Watches TAG Heuer Watchlover’s ‘University’: An Entertaining Encyclopedia of Watchspeak

The definition of every weird and wonderful watch term in our vocabulary – in a series of watch anatomy lessons to answer your burning FAQs. From Apertures to Zero-setting, it’s time to get your Watch Terminology officially in order.

“So what’s a Bezel, anyway?”

If you’ve ever been afraid to ask anything about watches for fear of exposing ignorance, you’ve come to the right place.  When your friends compare notes on their complications, no longer will you stare blankly into space and wonder whether they’re discussing a new French cheese or something to do with V8 engines.  Now is the moment to bite the bullet and explore our encyclopaedia of watchmaking FAQ’s and terminology – for everyone from the complete novice all the way to some niche terms for the seasoned collector. As the saying goes ‘anyone who keeps learning stays young’ – so put away that ab stimulator and exercise your grey matter instead. Soon, you’ll be dropping choice gems about Jewels and some bold zingers about Bezels into everyday conversation like a native in the land of Horology. Welcome to the only phrasebook for Watchspeak you’ll ever need.

Anatomy of a Watch 101:

In Chapter One, we’re taking a look at the basics of watch anatomy – the terms you’ll hear most often in descriptions of a watch’s appearance and changes in new editions. These are the words you’ll want to commit to memory in order to hold forth over the bar with your new best friend (that’s right, the one with a vintage Monaco under the cuff of a mean bit of understated Italian tailoring).

Aperture: A small opening in the dial, such as those used for displaying either the day or the day and date (also known as a ‘Date Window’). In ‘jump hour’ watches, the Aperture is used for displaying the time in numerical form, in place of hands.

Bezel: The metal (or occasionally other metal) ring around a watch dial that typically holds the glass or crystal covering the dial in place. Many watches have rotating bezels with a scale for time measurement; these can be turned to measure elapsed time, or to indicate the time in a second time zone as part of a complication. Rotating bezels either rotate clockwise (uni-directional) or both counter-clockwise and clockwise (bi-directional) to assist in calculations.

The bezel of the TAG Heuer Autavia Chronometer Flyback

Bracelet: Another term for a metal watch band, made up of individual elements, or links.

Case: The metal housing of a watch’s internal parts or movement.

Complication: A device in a watch movement that performs a function other than straight timekeeping. Complications include, but are not limited to, calendars, chronographs, moonphase indicators, repeaters and alarms. Complications require additional parts, and make a watch more complex to build.

Crown and pushers of the TAG Heuer Autavia Chronometer Flyback

Crown: A round element on the side of the case that is turned to wind a watch’s mainspring, set its hands, wind a non-automatic watch and, in watches equipped with a calendar, correct its date display. In water-resistant watches, the crown is frequently screwed into the case.

Crystal: The clear protective cover that shrouds the watch face, made from either synthetic sapphire, acrylic or glass. Synthetic sapphire is considerably more scratch resistant than either acrylic or glass crystals.

Dial: the face of the watch that generally displays hours, minutes, seconds, as well as other functions such as date, chronograph, or a second-time zone.

Flange: the metal ring between the dial and the bezel/crystal.

Hands: Watches generally have three hands — for seconds, minutes, and hours. They come in many different shapes: Pear, Breguet, Baton, Arrow, Skeleton, Luminous, Alpha, Dauphine, and more.

Indices/Index: The markings on the dial of a watch used to represent the hours. 

Link: the individual metal pieces making up a watch bracelet.

Lugs: The protruding pieces of metal at the top and bottom of a watch case where the strap is attached. The two ends of the lug hold a spring bar, which holds the strap in place.

Assembly of the movement of the TAG Heuer Autavia Chronometer Flyback

Movement: A wristwatch is powered by a movement, also called a calibre.

Below are the general types of watch movements.

  • automatic – (self-winding) a watch whose movement is mechanical. An oscillating weight (the rotor) turns by the motion of your arm and winds the mainspring. The energy is transferred into mechanical energy that creates the watch movement. These watches can be shaken or manually wound if the power reserve runs out.
  • manual – (manually wound) a mechanical watch movement that is wound by hand.
  • quartz – a natural or synthetic silicon dioxide crystal used in quartz analog or solid state digital watches when activated by a battery or solar power, the thin sliver of the crystal very predictably vibrates at an extremely high frequency (32,768 times per second).
  • digital – watch that uses an LCD or LED to display a continuous reading.
  • analog/digital – has both a digital display and the hands of a conventional analog watch.

Pusher: A button on a chronograph watch that starts, stops and/or resets the chronograph mechanism. The majority of chronographs have two pushers — one for starting and stopping the mechanism, and another for resetting.

SLN: Also known as Super-LumiNova ™, a photoluminescent material applied to watch components to provide ‘luminescence’ or ‘lume’ – the glow given off by watch numerals, indices and hands. While very early watches used radium to create lume, modern watches use non-radioactive phosphorescent substances.

Details of SLN on the indices of the TAG Heuer Autavia Chronometer Flyback

Join us next time to review what we’ve learned, and extend our wisdom beyond the surface of things to the ins and outs of (movements). By the time you’re ready to take that bromance to the next level, you’ll be well-prepared to get deep.