Watches n’ Such

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Acrylic Crystal: Crystal is the traditional name for the transparent cover of the dial that used to be made from glass (mineral crystal) or sapphire. Acrylic Crystals are made from clear synthetic plastics like Hesalite - these are shatterproof and have less inherent glare than glass and sapphire.
Adjusted: Derived from Latin ad justus, meaning just right. Adjusted to compensate for temperature, positions, and isochronism.
Age of the Moon: The time that has elapsed since the new moon. In some watches, the 29 1/2 days of the lunar month are indicated on a lunar dial.
Alarm: A device that makes a sound at a pre-set time. There are both quartz and mechanical alarm watches.
Albert: Probably named after Prince Albert, this is a chain attached to the pocket watch that attaches to a waistcoat buttonhole or lapel buttonhole with a T-bar. A Double Albert has two chains extending from the T-bar - the pocket watch goes on the end of one chain in the left hand waistcoat pocket whilst the other chain can have a cigar cutter, signet, key or Vesta box attached and is placed in the right and waistcoat pocket. An Albert is sometimes referred to as a "Fob", although, more accurately, a Fob is an ornament or medallion hung from the chain that is in view and not in the pocket.
All or Nothing Piece: A repeating watch mechanism which insures that all the hour and minutes are struck or sounded or nothing is heard.

Altimeter: A device that determines altitude by responding to changes in barometric pressure.
Amplitude: Maximum angle by which a balance swings from its position of rest.

Anadigi Display: A display that shows the time with hour and minute hands (an analog display) as well as digital numbers (a digital display).

Analog Display: A display that shows the time by means of hands and a dial.

Anchor: Rocking from side to side, the Anchor controls the movement of the Escape Wheel to one cog at a time … that's the ticking sound.

Annealing: Heating and cooling a metal slowly to relieve internal stress.

Anti-Magnetic: Not affected by a magnetic field.

Antiquarian: Of antiques or dealing in, also the study of old and out-of-date items.

Aperture: Small opening. The dials of some watches (in French: montres a guichet) have apertures in which certain indications are given (the date, hour, etc.).

Appliqué: The process of cutting pieces of one material and applying them to the surface of another material. (Hour markers on a watch dial often have Arabic numerals, Roman numerals and other marker symbols applied in this fashion.)

Arabic Numerals: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 0

Arbor: The mechanical axle of a moving part; on the balance it is called the staff, on the lever it is called the arbor.

Art Deco: A style of design that was popular in the 1920s and 1930s (and has a lasting impact on jewelry, architecture and other arts in current times) marked by stylized forms and geometric designs, bold colors, and the use of plastic and glass that was adapted to mass production.

Art Nouveau: A style of decoration and architecture of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, characterized particularly by the depiction of leaves and flowers in flowing designs, and by many curves or turns and winding designs.

Assay: Analyzing a metal for its gold or silver content.

Assembling: Process of fitting together the components of a movement. This was formerly done entirely by hand, but the operations have now been largely automated. Nevertheless, the human element is still vital, especially for inspection and testing.

Asthmometer Scale: Graduations on the dial of a chronograph for measuring the respiration rate.

Asymmetrical: Irregular in shape or outline; "asymmetrical features"; "example: a dress with an crooked hemline."

Auto Repeat Countdown Timer: A countdown timer that resets itself as soon as the preset time has elapsed, and starts the countdown again. It repeats the countdown continuously until the wearer pushes the stop button.

Automatic Watch: A watch whose mainspring is wound by the movements or accelerations of the wearer's arm. On the basis of the principle of terrestrial attraction, a rotor turns and transmits its energy to the spring by means of an appropriate mechanism. The system was invented in Switzerland by Abraham-Louis Breguet in the 18th century.

Automatic Winding (also called "Auto" "self-winding" or "perpetual"): Winding that occurs due to the motion of the wearer's arm rather than due to turning the winding stem. It works by means of a rotor that turns in response to motion, therein winding up the watch's mainspring. An automatic watch that is not worn for a period of time will drain the power reserve and the watch will wind down.

Automation: Automatic working figures moving in conjunction with the movement mechanism. Striking Jacquemarts or jacks which are figures (may be humans provided with hammers) striking bells to supply the sound for the hour and quarter hours. The hammers take the place of the bells clapper. Automata is the plural of automation.

Auxiliary Compensation: For middle temperature errors found on marine chronometers.

Auxiliary Dial: Any extra dial for information (dates, days, months, timers etc.)

AWI: American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute. (701 Enterprise Drive, Harrison, OH 45030 - Telephone: 513-367-9800)


Baguette: A French term for an oblong shape. A watch having it's length at least 3 times it's width. A long narrow diamond.

Balance Cock: The bridge that holds the upper jewels and the balance and secured at the end only.

Balance Spring: A very fine spring (also called a "hair spring") in a mechanical watch that returns the balance wheel back to a neutral position.

Balance Staff: The shaft of the balance wheel.

Balance Wheel: The part of a mechanical watch movement that oscillates, dividing time into equal segments.

Banjo Clock Terminology: A diagram with the common parts of a banjo clock.

Banking Pins: The two pins which limit the angular motion of the pallet.

Bar Movement: A type of movement employing about six bridges to hold the train. This movement was being used by 1840.

Barrel: Thin cylindrical box containing the mainspring of a watch. The toothed rim of the barrel drives the train.

Battery Reserve Indicator: A feature of a battery-powered watch that shows how much longer the watch will operate before the battery should be replaced.

Beat: Refers to the tick or sound of a watch; about 1/5 of a second. The sound is produced by the escape wheel striking the pallets.

Beetle Hand: An hour hand resembling a stag beetle; usually associated with the poker-type minute hand in 17th and 18th century watches.

Bell Metal: Four parts copper and one part tin used for metal laps to get a high polish on steel.

Belt Chain: An alternative to an Albert, a belt chain is used if you want to keep the watch in your trouser pocket. The chain has a clip that attaches to the trouser belt above the pocket.
Bezel: The ring (usually made of gold, gold plating, or steel) that surrounds the watch face.

Bi-Directional Rotating Bezel: A bezel that can be moved either clockwise or counterclockwise. These are used for mathematical calculations or for keeping track of elapsed time.

Bi-Metallic Balance: A balance composed of brass an steel designed to compensate for temperature changes in the hairspring.

Blind Man's Watch: A Braille watch; also known as a tact watch.

Blue Screws: More for decoration than for any practical purpose, these are screws that are discolored blue either through heat treatment or electrical anodizing - a similar color to gun metal.

Bluing (or Buing): If polished steel is heated to 540 degrees, the color will change to blue.

Bombe': Convex on one side.

Bow: The ring that is looped at the pendant to which a chain or fob is attached.

Box Chronometer: A marine or other type chronometer in gimbals so the movement remains level at sea.

Box Jointed Case: A heavy hinged decorative case with a simulated joint at the top under the pendant. (Also called the Box Case.)

Bracelet: A type of watchband made of elements that resemble links.

Breguet Key: A ratcheting watch key permitting winding in only one direction.

Breguet Spring: A type of hairspring that improves time keeping also called over-coil hairspring.

Bridge: Complementary part fixed to the main plate to form the frame of a watch movement. The other parts are mounted inside the frame.

Bubble Back: A Rolex watch which were water proof (Oyster) and auto wind (Perpetual) circa 1930 to the 1950s.

Buffer Spring: Buffer spring is a stop spring for oscillating weight.

Bull's Eye Crystal: Used on old type watches; the center of the crystal was polished which achieved the bull's eye effect.

Bumper Watch: A "bumper watch" is a watch with an automatic movement. Instead of having a full rotor (360 degrees of rotation) it has what is sometimes referred to as a hammer rotor, and this hammer rotor swings back and forth inside the case approximately 300 degrees striking a small spring mounted to a platform at each side. When the hammer rotor hits this spring it is propelled back the other way until it strikes the spring at the other side [or end] of the platform and so on. The sound it makes is a kind of "clang" or "bump" thus the name "bumper watch."


Cabochon: Decorative stone that has been carved into a round shape. (These stones are placed on some crowns.)

Calendar: A feature that shows the day of the month, and often the day of the week and the year.

Cambered: Often used to refer to a curved or arched dial or bezel.

Caliber or Calibre: The size of a watch movement also to describe the model, style or shape of a watch movement.

Cap Jewel: Also called the end stone, the flat jewel on which the staff rests.

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

Case Screw: A screw with part of its head cut away.

Center Wheel: The second wheel; the arbor for the minute hand; this wheel makes one revolution per hour.

Chain (Fusee): Looks like a miniature bi-cycle chain connecting the barrel and fusee.

Chamfer: Sloping or beveled. Removing a sharp edge or edges of holes.

Champleve: An area hollowed out and filled with enamel and then baked on.

Chapter: The hour, minute and seconds numbers on a dial. The chapter ring is the zone or circle that confines the numbers.

Chime: The bell-like sound made when a clock strikes on the hour, half-hour, etc. Two familiar chimes traditionally found in clocks are the Westminster chime made by the famous Big Ben in London, and the bim-bam, a two-note chime.

Chronograph: A stopwatch, that is, a timer that can be started and stopped to time an event. There are many variations of the chronograph. Some operate with a center second hand, which keeps time on the watch's main dial. Others use sub dials to show elapsed hours, minutes and seconds. Still others show elapsed time on a digital display on the watch face. When a chronograph is used in conjunction with specialized scales on the watch face, it can perform many different functions, such as determining speed or distance. Some chronographs can time more than one event simultaneously. Do not confuse the term "chronograph" with "chronometer." The latter refers to a timepiece (it may or may not have a chronograph function), which has met specific high standards of accuracy set by an official watch institute in Switzerland. The term "chronograph" is also used to refer to any watch that includes the chronograph function.

Chronometer: A timepiece that has met certain high standards of accuracy set by the Controle Officiel Suisse des Chronometeres in Switzerland.

Chronometer Escapement: A detent escapement used on marine chronometers.

Click: A pawl that ratchets and permits the winding wheel to move in one direction; a clicking sound can be heard as the watch is wound.

Clock Watch: A watch that strikes the hour but not on demand.

Cloisonne: Enamel set between strips of metal and baked onto the dial.

Club Tooth: Some escape wheels have a special design which increases te impulse plane; located at the tip of the tooth of the escape tooth.

Coarse Train: 16,000 beats per hour.

Cock: The metal bar which carries the bearing for the balance's upper pivot an is supported at one end.

Compensation Balance: A balance wheel designed to correct for temperature.

Complication: A watch with other functions besides timekeeping. For example, a chronograph is a watch complication. Other complications coveted by watch collectors include minute repeaters, tourbillons, perpetual calendars, and split-second chronographs.

Contrate Wheel: A wheel with its teeth at a right angle to plane of the wheel.

Convertible: Movements made by Elgin (and some other firms) that was a means of converting from a hunting case to an open-faced watch or vice-versa.

Corfam: An artificial leather created and made by DuPont from 1964 to 1971. Many wristwatch bands were made from this material.

Countdown Timer: A function that lets the wearer keep track of how much of a pre-set period of time has elapsed. Some countdown timers sound a warning signal a few seconds before time runs out -- these are useful in events such as yacht races, where a sailor must maneuver a boat into position before the start of a race.

Craze (crazing): A minute crack in the glaze of enamel watch dials.

Crown: Button on the outside of the case that is used to set the time and the calendar, and, in the mechanical watches, to wind the mainspring.

Crown Wheel: The escape wheel of a verge escapement; looks like a crown.

Crystal: The transparent cover on the watch face made of glass crystal, synthetic sapphire or plastic.

Curb Pins: The two pins that change the rate of a watch; the two pins, in effect, change the length of the hairspring.

Cuvette: The inter-dust cover of a pocket watch.

Cylinder Escapement: A type of escapement used on some watches.


Damaskeening: The art of producing a design, pattern, or wavy appearance on a metal. American idiom or terminology used in all American factory ads. The European terminology was Fausse Cotes or Geneva Stripes.

Day/Night Indicator: A colored or shaded band on a world time clock that shows which time zones are in daylight and which in darkness.

Demi-Hunter: A hunting case with the center designed to allow the position of the hands to be seen without opening the case.

Depth Alarm: An alarm on a diver's watch that sounds when the wearer exceeds a pre-set depth. In most watches it stops sounding when the diver ascends above that depth.

Detent Escapement: A detached escapement. The balance is impulsed in one direction; used on watches to provide greater accuracy. Detent a locking device.

Dial: The watch face.

Digital Watch: A watch that shows the time with digits rather than with a dial and hands display.

Discharge Fallet Jewel: The left jewel.

Double Roller: A watch with one impulse roller table and a safety roller, thus two rollers.

Draw: The angular position of the pallet jewels in the pallet frame which causes those jewels to be drawn deeper into the escape wheel under pressure of the escape wheel's tooth on the locking surface.

Drivers Watch: Drivers watches were designed to be worn on the side of the wrist while driving a car so that the driver would not have to move the wrist to see the time.

Drop: The space between a tooth of the escape wheel and the pallet from which it has just escaped.

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, subdials, or other means.

Dumb-Repeater: A repeating watch with hammers that strikes a block instead of bells or gongs.

Duplex Escapement: An escape wheel with two sets of teeth, one for locking and one for impulse.


Ebauche (ay-boesh): A movement not completely finished or in the rough; not detailed; a raw movement; a movment made up of two plates, train, barrel and did not include a dial, case or escapement.

Eccentric: Not exactly circular, non-concentric. A cam with a lobe or egg shape.

Eco-Drive: A quartz watch that uses a Solar conversion panel and energy cell to provide the operating power. The ability of an Eco-Drive to use light from any source to generate electrical power means that the supply is limitless and free and never needs a battery.

Elapsed Time Rotating Bezel: A graduated rotating bezel used to keep track of periods of time. The bezel can be turned so the wearer can align the zero on the bezel with the watch's second or minute hands. The wearer can then read the elapsed time off the bezel. This prevents the wearer from having to perform the subtraction that would be necessary if the watch's regular dial was used.

Engine Turning: Decorative engraving, usually on the watch case.

Electronic Watch: Newer type watch using quartz and electronics to produce a high degree of accuracy.

Elinvar: A hairspring composed of a special alloy of nickel, steel, chromium, manganese and tungsten that does not vary at different temperatures. Elinvar was derived from the words elasticity invariable.

End Shake: The up and down play of an arbor between the plates and bridge or between the jewels.

Ephemerous Time: The time calculated for the Earth to orbit around the sun.

Escape Wheel: The last wheel in a going train; works with the fork or lever and escapes one pulse at a time.

Escapement: The device in a mechanical movement watch by which the motion of the train is checked and the energy of the mainspring communicated to the balance. The escapement includes the escape wheel, lever, and balance complete with hairspring.

ETA: Elegance, Technology, Accuracy - Founded in 1793, ETA SA Manufacture Horlogère Suisse is one of the world's largest manufacturers of watches and movements. Backed by more than two centuries of specialist knowledge, ETA supplies watchmakers all around the globe.


Face: The visible side of the watch where the dial is contained. Most are printed with Arabic or Roman numerals.

Farmer's Watch (Oignon): A large pocket watch with a verge escapement and a farm scene on the dial.

Fecit: A Latin work meaning "made by."

Five-Minute Repeater: A watch that denotes the time every five minutes, and on the hour and half hour, by operating a push piece.

Flinque: Enameling over hand engraving.

Flyback Hand: A second hand on the chronograph that can be used to time laps or to determine finishing times for several competitors in race.

FOB: A short chain or ribbon attached to a pocket watch, or pocket watch chain, and worn hanging in front of the vest or waist. An ornament or seal is typically attached to such a chain or ribbon.

Foliot: A straight-armed balance with weights on each end used for regulation; found on the earliest clocks and watches.

Fork: The part of the pallet lever that engages with the roller jewel.
Frequency: How many times the Balance Wheel reaches the end of a rotation (in either direction - one oscillation back and forth equals 2).

Full Plate: A plate (or disc) that covers the works and supports the wheels pivots. There is a top plate, a bottom plate, half and 3/4 plate. The top plate has the balance resting on it.

Fusee: A spiral grooved, truncated cone used in some watches to equalize the power of the mainspring.


Gear Train: The system of gears that transmits power from the mainspring to the escapement.

Geneva Stripes: The art of producing a design, pattern, or wavy appearance on a metal. [This is the European term for damaskeening.]

Geneva Stop Work: A system used to stop the works preventing the barrel from being over wound.

Gilt or Gild: To coat or plating with gold leaf or a gold color.

Glass: Another name for the Crystal - the clear cover of the dial originally made from glass (mineral crystal) or sapphire, but now more commonly made from Acrylic Crystal.
Global Positioning System (GPS) Watch: Watches that utilize GPS technology and provide features such as multi-channel receivers that can receive signals from many GPS satellites to calculate and display the latitude, longitude and altitude of your current position.

Going Barrel: The barrel houses the main spring; as the spring uncoils, the barrel turns, and the teeth on the outside of the barrel turn the train of gears as opposed to toothless fusee barrel.

Gold Filled: Sandwich-type metal; a layer of gold, a layer of base metal in the middle, and then another layer of gold - these layers of metals are soldered to each other to form a sandwich.

Gold Jewel Setting: In high-grade watches the jewels were mounted in gold settings.

Gold Plating: A layer of gold that has been electro-deposited onto a metal; its thickness is measured in microns.

Grande Sonnerie (Grand Strike): A type of repeater that sounds the hours and quarter hours when the wearer pushes the button.

Great Wheel: The main wheel of a fusee type watch.

Guilloche: Type of engraving in which thin lines are interwoven, creating a patterned surface.


Hack-Watch: A watch with a balance that can be stopped to allow synchronization with another timepiece.

Hairspring: The spring which vibrates the balance.

Hairspring Stud: A hairspring stud is used to connect the hairspring to the balance cock.
Half Hunter (Demi-Hunter) Case: A hunter watch with a circular window cut in the lid covering the dial which allows the time to be read through the window, without opening the watch. The lid often has the hours engraved or pressed into the metal to make reading the time easier.

Hallmark: The silver or gold or platinum markings of many countries.

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.

Heart Cam-Piece: A heart shaped cam which causes the hand on a chronograph to fly back to zero.

Helical Hairspring: A cylindrical spring used in chronometers.

High-Tech Ceramic: Used as a protective shield for spacecraft reentering 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 and is usually found in black, but can be produced in a spectrum of colors.

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

Hunter Case: A pocket watch case with a covered face that must be opened to see the watch dial.


Independent Seconds: A seconds hand driven independently by a separate train but controlled by the time train.

Index: Another term for the racquet-shaped regulator which lengthens or shortens the effective length of the hairspring.

Integrated Bracelet: A watch bracelet that is integrated into the design of the case.

Isochronism: "Isos" means equal; chronos means time-occuring at equal intervals of time. The balance and hairspring adjusted will allow the watch to run at the same rate regardless whether the watch is fully wound or almost run down.


Jewels: Synthetic sapphires or rubies that act as bearings for gears in a mechanical watch, reducing friction.

Jump Hour Indicator: A jump hour indicator takes the place of an hour hand. It shows the hour by means of a numeric window on the watch face.


Karrusel: An invention of Bonniksen in 1894 which allows the entire escapement to revolve within the watch once in 52 1/2 minutes (in most karrusels),. this unit is supported at one end only as opposed to the tourbillon which is supported at both ends and which most often revolves about once a minute.

Key Set: Older watch that had to be set with a key.


Lap Memory: The ability, in some quartz sport watches, to preserve in the watch's memory the times of laps in a race that have been determined by the lap timer. The wearer can recall these times on a digital display by pushing a button.

Lap Timer: A chronograph function that lets the wearer time segments of a race. At the end of a lap, the wearer stops the timer, which then returns to zero to begin timing the next lap.

Leaves: The teeth of the pinion gears.

L'Epine' Calibre: Swiss term for open face. Introduced by J.A. L'Epine in 1770.

Lever Escapement: Invented by Thomas Mudge in 1760.

Lever Setting: The lever used to set some watches.

Light-Emitting Diode (LED): A type of diode that emits light when
current passes through it. LEDs have many uses, visible LEDs are used as indicator lights on all sorts of electronic devices (including pocket watches and wristwatches.)

Liquid-Crystal Display (LCD): A digital watch display that shows the time electronically by means of the liquid held in a thin layer between two transparent plates.

Locking: Arresting the advance of the escape wheel during the balance's free excursion.

Lugs: Projections on the watchcase to which the watch band/bracelet is attached.
Luminous: Emitting light, especially emitting self-generated light. (Used on watch hands and hour markers.)

Luminova: A glowing phosphorescent pigment used to make the markings on a watch dial readable in low light or in the dark. It acts like a battery, storing light and then emitting it in darkness. The benefit over Tritium is that it doesn't age and can repeat the process for years …. however you do need the initial "charge" from a light source, whereas Tritium generates it's own power.


Main Plate: Base plate on which all the other parts of the watch movement are mounted.

Main Wheel: The first driving wheel, part of the barrel.

Mainspring: The driving spring of a watch or clock contained in the barrel.

Maltese Cross: The part of the stop works preventing the barrel from being over wound.

Marine Chronometer: Highly accurate mechanical or electronic timekeeper enclosed in a box (hence the term "box chronometer"), used for determining the longitude on board a ship. It is necessary for marine chronometers with mechanical movements to be mounted on gimbals so that they remain in a horizontal position.

Mean Time: Also equal hours; average solar time; the time shown by watches.

Mean Time Screws: balance screws used for timing, usually longer than other balance screws; when turned away from or toward the balance pin, they cause the balance vibrations to become faster or slower.

Measurement Conversion: A feature, usually consisting of a graduated scale on a watch's bezel, that lets the wearer translate one type of measurement into another; for example, miles into kilometers, or pounds into kilograms.

Mechanical movement: A movement powered by a mainspring, working in conjunction with a balance wheel.

Micrometric Regulator: A regulator used on railroad grade watches to adjust for gain and loss in a very precise way.

Micro-second: A millionth of a second.

Micron: Unit of measure of the thickness of the gold-plating. 1 micron = 1/1000mm..

Mineral Crystal: The glass transparent covering (Crystal) of the watch dial. Commonly replaced by Acrylic Crystal in modern watches and Sapphire Crystal in high-end watches.

Minute Repeater: A watch that strikes or sounds the hours, and minutes on demand.

Moon-phase: A window in a watch face that shows the current phase of the moon.

Mother-of-Pearl: Iridescent milky interior shell of the freshwater 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.

Movement: The inner mechanism of a watch that keeps time and moves the watch's hands calendar, etc. Movements are either mechanical or quartz.

Musical Watch: A watch that plays a tune on demand or on the hour.

Multi-Gold: Different colors of gold - red, green, white, blue, pink, yellow and purple.


Nanosecond: One billionth of a second.

N.A.W.C.C.:The National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors. Located at 514 Popular Street, Columbia, Pennsylvania 17512 (telephone: 1-717-684-8261.) Founded in 1943, The National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, Inc. (NAWCC) is a nonprofit scientific organization that serves as a unique educational, cultural and social resource for its membership and the public at large. Members include hobbyists, students, educators, casual collectors, and professionals in related retail and manufacturing trades. The one common bond (and main membership requirement) is a fascination with the art and science of timekeeping (horology).

Nivarox:The trade name for a metal alloy developed mainly for watch springs and critical components. The name comes from a German acronym for "Nicht Variabel Oxydfest (Ni Var Ox)" meaning non-variable and non-oxidizing. The fact that the alloy is rust-proof, non-magnetic and isn't affected by temperature changes means it is the perfect material to maintain consistency and accuracy in a watch.

Nurenburg Egg: Nickname for early German watches that was oval-shaped.


Oignon: Large older (1700s) style watch in the shape of a onion or in the shape of a bulb.

Oil Sink: A small well around a pivot which retains oil.

Open Dial: A pocket watch with no lid or metal cover to the Crystal and Dial.
"O" Ring: A seal on some watches to increase water resistance.

Overbanked: A lever escapement error; the roller jewel passes to the wrong side of the lever notch, causing one side of the pallet to rest against the banking pin and the roller jewel to rest against the other side, thus locking the escapement and stopping the motion of the balance.

Overcoil: The raised up portion of the balance hairspring, not flat. Also called Breguet hairspring.


Patina: Oxidation of any surface and change due to aging. A natural staining or discoloration due to the aging process.

Pair-Case Watch: An extra case around a watch (two cases), hence a pair of cases. The outer case kept out the dust. The inner case could not be dustproof because it provided the access to the winding and setting keyholes in the watch case.

Palladium: One of six platinum metals, used in watches in place of platinum, because it is harder, lighter and cheaper.

Pallet: The part of the lever that works with the escape wheel-jeweled pallet jewels, entry and exit pallets.

Parachute: An early shock proofing system designed to fit as a spring on the end stone of balance.

Pave: A number of jewels or stone set close together. Paved in diamonds.

Pedometer: A device that counts the number of strides taken by the wearer by responding to the impact of the wearer's steps.

Pendant: The neck of the watch; attached to it is the bow (swing ring) and the crown.

Perpetual Calendar: A calendar that automatically adjusts for the months' varying length and for leap years.

Pillars: the rods that hold the plates apart. In older watches they were fancy.

Pinchbeck: A metal similar in appearance to gold. named after the inventor. Alloy of four parts copper and three parts zinc.

Pinion: The larger gear is called a wheel. The small solid gear is a pinion. The pinion is made of steel in some watches.

Plate: A watch has a front and a back plate or top and bottom plate. The works are in between.

Platinum: One of the rarest of precious metals, platinum also is 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 eighty-five to ninety-five percent pure. Many platinum watches are produced in limited editions due to the expense and rarity of the metal.

Poise: A term meaning in balance to equalize the weight around the balance.

Pontillage (bull's eye crystal): The grinding of the center of a crystal to form a concave or so called "bull's eye crystal."

Pop Art: Pop Art is a 20th century art movement that utilized the imagery and techniques of consumerism and popular culture. Pop art developed in the late1950's as a reaction against Abstract Expressionism and flourished in the sixties and early seventies. Pop Art favored figural imagery and the reproduction of everyday objects, such as Campbell Soup cans, comic strips and advertisements. The movement eliminated distinctions between "good" and "bad" taste and between fine art and commercial art techniques.

Position: As adjusted to five positions; a watch may differ in its time keeping accuracy as it lays in different positions. Due to the lack of poise, changes in the center of gravity, a watch can be adjusted to six positions: dial up, dial down, stem up, stem down, stem left and stem right.

Power Reserve: Of mechanical watches, this is the amount of time the watch can run when fully wound. Even if your watch has a 48 hour of a 72 hour Power Reserve, it is good practise to get into the habit of winding your watch each morning.

Power Reserve Indicator: A feature of a mechanical watch that shows how much longer the watch will operate before it must be wound again.

Psychedelic: Having the vivid colors and bizarre patterns associated with psychedelic states. An art form that represents a psychedelic experience.

Pulsimeter: A scale on a chronograph watch for measuring the pulse rate.

Push-piece: Button that is pressed to work a mechanism. (Push-pieces are on chronographs, striking watches, alarms, etc.)


Quick Train: A watch with five beats or more per second or 18,000 per hour.

Quartz Crystal: A tiny piece of synthetic quartz that oscillates at the rate of 32.768 times a second, dividing time into equal segments.
Quartz Movement: An electronic, usually battery-powered, movement that uses the vibrations of known frequency from a quartz oscillator to determine the time. A very accurate and less expensive alternative to a mechanical movement.


Rack & Pinion Lever Escapement: Developed by Abbe de Huteville in 1722 and by Peter Litherhead in 1791; does not use a roller table, but a pinion.

Receiving Pallet: Also called left or entrance jewel, the first of tow pallet jewels with which a tooth of the escape wheel comes into engagement.

Register: A sub-dial or second dial on the main dial, sometimes showing seconds, but more usually the day, date or moon phase. Some chronometer style watches have many Registers.

Regulator: On some watches, a Regulator is used to adjust the speed or Frequency" of the balance wheel. Marked "Fast" and "Slow", or "Advance" and "Retard", the Regulator allows you to adjust the timing of the watch for accuracy.

Repeater: A device that chimes the time when the wearer pushes a button.

Repousse': A watch with a hammered, raised decoration on the case.

Retro Mod: An unconventional modern style of fashionable design, or dress (originated in the 1960s.) Refers to the fashion, decor, design, or style reminiscent of things from the past (especially from the 1960s.)

Right Angle Escapement: Also called English Escapement.

Rolled Gold: Thin layer of gold soldered to a base metal.

Roller Jewel: The jewel mounted or seated in the roller table, which receives the impulse from the pallet fork.

Roller Table: The part of the balance in which the roller jewel is seated.

Roman Numerals: Developed by the Romans for use in trade and commerce as a method to indicate numbers. The system they developed lasted many centuries and has some specialized use in current times. It is a typestyle characterized by upright letters having serifs and vertical lines thicker than horizontal lines. Roman numerals were very popular on yesteryear's pocket watches and clocks and are sometimes used on today's wristwatches, clocks and pocket watches.
I - (Roman symbol for 1) - The easiest way to note down a number is to make that many marks - little I's. Thus I means 1, II means 2, III means 3. However, four strokes seemed like too many....
V - (Roman symbol for 5) - The Romans moved on to the symbol for 5 - V. Placing I in front of the V — or placing any smaller number in front of any larger number — indicates subtraction. So IV means 4. After V comes a series of additions - VI means 6, VII means 7, VIII means 8.
X - (Roman symbol for 10) - X means 10. But wait — what about 9? Same deal. IX means to subtract I from X, leaving 9. Numbers in the teens, twenties and thirties follow the same form as the first set, only with X's indicating the number of tens. So XXXI is 31, and XXIV is 24.
L - (Roman symbol for 50)
C - (Roman symbol for 100)
D - (Roman symbol for 500)
M - (Roman symbol for 1000)

Rose (or pink) Gold: A softly hued gold that contains the same metals 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.

Rotating Bezel: A bezel (the ring surrounding the watch face) that can be turned. Different types of rotating bezels perform different timekeeping and mathematical functions.

Rotor: The part of an automatic (self-winding) watch that winds the movement's mainspring.


Safety Pinion: A pinion in the center wheel designed to unscrew if the mainspring breaks; this protects the train from being stripped by the great force of the mainspring.

Safety Roller: The smaller of the two rollers in a double roller escapement.

Sapphire Crystal: A crystal (the cover that protects the watch face) made of synthetic sapphire, a transparent shatter-resistant, scratch-resistant substance.

Screw-Lock Crown: A crown that can be screwed into the case to make the watch watertight.

Second Time-Zone Indicator: An additional dial that can be set to the time in another time zone. It lets the wearer keep track of local time and the time in another country simultaneously.

Shagreen: The skin of a horse, a shark, ray fish and other animal usually dyed green or blue green. Then used as ornamental covers for older watch cases.

Shrapnel Guard: A metal grill that covers the crystal. They were mainly used during World War 1 to protect watches from shrapnel and other flying debris.

Shock Absorber: Resilient bearing which, in a watch, is intended to take up the shocks received by the balance staff and thus protects its delicate pivots from damage.

Shock Resistance: As defined by the U.S. government regulation, a watch's ability to withstand an impact equal to that of being dropped onto a wood floor from a height of three feet.

Sidereal Day: The time of rotation of the Earth as measured from the stars. About 3 minutes 56 seconds shorter than the mean solar day.

Side-Winder: A mismatched case and movement; a term used for a hunting movement that has been placed on an open face case and winds at the 3 o'clock position. Open face cases wind at the 12 o'clock position.

Silveroid: A type of case composed of alloys to simulate the appearance of silver.

Single Roller: The safety roller and the roller jewel are one single table.

Size: System used to determine the size of the movement to the case.

Skeleton Case: A case with a transparent front or back that allows the wearer to view the watch's movement.

Skeleton Watch: A watch made so the viewer can see the works. Plates are pierced and very decorative.

Skull Watch: A antique watch that is hinged at the jaw to reveal a watch.

Slide Rule: A device consisting of a logarithmic or other scale on the outer edge of the watch face that can be used to do mathematical calculations.

Slow Train: A watch with four beats per second or 14,000 per hour.

Snail: A cam shaped much like a snail. The snail determines the number of blows to be struck by a repeater (a count wheel.)

Snailing: Ornamentation of the surface of metals by means of a circle design; also called damaskeening.

Solar Compass: A compass that allows the wearer to determine the geographical poles by means of a rotating bezel. The wearer places the watch so that the hour hand faces the sun. Then, the wearer takes half the distance between the position and 12 o'clock, and turns the bezel until its "south" marker is at that halfway point. Some quartz watches have solar compasses that show directions on an LCD display.

Solar Powered Batteries: Batteries in a quartz watch that are recharged via solar panels on the watch face.

Solar Year: 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 49.7 seconds.

Souscription: The cheapest Brequet watch which he make with high quality made in batches or group lots in advance to lower the cost (ebauches.)

Space Age Watch: Watch making designs (especially from 1957 to 1979) that reflect the bold and daring styles that emerged from the technology that was derived from the space travel revolution.

Split Seconds Hand: Actually two hands, one a fly-back hand, the other a regular chronograph hand. When the wearer starts the chronograph, both hands move together. To time laps or different finishing times, the wearer can stop the fly-back hand independently while the regular chronograph hand keeps moving, in effect 'splitting' the hand(s) in two.

Spotting: Decoration used on a watch movement and barrel of movements.

Spring Bar: The metal keeper that attaches the band to the lugs of a wrist watch and is spring loaded.

Spring Ring: A circular tube housing a coiled type spring.

Stackfreed: Curved spring and cam to equalize the uneven force of the mainspring on the 16th century German movements.

Staff: Name for the axle of the balance.

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, to look like a precious metal. Because of its strength, stainless steel is often used even on case backs of watches made of other metals.

Starburst: A shape or design with emanating rays that resembles the flash of light produced by an exploding star.

Steampunk: A sub-genre of science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery, especially in a setting inspired by industrialized Western civilization during the 19th century. This movement makes jewelry out of old watch and clock parts and prefers pocket watches as a timepiece of choice.

Stem: The shaft that sticks out of your pocket watch with the Crown on the top … thus a Stem Wound watch.

Stepping Motor: The part of a quartz movement that moves the gear train, which in turn moves the watch's hands.

Sterling: A white and highly reflective precious metal. Sterling silver 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 the 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 silver jewelry. A protective coating may be added to prevent tarnish.

Stopwatch: A watch with a second hand that measures intervals of time. When a stopwatch is incorporated into a standard watch, both the stopwatch function and the timepiece are referred to as a "chronograph."

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

Sun Dial: A devise using a gnomon or style that cast a shadow over a graduated dial as the sun progresses, indicating solar time.

Swatch Group Ltd.: Designs, manufactures, distributes and sells finished watches, watch movements, prestige watch components, electronic systems and luxury jewelry. Based in Biel, Switzerland, The Swatch Group was formed in 1983 through merger of two Swiss watch manufacturers: ASUAG and SSIH. Formerly SMH Swiss Corporation for Microelectronics and Watchmaking Industries Ltd, the company took its present name in 1998. The Swatch Group employs over 35,600 people in 50 countries.

Swiss Made: A watch is considered Swiss if its movement was assembled, started, adjusted and controlled by the manufacturer in Switzerland.

Swiss A.O.S.C. (Certificate of Origin): A mark identifying a watch that is assembled in Switzerland with components of Swiss origin.

Swivel: A hinged spring catch with a loop of metal that may be opened to insert a watch bow.

Sweep Seconds-Hand: A second-hand that is mounted in the center of the watch dial.


Tachymeter: A device on a chronograph watch that measures the speed at which the wearer has traveled over a measured distance.

Tank Watch: A rectangular watch designed by Louis Cartier. The bars along the sides of the watch were inspired by the tracks of tanks used in World War 1.

Tall Case Clock Terminology: A diagram with the common parts of a tall case clock.

Telemeter: A telemeter determines the distance of an object from the observer by measuring how long it takes sound to travel that distance. It usually consists of a stopwatch, or chronograph, and a special scale, usually on the outermost edge of a watch face.

Thirty (30) Minute Recorder (or register): A subdial on a chronograph that can measure time periods of up to 30 minutes.

Timer: Instrument used for registering intervals of time (duration, brief times), without any indication of the time of day.

Titanium: A "space age" metal, often having a silver-gray appearance. Because it is 30 percent stronger and nearly 50 percent lighter than steel, it has been increasingly used in watchmaking, especially sport watch styles. Its resistance to salt water corrosion makes it particularly useful in diver's watches. Since it can be scratched easily, some manufacturers use a patented-coating to resist scratching.

Tonneau Watch: A watch shaped like a barrel, with two convex sides.

Top Plate: The metal plate that usually contains the name and serial number.

Torsion: A twisting force.

Totalizer: A mechanism that keeps track of elapsed time and displays it, usually on a subdial.

Tourbillon: A device in a mechanical watch that eliminates timekeeping errors caused by the slight difference in the rates at which a watch runs in the horizontal and vertical positions. The tourbillon consists of a round carriage, or cage, holding the escapement and the balance. It rotates continuously at the rate of once per minute.

Train: A series of gears that form the works of a watch. The train is used for other functions such as chiming. The time train carries the power to the escapement.

Transition Watch: Watches sold with both key and stem-winding on the same movement.

Also, denotes watches that were converted from pocket watches to wristwatches in the early 1900s. During the 1800's pocket watches were all that was available. The wristwatch had not yet been used. A popular story from the early 1900s tells of a German military officer strapping his pocket watch to his wrist to keep his hands free. This was the beginning of the modern wristwatch. As this practice became popular, smaller sized pendant or pocket watches were adapted for use on the wrist. This is where the term "transition" watch is commonly used. When wristwatch popularity amongst men really took off (1908 to 1915), everyone wanted to join in on the fad. Watch factories took existing smaller smaller pocket watches and retrofitted them into a wristwatch. And, local jewelers also designed pocket watches so they could be worn on the wrist. This was quite common during the "Transitional" period.

Trench Watch: During World War 1 the front-line soldiers lived in and fought from a series of trenches that were dug in the ground. The trenches on the Western Front extended from the North Sea right down to the Swiss border. The military watches that the soldiers wore on their wrists are known as the "Trench Watch." These Trench Watches were typically a wire lug watch attached to the wrist with a leather strap. Many were protected by a leather pocket on the strap or a shrapnel guard.

Tritium: A self-powered light source based on an isotope of Hydrogen used to make the markings on a watch dial legible in the dark. It is not a radiation hazard since it is a low energy beta emitter, but it has been superseded in most watches now by more natural pigments like Luminova. With a half life of just over 12 years, Tritium will slowly fade and be pretty ineffective after 25 to 30 years.

Triple Case Watch: 18th and 19th century verge escapement, fusee watches made for the Turkish market. A fourth case sometimes added is called Quadruple cases.

Twelve (12) Hour Recorder (or Register): A subdial on a chronograph that can record time periods of up to 12 hours.


Uni-directional Rotating Bezel: An elapsed time rotating bezel, often found on divers' watches, that moves only in a counterclockwise direction. It is designed to prevent a diver who has unwittingly knocked the bezel off its original position from overestimating his or her remaining air supply. Because the bezel moves in only one direction, the diver may err only on the side of safety when timing a dive. Many divers' watches are ratcheted, so that they lock into place for greater safety.

Up and Down Dial Indicator: A dial that shows how much of the mainspring is spent and how far up or down the mainspring is.


Valjoux: is a Swiss manufacturer of mechanical watch movements that specializes primarily in chronograph production (originally marked as VAL or "R" for Valjoux.) They are used in a number of middle range mechanical watches, and have been owned by ETA for a number of years.

ETA now stamps their name on each movement. Major watch brands that use the movements are Omega, Breitling, Oris, TAG Heuer, and so on.

Vibration: Movement of a pendulum or other oscillating element limited by two consecutive extreme positions. The balance of a mechanical watch generally makes five or six vibrations per second (that is, 18,000 or 21,600 per hour), but that of a high-frequency watch may make seven, eight or even ten vibrations per second (that is, 25,200, 28,800 or 36, 000 per hour).

Verge Escapement: Early type of escapement with a wheel that is shaped like a crown.

Vermeil: Gold plated over silver.

Virgule Escapement: Early escapement introduced in the mid 1700s.


Watch Glass Protector: A snap on metal grill that covers the crystal.

Watch Paper: A disc of paper with the name of the watchmaker or repairman printed on it; used as a form of advertising and found in some pair-cased watches.

Waterproof: The ability to completely exclude the possibility of water entering into any working portion of a watch. According to the Federal Trade Commission, no watch is fully 100 percent waterproof and no manufacturer that sells watches in the U.S. may label any of their watches "waterproof." The FTC demands that watches only be referred to as "water resistant."

Water Resistant: The ability to resist damage caused by exposure to water.

Wheel: The larger gears in a watch which are often spoked. Solid smaller gears are called Pinions.

White Gold: Created from yellow gold by incorporating either nickel or palladium to the alloy to achieve a white color. Many watches made of white gold will be 18k, or 75 percent pure gold.

Winder: Another name for the Crown. The knob used for setting the time and winding the spring.

Wind Indicator: A watch that indicates how much of the mainspring is spent.

Winding: Operation consisting of tightening the mainspring of a watch. This can be done by hand (by the crown) or automatically (by a rotor, which is caused to swing by the movements of the wearer's arm).

Winding Stem: The button on the right side of the watchcase used to wind the mainspring. Also called a "crown."

Wristlet: Early watches (late 1800s to early 1900s) worn on the wrist by Ladies only. The wristlet timepieces pre-dated the development and general public acceptance of the wristwatch.

Wolf Teeth: A winding wheel's teeth so named to their shape.

World Time Dial: A dial, usually on the outer edge of the watch face, which tells the time up to 24 time zones around the world. The time zones are represented by the names of cities printed on the bezel or dial. The wearer reads the hour in a particular time zone by looking at the scale next to the city that the hour hand is pointing to. The minutes are read as normal. Watches with this feature are called "world timers."



Yacht Timer: A countdown timer that sounds warning signals during the countdown for a boat race.

Yellow Gold: The traditionally popular gold used in all gold, gold and stainless steel combinations, or other precious metal watches.


Zulu Time: The military and aviation name for Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) or Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) working on a 24 hour clock where the Greenwich Meridian is in the zero (Z) hours time zone. Since in the NATO phonetic alphabet "Z" is "Zulu", pilots and military operations work to "Zulu Time" - a constant wherever they are in the world. And here's a tip - Reykjavik is always on Zulu Time because the Icelanders never change their clocks forwards or back and they run to GMT (even though they are nearly 22 degrees West).

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Watch & Clock Terminology

For a quick reference for a comparison of European Terminology vs. USA Terminology click here.