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A to Z – Men’s Watch Glossary

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A

Automatic High Precision (AHP) – A movement operated by a swinging rotor that drives a mini generator. Electric power stored in the capacitor runs the quartz-controlled integrated circuit.

Alarm – A watch function that sounds at a pre-set time.

Altimeter – A common function in aviator watches that measures altitude or height above sea water. This important function is also used by climbers, walkers and mountaineers.

Analog – A watch with a dial that uses hands and numbers (hour markers) to tell the time, usually presented in a 12 hour time span display.

Aperture – A small opening found in the diamonds of some watches in which indicates certain signs such as the hour and date.

Atmosphere (ATM) – The measuring unit of pressure used in watches to indicate water resistance.

Auto Repeat Timer – A feature that allows the continuous operation of a countdown timer. It resets itself once the preset time has elapsed and starts repeating itself again until the stop button is pushed.

Automatic – An all mechanical movement invented by Abraham-Louis Perrelet in the 18th century. It requires no winding as the rotor mechanism winds the mainspring everytime it detects movement from the wearer. Most automatic watches have a power reserve storage of up to 36 hours.

B

Balance Spring (Hairspring) – This very fine spring used in a mechanical watch causes the recoil of the balance wheel. The length and adjustment of its length controls the timekeeping.

Balance Wheel – The part of a mechanical watch movement that divides time into equal segments by oscillating. This is the regulating mechanism that controls the watches timekeeping accuracy.

Barrel – A Thin cylinder box that contains the mainspring in a mechanical watch. The train is driven by the toothed rim of the barrel.

Base Metal – Any metal that is non-precious.

Battery – A device that converts chemical energy into electricity. Most batteries in watches are silver oxide type that delivers 1.5 volts. Much longer lasting lithium batteries delivers 3 volts.

Bezel – The ring on the outside of the watch case that holds the crystal glass in place. It may rotate in either direction (bi-directional) and have standard markings that assist in calculations for elapsed times especially on sport watches.

Bracelet – A flexible metal strap consisted of seperated removable links that adjusts the length of the bracelet.

Bridge – A part that is set to the main plate to develop the frame of a watch movement.

Brass – Copper and zinc alloy that is used to make the main plate and bridge wheels in the movement.

Buckle – Part that attaches both ends of the strap together around the wrist.

C

Cabochon Crown – A semi-precious stone in a round form or synthetic material set into the watch crown as a decoration.

Calender – A watch function that indicates the date and sometimes day of the week and the month, in various displays such as a cut out window or in a sub-dial.

Calibre – This describes the size and configuration of the movement and can now also indicate the shape, origin and constructor as well.

Cambered – A term often used when referring to an arched or curved dial or bezel.

Carat (Karat) – The unit to indicate how fine the gold is. 24k is pure gold while 18k gold is 75% pure.

Case – The metal casing that contains the watch parts, often made from stainless steel but can also be found in more precious materials such as platinum, gold and silver or cheaper ones like brass and plated with gold-coloured or silver coloured metals.

Chronograph – An additional watch function that acts as a stopwatch. Displayed in a variety of forms, usually two or three sub-dials for measuring seconds, minutes and hours.

Chronometer – A watch that has undergone vigorous tests in various positions and temperatures to ensure that it meets the high standards of accuracy (average rate of between -4/+6 seconds per day) set by the COSC, the official Swiss chronometer testing institute.

Clasp – The attachment used to connect the both ends of the watch bracelet or strap around the wrist. The clasp can be made in a variety of forms.

Complication – A watch that has any other functions besides timekeeping. A watch with any additional function such as chronograph is called a complicated watch.

Corrector – A system to fix the watch indicators (the hour, minute or day) by means of the crown.

Countdown Timer – A function that measures the remaining time of a pre-set time.

Crown (Winding Stem) – The knob on the right side of the case used for winding the mainspring of a mechanical watch or/and setting the hands and sometimes day/date of the watch. Also known as winding stem or winder.

Crystal (Glass) – This is the clear cover on the watch face that protects the dial. It is usually made from inexpensive plastic, mineral crystal or high quality and expensive sapphire crystal.

A to Z   Mens Watch Glossary

D

Day/Date – A watch that indicates the day of the week as well as the date.

Day/Night – Found on a world time watch. Using a coloured or shaded baned, it shows which time zones are in daylight and which are in night-time.

Dial – The face of a watch that shows the time. The numerals, indices, or surface design are usually applied while other marks are printed on.

Digital Display – A watch that shows the time in digits in an LCD display rather than the traditional hands and dial.

Direct Drive – This refers to a seconds hand (usually center hand) that moves forward in little jolts.

Directional Compass – This determines a geographical direction using the location of the sun displayed either by rotating a bezel or digital readout on the face of the watch.

Divers Watch – A specially designed and manufactured watch for water sport professionals whose lives depend on reliability of their watch in water. Divers watches must meet various high standards concerning water resistancy, pressure resistancy, readability in water, time presetting function (rotating elapsed time bezel), anti-magnetic ability, anti-shock, sudden temperature changes etc.

Dual Timer – A watch that displays local time and at least one other time zone.

Duo Display – A watch that displays the time in both analog and digital form.

E

Engine Turning (Guilloche) – This is a centuries old technique which today, involves using traditional machines to engrave fine patterns on metal watch components such as cases, dials, bezels and movements.

End of Life (EOL) – This is the end of life indication in quartz watches.

Escapement – A device in a mechanical movement that operates the rotation wheels and as a result, the hands.

F

Face – The visible side of the watch where the dial is present.

Flyback Hand (Rattrapante) – On certain chronograph watches, a seconds hand can be used to time laps or determine the finish times for numerous race competitors.

Frequency – The number of vibrations a second, in hertz (Hz).

Function (Complication) – A term used to describe the various tasks a watch can perform.

G

Gear Train – The system of gears which transfers power from the mainspring of the watch movement to the escapement.

Glass (Crystal) – This is the clear cover on the watch face that protects the dial. It is usually made from inexpensive plastic, mineral crystal or high quality and expensive sapphire crystal.

Gold – Precious yellow material which is stainless and very compliant. The quality and amount of gold used is measured in carats/karats.

Gold Plating – A layer of gold plated onto a base metal. The thickness of the plating is measured in microns (1000th of a mm).

Grand Complication – A watch that has three or more complications/functions in addition to timekeeping.

Guilloch (Engine Turning) – This is a centuries old technique which today, involves using traditional machines to engrave fine patterns on metal watch components such as cases, dials, bezels and movements.

H

Hairspring – This very fine spring used in a mechanical watch causes the recoil of the balance wheel. The length and adjustment of its length controls the timekeeping.

Hands – The pointing appliance at the center of the dial that circles around it to show seconds, minutes, hours and other special features on certain watches.

High Tech Ceramic – A smooth material polished with diamond dust to create an effective sparkling finish.

Horology – The science of time measurement, which includes the art of designing and constructing timepieces.

Hourly Time Signal – A beep/chime that rings on the hour, every hour when activated.

I

Index – An hour indicator seen on an analog watch dial that is used instead of numeral.

Integral Bracelet – A bracelet that is produced in such a way that when it’s attached to the watch, it appears to be part of it.

J

Jewels – Synthetic gemstones which reduces friction and wear by acting as bearings for the gear trains of a mechanical watch. A watch that contains at least 17 jewels is considered to be high quality.

K

Kinetic – A revolutionary technology which allows the watch to run entirely on cell generated energy from natural movement of your wrist, therefore it never needs a battery.

L

Lap Timer – A function in a chronograph watch which allows the timing of certain sections of a race. The timer is stopped at the end of the lap and returns to zero to time the next section.

Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) – A watch with a LCD shows the time in numeric form by using liquid held in a thin layer between two transparent plates.

Lugs – The arms at both sides of the watch case that hold the strap or bracelet.

Lumibrite – An environmentally safe illumination technology that glows brightly for hours without having to push a button or draw energy from a battery.

Luminous – A paint that illuminates itself, used on hands and markers.

M

Main Plate – The base plate which all other parts of a watch movement are mounted onto.

Mainspring – The coiled spring which delivers the power to drive a mechanical movement.

Manual – A mechanical watch that is hand wound.

Measurement Conversion – A feature usually consisting of a graduated scale on the bezel or dial that allows the wearer to convert one type of measurement into another.

Mechanical Movement – The traditional watch movement that is driven by a slow release of power from the manually wound mainspring through a set of small cog wheels.

Micron – Thousandth of a millimeter, it’s a measurement used for the gold plating thickness.

Mineral Glass – Watch glass that has been toned down to increase its scratch resistance.

Minute Repeater – A watch function that strikes the time in hours, quarters or minutes.

Moonphase – A window in a watch which indicates and tracks the phases of the moon through 29 ½ days.

Mother of Pearl – The gleaming interior of a freshwater mollusc that is used to decorate watch dials and comes in a variety of colours including pink, blue and milky white.

Movement – The motor mechanism of a watch that makes it keep time and perform functions.

Multi Functional – A watch that can perform several functions while keeping track of the time.

N

O

Oscillation – The journey of the balance wheel from one extreme to the other and then back again.

P

Perpetual Calender – A watch function that takes into account the variations in the length of the month and leap years, and therefore can alter the calendar accordingly.

Platinum – One of the rarest and strongest of precious metals. Platinum doesn’t tarnish and has a radiant, beautiful white lustre. Popularly used in the most prestigious and expensive watches.

Power Reserve – The time the watch will operate with a fully charged power supply. Certain watches have a power reserve indicator which shows how much power is left before it needs to be charged again.

Pulsimeter – A scale on a chronograph watch which can measure pulse rate.

Physical Vapour Deposition (PVD) – A Method of covering thin watch cases by incorporating titanium particles and then depositing gold for colour.

Q

Quartz Crystal – The portion of a synthetic quartz crystal in a quartz movement watch. When electric current passes through it, the quartz swings back and forth at the rate of 32.768 hertz dividing the time in equal sections, thus regulating the time.

Quartz Movement – An electronic watch movement usually made in Hong Kong, Japan, or Switzerland. It uses a quartz crystal to oscillate, with the power provided by a battery or a capacitor. This movement is generally more accurate than mechanical movements.

R

Rattrapante (Flyback Hand) – On certain chronograph watches, a seconds hand can be used to time laps or determine the finish times for numerous race competitors.

Regulator – A monitor that shows hours and minutes on separate dials, or sub dials.

Repeater – A watch function that strikes the hours by the method of a mechanism operated by a push button or bolt. There are a large variety of repeaters, each with a different tone or striking times.

Rose (or Pink) Gold – A material combination of 75% gold and 25% copper alloy.

Rotor – This is the oscillating element of an automatic watch that winds the mainspring.

S

Sand Blasting – Development of a granular metal finish by using a high pressure jet of sand.

Sapphire Crystal – The high quality cover that protects the watch face/dial which is made of synthetic sapphire (transparent & scratch resistant substance).

Sapplex Crystal – A combination of sapphire and hardlex crystals.

Screw Down Crown – A crown which screws down into a threaded barrel to assist a watch’s water resistance. This feature is often used for divers watches.

Second Time Zone Indicator – An additional dial that can be set to display another time zone, allowing the wearer to know two different times at the same time.

Shock Absorber – A flexible bearing that protects the pivots from damage by taking in the shocks received by the watch’s balance staff.

Shock Resistance – A watch capable of withstanding an impact equal to that of being dropped onto a wooden floor from a height of three feet.

Skeleton Case – A watch with a transparent front or back case which allows the watch movement to be visible.

Solar Powered – A quartz movement watch that gains power from natural or artificial light and has a power reserve so it can still run in the dark.

Solid State – A timepiece that has no moving parts. All digital watches are entirely solid state while analog watches combine solid state circuits with moving parts.

Split Seconds – A second chronograph that can run simultaneously with the first but can be stopped alone to record a middle time.

Stainless Steel – A highly durable metal that is practically resistant to rust, discoloration and corrosion.

Stepping Motor – The part of a quartz analog movement that moves the gear train resulting in the moving of the watch’s hands.

Stopwatch – A timekeeping device that measures time intervals. When incorporated on an analog watch, the watch is called a chronograph.

Strap – A watch band that is made of leather, plastic or fabric.

Subsidiary Dial – A small dial on the dial used for certain purposes such as date indication or tracking elapsed time.

Sweep Seconds Hand – A seconds hand that is incorporated into the center of the dial instead of a sub-dial.

Swiss A.o.S.C – A certificate of origin. It’s a mark that shows the watch has been assembled in Switzerland and has components of Swiss origin.

Swiss Made – A watch that has it’s movement assembled, started, adjusted and controlled by the manufacturer in Switzerland.

T

Tachymeter – A set of markings on the bezel or inner rim of the dial that measures the wearers speed over a known distance. It is used by coinciding with the seconds hand.

Tank Watch – A rectangular watch with bars along the sides of the face. It was designed by Louis Cartier and was inspired by the tank tracks of World War II.

Telemeter – A feature on a watch that can find the distance of an object from the wearer by measuring how long it takes sound to travel from the object to the wearer. Similar to the method of a tachymeter, it uses a stopwatch function and a special scale.

Thirty Minute Recorder – A sub-dial on a chronograph watch that can time periods of up to 30 minutes.

Timer – A device that registers intervals of time without any indication of the time of day.

Titanium – A silver metal that is 30% stronger and nearly 50% lighter than steel and is also resistant to salt water corrosion.

Tonneau – A watch that is shaped like a barrel with two convex sides.

Totaliser – A device that keeps track of and displays elasped time, usually on a sub-dial.

Tourbillon – This is a function found on mechanical watches. It gets rid of timekeeping errors caused by minor differences due to shifts in gravity when a watch changes position during use. The round cage holds the balance wheel and escapement while continuously rotating at the rate of one rotation per minute.

U

V

Very High Precision (VHP) – A quartz movement with a temperature sensor to keep the rate variations within extremely narrow margins.

Vibration – This term refers to the movement of an oscillating part that is limited by two extreme positions. A mechanical watch balance usually vibrates at a rate of five or six vibrations a second.

W

Water Resistance – A watch that has the ability to withstand water to various conditions and pressures.

White Gold – Combination of yellow gold and nickel or palladium. Most white gold watches are 18 carats.

Winding – This is the process of tightening the mainspring of a watch which can be done manually by way of the crown or automatically from a rotor which oscillates by the wearer’s movement.

Winding Stem (Crown) – The knob on the right side of the case used for winding the mainspring of a mechanical watch or/and setting the hands and sometimes day/date of the watch. Also known as winding stem or winder.

World Time Dial – A watch with a dial that indicates up to 24 time zones around the world. It is usually found on the bezel or outer edge of the face. A watch with this feature is called a world timer.

X

Y

Yacht Timer – A countdown time which shows or sounds warning signals during the countdown to a boat race.

Yellow Gold – A popular precious material that is traditionally used in watches as pure or combination with other precious metals.

Z