Are you caught up? Good! Let’s continue…
As a result of my recent shopping trip for the perfect Michael Kors watch, I ended up learning a lot about watches. Actually, I’m quite ashamed at how little I knew before!My lack of knowledge of all things watchery definitely made it hard for me to go shopping for a designer watch. I mean, I didn’t even know how much watches were priced on average. So, basic knowledge of the actual components that an average watch is comprised of? Forget about it.
However, being unexpectedly thrown into the wonderful world of watches (thanks to my newfound love affair with Michael Kors chain link watches)… I found myself forced to learn the basics of Watch Shopping and Watchmaking 101.
I had to look up definitions to essential watch terminology, to ensure that I was making the right decisions when shopping for designer watches.
And I figured, if I had to look up these watch terms… maybe there are other timepiece shoppers out there who would also be able to take advantage of this knowledge!
And that’s why I decided to compile this watch glossary of sorts, so other newbie watch buyers out there could also reap the benefits.
A crash course in watchery: Glossary of top 10 watch terms and definitions
Are you a newbie watch buyer like I was? Or, perhaps you’re simply in need of a refresher on watch terminology. Here is a curated list of top ten watch terms every shopper must know before purchasing any designer watch or wrist timepiece, listed in alphabetical order.
- Definition: The ring which surrounds the watch dial (or face), usually made of gold, gold plate or stainless steel.
- Bezel types: A rotating bezel is one that can be turned. Bi-directional rotating bezels can be turned in either direction (clockwise or counterclockwise), whereas uni-directional rotating bezels can only move in a counterclockwise direction. Different types of rotating bezels perform different timekeeping and mathematical functions (e.g. elapsed time rotating bezels, used as a faster and easier way to keep track of elapsed time).
- Definition: The mechanism that protects and holds all the watch parts together. Generally comprised of 3 parts: 1) The bezel (which holds the crystal), 2) the band/centerpart (which contains the movement), and 3) the back (either snapped on or screwed on).
- Did you know? A case is an integral element of any watch as it holds everything together. But it’s also the reason why a watch looks good! A good lookin’ case can turn a watch from a mere timepiece to a piece of jewelry.
- Case materials: Vary depending on the price of the watch. Cases can be made of: Molded plastic, solid steel, solid gold (alloyed with metal parts) or gold plated (over brass or silver, the latter referred to as “vermeil“), platinum, titanium (chosen for its lightness), and white ceramic (scratch-resistant material formed under great pressure and heat from powder)
- Definition: The ring on the watch dial bearing figures and minute marks.
- Did you know? The hour figures are sometimes called chapters.
- Definition: A watch that includes a built-in stopwatch function (i.e. a timer that can be started and stopped to time an event). Watches that include the chronograph function are themselves called “chronographs.”
- Did you know? The accuracy of the stopwatch function commonly vary from 1/5th second to 1/100th second, depending on the chronograph!
- Not to be confused with: A chronometer, a special Swiss-made watch that conforms to strict high standards set by the Swiss Official Chronometer Control (C.O.S.C.).
- Measurement methods: There are many ways a watch can measure elapsed time: 1) Via the main
dial (with a center seconds hand), 2) via sub-dials (to time elapsed hours, minutes and seconds), 3) via a digital display on the watch face, or 4) via a lap timer.
- Definition: The button on the outside of the watch case used to set the time and date (a.k.a. a stem or pin).
- Example types: Pushers/push pieces are buttons on the case of chronographs and some complicated watches, mostly used to stop/start a stopwatch. A winding stem refers to the crown of a mechanical watch, which winds the mainspring. A screw lock crown can be screwed into the watch case, used to make the watch watertight.
- Definition: The transparent cover on a watch face made of glass crystal, synthetic sapphire or plastic.
- Did you know? A sapphire crystal is made of a synthetic, transparent, shatter-resistant and scratch-resistant substance, and can typically be found on higher-end watches!
- Definition: The watch face.
- Not to be confused with: Sub-dials, which are small dials found within a watch face (used for various purposes, from keeping track of elapsed minutes or hours on a chronograph to indicating the date).
- Definition: The device in a mechanical movement that controls the rotation of the wheels (and thus the motion of the hands).
- Definition: The system of gears which transmits power from the mainspring to the escapement.
- Definition: Projections on a watch face to which the watch band or bracelet is attached.
- Definition: The inner mechanism that measures the passage of time and displays the current time by moving the watch’s hands, calendars, etc.
- Mechanical vs. Electronic: A mechanical movement is powered by a mainspring, which works in conjunction with a balance wheel. In comparison, an electronic movement is powered by a battery and uses a quartz crystal. (they’re also known for their accuracy, can be mass produced, and are less expensive than most mechanical movements which require a higher degree craftsmanship).
- Did you know? Electronic watches are often called quartz watches!