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Glossary

Terms as they relate to the watch making industry

Analogue
Time indication by hands and dial; means corresponding. Originally an electronic term that was adapted by watch making with the spread of the quartz movement.
Antimagnetic Watch
A watch whose parts are protected from but the very strongest magnetism; quartz watches cannot be disturbed by the phenomenon.
Applied Numerals
Raised metal characters attached to dail
Automatic Watch
Mechanical watch with a mainspring that is wound by the wearers movements via a rotor.
Auxillary Dial
Small dial showing seconds only, up to one minute, usually at the six o’clock position
Back Winder
Flat crown set into the back of the case for setting time and winding.
Baguette
Rectangular movement, with a length at least three times its width. Popular shape for Art Deco watches.
Balance
Running regulator of mechanical watch; it oscillates about its axis of rotation, the hair-spring making it swing to and fro (tick-tock) in equal time parts. Balances of modern wristwatches beat up to 10 beats per second.
Barrel
Circular box housing mainspring; teeth attached at edge drive gears; going barrel has great wheel mounted upon it.
Baton Numerals
Undecorated non-numerical markers of hours, minutes and seconds.
Bezel
Metal surround frame in which watch glass(crystal) is fitted.
Breguet Hand
Popular design by Breguet; the slightly tappered needle of the hand ends in a pointed head mounted on a circle, which is pierced with a hole. Sometimes called a moon hand.
Button
Better known as crown or winder; sometimes refers to chronograph.
Cabochon Crown
Crown or winder set with a jewel.
Calibre
Once used only to denote the diameter of a watch movement; now often only indicates type (e.g. mens, ladies, automatic)
Carat
The official scale by which the purity of gold is determined. 24 carrot is pure gold, 18 carrots is 18 parts in 24 are gold etc..
Chronograph
Watch which has an independant stop watch for short interval timming.
Chronometer
Ordinary watch which has passed extremely severe precision and reliability tests in an official observatory.
Complicated Watch
Watch with functions not directly related to the time of day. (eg: calendars, chronographs, moonphases, perpetual, repeaters etc..)
Crown
Knob, generally knurled and positioned outside the case at three o’clock, for winding, correcting and setting.
Crystal
Glass dial cover (made of glass, plastic, synthetic sapphire, or quartz crystal) fitted into bezel.
Deployment Buckle
Two strips of hinged metal (curved to the wrist shape) on the watchband; upon closing, one folds over the other to cover it. Probably invented by Cartier.
Dial
Face of the watch, showing hours, minutes, seconds. Other small dials are called subsidury dials.
Divers Watch
Water-resistant.
Doctors Watch
Also known as a duoplan or duodial. An auxillary seconds dial is separated from the hour and minute dial; useful for quick reference when taking pulse count.
Form Watch
Watch in a very unusual shape.
Hack Features
Balance stopping – Second hand which is stopped to synchronize time, when crown is pulled out.
Integral Bracelet
Designed as natural extension of watch case.
Jewels
Used as bearings at points of greatest friction in movements; commonly fifteen to eighteen are used.
Lug
Part or parts of watch case to which band, bracelet or strap may be attached.
Mainspring
Principal spring in watch; a flat spring is coiled in a barrel.
Mean Time
Average length of all solar days in year; the usual time shown by watches.
Minute Repeater
Repeating watch that sounds hours, quarters and minutes.
Month Aperture
Pierced window in a mechanical digital watch displaying month, often abbreviated.
Moonphase Watch
Watch displaying phase of moon through twenty-nine and a half days
(correction for extra extra forty four minutes per month often incorporated).
Movement
Complete mechanism of watch; from 120 to over 600 parts may be incorporated in it.
Oyster Case
Rolex watch with water-resistant case.
Pave
Literally “paved with”, as in dial with precious stones.
Perpetual
Self winding automatic watch.
Perpetual Calendar
Calendar mechanism with display which automatically corrects for long and short months and leap years.
Quarter Repeater
Repeating mechianism which sounds hours and quarters.
Quartz
Rock crystal (silicone dioxide) that can be made to oscillate by electronic switching,
maintaining its very constant frequency, in accordance with its cut.
Rolled Gold
An extremely hot sheet of gold pressed onto another metal.
Roman Numerals
Besides Arabic, the most common numerals used on watch dials; note IIII instead of IV
Rotor
In an automatic watch, the rotor winds the mainspring; in quartz watches, it is a
permanently rotating magnet in the step-switch motor.
Ruby
The ruby referred to in watch making today is in fact corundum, a synthetic stone.
It is used to reduce waer on pivot points.
Sapphire
Glass (crystals), sold as scratch proof, are made of synthetic sapphire.
Shock-Resistant Watch
A watch is held to be shock proof if, when dropped on to a hardwood surface from a height of 1 meter, it does not stop, or if its daily rate does not change by more than sixty seconds.
Signed Movement
The signature on a movement of its maker, which is likely not to be the same as that on the dial.
Skeleton Watch
The dial of a skeleton watch has a separate chapter ring with the interior cut away, leaving only numerals and exposing the wheels and interior mechanisms of the movement. The back plate is also cut away and fitted with glass.
Split Second Chronograph
Chronograph with sweep second hand, independent of chronograph hand.
Stem
Shaft connection between winding mechanism and crown on outside of case.
Subsidary Dials
Smaller auxillary dials that show elapsed minutes and running seconds.
Sweep Seconds
Center Seconds – Second hand mounted at dial center and extending to chapter ring.
Tachometer
Speedometer or revolution recorder on bezel.
Tank Case
Today common name for a rectangular case; originally exclusive name for Cartier wristwatch.
Tonneau
Case shape with wide center and flat tapered ends.
Tourbillon
Invention by Breguet for nullifying vertical position errors by means of a revolving platform which goes through all such positions, so that they neutralize each other.
Tritium
Luminous paint for dials, hands and numerals.
Tuning Fork
A transistor continually switching between two small magnets to regulate smooth running, oscillating 360 times a second. The high frequency gives great precision in time keeping. Bulova Accutron made use of the device famous, but then quartz watches usurped its popularity.
Water Resistant
Expression for waterproof, which is illegal in the USA. Water resistant watches sold as such, must be able to withstand water pressure at a depth of 1m for 30 minutes and thereafter 90 seconds at 20 meters. Divers watches have much greater resistance
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