Watch Glossary | Time To Learn


A mechanical watch that is powered by the motion of the wearer’s wrist - 'automatically winding the watch . The motion of being worn spins an oscillating counterweight (called a rotor) and is attached to the back of the movement. The rotor powers the mainspring, which then turns the watch’s gears. Automatic watches can also require a manual wind - especially when the watch has stopped or at the end of its power reserve due to non-wear, should be manually wound 20-40 times. 


Quite literally the beating heart of a mechanical movement. It receives the energy to run from the escapement. The balance wheel beats, or oscillates, in a circular motion. Most simply, the balance wheel is what a pendulum is to a clock. 


The top section of a watch that holds the crystal in place. Some bezels have dual function (most often in chronographs) to record elapsed time.


A function that indicates day of the month, and on some watches, day of the week and year. 


The main body of the watch that protects the watch movement and dial. Cases come in just about any shape -- round, square, oval, tonneau, rectangular or asymmetrical. 


The opposite side of a watch case that can most often be removed to access the inside of the watch. 


A watch with a stopwatch function. A chronograph both measures and displays elapsed times in addition to showing conventional time. Generally, the chronograph mechanism is driven by the movement of the watch and operated by two pushers (buttons) on the edge of the case which start, stop and reset the chronograph. Most often, the chronograph seconds hand is the large centre seconds with sub-dials for elapsed minutes and hours - although the exact display can vary from watch to watch. Complicated chronograph functions include a Split Seconds Chronograph a.k.a. Rattrapantte, Mono (Single) Pusher Chronograph, Fly-Back Chronograph. 


A mechanical watch with functions other than basic timekeeping.  A simple complication would include chronographs, moonphase, alarm, annual calendar and GMT functions, among others. A watch with high complications would be called a grand complication and would include a perpetual calendar, tourbillon, minute repeater or equation of time functions in addition to many other highly 'complicated' functionality.


The crown is most often the external knob/button that is used for winding of a mechanical watch movement and/or setting of the time and other functions such as day/date in a quartz watch. The crown is attached to the outer part of the winding stem and can be used to power the mainspring.


The plastic, glass or sapphire cover protecting the dial of the watch. 


Any watch strap buckle that closes by folding in on itself, then clasping -- making it easier to take on and off and can help keep the leather from getting worn or stretched out.  In a metal link strap, the deployant can streamline the look of the bracelet by eliminating the buckle or clasp.


Also called the face, the dial displays the time and can feature numerals or indices demarcating any number of functionalities as well as the hands, discs or digital display.


The escapement is a mechanism that transfers the power of a wound-up watch into the movement's seconds hand. This results in the classic tick-tock sound you hear when holding a mechanical watch to your ear. 


The hands are the most common indicators that move over the dial to point at the hour, minute or second. Watches generally have three hands to show the hours, minutes and seconds.  There are plenty of alternatives to hands as some watches have discs and fixed hands for rotation of numerals or other display functionality.  


The synthetic rubies (or synthetic sapphires) used as bearings at the most substantial points of wear in a watch movement in order to reduce the friction between moving parts and increase a movement’s lifespan. Jewels are only used to increase the accuracy of the movement and are not for decoration or value.


The parts of the watch case that are used to secure the strap or bracelet to the watch.  They can physically extend out from the case or cut into for what is referred to as 'hidden lugs'


This is the guts of your watch. Acting as the engine of the timepiece, a movement is the inner mechanism of a watch that keeps time and powers the watch’s functions. There are a variety of types of movements including mechanical, automatic and quartz. 


Button(s) located outside of the case that control specific functions of the watch. Pushers are most commonly found on watches with a chronograph.


Attached to the watch movement, the rotor rotates freely to wind the mainspring and store power in automatic timepieces.


A strip or band of leather or rubber that holds the watch to the wrist. It must be non-metal to be considered a strap; a metal version is a bracelet.


A small dial placed inside the main dial on a watch’s dial that give information not provided by the main watch dial such as a chronograph.