When it comes to watches, there’s a lot of terminology to be read in their descriptions, but not everyone understands what those words mean. We decided to put together a guide to some of the terms to help you become better watch shoppers.
Let’s begin with a couple types of watches you see often:
♦ Automatic: This mechanical timepiece winds its mainspring automatically due to the natural motion of us wearing the watch.
♦ Chronograph: Think style with purpose. The watch functions as a stopwatch, some have the ability to measure time down to tenths of a second. Some chronographs now can calculate distance and speed.
♦ Diver: This is a watch that features water resistance, and is meant for underwater diving.
Now more to understanding what you see when you’re shopping and navigating the specs for watches:
♦ Analog: A watch that has hands to read time instead of digital.
♦ Aperture: The small opening you see on a dial that can show dates, months, days and so on.
♦ Auxiliary Dial or Subdial: A smaller dial placed inside the main watch face, which you’ll see on chronographs.
♦ ATM or Atmospheres: This number shows to what level a watch can withstand water pressure. For example, if you watch reads 10 ATM or 100 meters of water resistance you’ll be able to swim some with your watch, but no deep sea diving.
♦ Bezel: This is the metal ring that surrounds your watch face.
♦ Case: The metal case that encloses the internal workings of your watch.
♦ Crystal: This refers to the glass, plastic or sapphire covering over the dial.
♦ Dial: This is the actual face of the watch that indicates the hours, minutes and/or seconds.
♦ Dual Timer: A watch that can give you the time of two different places in the world.
♦ Fob: The chain of a watch.
♦ Jump Hour: This is a watch that doesn’t move slowly or sweep between the hours, instead it “jumps” hour to hour so the exact hour is always shown. Some jump hours don’t use hands, but rather two dials.
♦ Lugs: Where the watch band is attached to the case.
♦ Moon-phase: A window that displays the current phase of the moon.
♦ Movement aka Caliber: The inner mechanism of your watch that moves the hands and extra features. This is where we run into questions about Swiss Movement versus Japanese Movement. Here’s what it comes down to - Swiss Movement just means that your inner mechanism is made in Switzerland and Japanese Movement is made in Japan. Yep, that’s it.
♦ Quartz: The battery contains quartz resulting in a consistent movement for the hands. You’ll find them more affordable as well.
♦ Mechanical: This is a watch that relies on a winding spring (mainspring) to power the watch.
♦ Rotating Bezel: A bezel that can be turned to track time.
♦ Shock Resistance: Your watch’s ability to withstand mechanical shocks/impacts.
♦ Skeleton Watch: A transparent case that allows you to see inner mechanism or movement.
♦ Tourbillon: In a nutshell, this is a mechanism that counters the effect so gravity eliminating positional errors.
♦ Unidirectional Rotating Bezel: This is a rotating bezel that moves in one direction only so it can’t be bumped. Found on diver watches, it helps divers from overestimating how much is left for their air supply ensuring their safety.
Hopefully, this glossary will help you with your next watch purchase or be a post you can visit whenever you are looking for a quick guide to understanding a watch’s anatomy.
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Written by: Min A. Lee | Monochrome Wings