Automatic High Precision . A swinging rotor drives a mini–generator. Its electric power is stored in a capacitor, which supplies energy to the quartz–controlled integrated circuit.


Servo–controlled motor drive. The system, integrated in the circuit, lengthens the duration of motor impulse when the mechanism meets resistance (during date–change for example) and reverts to the normal duration when the resistance ends. The technique increases battery life by 30%.


A watch feature that sounds an alarm at pre–set time or at regular intervals.


A function that provides altitude by responding to changes in barometric pressure, commonly found in pilot watches. Note that inside a pressurized airplane cabin, the altimeter will register as if on land.

Analog Digital

A watch that has both a digital display and hands of a conventional watch. Usually featured on sport watch styles.

Analog quartz

The most commonly–used term in referring to any analog timepiece that operates on a battery or on solar power and is regulated by a quartz crystal.

Analog Watch

A watch with a dial, hands, and numbers or markers that present a total display of a 12–hour time span.

Atmosphere (Atm)

Unit of pressure used in watch making to indicate water–resistance.

Auto repeat timer

A feature that allows for continuous operation of a countdown timer. If timer function is set at one hour and started, it will countdown to zero, beep with a warning signal and immediately return to the preset time and start the countdown again. This would continue until stop button is pushed.

Automatic movement

A movement that is all mechanical and requires no winding because the rotor, part of the automatic mechanism, winds the mainspring every time you move your hand. When fully wound and left to sit, most automatics will have up to 36 hours of reserve power. Mechanical movements are accurate within one minute each day.



Ladies style watch with a thin, elongated face; usually rectangular in shape but may be oval.


The regulating organ of the watch, vibrating on a spiral hairspring. Lengthening or shortening the balance–spring makes the balance–wheel go faster or slower to advance or retard the watch.


A small rod with a sprung pivot at either end to fix the strap (band) to the case.

Base metal

Any non–precious metal.


Device that converts chemical energy into electricity. Most watch batteries are silver oxide type delivering 1.5 volts. Much longer–lasting lithium batteries are 3 volt.

Battery Life

The minimum period of time that a battery will continue to provide power to run the watch. Life begins at the point of manufacture when the factory initially installs the battery.


The surface ring on the watch that surrounds and holds the crystal in place. A rotating ratchet bezel moves in some sport watches as part of the timing device. If rotating bezels are bi–directional, able to move clockwise or counter clockwise, they can assist in calculations for elapsed times.


Flexible metal band consisting of assembled links, usually in the same style as the case. detachable links change the length of the bracelet.


Copper and zinc alloy used to make the main plate and bridge wheels in the movement.


Usually matching the case, it attaches the two parts of the leather strap around the wrist.


Push piece controls, usually at 2 o’clock and/or 4 o’clock on the dial to control special functions such as the chronograph or the alarm.


Cabochon crown

A rounded semi–precious stone or synthetic material usually black, fitted into the watch crown as an ornament.


A watch feature that shows the date and sometimes the day of the week and the month. It can be displayed through a cut–out window in the dial, as a sub–dial with small hands indicating the day/date feature or by digital readout.


The dimensions of the watch. Caliber describes the size and configuration of the movement and can now indicate the shape, origin and constructor as well.


Often Used in referring to a curved or arched dial or bezel.

Carat (Karat)

Unit of gold fineness (and gemstone weight). Pure gold is 24k. 18k gold is 75% pure.


The metal housing of a watch’s parts. Stainless steel is the most typical metal used but also titanium, gold, silver, and platinum can be used. Less expensive watches are usually made of brass and plated with gold or silver.


A multifunction sport watch with a stopwatch function. Most have two or three sub dials, or minidials, for measuring minutes and hours.


A precision watch that is set in various temperatures and positions, thus meeting the accuracy standards set by an official watch institute in Switzerland. Most watch companies either provide this certificate with a purchase or it can be mailed to you.


The attachment used to connect the two ends of the watch bracelet or strap around the wrist.

Deployment Buckle–A three–folding enclosure, which secures the two ends of the bracelet and allows enough room for placing the watch on the wrist when fully deployed. When closed, the buckle covers the two–piece folding mechanism

Fold–Over Buckle–See Deployment buckle

Hook Lock–Two separate units each fitting on either end of the bracelet which allows the watch to be laid out. One end of the closure hooks onto the other to secure the two ends of the bracelet.

Jeweler’s Clasp–A closure that is generally used on better bracelets. Also allows it to lie flat.

Sliding Clasp–Also a hook type method but allows for easy sizing of the bracelet by sliding up.

Twist Lock–A closure similar to Jeweler’s Clasp used on ladies jewelry bracelets.


A watch with other functions besides time keeping. For example, a chronograph is a watch complication. other complications coveted by watch collectors include: minute repeater, tourbillion, perpetual calendar, or split second chronograph.


System to set the watch indicators (the hour, minute or day) by means of the crown.

Countdown timer

Measures remaining time from preset period of time. (Example: Can be used to countdown time of a basketball game._


Nodule extending from the case that is used to set the time, date, etc. Most pull out to set the time. In water resistant styles, the crowns should screw down.


The clean cover over the watch face. Three types of crystals are commonly found in watches. Acrlic crystal, a plastic, is inexpensive and shallow scratches can be buffed out. Mineral crystal is comprised of several elements that are heat treated to create unusual hardness that aids in resisting scratches. Sapphire crystal is the most expensive and durable, approximately three times harder than mineral crystals and 20 time harder than acrylic crystals. A non–reflective coating on some sport styles prevents glare.


Day/date watch

A watch that indicates not only the date but the day of the week.


The watch face. The numerals, indices, or surface design are usually applied; others have been printed on.


A liquid–crystal display (LCD) enabling a color to appear or vanish on the surface.


Any watch that shows the time in numbers instead of hands on the dial. the numbers appear in LCD (liquid crystal diode) which shows a continuous reading or in LED (light–emitting diode) which shows time at the push of a button.

Digital Watch

A mechanical or solid state watch in which the time shows through changes of digits, rather than positions of hands on the dial.

Directional compass

Can be displayed by rotating a bezel or digital readout on the face of the watch. It is used to determine a geographical direction using the location of the sun.

Divers Watches

Diver’s watches are designed and manufactured especially for divers whose lives depend on the reliability of their watch in the water.

Diver’s watches must meet various standards regarding water resistancy, pressure resistancy, readability in the water, time presetting function (rotating elapsed time bezel), anti–magnetic ability, anti–shock, rust, resistancy in salt water, manageability in water, ability to withstand sudden temperature changes, etc.

Dual timer

A watch that measures current local time as well as at least one other time zone. The additional time element may come from a twin dial, extra hand, sub dials, or other means.



End of Life. In quartz movement the end of battery life is indicated by the seconds hand which starts to jump every four seconds. The battery should be changed immediately.


End of Energy. System used with the AHP alerts the wearer of accumulator discharge by causing the seconds hand to jump every four seconds instead of every second. The accumulator can the be recharged by turning the crown.

Electroplating process

The process of covering metal articles with a film of other metals. The article is immersed in a chemical solution; electric current (D.C.) flows through the solution from a piece of metal (anode) to the article (cathode), depositing metal thereon by electrolysis. metals which can be used for plating are: 1) gold–a precious metal generally yellow in color; 2) chrome–can be white or black; 3) palladium–a precious metal, generally white; 4) ruthenium–also a precious metal but usually gray.



The visible side of the watch where the dial is contained, most are printed with Arabic or Roman numerals. Note: traditionally IIII, rather than IV, is used to indicate the 4 o’clock position.

Flyback hand

A seconds hand on a chronograph that is used to determine lap or finishing times for several competitors. To operate, put both the flyback and the regular second hand in motion, then to record a lap or finishing time, the flyback hand can be stopped. After taking the results, push a button and the flyback hand will catch up to the constantly moving second hand.


The number of vibrations a second, in hertz (Hz).



Yellow precious metal which is stainless and very malleable. Used in alloys to make jewelry, bracelets and watches. The portion of gold in the alloy is indicated in carats (k).


A style of intricate engraving that is popular on watch dials, usually very thin lines interwoven to create a surface texture.



The pointing device anchored at the center and circling around the dial indicating hours, minutes, seconds and any other special features of the watch.

Alpha Hands: A slightly tapered hand.

Baton Hands: A narrow hand sometimes referred to as a stick hand.

Dauphine Hands: A wide, tapered hand with a facet at the center running the length of the hand.

Luminous Hands: Hands made of skeleton form with the opening filled by a luminous material.

Skeleton Hands: Cut–out hands showing only the frame.

Hard metal

A scratch–resistant metal comprised of binding several materials, including titanium and tungsten–carbide, which are then pressed into an extremely hard metal and polished with diamond powder to add brilliance.

High–tech ceramic

Used as a protective shield for spacecraft re–entering the earth’s atmosphere, high tech ceramic is polished with diamond dust to create a highly polished finish. Because the ceramic can be injection molded, pieces can be contoured. It has a very smooth surface, usually found in black, but can be produced in a spectrum of colors.


The science of time measurement, including the art of designing and constructing timepieces.

Hourly time signal

Single beep/chime which rings on the hour, every hour when it is engaged.



Synthetic sapphires or rubies that act as bearings for gears of a mechanical watch. A quality hand wound or automatic mechanical watch contains at least 17 jewels.



Based on a revolutionary technology these watches run entirely on sell generated energy from natural movement of your wrist. It never needs a battery.



Liquid–crystal display. This digital time display is used to give additional chronograph indications.

Lighted dials

Several types of lighted dials are used so that you can tell time in the dark. Recently, a patented night–lite process, called electro–luminesce, lights the entire dial with a uniform light that makes for easy reading in nighttime situations. A side button activates the light.


Extensions on either side of the bezel where the bracelet or strap is attached.


Environmentally safe illumination technology that will glow brightly for hours without pushing a button or drawing energy from a battery.


Self illuminating paint used on hands and markers.



A hand–wound mechanical watch.


Describes a movement with a balance wheel.

Mechanical movement

A movement based on a mainspring which is wound by hand; when wound, it slowly unwinds the spring in an even motion. An automatic mechanical requires no winding because of the rotor, which winds the mainspring every time you move your body.

Military or 24–hour time

When time is measured in 24–hour segments. To convert 12–hour time into 24–hour time, simply add 12 to any p.

m. time. To convert 24–hour time into 12–hour time, subtract 12 from any time from 13 to 24.

Mineral glass

Watch glass that has been tempered to increase its scratch resistance.

Minute repeater

A complication on a watch that can strike the time in hours, quarters, or seconds by means of a push piece.

Moon phase

An indicator that keeps track of the phases of the moon. A regular rotation of the moon is once around the earth every 29 days, 12 hours, and 44 minutes. once set, the moon phase indicator accurately displays the phase of the moon.


Iridescent, milky interior shell of the fresh water mollusk that is sliced thin and used on watch dials. While most have a milky white luster, mother–of–pearl also comes in other colors such as silvery gray, gray blue, pink, and salmon.


The inner workings or assembly that make up the main timekeeping mechanism. movements are either quartz or mechanical. This is the engine of the watch.



The travel of the balance wheel from one extreme to the other and back again. See Vibration.



A type of calendar that automatically adjusts for months of different lengths and indicates February 29 in each leap year.


Coating a metal base with another metal. In watch making a stainless steel base is coated with gold seven to 20 microns thick.


One of the rarest precious metals, platinum is also one of the strongest and heaviest, making it a popular choice for setting gemstone jewelry and watches. It has a rich, white luster, and an understated look. Platinum is hypoallergenic and tarnish resistant. Platinum used in jewelry and watches is at least 85 to 95 percent pure. Many platinum watches are produced in limited editions due to the expense and rarity of the metal.


Brilliant metal surface obtained on the watch–case with fine abrasive.

Power reserve

The time the watch will run with a fully charged power supply. For mechanical watches it is usually 44 hours. For quartz watches it can vary from 18 moths to 10 years.


Physical Vapor Deposition. Method of coating thin watch cases by integrating titanium particles and then depositing gold for color.



A natural or commercially synthesized silicon dioxide crystal. used in "quartz analog" or solid state digital watches. when activated by a battery or solar power, the thin sliver of crystal very predictably vibrates at an extremely high frequency (32,768 times per second) thus providing very accurate timekeeping. The main components are: an Electric Circuit Block (Quartz Oscillator and CMOS–IC) and the Mechanical Block (step motor, gear train, hands) and a battery.

Quartz crystal movement

A movement which allows a watch to be worn without being wound. This technology employs the vibrations of a tiny crystal to maintain accuracy of time. A digital quartz has no mechanical parts but is powered by a battery. The cell battery must be replaced about every 1.

5 years. Numbers and letters are on a Liquid Crystal Display (LCD). Most quartz movements are made in Hong Kong. Japan, or Switzerland.


Ratchet bezel ring

A bezel ring which can either turn one way (counter clockwise) or both ways and generally clicks into place.

Rose (or pink) gold

A softly hued gold that contains the same materials as yellow gold but with a higher concentration of copper in the alloy. A popular color in Europe, rose gold in watches is often seen in retro styling or in tricolor gold versions. Some 18k red gold watches achieve their color from additional copper in the alloy.



Creating a granular metal finish by using a high–pressure jet of sand.


Synthetic corundum crystal with a hardness second only to diamond. Transparent sapphire is used for scratch–proof watch glasses.

Sapplex Crystal

Combination of sapphire and hardlex crystals.

Screw down locking crown

A crown which aids water resistance by sealing the crown against the case. The seal is achieved by the matching of a threaded pipe on the case with the crown’s internal threads and gaskets while twisting the crown to lock it into place.


Synthetic gaskets that seal the joints between parts of the case and keep out the wet.


Spring devices in balance–wheel bearings that divert shocks away from the fragile pivot (usually 12/100mm diameter) to the sturdier parts of the balance staff. The springs allow the balance–wheel to return to its original position after shocks.

Shock resistance

If shock resistance is specified on a watch case, a watch can withstand normal wear and tear, even during strenuous sport activities.


A satin finish obtained by using tiny glass pellets, one or two microns in diameter.

Skeleton case

A transparent front or back that permits viewing into the inner workings of the watch.

Slide rule bezel

A rotating bezel that is printed with a logarithmic scale and assorted other scales and is used in conjunction with fixed rules of mathematics to perform general mathematical calculations or navigational computations.


A type of quartz movement where the batteries are recharged via solar panels on the watch face. They have a power reserve so they can run even in the dark.

Solid State

A timepiece with no moving parts. All digital watches are 100% solid state. Analog watches combine solid state circuits with moving parts.


A second chronograph that runs concurrently with the first but can be stopped independently to record an intermediate time. It the catches up to run with the first hand again.

Split time measurement

Measures the elapsed time of a certain moment of an event.

If you want to know the elapsed time at a certain point during a track meet, you can tell exact time by using this.

The chronograph keeps running while split time is being displayed. Therefore, when split time is released the display returns to original measurement of total elapsed time.

Stainless steel

An extremely durable metal alloy (chromium is a main ingredient) that is virtually immune to rust, discoloration, and corrosion; it can be highly polished, thus resembling a precious metal. Because of its strength, stainless steel is often used even on case backs on watches made of other metals.

Sterling Silver

A white and highly reflective precious metal. Sterling refers to silver that is 92.

5 percent pure, which should be stamped on the metal, sometimes accompanied by the initials of the designer or country of origin as a hallmark. Although less durable than stainless steel and other precious metals, sterling silver is often employed in watches that coordinate or look like sterling jewelry. A protective coating may be added to prevent tarnish.


A watch band made of leather, plastic or fabric.


A small dial used for any of several purposes, such as keeping track of elapsed minutes or hours on a chronograph or indicating the date.

Sun/moon indicator

A wheel on a watch partially visible through a cut–out window indicating a sun and moon on a 24–hour basis.

Sweep seconds–hand

A seconds–hand mounted in the center of the dial instead of a subdial.


Tachymeter (also tachometer)

A watch function that measures the speed at which the wearer traveled by means of a numeric scale on the watch bezel of a chronograph. Frequently used to determine a speed of a car over a measured distance.

Tank watch

A rectangular watch with heavier bars on either side of the dial, inspired by the tank tracks of World War I and first created by Louis Cartier.


A watch function that finds the distance of an object from the wearer by measuring how long it takes sound to travel that distance. Like a tachymeter, a telemeter consists of a stopwatch function and a special scale on the dial of a chronograph.


The "space age" metal, often with a silvery–gray appearance. Because it is 30 percent stronger and nearly 50 percent lighter than steel it has been increasingly used in watch making, especially sport watch styles. Its resistance to salt water corrosion makes it particularly useful in diver’s watches. Since it can be scratched fairly easily, some manufacturers use a patented–coating to resist scratching.

Tonneau watch

A watch with a barrel–shaped case with two convex sides.


A device in some mechanical watches that eliminates timekeeping errors caused by slight variations due to shifts in gravity when a watch changes position during use. The round carriage or "cage" of the tourbillon holds the mechanisms that rotate the wheels, and thus the hands of the watch, in a continuous rate of once per minute.



Very High Precision. A quartz movement with a temperature sensor to keep rate variations to within extremely narrow margins. The movement corrects itself to a precision of 0 seconds a year.


A swing of the balance. A watch vibrating 18,000 times an hour beats five time a second. See Oscillation.



An illegal and misused term: No watch is fully 100 percent waterproof.

Water resistant

A watch bearing the inscription "water–resistant" on its case back can handle light moisture, such as a rainstorm or sink splashes, but should not be worn swimming or diving. If the watch can be submerged in water, it must state at what depth it maintains water–resistance, i.

e. 50 meters (165 feet) or more on most sport watches. Below 200 meters, the watch may be used for skin diving and even scuba diving depending upon the indicated depths. Sometimes water–resistance is measured in atmospheres (ATM), which is equal to 10 meters of water pressure. (Some European–made watches use the term "bar" instead). Straps other than metal bracelets may not be water–resistant. New water–resistant versions of nylon, rubber, and other synthetics are a trend in sport watches.

Watches come in different water resistant depths and diver’s depths:

White Gold

Created from yellow gold by incorporating either nickel or palladium to the alloy to achieve a white color. Most watches made of white gold will be 18k.

White On

An analog watch that is able to display digital functions at the touch of a button. An easily legible white numeric display appears on the inside surface of the crystal when any digital function is activated.

World timers

A watch with a dial that indicates up to 24 time zones around the world, usually found on the outer edge of the face or sometimes on the bezel. Time zones around the world are indicated by major cities.


Yellow gold

The traditionally popular gold used in all gold or gold and stainless steel or other precious metal combinations. Yellow gold watches may be found in 14k or, as found from most European manufacturers, 18k.

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