Fashion Watches

50 Essential Watch Terms Everyone Should Know • Gear Patrol

50 Essential Watch Terms Everyone Should Know • Gear Patrol

Like automobiles and computer systems, the terminology behind watches is nearly as difficult because the mechanics that drive them. Diehard watch nerds throw round acquainted phrases like “caliber,” “frequency” and “complication” with little regard for an outsider’s information of what they imply in a watch context; additionally they spout easy jargon meaning lots (“jewels”) and intimidating phrases which are truly easy (“Manufacture d’Horologie”). For the timekeeping beginner, a easy glossary will assist minimize the confusion — contemplate this your reference level.

Automated: A mechanical watch that’s wound by the movement of the wearer’s wrist, fairly than by twisting the crown. The movement of the wrist strikes a counterweight (referred to as a rotor) that then powers the mainspring, which turns the watch’s gears.

Stability Wheel: A weighted wheel that oscillates at a continuing price (often one oscillation per fraction of a second), shifting the watch’s gears and permitting the palms to maneuver ahead

Stability Spring: A fragile spring (typically constructed from metallic however typically silicon) hooked up to the stability wheel that regulates the speed at which a stability wheel oscillates. The stability spring can also be also known as a hairspring.

Barrel: The cylindrical, enclosed equipment with geared tooth that accommodates the mainspring, thus homes the watch’s energy reserve. A watch’s energy reserve might be expanded by including further barrels.

A Rolex Cerachrom (ceramic) bezel.

Bezel: A metallic (although sometimes ceramic) ring that surrounds the watch crystal. Typically bezels rotate on watches (often on dive watches) and include a scale for time or different measurements; some stay stationary or should not have a scale and are purely ornamental. (Study extra about totally different sorts of bezels right here.)

Bridge: A plate or bar that’s mounted to the mainplate, forming a body that homes the inside workings of a mechanical watch.

Caliber: A synonym for motion, most frequently used when a producer is denoting a selected mannequin identify for a motion.

Case Again: The reverse aspect of a watch case that may be eliminated to entry the within of the watch.

Chronograph: A kind of watch that options a further stopwatch perform along with the primary time. A chronograph might be both quartz or mechanical (or a hybrid of the 2) and is activated by way of a set of pushers protruding from the aspect of the case. (See a few of our favourite trendy chronographs right here.)

Chronometer: A watch that has been independently examined by the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC) in Switzerland (or another official governing physique in different nations). Within the case of the previous, watches are examined over the course a number of days in six totally different positions at three totally different temperatures, whereas remaining correct to inside -Four/+6 seconds per day for mechanical watches and ±zero.07 per day for quartz watches. (Study extra about chronometers right here.)

Complication: A further perform of a watch that goes past telling the time, like a stopwatch (chronograph), calendar or a moonphase indicator. Problems require further elements and make a watch costlier and sophisticated to construct.

Crown: A small knob on the aspect of the watch case that can be utilized to regulate the time, date and — in case your mechanical watch isn’t automated — wind the watch to maintain it operating.



Crystal: The clear protecting cowl that shrouds the watch face, produced from both artificial sapphire, acrylic or glass. Artificial sapphire is the costliest to supply, although it’s significantly extra scratch resistant than both acrylic or glass crystals. (Discover ways to repair a scratched watch crystal right here.)

Deployant Clasp: A kind of watch strap buckle that closes by folding in on itself, then clasping. Makes the strap simpler to tackle and off and retains the leather-based from getting worn or stretched out.

Dial: Additionally also known as the face, the dial shows the time and options numerals and markings in addition to the arms. (See a few of our favourite dial designs right here.)

Dive Watch: A dive watch is a water resistant watch, however not all water resistant watches are dive watches. True dive watches ought to meet a selected commonplace for diving like ISO 6425, which requires the watch to be water resistant to at the very least 200 meters, function a unidirectional rotating bezel and a few type of illumination.



Escapement: An inner element in a mechanical watch that transfers the facility from a wound-up watch into the motion of the watch’s seconds hand by driving the stability wheel at a gentle fee. Most trendy watches use a “lever escapement,” comprised of an escape wheel and a lever with two pallets. The escape wheel is related to the gear practice (which receives power from the mainspring) and the lever and pallets lock and unlock the escape wheel at a gentle fee. This element is liable for a watch’s ticking noise.

Exhibition Case Again: Additionally referred to as an “open” case again, this can be a clear cowl on the bottom of a watch case that exhibits off the internal workings of the motion.

Frequency: The velocity at which a watch ticks (or beats), measured in both vibrations per hour or hertz. Most trendy, high-end mechanical watches beat at a frequency of 28,800 VpH (4Hz). Watches that beat at 36,000 VpH (5Hz) or greater are thought-about to be high-beat watches. A watch’s frequency is managed by the oscillations of its stability wheel.

A Rolex deployant clasp.

A Rolex deployant clasp

Flyback Chronograph: A kind of chronograph that may be reset with out stopping the chronograph perform (which is important in a traditional chronograph). It’s notably helpful amongst pilots and different customers who have to report a number of occasions in fast succession. (Study extra about chronographs right here.)

Gasket: A rubber, neoprene or plastic ring used to seal the gaps between the case and the case again, crystal and crown to stop water or mud from getting into the case and damaging the motion inside.

Gear Practice: A system of gears that switch energy from the mainspring to the escapement.

GMT: Although it stands for Greenwich Imply Time, a watch known as a GMT has the power to trace two time zones directly. Initially developed by Rolex for pilots within the ’50s, they’re notably helpful for any frequent flyer. (See a few of our favourite GMT watches right here.)

Guilloche: An engraved decorative sample, typically used on watch dials, comprised of intricately intertwined strains. (Study extra about guilloche right here.)

Hacking Seconds: Additionally referred to as “cease seconds,” this perform will cease the seconds hand when the crown is pulled out. This makes it simpler to synchronize a watch with one other timepiece.

Hand-wound: Referring to a mechanical watch that doesn’t routinely wind. Hand-wound watches are powered by manually turning the crown to wind up the mainspring.

Haute Horlogerie: Translated to English, this French time period means “excessive watchmaking,” and is used to differentiate watches or watchmakers that reveal excessive proficiency in watch design, technical innovation and ending.

Horology: The artwork and/or science of measuring time.

Hybrid Smartwatch: A classically-styled analog watch (often quartz-powered) that additionally options digital sensible features like exercise monitoring and push notifications. (Learn our evaluate of certainly one of our favourite hybrid smartwatches right here.)

Indices: The markings on the dial of a watch used to characterize the hours instead of numerals. In higher-end watches, these are often “utilized,” or hooked up to the dial, moderately than printed on.



Jewels: Artificial rubies (typically artificial sapphires) used as bearings on the heaviest factors of wear and tear in a watch motion as a way to scale back friction between shifting elements and improve a motion’s lifespan. Jewels have a naturally slicker floor than metallic — for instance, the coefficient of friction between two items of metal is about zero.58, whereas the coefficient of sapphire on metal is about zero.15. Jewels are solely used to extend the accuracy of the motion and aren’t for adornment.

Lugs: The protruding items of metallic on the prime and backside of a watch case the place the strap is hooked up. The 2 ends of the lug maintain a spring bar, which holds the strap in place.

Luminescence: Colloquially known as “lume,” luminescence is the glow given off by watch numerals, indices and arms which were coated with a photoluminescent materials (“lumed”). Whereas early watches used radioactive radium to create lume, most trendy watches use non-radioactive phosphorescent substances like strontium aluminate. (Study concerning the darkish historical past of luminescent watches right here.)

Magnetisim: Metallic elements inside a watch can typically be magnetized when launched to magnetic fields, thus inflicting a critical lack of accuracy. This occurs principally when the stability spring turns into magnetized and sticks to itself, inflicting the watch to run quicker than traditional. Fortuitously, this drawback could be fastened shortly and simply at a watchmaker (or at residence, even). It’s sufficient of an issue, nevertheless, that some high-end watchmakers use soft-iron cages to guard the motion from magnetic fields, or use silicon stability wheels that don’t turn into magnetized. (Study extra about anti-magnetic watches right here.)

Mainplate: The bottom on which all of the elements of a mechanical watch motion are mounted.

Mainspring: A torsion spring that turns into tightened when a watch is wound, thus storing the power of a watch. The drive of the spring unwinding powers the watch. The mainspring is housed inside a small drum referred to as a “barrel.”

Manufacture d’Horologie: A French time period, often shortened to “manufacture,” that refers to a watch firm that develops its personal elements (together with its actions) at its personal facility (“in-house”), moderately than assembling watches from elements made by third-party half suppliers.

Three Patek Philippe movements: automatic, hand-wound and quartz

Three Patek Philippe actions: Automated, Guide and Quartz

Motion: The inner-working mechanism of a watch that may be both mechanical (automated or hand-wound) or quartz (battery powered). Most watch producers check with their actions as “calibers.” In a mechanical motion, the primary elements are a mainspring, a gear practice, an escapement and a stability wheel. In a quartz motion, the primary elements are a battery, a microchip circuit, a quartz crystal and a stepper motor. Many high-end actions (each quartz and mechanical) are manufactured in Switzerland by both watch manufacturers themselves or from giant motion makers like ETA and Valjoux, although Japan and even China have their very own thriving watchmaking industries.

Energy Reserve: The size of time that a mechanical watch can run as soon as it’s absolutely wound. Most entry-level watches have an influence reserve of about 40 hours, although many higher-end watches can run for a number of days at a time. Typically watches will function an influence reserve gauge indicating how absolutely wound the watch is.

Pusher: A button on a chronograph watch that begins, stops and/or resets the chronograph mechanism. Nearly all of chronographs have two pushers — one for beginning and stopping the mechanism, and one other for resetting.

Quartz: A quartz watch is a battery-powered watch. The battery sends an electrical sign by way of a microchip circuit to a small quartz crystal that then vibrates at a exact fee. These vibrations regulate a stepper motor that strikes the watch arms. Quartz watches are significantly extra correct, extra dependable and cheaper than their mechanical counterparts, although mechanical watch diehards don’t discover them as interesting due to their easier inner elements. (See a few of our favourite quartz watches right here.)

Rattrapante Chronograph: Additionally referred to as a double chronograph or split-seconds chronograph, this provides a further seconds hand and pusher to the usual chronograph perform. The extra seconds hand strikes in sync with the usual seconds hand, however stops when the additional pusher is depressed, permitting the consumer to document two occasions directly. (Study extra about rattrapante chronographs right here.)

Repeater: A high-end complication that chimes to indicate the time on the push of a button on the watch case.

Retrograde: An indicator on a watch dial that types a phase of a circle, slightly than a full circle. When the indicator goes by way of a full cycle, it resets again to the zero place by shifting backward. Typically used to point hours, minutes or dates.

Silicon: This metalloid is rising increasingly more widespread in watchmaking (principally in stability springs and escapements), because it doesn’t react to modifications in magnetism and temperature like metallic does and doesn’t require lubrication. As such, watches with these silicon elements are sometimes extra correct, extra dependable and extra immune to magnetism than their counterparts utilizing metallic elements.

Skeleton: Just like an exhibition case again, a skeleton watch exhibits off the inside workings of the watch, however does so by means of a clear or partially cut-out dial in order that the motion could be seen from the entrance of the watch.

Small Seconds: A small sub-dial separate from the primary hour and minute perform that shows the seconds.

An IWC tourbillon.

An IWC tourbillon

Tourbillon: A kind of escapement housed in a rotating cage that’s meant to counter the unfavorable results gravity on a motion. Whereas the motion was initially meant for pocket watches, they’ve moved to wristwatches as a option to showcase the peak of a manufacture’s watchmaking talents, and as such, they command exorbitant costs. (Study extra about tourbillons right here.)

Winder: A field or case (or vault if in case you have the means) that lightly rotates an automated watch to maintain the mainspring absolutely wound when it isn’t being worn. (You possibly can study extra about watch winders right here.)

World timer: A watch with a dial that may be adjusted to point out the time in 24 totally different time zones represented by 24 main cities throughout the globe. (See a few of our favourite world time watches right here.)

A Historical past of Watchmaking in Glashütte, Germany


How a small city in Germany turned an epicenter for high-quality watchmaking. Twice. Learn the Story