Watch Terminology

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  • Band: The cuff that wraps around the wrist making the piece a wrist watch. Metal bands are called bracelets. Leather, rubber or fabric bands are called watch straps.
  • Bezel: Ring that attaches the crystal to the watch case.
  • Case: Frame that houses the watch mechanism.
  • Case Back: A removable cover that allows access to the internal mechanism of a watch.
  • Clasp: The hardware that fastens the band together; a buckle.
  • Crown: A button on the side of the case that adjusts the time and date. The button also winds many mechanical watches.
  • Crystal: The clear protective case over the watch dial; usually a Plexiglas or mineral disc. Hardlex crystals, a heat-treated mineral crystal, and sapphire crystals are especially scratch-resistant.
  • Dial: The face of a watch case that displays the timekeeping functions.
  • Subdial: A small window or register with its own hands that is placed on the main dial. Chronograph watches have three or four subdials to display multiple functions.
  • Lugs: The hardware that connects the case to the watch band.
  • Analog: The traditional dial; keeping time with hands.
  • Aperture: The date display window on a watch dial.
  • Calendar: Displays featuring the day, date or year in addition to the hour; analog watch dials show this feature in apertures or subdials.
  • Caliber: The configuration and size of the watch movement.
  • Countdown Timer: A chronograph function that measures how much of a preset period of time has passed.
  • Chronograph: A watch with multiple functions measuring specific durations of time, often in fractions of a second. Subdials and hands measure the time periods; such as the stopwatch of a sports watch.
  • Chronometer: A high-precision timepiece whose movement has been quality-tested by the Controle Officiel Suisse des Chronometres [COSC], a Swiss laboratory. The COSC tests the movement at five different positions and 3 different temperatures for several consecutive days to determine accuracy. Timepieces qualifying as chronometers include a COSC certification number.
  • Digital: A dial that shows the time and other features in a LCD (liquid crystal display) or LED (light emitting diode) display. This feature is useful displaying information on a multifunction watch.
  • Dual Time: A display that shows two time zones on the dial. The feature can have two dials, a subdial placed in the main dial, or analog and digital displays on the same watch.
  • Guilloche: A pattern of ridges that ripple outward from the center of a flat surface; a sunburst pattern. This texture is common on the dials of dress watches.
  • Jewels: The jewels form the bearings in a mechanical or automatic watch. The movement generally will have at least 17 jewels.
  • Kinetic: A watch mechanism or battery that is powered by natural movements of the wearer's arm. A quartz watch with kinetic movement never needs a new battery.
  • Lap Timer: A chronograph function that measures segments of a race; it can stop to show the time for each lap without losing track of the total race time.
  • Mechanical: Watch movement using a spring that must be wound by hand. The spring slowly unwinds to release the energy that powers the watch.
  • Moon Phase Dial: A subdial that tracks the phases of the lunar month. Some watches have a Sun and Moon subdial which tracks the 24-hour day.
  • Perpetual Calendar: Automatically resets the day at the end of the month or year, including leap years.
  • Power Reserve: The amount of energy, notated in hours, that a watch has stored in its movement. The average mechanical or automatic watch has a full power reserve of about 36 hours.
  • Skeleton:: This case design displays the watch movement with an open dial or with a clear crystal placed on the case back.
  • Sweep Hand: The marker that denotes the seconds as it moves around the dial of an automatic watch. Also called the sweep second hand, this marker moves in a smooth arc on the dial. The second hand of a quartz watch will click forward in second-long increments.
  • Tachymeter: A register set on the bezel that measures the distance covered over a specific period of time.
  • World Time: Found in digital watches, this function features a list of the current times in major cities around the world.
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