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The most important terminology from the watch industry


Tachymeter, flyback, bar? In the world of Haute Horlogerie one often encounters technical terms the exact meaning of which is still unclear to many watch enthusiasts. Learn what a "tachymeter scale" on a watch is used for, what the "flyback function" is all about and that the term "bar" is not just used to describe the bar around the corner.

You will find all the technical terms from the watch industry in alphabetical order in the Watchmaster Watch Glossary – from A to Z.


A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Z


A


Accuracy

Watch accuracy can be referred to in terms of the rate or deviation of a watch, describing the daily tolerance for error in the displayed time of a watch. Quartz watches average accuracy of ±30 seconds per month, whereas watches with a mechanical movement average ±30 seconds per day. The latest mechanical watches are even able to achieve ±10 seconds per day. The deviations themselves are known as clock drift.


Acrylic crystal

Acrylic crystal is a synthetic watch crystal, which was primarily in use from 1930 to 1970. It is very susceptible to scratches, but reflects little light, so watch dials are easy to read and look natural.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about the watch crystal.


Adjustment

Adjustment, or timing check, is used to decrease deviation in order to improve the accuracy of a watch. The watch's rate is measured in different positions and at different temperatures, and the watchmaker optimizes it accordingly.


Alarm function

Wristwatches with alarm function are also available in mechanical versions. To date, the best-known model with an alarm function is the Memovox by Jaeger-LeCoultre.


Altimeter

An altimeter is used to measure altitude, making it an important watch function for hikers and pilots.


Aluminium

Aluminium is a lightweight metal and is extremely resistant to corrosion due to its natural ability to form a protective oxide layer when in contact with air.


Amplitude

The amplitude describes the maximum value measured in degrees that a balance wheel reaches when it oscillates. In most wristwatches, the amplitude values are between 250 and 300 degrees. If the amplitude is too low, the balance wheel oscillates too quickly, which affects the accuracy of the watch.


Annual calendar

Many calendars show the month and/or date in addition to the year display. The difference to the perpetual calendar is the accuracy and whether leap years need to be changed manually.


Antimagnetic

If a watch is described as antimagnetic, this means that it continues to run even in a magnetic field of at least 4,800 amperes per meter and subsequently has a deviation of no more than 30 seconds per day. Magnetic field resistance is achieved either by using components made of antimagnetic metals or a protective sheath made of a highly conductive alloy around the movement.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about antimagnetic watches.


Atomic clock

Atomic clocks are currently considered the most accurate clocks in the world. They achieve their precision through the characteristic frequency of radioactive transfers between the electrons of free atoms.


Automatic watch

These are watches with a self-winding mechanism and rotor, which wind themselves up by the constant movement of the wrist. In general, the more regularly an automatic watch is worn, the more accurately it works.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about automatic watches.



B


Balance wheel

The balance spring oscillation system is called the balance in short and provides the basis for time. The balance ensures the movement of the hands and accuracy of a wristwatch.


Bar

Bar is the physical unit used to measure pressure and is usually associated with water resistance in watches, especially diving watches. The rule of thumb is: 10 m = 1 bar. In older watches, the term "atm" (atmosphere) can often be read instead of "bar". Similar to the bridge, the term "bar" is also used to describe a bearing holder in mechanical movements. But in contrast to the bridge, it is only attached to the plate on one side. Thinner bars are also called barrette.


Barrette

This is a term for a thin bar, such as the anchor bar, in a mechanical movement.


Batgirl

This is the nickname for the Rolex GMT-Master II Ref. 126710BLNR with a blue and black bezel.


Batman

This is the nickname for the Rolex GMT-Master II Ref. 116710BLNR with a blue and black bezel.


Bezel

The bezel is a component of the watch case. In the past, it was the ring that fixed the protective crystal of a watch and screwed down tightly to the case. Today the bezel is often rotatable and equipped with a tachymeter or indices.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about bezels.


Bidirectional bezel

This type of bezel can be turned in both directions in order to measure time in relation to a specific event, i.e. a starting signal.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about bezels.


Black polish

This type of finishing is considered a highly elaborate technique and is also known as mirror polish (French: miroir ou bloqué). With black polishing, the roughness of the surface becomes less than the wavelength of light, which is why the surface then appears to be either white or black. This phenomenon results from photons of sunlight that are either reflected to the eye or absorbed by the polish.


Blueing

see: Tempering


BPH

The unit of measurement BPH denotes "beats per hour" and defines the rate at which the movement of a watch works per hour.


Bracelet

This is the strap that attaches the watch to the wrist. Traditionally, watch bracelets are available in leather or stainless steel, but materials such as nylon and rubber are also available.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about watch bracelets and materials.


Bracelet lug

The bracelet lug connects the watch strap to the watch case via the spring bars.


Breguet hands

Breguet hands are used today in the watches of many different manufacturers. They are always tempered blue and have a characteristic circle consisting of two sickles touching at the front end in a tapered end.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about watch hands.


Breguet overcoil

The "Breguet overcoil" balance-spring, also called “Breguet spiral”, is a specially shaped balance-spring. It is characterized by a concentric "breathing", which increases the accuracy. A special feature of the Breguet hairspring is its curved outer end winding.


Bridge

The bridge is a bearing support inside the movement, which is screwed to the plate on both sides, unlike the bar.



C


Calibration

see: Adjustment


Calibre

The calibre only referred to the diameter of a movement originally, but today it is used exclusively as a synonym for the movement of a watch. The calibre number can be used to determine the type of calibre and the proper replacement parts.


Carat

A carat (or karat, ct.) is a unit for measuring gold purity and determining the mass of a gemstone. Gold purity is measured using a 24-step scale. Pure gold is therefore 24 carats. Wristwatches are usually offered in 750 gold (18 ct.), 585 gold (14 ct.) and 333 gold (8 ct.). For gemstones, 1 carat corresponds to a mass of 0.2 grams.


Case

The case of a watch serves both as a decorative element as well as protection against external factors such as water and dust. Watch cases are available in various shapes, materials and dimensions. They can either be made from one piece or composed of top, middle part and back.


Case back

The back of a watch is called the case back. A sapphire crystal back, also known as a view back or transparent back, is often used to provide a view of the movement. By screwing the back, it is ensured that the inside of the watch is fully protected.


Central second hand

While a small second hand is located in a separate totalizer, the central second hand is located in the middle of the dial on the central axis of rotation.


Ceramic

Ceramics refer to a large number of inorganic non-metallic materials, whereas the compound zirconium oxide is usually used for watches. This is an artificially-produced powder that reaches an extremely high density through heat-induced shrinkage. This makes ceramic watches very robust and scratch-resistant. In addition to high comfort, ceramic is also very skin-friendly and therefore particularly well-suited for people suffering from allergies to metal.


Chronograph

A chronograph is a wristwatch that has been enhanced with a stop function. This function can be operated using the push buttons, which are usually located above and below the crown.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about chronographs.


Chronometer

These are wristwatches with a high degree of accuracy. To be certified as chronometers, the models must pass a two-week test. If they pass, the COSC issues the model with chronometer certification.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about chronometers.


Chronometer escapement

The chronometer escapement was developed in the second half of the 18th century both in France by Pierre Le Roy and Ferdinand Berthoud and in England by John Arnold and Thomas Earnshaw. Consequently, it has several variations, including one with a spring or short rocker. But the basic principle is the same: the balance is designed to oscillate as freely as possible.


Circular-grain finish

This decoration technique is also called "stippling". This is a special, mostly concentric form of surface finishing. The pattern has also been called a "peacock's eye pattern" and can be commonly found outside of the field of Haute Horlogerie on metal tabletops in bistros.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about Glashütte finishing techniques.


Coke bezel

This describes a red-black Rolex bezel, which was used for example with the GMT-Master and GMT-Master II.


Complete calendar

A watch with a complete calendar (also full calendar or quantième complet) comprises three date displays: the date, weekday and month. One often also finds the term full calendar.


Complication

Complications are the additional functions in watches that surpass the function of the hour, minute and second indicators and offer wearers additional benefits. Small complications are, for example, date or a second time zone. Some examples of large complications are chronographs, perpetual calendar, repetition or moon phase.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about Grandes Complications.


COSC

The abbreviation for the "Contrôle officiel suisse des chronomètres", the official Swiss control authority for chronometers. Watches are tested for two weeks and are awarded a COSC certificate if they pass.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about seals of quality for luxury watches.


Cosmograph

This term comes from the Rolex company. Since 1963, the word has been enthroned on the dial of the Daytona, marking chronographs with moon phase. It is now also used by Rolex for chronographs in general.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about cosmographs.


Co-axial escapement

Developed in 1970 by George Daniels, this type of escapement combines the advantages of the lever and chronometer escapements. The advantages of the lever escapement (i.e., safe self-winding, shock protection) are combined with the advantages of the chronometer escapement (i.e., low friction, low maintenance). For this purpose, the co-axial escapement requires an additional escapement wheel, which made earlier models more susceptible to malfunction. Since then, however, the system has gained acceptance – thanks in part to Omega, which began to install the co-axial escapement in its models from 1999 onward.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about escapements.


Crown

The crown or watch crown is a small screw on the edge of the case of a wristwatch. It is usually located in the middle on the right side. By turning the crown you can set the hands and the date. Models with manual winding can also be rewound via the crown.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about the watch crown.


Crown protection

To protect the watch crown from bumps and blows, watch manufacturers began to protect it in the 1950s with a design that soon became known as crown protection. Over the years, they have integrated this into the case and experimented with numerous designs.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about the watch crown.


Cyclops lens

The cyclops lens is a magnifying glass which was invented and patented by Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf in 1953 and is located over the date display. Like the watch crystal itself, it is also made of robust sapphire crystal.



D


Date window

The date display is one of the minor complications and can be found on most wristwatches today. Often this display can be found as a window at 3 o'clock or on totalizers.


Day-Date

Watches with this designation show both the date and the day of the week.


Day/Night indicator

These watches make it particularly easy to determine between morning (AM) and afternoon (PM). On GMT watches, this function is provided by the two-tone Pepsi or Coke bezel.


Decentralized second

If a watch has a decentralized second hand, the seconds are not displayed together with the hour and minute hands in the centre of the dial. Instead, the second hand is located separately on the dial in the form of a totalizer.


Deviation

The difference between the increasing or decreasing daily deviation of time in a watch is called deviation. This can be caused either by a fault in the movement, wear and tear as well as external factors such as temperature or air pressure fluctuations. Still, a minor deviation is normal for mechanical watches and is no cause for concern.


Dial

The dial is used to read the time and is usually divided into four or twelve equal sections to indicate hours. These are generally marked in the form of indices or numerals. The design options are widely varied and can range to even dials that do not have any markings and are completely blank.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about the watch dial.


Diving watch

Diving watches are watch models that are waterproof and pressure-resistant. In Germany, a watch may only be designated as a "diver's watch" or "diving watch" if its water resistance has been tested, the watch is readable from a distance of 25 cm and a timer or bezel is included. The water-resistance must be to at least 20 bar (approx. 200 metres).
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about diving watches.


Double chronograph

see: Rattrapante



E


Easylink

This is a Rolex patented wrist strap expansion system. An Easylink bracelet can be extended by another 5 mm by unfolding an additional link hidden inside the buckle.


Èbauche

This French word refers to the raw movement of a watch. The raw movement consists of the base movement, the gear train, the hands and the shafts. The escapement, balance and mainspring are not part of the èbauche.


Enamel

The word "enamel", more often called "enamel", comes from the old Franconian term "smalt" and means to melt together. During the production of enamel, a mass of inorganic substances (mostly silicates and oxides) is fused together. Enameled dials are widely used in the watch industry.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about dial materials and decorations.


Engraving

An engraving is an inscription or pictorial representation milled into hard surfaces. It can be used as decoration or to add a personal touch to the dial, case or movement. A special form of engraving is guilloché work.


Escapement

The escapement of a watch consists of an escapement wheel and lever and is the heart of a movement. It ensures the regular operation of the watch and connects the spring with the gear train.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about escapements.


ETA

ETA is one of the world's largest manufacturers and suppliers of raw movements. Many well-known watch manufacturers rely on ETA raw movements as a basis and subsequently refine them.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about ETA movements.



F


Fat Lady

This is the nickname for the Rolex GMT-Master II (Ref. 16760) with a dark red Coke bezel, also known as the "Sophia Loren". The name refers to the size and height of the case, which at 6.3 mm is slightly higher than the cases of other GMT-Master models. The larger case was needed due to the use of the newly introduced calibre 3085 and sapphire crystal.


Fine adjustment

see: Adjustment


Finishing

Finishing refers to a final manufacturing process for watches in which the movement is refined using special finishing techniques.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about Glashütte finishing techniques.


Flyback function

The flyback function allows the measurement of time periods in quick succession, which is particularly useful for pilots. The chronograph hand can be stopped, reset to zero and restarted with a single press. On chronographs without flyback function, the pusher must be pressed three times to perform the same process.


Folding clasp

In contrast to the pin buckle that requires the entire watchstrap to be opened, the folding clasps only opens and closes the hinges. This type of clasp is most often found on bracelets made of metal.


Frequency

The frequency is the number of oscillations per second and is measured in hertz (Hz). In watches, these are indicated as half oscillations (A/h) of the balance wheel. A common interval is 28,800 A/h, which corresponds to about 4 Hz. Half oscillations are also often indicated in BPH.



G


Geneva seal

The Geneva seal (French: Poinçon de Genève) is a legally protected certificate of origin and quality for mechanical watches manufactured in the Swiss Canton of Geneva. If a watch meets all the prescribed criteria, it may carry the Geneva Seal on the movement's plate or bridge.


Geneva stripes

The Geneva stripes are a refinement technique for Swiss movements in which the plate is decorated with vertical stripes. They are also known as "Côte de Genève".


Glashütte stripes

The Glashütte stripes, also known as Glashütte ribbing, are the same finishing technique as the Geneva stripes, but their production sites differ. Glashütte stripes only refer to a timepiece produced in Glashütte.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about Glashütte finishing techniques.


Glidelock system

An extension system for the watch bracelet patented by Rolex. Unlike the Easylink system, the complete bracelet can be adjusted and extended by up to 30 mm.


GMT

This is the abbreviation for Greenwich Mean Time, which marks the time zone of the zero meridian and is also known as “Coordinated Universal Time” (UTC).


GMT watch

On GMT watches, wearers can display the time of a second, adjustable time zone in addition to the local time. In order to be able to read the second time without problems, these watches usually feature a 24-hour display so that a distinction can be made between day and night.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about GMT watches.


Grande complication

A grande complication is a watch in which several large complications are built into one watch. Many watch manufacturers also label the flagships of their collections with the title "Grand Complication".
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about Grandes Complications.


Guilloché

The guilloché was developed by Abraham Louis Breguet in 1786 and is one of the most popular dial decorations today. It involves first smoothing the dial and then drawing the necessary areas for the time display and totalizers. Then the dial blank is machined in the desired pattern (e.g. Clou de Paris, waves, grain, Vieux Panier or checkerboard) giving the dial its individual character.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about dial materials and decorations.



H


Hand

A watch hand is a bar that indicates hours, minutes and/or seconds on the dial. In general, the hour hand is a third of the length of the slightly thinner minute hand and the even thinner second hand. Watch hands are produced in many different shapes and colours. Particularly well-known hand shapes are Breguet hands and "snowflake" hands from Tudor, for example.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about watch hands.


Haute Horlogerie

In one meaning, this expression refers to the skill of producing high-quality luxury watches and complications, and in the other use, it is used to describe watch manufacturers who have brought the entire production process of watchmaking under one roof.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about Haute Horlogerie.


Helium valve

This valve is an important component of diving watches. When the watch is submerged or submerged in water, high pressure builds up inside the watch, which would damage the watch if it could not escape through this valve.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about diving watches.


Hesalite crystal

Hesalite glass, also called acrylic glass, is the most inexpensive crystal used in watches. Although this crystal does not shatter into numerous pieces in an accident, it is very susceptible to scratches, which can have a negative effect on the legibility of the watch.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about the watch crystal.


Hulk

This is the nickname for the Rolex Submariner (Ref. 116610LV) with a green dial and green cerachrom bezel.



I


Index

An index (plural: indices) An index indicates hours, minutes and/or seconds on the dial and generally divides them into evenly spaced sections. Indices are often represented in the form of dashes or dots, but can also appear in other forms.


Indicator

The indicators are all parts on a watch that are used to read the time. When the second hand, like the minute and hour hands, is in the middle of the dial, it is called a central second hand. Conversely, if the second hand is in the form of a totalizer, we speak of a small second. Auxiliary indicators include everything that beyond the main time display, such as complications or additional time zones.



J


Jewel

Jewels, also referred to as stones, are the synthetic rubies and sapphires that are built into the movement to minimize friction. Mechanical watches have a minimum of 15 and an average of 18 jewels. The more complications are integrated into a watch, the higher the number of jewels.


Jump second

This term is used to describe a second hand that moves abruptly and not continuously (as with the sweeping second hand) from second to second. Another term is "dead second" (French: seconde morte).


Jumping hour

Watches with jumping hours are timepieces that display the hours through a window. Every full hour the hour indicator jumps to the next hour and shows this number in the window for the next 60 minutes.



K


Kermit

This is the nickname for the Rolex Submariner (Ref. 16610LV) with a black dial and green aluminium bezel.



L


Lépine

A Lépine is the name for a pocket watch without a protective cover. The dial is therefore always visible, but also exposed to external conditions.


Lever escapement

The lever escapement is an elementary component of the movement. It is also called "detached" escapement, since the escapement oscillates freely after leaving the pallet fork. This component provides the classic ticking sound of the watch.


Limited edition

Watches that are only produced and sold in a limited, predetermined number of units are called Limited Editions. These can be completely new models or, as is often the case, a well-known model that has been enhanced with visual or technical innovations. These are often produced to mark the occasion of anniversaries and other special occasions.


Link

Links compose the individual parts of a stainless steel watch bracelet. Depending on how many links are next to each other, one speaks, for example, of a three-link or four-link bracelet.


Lug

The lug of a watch connects the case with the bracelet. The spring bar to which the bracelet is attached is located between the lugs.


Luminous material

Indices, hands and numerals in some watches are coated with luminous material to ensure good readability even in poor lighting conditions and in the dark. The luminescence provides information about the degree of luminosity. Whereas radioactive radium and tritium were used in the past, today harmless Superluminova is used as a luminous material.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about luminous watches.



M


Mainspring

The mainspring is tightened by turning the winding crown and drives the movement by means of kinetic energy. It sits in the barrel and can keep the watch running for a few days (depending on brand and model) until it needs to be wound again.


Manual winding

Mechanical watches with manual winding must be wound regularly by hand by turning a winding crown. Some models require a special winding key for this. The time remaining before which the watch needs to be rewound is indicated by the power reserve.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about watches with manual winding.


Manufacturer

A manufacturer is a watchmaker who produces all the individual parts of a watch, but most importantly an in-house calibre.


Maxi dial

This is a dial patented by Rolex on which the luminous dots are larger than usual, giving the dial volume and presence.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about Rolex dials.


Milanese bracelet

The Milanese bracelet is a metal bracelet made of numerous small interwoven loops and is very comfortable to wear due to its high flexibility.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about watch bracelets and materials.


Mineral crystal

This is a type of watch crystal that is made of tempered crystal glass. Mineral crystal was mainly used in the 70s before it was replaced by sapphire crystal, which is more robust.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about the watch crystal.


Minute graduation

The minute graduation describes the ring surrounding the dial displaying the minutes. This can be shown with markings for each individual minute, or with markings for every five minutes. Usually, five-minute graduations are clearly marked.


Minute repeater

This is a form of repeater that strikes the hours, quarter hours and minutes in different pitches.


Month indicator

Like the date display, the month display is a complication on the dial that is not needed for the time display. Month indicators are often found on complete or perpetual calendars.


Moon phase

This complication indicates in which phase the moon currently is.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about the moon phase complication.


Mother-of-pearl

A mother-of-pearl dial is completely covered with a wafer-thin layer of mother-of-pearl. Because the raw material is extremely fragile, it is very time-intensive to produce a mother-of-pearl dial and watches with this type of dial are in a higher price segment.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about dial materials and decorations.


Movement

The movement, or calibre, is the entire mechanism inside a watch that drives it. In the case of wristwatches, a distinction is made in particular between mechanical movements (manually wound or automatic watches) and electronic movements (quartz watches or radio-controlled watches).



N


Nickel

This material is often used as an alloy for the production of stainless materials. Note: If you are allergic to nickel, you should consider choosing a watch made of titanium, gold, platinum or ceramic materials.


Nivaflex

Nivaflex is an alloy consisting of cobalt, nickel, chromium, molybdenum, tungsten, iron, titanium and beryllium, which is often used for manufacturing mainsprings. It is harder and more resilient than the carbon steel which was previously used for mainsprings.


Nylon

Nylon is a synthetic fibre that is often used for the production of textile watch straps. The material is robust, almost completely hypoallergenic and is often used for sports or diving watches.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about watch bracelets and materials.



O


Observation watch

These timepieces (also referred to by their German name “B-Uhr”, a form of “Beobachtungsuhr”) date back to the precision measurement instruments for maritime and aviation purposes during the 18th century. They are characterized by large cases, a large onion crown and exceptionally good legibility for minutes and seconds. In the 20th century, observation watches were used by the military to time manoeuvres and determine the distance of enemy troops.


Onion crown

The onion crown is a rather large and distinctive ribbed crown shape. It looks like an onion, which is the reason for its name. Onion crowns are often found on observation watches, because it was necessary to operate them while wearing gloves.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about the watch crown.


Oscillation

In the case of a watch, oscillation refers to the continuous oscillating motion of the balance spring around its resting point. The balance wheel forms the oscillator together with the escapement wheel and the anchor.


Oyster

The Oyster case was invented by Rolex in 1926 and was the first water-resistant case for wristwatches consisting of a bezel, case back and the winding crown, all of which are screwed to the centre.


Oyster Perpetual

The Oyster Perpetual is considered to be the first water-resistant wristwatch and is a series patented by Rolex, whose watches do not have a date function. "Oyster" indicates that the case is a waterproof case patented by Rolex. "Perpetual" denotes that a Rolex model features an automatic movement. All Rolex watches with these features have the inscription "Oyster Perpetual" on the dial.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about the Rolex Oyster.


Oystersteel

Rolex has been using 904L stainless steel for its watches since 1985 and named the material "Oystersteel" in 2018, however, there is no difference to the alloy 904L.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about Rolex materials.



P


Panda

The "panda" refers to a dial design in which the main dial is white and the totalizers are black. A "reverse panda" features a black dial with white totalizers.


Paneristi

The fans of Panerai are called "Paneristi". The name originates from an early online forum in which watch enthusiasts exchanged opinions and arranged meetings. It can also be used to refer to watch enthusiasts in general.


Patina

The patina is the natural or artificial discolouration of a surface over a long period of time. Contrary to a common assumption, this is not a flaw, but can be very popular characteristic, especially for vintage watches, and may make a model into a sought-after collector's item.


Paul Newman

Paul Newman was a famous actor from the USA and the origin of the nickname for the Rolex Daytona Ref. 6239 with a manual winding and panda dial.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about Paul Newman and his Daytonas.


Pepsi bezel

This indicates a blue-red bezel. The colour scheme was originally made popular by the Rolex GMT Master models and is now widely used by other manufacturers due to its popularity.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about the Pepsi bezel.


Perpetual calendar

The complication of a wristwatch that can display the day, date, month and year without manual adjustment until at least the year 2100.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about the perpetual calendar.


Pilot watch

The pilot watch originates from the collaboration between Albertos Santos-Dumont and Cartier. Pilot watches allow complex mathematical calculations to be performed easily and quickly during flight. Such a watch can be either an observation watch or a classic pilot chronograph. Observation watches were mainly for navigators, whereas chronographs were mainly intended for pilots. In general, these watches are known for their very intuitive controls.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about pilots watches.


Pin buckle

This type of bracelet clasp is used especially for leather and textile straps. It consists of an adjustable shackle with a thorn, which is inserted into one of the holes in the bracelet.


Pivot

The pivots are an elementary component of the movement and ensure that the balance wheel is held securely in its mount. The pivots are extremely fragile and are protected by a shock protection system.


Platinum

Platinum is a shiny, grey-white metal that is one of the rarest and most expensive metals in the world. It was discovered by watchmakers as early as 1920, when Louis Cartier created numerous art deco masterpieces using it. It is durable, acid-resistant and does not oxidize. Its elasticity also makes it extremely durable and heat-resistant.


Polish

If watches suffer a scratch after a long period of wear, they may need to be professionally polished. A polish removes the damaged metal layer and restores the watch to its former glory. A polish is also employed in the course of the reconditioning process.


Power reserve

Power reserve or power duration is the time that a watch runs after being wound before it has to be wound again. The higher the tension of the mainspring, the longer the watch runs. Hand-wound watches are often equipped with a power reserve indicator that tells the wearer when the watch needs to be rewound.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about the power reserve.


Pulsometer

A pulsometer is a scale on a watch by which the current pulse can be measured quickly and easily. To do this, simply start the chronograph on a timepiece with a pulsometer and the pulse can be read from the scale after 15 beats.


Pusher

Pushers or push buttons are located next to the crown and are necessary for operating the chronograph, for example for the start and stop function. Vintage watches often have push buttons that can only be used after screwing them in.


Pussy Galore

This is the nickname of the Rolex GMT Master Ref. 6542, named after the Bond girl who wore the watch in the movie "Goldfinger".


PVD coating

PVD ("Physical Vapor Deposition") is a coating process in which a material is vaporized to obtain a complete metallic coating that makes it more resistant. The PVD coating gives many stainless steel watches their black colour. To give a watch a gold finish, the process can also be carried out with gold particles. This is called PVD gilding.



Q


Quarter repeater

This is a form of repeater that chimes the hours and quarter hours at different pitches.


Quartz crisis

The quartz crisis is the name given to an economic crisis in the watch industry in the 1970s and 1980s, which led many German and Swiss watch manufacturers to financial ruin. After cheap Japanese quartz watches conquered the watch market, many traditional watch manufacturers had to file for bankruptcy because they were unable to shift to the production of cheaper models that had the same accuracy of mechanical watches.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about the quartz crisis.


Quartz movement

This is the movement in an electronic quartz watch in which a quartz crystal dictates the frequency. This is set into oscillation as soon as an electrical voltage is applied. In most cases, the watch quartz receives its energy from a button cell (battery).
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about quartz watches.


Quickset mechanism

Unlike the usual date mechanism, the quickset date mechanism makes it easier to set the date by pulling out the crown and turning it clockwise.



R


Rattrapante

Chronographs with rattrapante complications are also known as double or split-second chronographs. This complication makes it possible to measure additional split times while keeping time. This is done by means of the rattrapante hand, a second hand for seconds (also known as the split second hand), which can be stopped separately from the chronograph hand and jumps back at the touch of a pusher.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about the rattrapante.


Reference

A watch model can be identified to its respective manufacturer by means of the reference number. It is often abbreviated as Ref. and also defines the attributes of the individual model.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about Rolex reference numbers.


Refurbishment

When a watch is refurbished, it is polished, repaired if necessary and restored to a condition similar to that at the time of its initial delivery.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about refurbishing watches.


Regatta countdown function

Yachting (or regatta) watches have a complication to time the start of a sailing regatta. The time remaining until the start is counted down.


Regatta timer

The regatta timer complication is one of the most specific complications of all. It shows a 5 or 10-minute countdown to indicate the exact beginning of a regatta.


Rehaut

A rehaut is also called flange and describes the inner watch ring that is raised above a flat dial. The rehaut is often adorned with engravings, scales or other decorative applications.


Repeater

This complication enables the playback of an acoustic sound in a watch using a chime spring. A different tone is used for each minute and hour. This mechanism requires a repeater striking mechanism and is considered one of the most complex complications. In contrast to the petite sonnerie and the grande sonnerie, the repeater strikes only when requested by pressing a pusher.


Retrograde

Retrograde watches are watches that run counterclockwise.


Revision

This refers to the process in which the movement of a watch is either completely overhauled or repaired by a watchmaker. If a watch is only externally overhauled, this is called reconditioning.


Rhodium-plated

If a dial is rhodium-plated, it is covered with a very thin layer of rhodium. Rhodium is characterized by its cool, bright and slightly bluish shimmer.


Rolesor

This is a registered brand name of Rolex' own symbiosis of gold and stainless steel. The company uses it to describe bracelets that are made of both stainless steel and gold. The Rolex bicolour models are therefore essentially Rolesor models.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about Rolex materials.


Rolesium

This is Rolex' branding for the combination of platinum and stainless steel.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about Rolex materials.


Rose gold

The rose gold colour is created by copper, which is added to the gold. The redder the gold tone is, the higher the copper content. Rose gold is a particularly precious variation of red gold, as the gold content is quite high.


Rotor

In automatic watches, the rotor is a freely oscillating weight, usually mounted on ball bearings, which exerts a certain amount of torque on the watch's winding mechanism through its inertia and gravity, which ensures that the watch runs constantly.



S


Sapphire crystal

Since the 80s, this has been the standard watch crystal used in the luxury segment. Sapphire crystal is unbreakable and scratch-resistant while still guaranteeing excellent readability.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about the watch crystal.


Screw-down crown

The screw-down crown is a crown type that is screwed to the case. This provides water resistance for the watch case. If you want to use the crown, you have to unscrew it first.


Screw-down pushers

Screw-down pushers are primarily found on chronographs that are also suitable for shallow diving. Due to the screw connection, the case is waterproof. If you want to use the chronographs, the pushers must first be unscrewed. To protect the watch from external water, however, you should refrain from doing this underwater and check carefully that the pushers are properly screwed down before the watch comes into contact with water again.


Second time zone

In addition to the local time, the time of another time zone can also be displayed. Watches with a second (or third) time zone are known as GMT watches.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about GMT watches.


Seconde foudroyante

The seconde foudroyante, also known as the "jumping second", is a complication in which a hand revolves once per second. This makes it possible to read quarter or fifth seconds.


See-through case back

This is a watch case back made of crystal that provides a view of the functioning movement.


Self-winding

Another term for an automatic watch is a self-winding watch.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about manual winding and automatic movements.


Shock protection

Shock protection is an elastically secured case mount, which serves to absorb shocks to the pivots and the balance wheel. So it serves as a protection mechanism against external forces.


Simple calendar

Wristwatches with date and weekday display are referred to as simple calendar. These functions are known as minor complications.


Single hand watch

A watch that has only one hand, the hour hand. Philosophically, it seeks to represent time decelerated. Since the missing second hand makes it impossible to see whether the watch has stopped, many of these models contain an indicator to show if the watch is still running.


Skeleton watch

This is the craft in which parts and material inside the watch are removed to expose the movement and make the fine mechanics of the watch visible.


Small second

On some watch models, the second hand is not indicated centrally, but rather offset in the form of a separate totalizer with its own hand. This type of time indicator is often found on chronographs.


Smurf

This is the nickname of the Rolex Submariner Ref. 116619LB, which is made of white gold and features a blue dial and blue bezel.


Sonnerie

Timepieces with a self-striking mechanism reproduce the time automatically by means of a bell or chime spring. If the chime sounds only every full hour, it is called a petite sonnerie. See also: Repeater


Spring

The spring is spiral-shaped and is made of a very thin steel strip. Springs are installed at various positions in the movement, but are most commonly used as tension springs, which are wound either manually or automatically and serve as the power reserve for the movement.


Stainless steel

Refers to rustproof steel with a high degree of purity. Stainless steel type 316L is usually used for luxury watches. Rolex is the only company to use type 904L, which is even more acid-resistant.


Sun pattern

Sun pattern (or solar finish) is a technique of decoration, which is used especially for larger components such as gear wheels. During grinding, a spiral pattern tapering towards the inside is created.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about Glashütte finishing techniques.


Sweeping second

The term "sweeping second" is used to refer to seconds hands that move continuously and do not jump (as with the direct-drive or jumping second) from second to second.


Swiss made

This term generally refers to all export goods manufactured in Switzerland. For watches, "Swiss made" is a quality assurance that guarantees that the calibre of the respective watch was assembled in Switzerland. Furthermore, at least half of the parts used must have been produced in Switzerland to receive this label.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about the Swiss made label.



T


Tachymeter

Speed can be calculated with a tachymeter, also called a speedometer. In wristwatches, a scale with speed indicators is usually located on the bezel or the outer dial, which can be used to convert a measured reading of time.


Telemeter

A telemeter scale makes it possible to measure the distance covered.


Tempering

The thermal hardening of metal is called tempering or blueing. During this process, for example, screws are heated to a temperature of 290-300°C, which results in a layer of oxidation on the screws that is thick enough to refract the light blue. This is a phenomenon also known as thin-film interference.


Three-handed watch

These are the watches that only have the three classic, centrally positioned hands for the hour, minute and second, as well as (at most) one date display in the form of a date window.


Three-quarter plate

The three-quarter plate was developed around 1864 by Ferdinand Lange in Glashütte. It overlays about three-quarters of the movement. The entire gear train, the crown wheel and the mainspring barrel are mounted on it.


Titanium

Titanium is an extremely robust, anti-allergenic metal and is often used for components that are subject to wear due to its special qualities. It is also surprisingly light.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about titanium and steel watches.


Tonneau case

This is a type of case shape, which is a vertical rectangle with outwardly bulging flanks. Its shape is reminiscent of wine casks.


Totalizer

Totalizers are small dials located on the main dial of a watch that display, for example, seconds, minutes or hours, and are commonly used for chronographs.


Tourbillon

The tourbillon is used to compensate for gravity-induced rate deviation and was originally developed for pocket watches, which usually remain rigidly in one position, to enable a constant rate. Since wristwatches are regularly moved on the wrist, a tourbillon serves no practical function, but offers a purely aesthetic benefit.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about the tourbillon.


Two-tone

Bicolored or two-tone watches are models with two colours provided by two differently coloured materials used for the case and bracelet. A popular colour combination is stainless steel and gold.



U


Unidirectional bezel

This type of bezel can only be turned in one direction and is commonly used in diving watches. It has the same purpose as the count-up bezel and ensures the diver’s safety.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about bezels.



V


Valjoux

This is a Swiss manufacturer of mechanical movements, known in particular for its chronograph movements. Valjoux used to belong to ETA, but today both companies are part of the Swatch Group.



W


Watch crystal

The watch crystal closes the case on the face side of the watch. It covers the dial and thus protects the inside of the timepiece. Sapphire crystal, mineral glass or hesalite glass are commonly used for wristwatches.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about the watch crystal.


Watch winder

This is most commonly an electronic rack for storing automatic watches. The watch is placed on the watch winder and can be stored there in constant motion. A watch winder simulates the movements of the watch wearer and ensures that the watch continues to run precisely even after long periods of storage.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about the storage of watches.


Water resistance

The water resistance value indicates the pressure that a watch can withstand underwater without damage. It is expressed in meters, feet or bar. However, pressure peaks can occur, so the value should not be interpreted verbatim. For example, 3 bar corresponds to the pressure at a depth of 30 metres but does not mean that you can dive 30 meters with such a watch.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about the water resistance of watches.


Weekday indication

This function is among the minor complications and displays the current day of the week. This is often done through a viewing window on the dial or a separate totalizer.


White gold

White gold is the term used to describe various alloys, most of which have been mixed with silver. Depending on the composition, a light to grey white range of colours are possible.


Winding

Generally speaking, the winding is the mechanism by which the tension spring is tightened. A winding mechanism is available in various versions, such as manual crown winding, where the watch must be wound by hand, or automatic winding, also known as self-winding.


Winding crown

Winding crowns are found on watches with manual winding mechanisms. They are used to manually tension the mainspring. Winding crowns are usually turned clockwise until an increasingly strong resistance is felt and a mechanical lock prevents further winding as well as any possible damage to the movement. When winding the watch, always proceed with caution.
Find more information on this topic in our magazine article about the watch crown.


World time watch

This type of watch can display the times of several or all time zones simultaneously by means of a mechanical or digital display.



Z


Zero-resetting

Zero-resetting describes the action of resetting the different watch hands of a chronograph to their initial starting point. See also: Flyback function