Terms as they relate to the watch making industry
- 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.
- Rectangular movement, with a length at least three times its width. Popular shape for Art Deco watches.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Bull’s Eye
- Central thicker part of a watch glass, giving the effect of a magnifying glass. Usually found in English pocket watches.
- Better known as crown or winder; sometimes refers to chronograph.
- Cabochon Crown
- Crown or winder set with a jewel.
- Once used only to denote the diameter of a watch movement; now often only indicates type (e.g. mens, ladies, automatic)
- 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..
- An enamel painting technique, used on watch cases. The outline of the desired pattern is cut into the surface, this hollow is then filled with enamel.
- Watch which has an independant stop watch for short interval timming.
- Ordinary watch which has passed extremely severe precision and reliability tests in an official observatory.
- An enamel painting technique, used on watch cases. The outline of the desired pattern is formed by metal wires, the enamel is then put into the compartments and burnt.
- Complicated Watch
- Watch with functions not directly related to the time of day. (eg: calendars, chronographs, moonphases, perpetual, repeaters etc..)
- Coq (balance cock)
- The bar for the balance was initially (16th century) a rather simple part.
In the 17th and 18th century, the balance cocks were richly ornamented, in luxury watches, precious stones were set into the cocks. The French balance cock was typically round or oval with two lugs for the fixing screws. The English balance cock was round with an anchor- or sector-shaped heel.
- Knob, generally knurled and positioned outside the case at three o’clock, for winding, correcting and setting.
- Glass dial cover (made of glass, plastic, synthetic sapphire, or quartz crystal) fitted into bezel.
- Deck Watch
- The deck watch (or “ship’s chronometer”) is a very precise chronometer in pocket watch size (with a large case with a diameter of up to 70 mm).
These high-precision watches were initially made with a chronometer escapement, later with a lever escapement. They were not only used for nautical purposes, but they also found their way into military use as late as WW II.
Deck watches often have a power-reserve indicator.
- 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.
- Face of the watch, showing hours, minutes, seconds. Other small dials are called subsidury dials.
- Divers Watch
- 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.
- The escapement is the mechanism between the train and the regulating organ, i.e., the balance or pendulum (Berner). Some of the more common escapements found in pocket watches: chronometer escapement, cylinder escapement, detent escapement, English lever escapement, pin-pallet escapement, Swiss lever escapement, verge escapement.
- Form Watch
- Watch in a very unusual shape.
- Fusee (chain)
- The mainspring does not deliver a continuous driving-power to the train: When the spring is fully wound, its power is greater than when it is nearly unwound.
The fusee equalizes these differences: A spiral groove on the conical fusee winds a gut cord (or a chain; cf. below) that is attached to the barrel.
By carefully adjusting the fusee to the mainspring, the differences caused by different states of winding of the mainspring can be nearly compeletely eliminated.
In older literature, you may find that the fusee was invented by Leonardo da Vinci, but a fusee is already found in a table clock made around 1430 that was in the possession of Duke Philip “the Good” of Burgundy (1396-1467).
- 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.
- Used as bearings at points of greatest friction in movements; commonly fifteen to eighteen are used.
- The name of the French watchmaker Jean-Antoine Lépine (1720-1814).
1. Lépine was the first to replace the upper plate and the pillars with bars (bridges) and to place the balance on one side instead of the top of the movement which allowed to make slimmer watches.
2. Lépine watches are “open faced,” i.e., they do not have a covering lid in front of the dial.
- Part or parts of watch case to which band, bracelet or strap may be attached.
- A “mariage” is a kind of falsificate that is often hard to detect: Usually genuine parts from various watches are put together to make a new watch. Besides combinations of dials, cases and movements that really don’t belong to each other it is also possible that parts from another movement are used.
- 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).
- Complete mechanism of watch; from 120 to over 600 parts may be incorporated in it.
- Oyster Case
- Rolex watch with water-resistant case.
- Pair case
- English case style, esp. in the 18th and 19th century. The watch was put into an outer case for additional protection. These watches are easily recognized by their long stem which protruded over the outer case.
- Literally “paved with”, as in dial with precious stones.
- 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.
- 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
- In an automatic watch, the rotor winds the mainspring; in quartz watches, it is a
permanently rotating magnet in the step-switch motor.
- The ruby referred to in watch making today is in fact corundum, a synthetic stone.
It is used to reduce waer on pivot points.
- Glass (crystals), sold as scratch proof, are made of synthetic sapphire.
- The “savonnette” type pocket watch is characterized by a 90-degree-angle between the axis of the winding stem and the center of the seconds dial, i.e., the winding stem is perpendicular to the axis between the twelve o’clock position and the seconds dial.
In English speaking countries, the savonnette is known as hunter, in auction descriptions, you may find the abbreviation HC – “hunting case.”
If the front cover has a circular opening which allows to see the position of the hands (although the numerals are not visible) without opening the case, the watch is called a demi-savonnette.
- 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.
- 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.
- Speedometer or revolution recorder on bezel.
- Tank Case
- Today common name for a rectangular case; originally exclusive name for Cartier wristwatch.
- Case shape with wide center and flat tapered ends.
- 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.
- 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.
- Watchpapers are little round papers with the watchmaker’s or dealer’s address, sometimes with commercials, sometimes with pictures, that were laid into the watch case.
Watchpapers probably came in use in England around 1730, they were also found in the USA in the 18th century, and by 1800, they were used in many countries.
- 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