Glossary Of Watch Terms

With origins that date back to the early seventeenth century, watches are an incredibly unique and fascinating bit of technology. Their fine craftsmanship, versatility and constant innovation is likely why even after all this time and despite all the other timekeeping technology available to us, watches still reign supreme. And why so many iconic watch brands are still going strong over one hundred years later.

In their several-hundred year existence, watches have not only amassed quite the following as they have grown to be smarter and more efficient, but they have also spawned quite a few key terms and buzzwords that are unique to watches, their hardware and the technology within them.

So, here is your A to Z guide to key watch terms used by those in the industry and keen watch fans alike.


Acrylic Crystal

Although technically considered to be a type of glass, acrylic crystal is a tough thermoplastic that is used as a case to cover the dial on some watches. Relatively scratch resistant and able to withstand hard blows, acrylic crystal helps keep your watch dial in tip-top shape.


An alarm is a function that is designed to alert a person at a specific time of day through the form of vibrations or beeping sound effects depending on the kind of watch that you own. People use watch alarms as substitutes for alarm clocks for everything from waking up to reminders.


Amplitude is a type of watch movement that is able to indicate sufficient energy transmission. With amplitude, each clockwise or anti-clockwise wheel turn through a set angle of rotation that is generally between 275 and 315 degrees.


Ana-Digi is the nickname bestowed on watches that feature both an analogue display (hands) and digital displays. Usually powered by quartz movement, timepieces with ana-digi features are also often known as dual display watches. It is a feature that is quite synonymous with G-shock watches and Casio watches.


Analogue is a traditional timekeeping display that generally features one to three hands which represent the hour, minutes and seconds. Analogue watches are one of the oldest timepiece styles that are characterised by their rotating and pivoting hands that move as time goes on.


Anglage is a French term that translates to “chamfering”. Anglage or chamfering is a technique utilised by professional watchmakers to make the sharp right angles, specifically when the flat upper surfaces meet with the perpendicular sides of parts look more appealing visually.

Annual Calendar

The Annual Calendar of a watch refers to a complete calendar that displays the day, date and month. Rarely requiring any tweaking, the annual calendar automatically adjusts the date displayed on the timepiece based on the 30 and 31-day months to ensure it is always displaying the correct date.


Aperture is the name given to the small cut-out on the front of the watch’s dial to view the date display or even the watch’s movement. Watches with an aperture revealing some or all of the piece’s movement are referred to as a skeleton or open heart design.


ATM is an abbreviation of the world atmospheres. In the watch world, ATM or atmospheres are an indication of what atmospheric pressure a watch has been specifically designed to withstand in water. 3 ATM is the equivalent to 30-metre water resistance, while 30 ATM is 300-metres of water-meaning the watch is suitable for diving.


Automatic refers to a type of watch movement. Automatic watches can be wound with both the crown and the movement of the wearer’s wrist. Automatic watches feature a weighted rotor that spins when the person wearing the timepiece moves their hand or wrist, allowing for energy to be stored in the watch’s mainspring.


Balance Wheel

The balance wheel is a small timekeeping device used in mechanical watches, along with some small clocks that regulate and stabilise the mechanics. It is a weighted wheel that rotates back and forth, before being returned toward its centre position by either a spiral torsion spring, the balance spring or a hairspring. Its mechanisms are driven by an escapement that transforms the rotating motion of the watch gear train into impulses that power the balance wheel.


In watch terms, a barrel is a powerful mainspring built into mechanical timepieces and clocks that provides power to the watch when it is wound. Consisting of a cylinder metal box with a ring of gear teeth around it and a spiral spring commonly referred to as a mainspring, the barrel is watch keeps your watch moving and ticking.

Base Plate

The base plate is a flat, disk-shaped piece of metal that serves as the foundations of a watch’s movement. The base plate sometimes referred to as the main plate, essentially holds all to pieces of a watch’s movement together so that they remain sturdy and refined even over time. Base plates will often be supported by a bridge that is attached to the piece via screws.


Bead blasting is a technique used by those in the manufacturing industry that involves propelling small glass or steel beads onto an object like watches to provide them with a sheen surface or even a matte and/or satin finish. Bead blasting essentially penetrates the exterior of an object such as a watch until it has a more refined and uniform finish.


A beat is a name commonly given to the amount rotations a watch’s balance wheel will have as its mechanisms move. Each rotation, whether it be clockwise or anti-clockwise is the equivalent of one beat. On average, a mechanical watch will rotate at around 28,000 beats per hour.

Bevelled Edges

Bevelled edges are a non-compulsory design feature present on many watches on the market today. Notable for their presence on a myriad of timepieces from Rolex to Seiko watches, bevelled edges is the practice of placing an angled chamfer onto the edges of plates not just for decorative purposes but they provide the watch with some extra protection when you are wearing it.


The bezel is a ring of metal centred around the watch’s case and dial. Serving as an added form of protection, the bezel is designed to be removed if it requires replacing or repair. A watch’s bezel will often be decorated with additional numerical digits and will also sometimes have the ability to be rotated if a timer or a change in time zones is required.


Bluing is a technique that is used to prevent the steel in watches from becoming corroded or rusted by literally turning them blue. This method involves treating the steel with heat or with a special black oxide coating that reacts to the steel, resulting in its blue appearance. This will protect the inner workings of your watch or the exterior of a stainless-steel watch from deteriorating over time.


BPH or ‘beats per hour’ is traditionally what is used to measure a watch’s ticks or vibrations. As it currently stands, mechanical watches on the market today can get in an astounding 28,000 BPH. Before the 1970s, watches could only amass around five beats per second but they can get as much as ten beats per second.


Much like a jewellery bracelet, a watch bracelet is how you attach the watch to your wrist. While some watch bracelets are adjustable, some aren’t and they can pretty much come in any style or material from stainless-steel link and mesh bands to leather, silicone, plastic, nylon and even resin. A watch’s bracelet is often purely a design choice, however, some materials are more durable than others.

Breguet Overcoil

The Breguet overcoil is a type of hairspring featuring a curl in it. Developed by Swiss watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet, the Breguet overcoil is one of the types of hairsprings used to protect the spring from deforming as it expands and contracts while the watch rotates. The overcoil also helps keep the rotation smooth and stable.


The bridge of a watch is a metal plate or bar that is screwed onto the watch’s base plate or movement as a way to frame the inner workings of the watch. The bridge not only provides stability in keeping all the watch’s parts in place but it also provides them with protection, particularly the movement which could impact the whole watch if it were to become damaged.


Brushing is a technique that gives stainless steel watches and other metal watches a unidirectional satin finish. Brushing involves polishing the watch metal with a 120-180 grit belt or wheel and then softening it down with either an 80-120 grit greaseless compound or a non-woven abrasive belt or pad to achieve that seamless finish we’ve come to know and love on metal timepieces. Brushing is also a technique used on everything from small kitchen appliances and cutlery to cars and even some monuments all over the world.


A watch buckle is what latches the two ends of the bracelet and secures them into place. There is a myriad of different types of watch buckles out there including the deployment clasp that unfolds into thirds for a more fitted look, the push-button deployment clasp which features spring-loaded buttons, the velcro strap, the jewellery clasp and the tang buckle. Arguably the most common, tang buckles secure the watch bracelet to your wrist with a small pin, much like how you would secure a belt buckle or bag strap.



The Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètre or the C.O.S.C is an official Swiss chronometer testing institute that is responsible for verifying the precision, accuracy and authenticity of Swiss watches. A not-for-profit organisation, the C.O.S.C primarily analyses Swiss-made chronometer watches.


A calendar is a complication that displays the day, date, time and sometimes even the moon phase on the face of your timepiece. Rarely requiring any tweaking, a watch calendar works by adjusting the time, day and date based on the 30 day and 31 day months as well as February. Many watches even have dates pre-programmed in them with dates up to 2100.


A calibre is another word for the internal mechanism inside the watch known as a movement. While the term calibre was initially only used to refer to the size of the movement, it is now used to distinguish the type of watch as well as the kind of movement within it whether it be quartz, mechanical or automatic watch movement.


A watch case is not what you store your timepiece in when you’re not wearing it but rather what encases the watch’s movement and dial. Coming in all shapes, sizes, materials and styles, the case not only protects your watch from everyday wear and tear but also keeps it safe from the elements. Traditionally, watches would have a case made out of stainless steel some other type of metal, however, you can also get cases made out of silicone and hard plastics like resin. Some watch cases will be completely translucent, allowing you to have a peek at the mechanics of your timepiece.


As its name suggests, the case back is essentially the back of the watch. Providing the wearer with comfort and stability, a case back is often removable which allows the owner or a repairer to open the watch and take a look at the movement and other mechanics inside of the watch. Often containing brand-specific engravings and other hallmarks, case backs are generally made of stainless steel or another type of metal, while some will be completely clear which provides a full view of the inside of the watch.


The centre links is a term commonly given to the buckle or the middle section of a three-piece link watch bracelet. Three-piece watch link bracelets typically consist of stainless steel and other metals, however, occasionally they can be made of resin. Watches with this type of bracelet can be taken to a jeweller or watch repairer to have some of the links removed to shorten the bracelet so that the watch fits better.

Chapter Ring

Often mistaken as the inner-bezel ring this is positioned between the bezel and the crystal, the chapter ring is the thin painted inner ring that surrounds the dial. Coming in an array of colours, the chapter ring will often have second, a minute or even hours markers painted on it that can sometimes be used as a timer.


A chronograph is a type of dial that has a stopwatch function built into the movement which is used to measure how much time has passed. Chronograph watches can be identified by their multiple (usually 2 or 3) small dials that sit amongst the timepiece's large analogue dial. Known as sub-dials or ‘watch eyes’, these dials help you keep track of the seconds, minutes and hours. A chronograph can either have a manual, self-winding or quartz movement.

Chronometer Certified

Chronometer Certified is a certification given to Swiss watches that have undergone a rigorous evaluation by the C.O.S.C and is tested over a certain amount of days in different situations, environments and temperatures. Chronometer-certified watches are essentially a timepiece that has met very specific criteria for their high precision and capabilities. Much like GIA Certified Diamonds, Chronometer Certified watches will often be given a special serial number to indicate this status.


A lot like a bangle clasp, a watch clasp is essentially a type of fastening that holds the two ends of a timepiece’s bracelet into place. The two most common types of watch clasps on the market today, are buckles and deployment clasps. Usually seen on mesh, rubber or leather watches, buckles have a pin that can be looped through multiple holes depending on your wrist size much like a belt. Deployment clasps, on the other hand, have a hook-type latch that folds into twos or thirds when it is open.

Co-Axial Escapement

Developed by English watchmaker George Daniels in 1976, a co-axial escapement is a type of catchment used by various watch brands on the market today to prevent friction to produce greater mechanical efficiency. Co-axial escapement with three palettes that separate the locking function from the impulse with the pushing rather than the sliding friction of the lower escapement. The co-axial escapement is often heralded as the heart of the movement.


Primarily found in chronograph watches, a column-wheel is a notched and upright rotating wheel that operates as a sliding link utilised to operate the various levers on a chronograph watch that not only turn the timepiece off and on but will also return the chronograph hands to the zero position. If you have a chronograph with a clear backing, you may be able to see the column wheel along with the other inner workings of your watch.


A complication is not to indicate any errors or problems with a watch but is rather an umbrella term given to the functions of a watch that do anything but tell the time. A complication could refer to something as simple as a watch’s date window or alarm to moon-phase functions and power reserve indicators. With technology being so advanced and affordable in today’s age, it is rare to find watches without at least a few complications.

Côtes De Genève

The Côtes De Genève or the damaskeening as it is known in English is a decorative pattern that is present on most watch movements in today’s age. Existing mainly for aesthetic reasons, the Côtes De Genève pattern usually consists of very fine scratches that are produced from rose engine lathes using small disks, polishing wheels or ivory laps.


The crown is the small, round knob or rotating wheel that is usually located on the side of the watch case. A crown is used to alter the time on a watch while also helping to set the date and date indicators, a dual-time zone, seconds, a stopwatch and much more. This is normally achieved by pulling the crown away from the case until it sticks out and gently twisting it, then pushing it back in until it clicks when you are done. Some watches feature a screw-in crown that allows you to keep out water and other substances.

Crown Guards

Crown guards are two small pointed pieces of metal that are situated on either side of the crown. While not necessarily present on every watch, crown guards are there to protect the grown from becoming damaged from any hard blows or drops. Without crown guards, the crown is vulnerable to dents and breakage that could impact your whole watch.


A crystal is essentially the watch glass that covers the dial and face. Made from an array of different materials including acrylic, sapphire and mineral, this small circular piece of glass is designed not only to protect your watch from the elements that could damage it but also to provide the watch with a seamless and polished look.

Cushion Case

A cushion case is a term given to watches that have a square case with edges that have been rounded off (like a cushion). A fixture among most watch brands out there, a cushion-cut case is particularly common in leather watches as well as watches will a silicon or nylon band as it offers a significant contrast design.


Date Display

A date display is a small window that is often present on the watch’s dial that indicates the date, month and sometimes even what year it is. Date displays can come in many different forms, some will just feature a small square that showcases the date while others will have the numerical date displayed next to the month of the year and some will have the numerical date, the month as well as the year, particularly smart watches and digital watches.

Day Display

Much like the date display, a day display will highlight what day of the week it is. Occurring on most types of watches, particularly analogue watches, digital watches and smartwatches, day displays will have a small window indicating what day of the week it is using either the full word or an abbreviation (Thurs, for example).

Dead-Beat Seconds

Dead-beat seconds or dead seconds as they are also known as is a function that is present on most quartz watches and as a complication on some mechanical watches that allows for the movement of the second's hand at every second increment to ensure that the hand continues to tick over seamlessly.


The decoration is the word often used by watch brands to describe any unique adornments present on the watch. The decoration is what makes each watch model unique and can take the form of anything from unique patterns and engravings on the watch’s back or face, to small crystals or diamonds around the bezel and event hand-painted imagery such as florals.


A deployment is a type of clasp specifically used on metal and stainless-steel watches. Unfolding into thirds, a deployment clasp is what is used to allow your wrist to get through the band of the watch. Once your wrist is in the band there is a hook-type latch that is pressed into place to secure your hand into the watch.


A dial is the portion of the watch that displays the time, date and other information. Often situated under the crystal and case, watch dials often come in different shades, designs and shapes along with different marker combinations. Dials can range from the traditional analogue dial featuring seconds, minutes and hour hands to chronograph dials featuring multiple sub-dials and smart or digital dials that feature completely LED or computerised digits and functions.

Digital Watch

A digital watch is a watch that has partial or complete digital functions. Originating from the early 1970s, digital watches will feature a display with digits that are completely digital or LED rather than analogue. Digital watches will even sometimes feature a myriad of other functions including step-counters, heart rate monitors, tide graphs and more.

Display Back

A display back is a type of translucent caseback that reveals some or all of the watch’s inner workings. Display back watches are purely for design purposes and are incredibly common with Swiss watches as well as Seiko watches.

Diver's Extension

Diver’s extensions are an additional link that is featured on many diver’s watches which allows wearers to fit their watch over their diving gear. Consisting of neoprene, wetsuits are incredibly thick which means this additional link is necessary for when the watch is worn for diving.


DLC or ‘diamond-like-carbon’ is a type of coating often applied to watches to provide them with an almost matte-black finish. A diamond-like-carbon coating finish is also applied to timepieces to provide them with a more hardwearing and scratch-resistant exterior. DLC coating features carbon particles, the same minerals that are used to produce diamonds both naturally and in laboratories.

Double Axis Tourbillon

A double axis tourbillon is a mechanism that rotates the tourbillion cage escapement through a second axis as well as through the traditional first. A Tourbillion places everything from the balance wheel to the escapement into a rotating cage.

Double Chronograph

A double chronograph is a type of chronograph watch dial that features two different stopwatch mechanisms that allow wearers to measure two separate events either concurrently or comparatively. Double chronograph watches feature two or more sub-dials above or alongside one another and are often confused with the flyback chronograph.



End links on a watch are the links on the end of a watch bracelet that connect the bracelet to the watch and its dial. Generally produced from solid steel, end links a what helps hold the watch into place and can occasionally be removed to allow for a different bracelet to be put in its place.

Equation Of Time

Equation of time is a function that appears on some watches that allows the wearer to differentiate between mean solar time and apparent solar time. Mean solar time is the time kept according to the average length of the solar day or 24 hours, whereas apparent solar time refers to the time that is kept about the sun’s position in the sky.

Escape Wheel

An escape wheel is a type of mechanical linkage escapement often used in mechanical watches and clocks that gives impulses to the timekeeping element and then periodically releases the gear train, allowing it to move forward and thus helping to advance the watch’s hands.

Exhibition Back

Exhibition back is another name given to watches that feature a display back that showcases either some or all of the watch’s inner workings and mechanics. Exhibition backs generally have a case back made out of sapphire crystal or some other type of clear glass rather than metal.



A finish is a term given to design motifs often featured on watches for decoration and the improve the durability of the watch. Polished, bead-blasted, brushed or diamond-like-carbon (DCL) are all an example of a finish of the watch’s exterior.

Five-Minute Repeater

The five-minute-repeater is a function that appears on some mechanical watches that acoustically relays the time. Watches that feature this complication will often have a small chiming mechanism that sounds at every hour, quarter-hour or every few minutes allocated in a manner that is very similar to some clocks with this capability.


A flyback is a function that appears on some chronograph watches. It is a function that allows an ongoing time measurement to be interrupted with a new one to be started instantaneously just by pressing a button. The flyback function combines the three steps, stop, reset to zero and start- all into one.

Flying Tourbillon

A flying tourbillon is a variation of the watch movement that was first developed by Abraham-Louis Breguet. Rather than being supported by a bridge at the top and the bottom like other watch movements, the flying tourbillon is cantilevered and only supported on one side. And thus, this is how it gets its name, the flying tourbillon.


The foudroyante is another complication that appears on some watches, more so analogue watches. Usually found displayed on the watch’s face, the foudroyante appears as a sub-dial that indicates the fractions of a second. Often used to manually time, this complication is often referred to as a flying seconds hand.

Four Year Calendar

A four-year calendar is a type of complication that appears on watches that display the date, day, month and occasionally the year. This kind of calendar complication only requires adjustment on the leap year, hence why it has the name ‘four-year calendar’.


Frequency is a term given to the act of measuring a watch’s repetition per second in hertz, a.k.a one cycle per second. This could include anything from the amount of gear turns to the number of oscillations in the balance wheel.


Commonly used in antique-style mechanical watches, the fusee is a cone-shaped pulley with a helical groove around it that is wound with a cord or chain that is attached to the mainspring barrel. Fusees were used from the 15th century until around the 20th century to improve timekeeping by levelling the uneven pull of the mainspring as it ran down.



A gasket is a mechanical seal that is used to fill the space between two or more substances to prevent leakage or foreign particles from getting in between them. Gaskets serve the same purpose when it comes to watches and prevent dirt, oils, moisture and more pollutants from getting inside and damaging your watch.

Gear Train

A gear train is a wheel-like part inside the watch that allows the piece to run for many hours by multiplying the output rotation. Gear trains are also responsible for dividing time into segments by hours, minutes and seconds.


GMT is an abbreviation given to the time zone, Greenwich Mean Time. When it comes to watches, GMT is point ‘0’ on the 24-hour international time zone scale. Watches with a Greenwich Mean Time scale displays both a 12-hour and a 24-hour timescale. Greenwich Mean Time is based on the solar mean time at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London.

Grand Sonnerie

Grande Sonnerie is another complication that appears on some watches that strikes the hours as well as the number of hours and quarters on command using a series of chimes and gongs much like a clock tower.


The guilloche is a watch's unique decoration that often appears on the dial and the case back. Achieved through an engraving technique that involves conducting a repetitive pattern in which a unique design facade is created. The guilloche design is very similar to a diamond-cut feature that often appears on watches.


Hacking Seconds

A function available on most automatic watches, hacking seconds is a term that refers to the wearer’s ability to pull out the watch’s crown to stop the second's hand and then restart it when the crown is pushed back in. Hacking seconds equips a watch with the ability to synchronise to an accurate timekeeping source.


A watch hairspring is a round metal coil found on the inside of the watch. The hairspring provides restoring force to the balance wheel that enables it to continue turning. Hairsprings used to be made of metal alloys such as gold and steel, however, today it is generally made from temperature-resistant alloys like titanium or silicon.


A hallmark is a small engraving usually present on the case back of some watches. Much like jewellery hallmarks, watch hallmarks are an indication of the purity of the metals present in timepieces including gold, silver, platinum and stainless steel. Each hallmark has a unique image that is used to represent what percentage of a particular metal of present in the watch.


A watch’s hands are the markers on the dial that indicate time. A majority of watches on the market will have at least three hands that represent hours, minutes and seconds. These markers are mechanically engineered to move in a clockwise direction as time passes. Some watches will occasionally only have two hands, a minute hand and an hour hand.


Hand-wound is a type of movement used in mechanical watches that requires the wearer to rotate the crown to wind the mainspring to keep the watch moving. The hand-wound movements were the most widely used until the quartz movement arrived in the early 1970s.

Hardlex Glass

Hardlex glass is a trademark crystal for Seiko watches. Produced by heating and treating common glass, hardlex glass is classified as a mineral glass and is used by Seiko for its increased durability and cost-effectiveness. Hardlex glass is also very easy to be replaced.


HEV is the abbreviation for helium escape valve, a function present on some diver’s watches. The helium escape valve is utilised by saturation divers that swim to great depths. HEV prevents a divers watch from becoming damaged due to significant pressure by allowing any helium molecules that have entered the watch to escape upon the decompression process.


Horology is the name given to the study and measurement of time. Watches, clocks, sundials, hourglasses, clepsydras, timers, time recorders, marine chronometers, atomic clocks and computers are all examples of instruments used to study and measure time.



Incabloc is the brand name of the spring-loaded shock protection function that is used on the balance wheel to support the jewels and prevent any damage on the watch if it is dropped or knocked.


Indices is the name given to the markings present on a watch’s dial that are used to measure time in place of regular digits. Indices can take the form of anything including circles and squares, lines, arrows, symbols, logos and even roman numerals. The indices are purely a design function.



Jewels or jewel bearings are tiny pieces of synthetic sapphire or ruby that are embedded into holes inside of the watch’s inner workings. These synthetic jewels are not for decoration but rather reduce friction within a watch’s movement by providing a hard and smooth that allow the wheel train to rotate freely.

Jumping Hours

The jumping hours is a function that is present on some watches. This complication enables the hour hand to tick straight over to the next digit as soon as the watch makes it to the 60th minute rather than slowly sweeping over to the next digit as time goes on like a traditional analogue watch or clock would.



LCD is an abbreviation of liquid crystal display. A liquid crystal display is the type of display found on digital and LED watches. Powered by a battery, this type of display shows the time digitally and is designed to be more accurate than digital watches. LCD displays often showcase other information including the date, day and sometimes even the temperature. LCD watches are thought to be a precursor to the modern-day smartwatch.


Watch lugs, sometimes known as watch horns, are the small pieces of metal or plastic located on either side of the face that connects the watch case to the watch’s strap, band or bracelet. Watch lugs have spring bars that run between them that help keep the watch case and band into place.


The lume, short for luminescence, is a solution that is often applied to a watch’s bezel, digits, hour markers and sometimes even the watch’s dial allowing it to glow in the dark. While this feature is largely for aesthetic reasons, when lume is applied it enables the wearer to view the watch’s face even in the dark.


Magnetic Resistance

Magnetic resistance is a function that appears on some watches, most notably G-Shock watches that prevents exposure to magnetic fields. Magnets can potentially damage watches also their magnetic fields can impact a watch’s rotor and can therefore affect the accuracy of a watch’s timekeeping abilities.

Main Plate

Situated inside the watch’s inner workings, the main plate is what helps to hold the parts of a watch’s movement together and keep them sturdy. Much like the watch’s bridge, the main plate is essentially the foundation of the watch’s movement.


The mainspring is a flat, steel coil that helps to drive the watch. When a watch with a spring mechanism is wound, the mainspring stores energy that helps to power the watch and keep it ticking.


Manual is the name given to an old type of watch movement that requires the wearer to rotate the crown in a singular direction regularly to activate the watch’s mainspring and to keep it ticking. A manual watch is the antithesis of an automatic watch that relies on the movement of the wearer’s wrist to continue operating.

Marine Chronometer

A marine chronometer is a type of chronograph watch that is specifically designed for those who spend a lot of time in or near the ocean, whether it be surfers, those in the navy or people who work on ships. Marine chronometers were the first portable clock with the ability to accurately report longitude.


The micro-rotor is a more compact version of the general rotor or oscillating mass that helps to wind automatic watches. Unlike general rotors, micro-rotors are embedded into the watch’s movement that enables movement markers to drastically improve the thickness of the calibre.

Mineral Crystal

Mineral crystal is the type of glass used to cover a watch’s face and dial. Normally, mineral crystal consists of regular glass that has been treated with heat and chemicals that enable it to withstand hard blows, cracks and any potential scratches. It is the most common type of crystal used for watches next to sapphire crystal.

Minute Repeater

A minute repeater is a complication that appears on some watches which sounds out with a series of chimes on the hour, quarters and minutes upon request. Often found on mechanical watches, the minute repeater is slightly different to the quarter repeater that is designed to sound only on hours and quarters.

Moon Phase

The moon phase is a function that appears on some timepieces that indicates what stage of the lunar cycle the moon is up to with a series of images that appear on the watch. Watches with a moon phase complication display the sunlit portion of the moon during each 29.5 lunar months.


Embedded into the inner-working of each watch, the movement is the mechanism that allows the timepiece to keep moving. Often regarded as the heart of the watch, there are many types of watch movements out there including quartz movement, mechanical movement, automatic movement and tourbillon movement.


Numeric Digits

Found on a majority of watches, numeric digits are what are used to indicate the time. Displayed in everything from simple numeric symbols to roman numeral digits, numeric digits will often feature some or all of the first twelve digits in the numeric table.



The o-ring is another name for the thin rubber or silicone gasket that is used to protect the watch from dust, debris, liquid and other pollutants that can get inside of it and cause it to become damaged. O-rings are removable and interchangeable and are crucial for ensuring the durability and longevity of a watch.


Oscillation is a term often used in horology to describe a watch or clock’s ability to move back and forth in a repetitive fashion. It is essentially referring to a watch’s ableness to keep moving without any interference. It comes from the Latin word oscillare which means “to swing”.


Pallet Fork

A pallet fork is a piece of the escapement that helps transfer energy from the mainspring back into the movement. Consisting of two prongs that are mounted with a synthetic ruby or sapphire, the pallet fork’s mechanism is the result of controlled, regulated bursts rocking back and forth to lock and release the escape wheel.


Perlage is a French word for the pearl-like decorative pattern sometimes present on the interior of a watch. Consisting of a pattern of small circles that are reminiscent of pearls, the perlage pattern is applied to the surface of a watch with a special grinding machine that produces the small indents.

Pin Buckle

A pin buckle is a fastening device that is present in many leather, fabric, silicone and mesh stainless steel watch bands. Pin buckles fasten each end of the watch to the wearer’s wrist by linking the pin through one of the various holes present on the watch band to ensure that it fits securely on the wrist.


A pinion is the type of gear wheel that sits at the heart of the watch. Pinions are essentially a smaller gear that mashes together with the larger gears for the watch to have the ability to perform necessary tasks such as the movement of the watch's hands or calendar changes.

Power Reserve

The power reserve is an energy-saving complication present in some watches. Power reserves allow a watch’s wearer to determine how much longer they can use a watch before it has to be wound again. Powered by the mechanical self-winding movement, the watch’s power reserve is very similar to a vehicle's fuel gauge in the sense that it displays at a range of “full” to “empty”.


Often referred to as a watch’s push-button, a pusher is a tool that helps to activate additional mechanisms within a watch. Functioning very similarly to a button, pushers can help activate anything from a stopwatch and timer to a chronograph counter.


PVD is the abbreviation for physical vapour deposition. When it comes to watches, PVD is the process of binding tiny metal particles to the timepiece either for design purposes or for functionality reasons. The process involves vapourising the metals and then binding them to the watch’s surface in layers using a heated vacuum.



Quartz is a hard, crystalline mineral composed of silicon dioxide that is used to make the mechanisms that control movement in everything from watches and clocks to televisions, computers, mobile phones and more. Watch movements containing quartz have been around since the early 1970s and are recognised as one of the more efficient types of watch movements on the market.

Quartz Movement

With origins that date back to the early 1970s, the quartz movement is a type of movement that was invented by the Seiko Corporation in Japan. Composed of the mineral quartz (hence its namesake), quartz movement operates by electrical impulses and vibrations that produce even oscillations for accurate timekeeping. Most Japanese watch brands such as Seiko and G-Shock as well as some Swiss-made brands including Omega and IWC Schaffhausen use some variation of quartz movement.



Radium is a substance that can be found in some antique watches. It was painted onto watches, pocket watches and some clocks so that their dials, digits and even faces would glow in the dark. However, companies soon stopped using this substance as it is highly radioactive and therefore too much exposure can be harmful.


Roughly translating to “catch up” in French, rattrapante is a type of movement sometimes used in chronograph watches. Timepieces with a rattrapante movement will often have an additional seconds hand that is superimposed over the original second's hand. Watches with this mechanism will generally also feature a secondary pusher and are used to simultaneously measure split times.


A regatta is another type of watch complication. Traditionally used by yachtsmen, the regatta complication allows the wearer to count down five or ten minutes before the start of the race. This feature enables the skipper of the boat to get into position and get ready to sail in a critical countdown.


Watch regulation is a process that involves tweaking a watch’s beat or mainspring to improve its accuracy. This involves making changes to the physical length of the hairspring so that the watch can run faster and more efficiently.


A repeater is another complication present on mechanical watches that chimes at a time that is allocated by the wearer. Activated by a push or side-piece, there are many different types of repeaters out there that allow a watch to chime at various times that have been allocated.


A durable and versatile substance that is utilised for a multitude of different reasons, synthetic resin is often used on watch bands and cases to make them more durable, comfortable and hard-wearing. Composed of organic compounds and atoms such as hydrogen, carbon and nitrogen, the resin watch exterior is synonymous with G-Shock watches.


Retrograde is a mechanism that is commonly found on mid-range and high-end mechanical watches. Watches with this mechanism have a pointer that only sweeps through a small angle rather than making a full clockwise turn. After making a full angle sweep, the pointer will then jump straight back to where it began.


A rotor is a semi-circled weight that sits just above the watch’s movement. Often known as an oscillating weight, this metal watch part helps wind the mainspring and provides it with the energy it needs to move through 360-degree swings that are facilitated by the movement of the wearer’s wrist.


Sapphire Crystal

Sapphire crystal is a type of pure aluminium oxide that is used to encase a watch’s dial and face. As one of the most expensive types of watch crystals on the market, sapphire is not only incredibly hard-wearing, but it is also very durable and resistant to shocks, including scratches.

Screw-Down Crown

A screw-down crown is an instrument that appears on many watches which aids in a timepiece’s level of water resistance. Generally attached to the watch's case through various o-rings and internal threads, screw-down crowns enable a watch’s wearer to create a seal that stops water as well as other liquids and pollutants from getting inside the inner workings of a watch and potentially causing it any damage.

Shock Resistance

Popularised by the G-Shock and Casio brands, shock resistance is a spring-loaded mechanism that provides the watch with protection if it is bumped, knocked, thrown or dropped. Shock resistance is applied to balance wheel-supporting jewels so that they can absorb any potential sudden and damaging shocks.

Sidereal Time

Sidereal time is a timekeeping method present on some watches that are occasionally used by astronomers, astronauts and others within the scientific community. Sidereal time helps inform people of the current position of celestial objects and enables them to place their telescopes or anything else used to observe the sky in an accurate position.


A skeleton is a design feature on some watches where all a timepiece’s moving parts are visible through the front or back of the dial, thus creating a visual facade that is reminiscent of skeleton bones. Watches with a visible skeleton will often feature a transparent case or movement that allows the wearer to view the inner workings of a watch without having to open it up.

Solar Power

Solar power is a function that is generally found in watches with a quartz movement that enables timepieces to draw and store energy that is generated from a light source. Much like how solar panels use sunlight to generate electricity, solar-powered watches rely on on the sun and other types of light to power a watch and keep it ticking.

Spring Bars

Spring bars are small pieces of metal-containing springs that are used to attach a watch’s straps to a watch. While there are generally two spring bars in a single watch, some timepieces can have as many as six and they ensure that the watch remains sturdy, comfortable and in place on the wearer’s wrist.


Consisting of materials such as stainless steel, leather, plastic, silicone or nylon, a watch strap is what is used to attach a timepiece to the wearer's wrist. Often featuring removable links or holes that are suitable for a pin buckle to fit it, watch straps are often customisable to the wearer’s size and general person preferences when it comes to wearing watches.


Sub-dial is the name given to the miniature dials present on the faces of chronograph watches. Sub-dials generally serve are a handful of different purposes including tracking the number of hours, minutes or seconds that have elapsed, recording a different time zone or indicating the current moon phase. Some watches can have as many as three dials on its face.


A super-complication is the nickname given to watches that have multiple complications. A timepiece that is considered to be a super complication will generally host a myriad of functions including a perpetual calendar, the moon phases, a minute repeater, a grand and petite sonnerie, split seconds and more.

Sweeping Seconds

Sweeping seconds is a term given to watches with a seamless transition of the seconds hand. Sweeping seconds is essentially characterised by a seconds hand that can move flawlessly around the dial without a noticeable “ticking” sound. It is an ability most commonly found in quartz watches as well as slightly more higher-end automatic watches.



A tachymeter is a scale usually found on some chronograph watches around the edge of the dial or bezel. Characterised by small lines or digits, a tachymeter is used to measure the speed a watch’s wearer is travelling over some time and is often used in conjunction with the second's chronograph.


Tonneau is the nickname given to watches that have a case and a dial that can only be described as a curved rectangle. Tonneau watches are incredibly unique and are not a common design choice for many well-known watch brands. Watch brands that are synonymous with tonneau designs are luxury brands such as Patek Phillipe, Breguet and IWC.


Tourbillion is a complication in some watches that work alongside the mechanics of a watch escapement to improve the accuracy of a watch’s timekeeping abilities. Developed by Swiss-French watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet in the early 1800s, the tourbillion works by keeping the balance wheel, the balance spring and the escapement turning.


Triple-G-Resistance is a label given to G-Shock watches that feature shock-resistant, magnetic resistant and water-resistant technology. These functions are not only synonymous with the G-Shock brand but also help them withstand the rigours of everyday life and physical activity.

Twenty-Four Hour

Twenty-four-hour is a timekeeping method that is commonly used by those in the military as well as the maritime and aviation industries. Unlike twelve-hour time which only tracks the time twelve hours at a time, watches that feature twenty-four hour time tracks a twenty-four-hour day on a continuous scale. As a result, watches with twenty-four-hour timekeeping will start at 0:00 and end at 23:59 as opposed to starting at 12 AM and ending at 11:59 PM.



UTC stands for Coordinated Universal Time. Coordinated Universal Time is a primary time zone standard that helps to regulate clocks, watches and other timepieces. Based on GMT, UTC is within one minute of mean solar time and is not adjusted for daylight savings.



Vibration is a mechanism that occurs at every clockwise or counter-clockwise rotation of the balance wheel. The average mechanical watch is capable of around 28,000 vibrations per hour. Vibration is also the term given to the watch complication that allows users to schedule an alarm which causes the timepiece to begin vibrating and sometimes even beep at the time allocated.


VPH is the abbreviation of vibrations per hour which is used to determine the number of vibrations that occur in a watch within an hour as the balance wheel rotates in a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction and the timepiece continues to oscillate.


Water Resistance

Water resistance refers to a watch’s ability to retain a seal when it is submerged in water without malfunctioning or becoming damaged. Each watch has its unique level of water resistance that could be as little as 1 ATM to over 30 ATM, the level you will find on a majority of diving watches.


The wheel refers to the balance wheel device that is present in most mechanical watches as well as many small clocks. The balance wheel is a weighted wheel found inside the watch’s movement that rotates back and forth before being brought back into its centre position by a balance spring or hairspring. Much like a car’s wheels, the balance wheel keeps the watch moving.

World Time

World time is a complication that occurs on many watches that gives the wearer the ability to keep the time in all of the world’s 24 major time zones including GMT and UTC. Many watches with a world time function will often have a rotating bezel that displays 24 world cities all representing a different time zone.



ZULU time is an alternative name for Grenwhich Mean Time that is used by members of the military and airforce. It is a nod to GMT’s other nickname zero-time and was used to make officials understood over their radios, particularly when poor signals made it difficult for people to understand.

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