the indicated depths.

Watches come in different water resistant depths and diver's depths:

-Water resistant resistantWill withstand splashes of water or rain but should not be worn while swimming or diving.

-Water tested to 50 meters (165 feet) Suitable for showering or swimming in shallow water.

-Water tested to 100 meters (330 feet) Suitable for swimming or snorkeling

-Water tested to 150 meters (500 feet) Suitable for snorkeling.

-Water tested to 200 meters (660 feet) Suitable for skin diving.

Diver's to 150 meters Meets ISO Standards and is suitable for scuba diving.

Diver's to 200 meters Meets ISO Standards and is suitable for scuba diving.

White Gold Created from yellow gold by incorporating either nickel or palladium to the alloy to achieve a white color. Most watches made of white gold will be 18k.


Yellow gold The traditionally popular gold used in all gold or gold and stainless steel or other precious metal combinations. Yellow gold watches may be found in 14k or, as found from most European manufacturers, 18k

This post first appeared on Luxury Watches, please read the originial post: here

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Watch Terminology


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