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Fine Watch Vocabulary and Terminology List

Fine Watch Vocabulary and Terminology List

AFTERMARKET:  Any part attached to the watch that is not made by the original watch manufacturer.  These parts can, but not in all cases devalue the watch.

ALL ORIGINAL:  Of or pertaining to all parts of the watch originating from the original watch manufacturer.

ANALOG:  A traditional watch, keeping time with hands.

AUTOMATIC MOVEMENT:  An automatic movement is a type of mechanical movement that runs off the energy created by moving the watch

BAND:  The part of the watch that wraps around the wrist that is attached to the head on both ends. Metal bands are called bracelets. Leather, rubber or fabric bands are called straps.

BEZEL:  The ring outside the crystal, either stationary or rotating.

CALENDAR:  The feature displaying the day, date or year, or any combination of these which can come in a window or subdial format.

CALIBER:  The configuration and size of the watch movement.

CASE:  The shell that contains the movement, dial, hands, crystal and bezel.

CASE BACK:  The removable back cover of the case that allows access to the movement.

CHRONOGRAPH:  A watch with sub-dials denoting multiple functions of the watch.

CHRONOMETER:  A high-precision movement that has been quality tested in Switzerland by the Controle Officiel Suisse des Chronometres (COSC).  The COSC tests the movement in different positions and at varying temperatures for several days to determine their accuracy.  Movements qualifying as chronometers are granted a COSC certification number.

CLASP:  The Buckle part of the band usually worn on the bottom of the wrist where both sides of the band come together.

CROWN:  A twisting mechanism or button usually on the side of the case that adjusts the time and date. This mechanism also is the winding function on automatic or manual wind watches.

CRYSTAL:  Usually made of plastic, glass or synthetic sapphire that serves as the protective see through cover to the dial and hands.

CUSTOM:  Parts or alterations on or attached to the watch that were made or affixed by someone not of the original watch manufacturer.  These parts or alterations can, but not in all cases devalue the watch.

DIAL:  The face of a watch that can display the hours, minutes, manufacturer, model and sub-dials.

DIGITAL:  When a watch has the feature of displaying various features in a LCD (liquid crystal display) or LED (light emitting diode) display.  This feature is useful displaying information on a multifunction watch and can be used in combination with analog functions.

DUAL TIME:  When a watch displays two different time zones in some series of formats.

FLIP LOCK CLASP:  An external fold over locking mechanism on a fold over clasp providing extra security, generally used in dive watches.

HIDDEN CLASP:  A Specific type of fold over clasp where the continuity of the outer links of the bracelet appears to remain rendering the clasp hidden.

JEWELS:  The jewels form the bearings in a mechanical or automatic watch. The movement can have any number of jewels and usually the higher number of jewels, the better the movement.

KINETIC:  When a timepiece utilizes power from the human body to keep the watch running. There are no batteries needed and power is derived from movement of the wrist.

LIKE NEW:  A semi-recent model of any watch in such a condition that the piece looks similar in band tightness and conditioning to when it was brand new.

LUGS:  The places on the watch case where the band connects to the head.

MECHANICAL MOVEMENT:  A movement using a hand wound spring which slowly unwinds generating energy that powers the watch.

MOON PHASE:  A sub-dial tracking phases of the moon denoting the lunar month.

NEW:  Technically unused or unworn within just a few years of manufacture.  Many manufactures will advertise that a watch is not ‘new’ unless it is purchased from them or their authorized dealers only.

PAPERS:  The original warranty papers or card from the manufacturer on that specific watch.  Watches may be warranted through the warranty period even after ownership transfers, check with the manufacturer for more specifics.  Many people prefer a watch with papers even after the initial warranty period has expired believing that the papers authenticate the watch.  This is a common misunderstanding within the watch buyers community.

PERPETUAL CALENDAR:  Automatically resets the day at the end of the month or year, including leap years.

PLATING:  Term used mainly in yellow gold tone watches pertaining to pieces that are not solid karat gold, but usually are base metal with gold plating adhered.

POWER RESERVE:  The amount of energy a watch has stored within the movement.

QUARTZ MOVEMENT:  A quartz watch is one that measures time by means of a paper-thin piece of synthetic quartz and usually aided by a watch battery.  Kinetic watches would be an exception. Approximately 95% of all watches are quartz.

SELF WINDING:  A usually misunderstood term meaning that the movement is automatic.  This movement still requires winding after periods of non-wear and should not be confused with a watch that winds itself.

SKELETON:  When the movement is visible in whole or partially from either the front or the back through a crystal covering.

SUB-DIAL:  Mini dials within the main dial with their own hand or hands.  These dials perform various timing functions of their own. Chronograph watches usually have two to four sub-dials.

SWEEP HAND:  When the second hand seems to sweep around the dial, usually a sign of an automatic movement.

TACHYMETER:  A set of numbers located on the bezel that measures the distance covered over a specific period of time.

TANG BUCKLE:  A buckle on a strap usually rounded or rectangular with s bar in the middle that attaches through a hole on the other side of the strap.

VALUE:  Pertaining to watches, value can be either the price of the watch vs. the enjoyment the owner gets from wearing the watch, or the relative price of the watch compared to the marketplace in general for a similarly conditioned piece with the same attributes.  Value can also be assessed by figuring the price of the watch as opposed to what a person could expect to sell or trade the watch for at the time.

WATCH WINDER:  A device with a motor that when powered will rotate either on a schedule or constantly to emulate the motion required to keep an automatic movement in motion so as to not wind itself down.

WATER RESISTANT:  Some watches have different levels of water resistance which allow normal wear around small amounts of water like washing hands or sometimes bathing.  The watch may take a splash here and there but should not be submerged at any depth.

WATERPROOF:  Since the 1960’s, the Federal Trade Commission has outlawed the use of the term waterproof pertaining to watches, however some watch companies guarantee the water tightness of certain watches down to certain depths.  These watches are usually sealed much better than water resistant watches.

WORLD TIME:  Mostly found in digital watches, this function features a list of the current times in major cities around the world.


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