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Getting to Grips With Terminology – A Watch Buyer’s Guide

Watches, as is the case with a lot of different things, have their own set of terms and phrases used to describe various parts of the devices. Obviously, being able to tell a watch seller or a repair shop exactly which parts of your watch are nonfunctional would aid in making sure that you get a fast and efficient service, so we’re going to be taking a look at some of these terms here.

The Watch Body – Terms and Phrases

To begin with, let’s look at the body of your watch and the
the terminology used to describe all the various parts. You’ve got the case, which is the main body of the watch, and this is what houses all the parts and elements which make up your model. The crown is what we call the winder that’s located on the side of the watch, and this is used to adjust time and, in some cases, wind the movement of the watch. A screw-down crown is something which is used for creating both water resistance and to access the various functions of your crown, such as adjusting different parts of the device.

Vintage Omega Seamaster Cal.1437 Quartz Gold Plated Midsize Watch original

The horns are what we call the two protruding parts on a watch which you’ll see either side of the crown. These are different from the lugs, which are on the top and bottom half of the watch and help to allow the straps or the watch bracelet to attach. The lug width is the space between the two lugs, which will again vary from one watch to another. Moving into the middle, we have what is known as the dial of the watch, which anyone would recognise as being the face that you read the time on. The crystal or glass protects the dial and watch, with variants of it including sapphire crystal and mineral crystal. A sapphire crystal is one which is resistant to scratches, and the mineral crystal is the most common dial on a watch, which naturally scratches over time. Another type of crystal which you may find on the dial is called hesalite or Hardlex plastic as its more commonly known. This is a very hard plastic, which will not ever shatter, and can be polished to a high lustre.

Omega watch dial

This is often accompanied by what is known as a bezel, which is the fixed ring on the watch, although they can sometimes rotate around, this will vary from one watch to the next. The bezel can come in two different forms. These are either the unidirectional rotating bezel, which is used for recording the amount of time which has elapsed or the bidirectional rotating bezel. This is used for things like mathematical calculations, like average speed and other similar items. Another element of your watch is the calibre, which is the specific term given to the movement of the watch. A mechanical movement is the part of the watch which contains all the moving parts, with the exceptions of the two hands.

Vintage Bulova Oceanographer Gold Plated Manual Wind Mens Watch N2

The Inner Watch Workings

To begin with, let’s look at the inner workings of your watch to find out how everything comes together to form a working timepiece. What you’ve got is a watch being labelled as Quartz, which means that it is both batteries operated and gifted with a high level of accuracy. This in contrast to a self-winding or automatic watch, in which the mainspring is automatically wound based on the natural movement of your wrist, or a manual winding watch, which requires you to make a conscious effort to wind up your watch regularly by turning the crown numerous times. Your chronometer is what is used to keep the time on the watch and is tested rigorously before it’s released to the public to ensure accuracy in a variety of conditions, such as crossing time zones.

Vintage Omega Seamaster Cal.1437 Quartz Gold Plated Midsize Watch

The Features

Now, a lot of watches these days will come with a whole host of different features to make them highly versatile objects. Obviously, the date displays the current date, but there’s a lot of other features which make up your watch. You’ve got the chronograph, which is what you’d use to record time or turn your watch into a stopwatch. The alarm is obviously what you’d use to set a time for the watch to remind you to do a certain task, and GMT means that a watch can display GMT. A bidirectional rotating bezel is something which allows part of your watch to rotate both clockwise and anticlockwise, whereas a unidirectional variant is one which only allows you to turn in one direction, and that is often clockwise. You’ll also find that your watch may have a tachymeter or a tachometer. This is the scale which is used for determining speed.

vintage rolex GMT

Other typical functions of a watch include the ability to make a countdown, the capability to change time zones, and a backlight, which illuminates the entire display of the watch when used, for nighttime timekeeping. An additional term which you might hear when people talk about watches is water-resistant. This explains to people how resistant the watch is to water. The greater the number of meters the watch can work in, the greater the resistance it has. For example, a watch which is listed as being water-resistant to 50 meters is something which can stand up to water from splashing, rain and lets you swim in shallow waters. On the opposite end of the scale, you’ll find that something which is listed as being water-resistant to 500 metres allows you to take the watch not only in the rain but also snorkelling, scuba diving and deep-sea diving, meaning it can go pretty much anywhere with you. Please remember that you watch would need to be pressure tested and sealed for it to become waterproof/water-resistant.

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