Watch Anatomy

Genuine watch aficionados are very knowledgeable about the intricate detail that goes into the making of a mechanical or quartz watch. An appreciation develops based on the unique characteristics and craftsmanship a handmade timepiece commands in its performance and presentation.

The horological terms and elements here help distinguishing a luxury watch from all the others.

Horological Terms

Case
It is the protective housing that secures the watch’s movement as well as the bezel and back. It may have different contours and be made from different metals.
Crystal
The glass that covers the dial or face of the watch, protecting it from foreign particles and/or water. There are three major types of crystals produced and used in watch making.
  • Synthetic Sapphire: Is a lab created element having the same chemical composition of genuine sapphire (sapphires rank a 9 on the Mohs’ hardness scale). Generally, watches imported from Switzerland have this type of crystal; and it is also the most expensive of all the other crystals.
  • Mineral: Crystal that is made of glass. Mineral crystals rank a 7 on the Mohs’ hardness scale. They are inexpensive compared to sapphire crystals, usually costing less than one hundred dollars to replace if damaged.
  • Acrylic: Acrylic is the most affordable and durable type of crystal. It can be easily polished to remove light scuffs.
Dial
The face of the watch. Dials vary in design, marking and materials used.
Sub-dial
A small dial(s) set within the main dial that displays additional complications such as chronograph readout, seconds, or date.
Hour Marker
An hour indication mark applied or painted on the dial of the watch.
Hands
The hands on the watch indicate either the hour, minute or second, along with other functions. Hands add to the visual appeal of the watch, varying in style, color, shape and size.
Crown
Connects to the internal movement of a watch through the case. The crown, which can vary from a simple gasket to an intricate system of screws, allows you to wind, hand-set, and employ special functions like date settings and time.
Screw-down Crown
A crown that creates a secure seal against the case rendering it water resistant. The seal is achieved through gaskets and by matching the threaded pipe on the case with the crown's internal threads, while twisting the crown to lock it into place.
Pusher
Also known as pushpiece or a push button. It is mounted on the watch case and controls specific functions, such as sub-dial functions in a chronograph.
Bezel
The bezel is either snapped or screwed into the case and often secures the crystal in place. Bezels can be functional for diving and timing or purely aesthetic, as with a diamond set bezel.
Diving Bezel
Allows divers to track their dive time using minute markers from 0 to 60 on a unidirectional rotating bezel. For safety reasons, unidirectional bezels only rotate in the counter-clockwise direction. If the bezel could move clockwise and was accidentally turned, the diver could think he/she had a greater air supply and may not surface in time.
Timing Bezel
Is capable of moving both clockwise and counter clockwise. It may be used in a timed stop watch capacity or for timed-cooking, etc.
Strap
The strap is the finishing adornment for the watch. Watch straps can be leather, rubber, vinyl or canvas and is usually attached to the case and bound by a buckle, to snuggly secure your watch on your wrist.
Bracelet
Usually made of metal or in combination with another material such as rubber or titanium, as with link watch bands. The bracelet keeps your timepiece securely attached and looking pristine. When there is no discontinuity between the bracelet and the case, this is called an 'integral' bracelet.
Ardillon Buckle (Tang Buckle)
A traditional buckle in which one end of the strap is slipped through a buckle with a pin used to secure the fit of your watch.
Deployment Buckle
A deployant, or fold-over clasp. It is an elegant flourish that allows for perfect strap closures through interlocking metal pieces, eliminating the need for strap holes. It is considered safer to wear than a regular Ardillon buckle. In the event the buckle inadvertently opens the watch is still attached and will remain on the wrist.
Movement
The movement is the mechanical or quartz engine that drives the watch. There are different types of movements and the importance of their functionality is further addressed in detail in the Movements section.
Rotor
In automatically winding timepieces, the rotor's partial or complete revolutions work in conjunction with the movements of the human arm. The rotor turns freely in both directions to wind the mainspring, which stores and transmits the energy that powers your watch.
Lug
A case attachment, the lug allows for a strap or bracelet to be attached to the watch case. Ensures that your ticker isn't going anywhere you don't want it to.
Exhibition Case Back
An elaborate case back that may reveal the mechanical workings of a watch’s movement finishing and craftsmanship.
Skeleton Movement
Watch without a visible dial, which reveals the movement, ornate etchings and engravings as well as the overall exceptional degree of craftsmanship of the watch.
Chronometer
A watch designed with a particularly high level of precision. Swiss law mandates that a watch may not be dubbed a chronometer until it has passed a series of grueling tests and measurements.

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