WATCH TERMINOLOGY: A-Z

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IF YOU'RE NOT SURE WHAT ANY PART OF THE WATCH IS CALLED. PLEASE HAVE A LOOK DOWN THIS LIST AND IT MAY JUST HELP YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PROBLEM.

Analogue

Analogue watches use hands to show the time.

Alarm

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

Altimeter

A watch function that uses changes in barometric pressure to provides altitude readings. As seen on a Tissot T touch.

Analogue/Digital

A watch that uses both digital display and hands to display the time. Usually featured on sport watch styles. Like a Tag Heuer Kirium F1 men’s analogue-digital chronograph watch.

Aperture

Where the date is displayed within the dial of the watch. Normally at 3 o’clock.

Atmosphere (ATM)

Unit of pressure used in watch making to indicate water-resistance.

Automatic

Automatic watches are mechanical and relies on the movement of the wrist to move an oscillating weight which keeps the mainspring wound up. They are sometimes called “perpetual” like a Rolex Oyster Perpetual watch.

Baguette

Ladies style watch with a thin, elongated rectangular or oval face. Cartier watches still design watches like this.

Bar

A small rod with a spring pivot at either end which fixes the strap to the watch which is also called a spring bar.

Battery

Also known as a cell. Not to confused with a capacitor which are used in Seiko kinetic watches.

Battery Reserve Indicator

The watch will indicate when the battery is nearing its end by causing the movement of the hands to jump 2-4 seconds depending upon the make and model. This function is only available on some Swiss Quartz watches like Tag Heuer watches.

Bezel

The ring on the outside of a watch that surrounds the glass. Sometimes they rotate and have numbers and markers on them.

Bracelet

A flexible metal band consisting of assembled links which allow the bracelet to fit comfortably on the wrist. Can be made from stainless steel or precious metals.

Buckle

The fastening for a strap, consisting of a rim and tongue. It attaches the two parts of the leather strap around the wrist.

Button

Push piece controls to control special functions such as the chronograph or the alarm.

Cabochon Crown

A rounded semi-precious stone or synthetic material usually black, fitted into the watch crown as an ornament. Cartier is famous for these.

Calendar

A watch feature that shows the date and sometimes the day of the week and the month, usually displayed through a cut-out window in the dial, or as a small sub-dial with small hands indicating the day/date feature or by a digital readout.

Calibre

The dimensions of the watch. Calibre describes the size and configuration of the movement and can now indicate the shape, origin and constructor as well.

Case

Essentially the body of any watch, the housing of a watch movement, and which the strap is fixed.

Complication

A watch with other functions besides time keeping. For example, a chronograph is a watch complication. other complications coveted by watch collectors include: minute repeater, tourbillion, perpetual calendar, or split second chronograph.

Corrector

A watch with other functions besides time keeping. For example, a chronograph is a watch complication. other complications coveted by watch collectors include: minute repeater, tourbillion, perpetual calendar, or split second chronograph.

Countdown Timer

Measures remaining time from a preset period of time.

Crown

The crown extends from the case that is used to set the time, date, etc. Most pull out to set the time. In water resistant watches the crown screws down. Omega, Tag Heuer, Rolex and Zenith to name a few use this method.

Crystal

This covers watch face (dial), commonly known as the glass. Three types are commonly found in watches:

  • Acrylic crystal, a plastic, is inexpensive and shallow scratches can be buffed out.
  • Mineral crystal is comprised of several elements that are heat treated to create unusual hardness that aids in resisting scratches.
  • Sapphire crystal is the most expensive and durable, approximately three times harder than mineral crystals and 20 times harder than acrylic crystals. A non-reflective coating on some sports styles prevents glare.
Day/Date Watch

A watch that can indicate the date as well as the day of the week.

Deployment Buckle

A clasp that folds under the strap of the watch. It is used instead of a standard buckle on a leather strap.

Digital

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

Diver’s Clasp

A clasp that is suitable to wear over a diving suit. It normally has a function to extend the clasp so it can be fitted over a wetsuit when needed. Rolex new Deep Sea has a genius way of doing this.

Face or Dial

The dial sits on top of the movement and has the time and markers printed on it, and is one of the most important ways of giving a watch its own distinctive looks, it can be made from any material you can think off.

Hands

The pointing devices that circle around the dial indicating hours, minutes, seconds etc.

Kinetic

Seiko Kinetic watches run entirely on self generated energy from natural movement of your wrist. It uses a capacitor instead on a battery.

LCD

Liquid-crystal display.

Lugs

Projections at either side of the case where the bracelet or strap is attached.

Luminous

Self illuminating paint used on hands and markers.

Manual

A hand-wound mechanical watch.

Mechanical Movement

A movement which uses a mainspring which is wound by hand or by an oscillating weight from the movement of the wrist.

Movement

The inner workings or assembly that make up the main timekeeping mechanism of the watch. Movements are most commonly either quartz or mechanical.

Perpetual Calendar

A type of calendar that automatically adjusts for months of different lengths and indicates February 29 in each leap year until the year 2100.

Quartz

When activated by a battery, a quartz crystal very predictably vibrates, providing very accurate timekeeping.

Sapphire Glass

Transparent synthetic sapphire is used for scratch-proof watch glasses as it extremely hard.

Screw Down Crown

Watches which are water resistant generally have screw down crowns to prevent water entering the case.

Seals

Rubber gaskets that seal the joints between parts of the case and keep out the water.

Spring Bar

A spring loaded metal bar, telescopic in design is used on most watches to attach a strap or bracelet to the case.

Strap

The band that holds the watch to the wrist. Watch straps are made from numerous types of materials and leathers.

Sub Dial

A small subsidiary dial found within the main dial of a watch that is used for any of several purposes, such as keeping track of elapsed minutes or hours on a chronograph or indicating the date.