Glossary

Have you ever seen a watch term online or wherever and didn’t quite know what what it meant? Well, don;t worry, Kernow Watches has got you covered! Here’s a list of common watch terms and a small description of what they mean!

ANNUAL CALENDAR:

The automatic allowances for the different lengths of each month of a year in the calendar module of a watch. This type of watch usually shows the month and date, and sometimes the day of the week and the phases of the moon.

ANTIMAGNETIC:

Magnetic fields found in common places in our everyday lives can affect mechanical watch movements, hence the use of anti or non magnetic components in the movement.

ANTIREFLECTION:

A film created by steaming the crystal to eliminate light reflection and improve legibility. Antireflection functions best when applied to both sides of the crystal, but because it can scratch easily, some manufacturers prefer to have it on the interior of the crystal. It is mostly used on synthetic sapphire crystals.

AUTOMATIC WINDING:

A rotating weight set into motion by moving the wrist winds the spring barrel via the gear train of a mechanical watch movement.

BALANCE:

The beating heart of a mechanical watch movement is the balance. Fed by the energy of the mainspring, a tirelessly oscillating little wheel, just a few mm in diameter and possessing a spiral shaped balance spring, sets the rhythm for the escape wheel and pallets with its vibration frequency.

Beveling:

To uniformly file down the sharp edges of a plate, bridge or bar and give it a high polish. The process is sometimes called ‘anglage’. Edges are usually beveled at a 45 degree angle.

BAR OR COCK:

A metal plate fastened to the base plate at one point, leaving room for a gear wheel or pinion. The balance is usually attached to a bar called the balance cock.

BRIDGE:

A metal plate fastened to the base plate at two points leaving room for a gear wheel or pinion.

CALIBER:

A term, similar to type, or model, that refers to different watch movements.

CARBON FIBRE:

A very light, tough composite material, carbon fiber is composed of filaments comprised of several thousand seven-micron carbon fibers held together by resin. The arrangement of the filaments determines the quality of a component, making each unique.

CHAMPLEVE:

A dial decoration technique, whereby the metal is engraved, filled with enamel, and baked.

CERAMIC:

An inorganic, non-mettalic material formed by the action of heat and practically unscratchable.

CHRONOGRAPH:

From the greek words chronos (meaning time) and graphein (meaning to write). Chronograph is a term used for watches that show not only the time of day, but also certain time intervals via independent hands that may started, or stopped at will.

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Tah Heuer Formula 1 Chronograph

CHRONOMETER:

Literally meaning ‘measurer of time’. The term is used today to denote an especially accurate watch (one with a deviation of no more than 5 seconds a day for mechanical movements). Chronometers are usually supplied with an official certificate from an independent testing office such as the COSC.

COLUMN WHEEL:

The component used to control chronograph functions within a true chronograph movement. The presence of a column wheel indicates that the chronograph is fully integrated into the movement.

CONSTANT FORCE MECHANISM:

Sometimes called a constant force escapement, it isn’t really: In most cases this mechanism is “simply” an initial tension spring. This mechanism regulates and portions the energy that is passed on through the escapement, making the rate as even and precise as possible.

COSC:

The Controle Officiel Suisse de Chronometrage, the official Swiss testing office for chronometers.

COTES DE GENEVE:

This is a traditional Swiss surface decoration comprising an even pattern of parallel stripes, applied to flat movement components with a quickly rotating plastic or wooden peg.

Crown:

The crown is used to wind, and set a watch.A few simple turns of the crown will get an automatic watch movement started, while a manually wound watch is completely wound by the crown. The crown is also used for the setting of various functions, almost always including at least the hours, minutes, seconds and date. A screw down crown can be tightened to prevent water entering the case.

EQUATION OF TIME:

The mean time that we use to keep track of the passing of the day (24 hours divided into minutes and seconds) is not equal to true solar time. The equation of time is a complication devised to show the difference between the mean time shown on ones wristwatch and the time the sun dictates.

ESCAPEMENT:

The combination of the balance, balance spring, pallets and escape wheel, a sub group which divides the impulses coming from the spring barrel into small, accurately portioned doses.It guarantees that the gear train runs smoothly and efficiently.

FLINQUE:

A dial decoration in which a guilloche design is given a coat of enamel, softening the pattern and creating special effects.

FLYBACK CHRONOGRAPH:

A chronograph with a special dial train switch that makes the immediate reuse of the chronograph movement possible after resetting the hands.

GEAR TRAIN:

A mechanical watches gear train transmits energy from the mainspring to the escapement. The gear train comprises the minute wheel, the third wheel, the fourth wheel, and the escape wheel.

GUILLOCHE:

A surface decoration usually applied to the dial and the rotor using a grooving tool with a sharp tip, such as a rose engine, to cut an even pattern onto a level surface.

GLUCYDUR:

Glucydur is a functional alloy of copper, beryllium and iron that has been used to make balances in watches since the 1930s.

INDEX:

A regulating mechanism found on the balance cock and used by the watchmaker to adjust the movements rate. The index changes the effective length of the balance spring, therefore making it move more quickly or slowly.

JEWEL:

To minimise friction, the hardened steel tips of a movements rotating gear wheel (called pinions~) are lodged in synthetic rubies (fashioned as polished stones with a hole) and lubricated with a very thin layer of special oil. These synthetic rubies are produced in exactly the same way as sapphire crystal using the same material.

LIGA:

The word LIGA is actually a german acronym that stands for lithography (Lithografie), electroplating (Galvanisierung) and plastic moulding (Abformung). It is a lithographic process exposed by UV or X-ray light that literally “grows” perfect micro components made of nickel, nickel-phosphorus, or 23.5 carat gold atom by atom in a plating bath.

LUMINOUS SUBSTANCE:

Tritium paint is a slightly radioactive substance that replaced radium as luminous coating for hands, numerals and hour markers on watch dials. Watches bearing tritium must be marked as such with the letter T  on the dial near 6 o’clock. It has now for the most part been replaced by non-radioactive materials such as Superluminova. Traser technology uses tritium gas enclosed in tiny silicate glass tubes coated on the inside with a phosphorescing substance. The luminescence is constant and will hold for around 25 years.

MAINSPRING:

The mainspring, located in the spring barrel, stores energy when tensioned and passes it on to the escapement via the gear train as the tension relaxes. Today, mainsprings are generally made of Nivaflex, an alloy invented by Swiss engineer Max Straumann at the beginning of the 1950s. This alloy basically comprises iron,nickel,chrome,cobalt and beryllium.

MINUTE REPEATER:

A striking mechanism with hammers and gongs for acoustically signalling the hours, quarter hours and minutes elapsed since noon or midnight.The wearer pushes a slide, which winds the spring . Normally a repeater uses two different gongs to signal hours (low tone), quarter hours (high and low tones in succession, and minutes (high tone). Some watches have three gongs called a carillon.

PERPETUAL CALENDAR:

The calendar module for this type of timepiece automatically makes allowances for the different lengths of each month as well as leap years until the next secular year that occurs in 2100. A perpetual calendar usually shows the date, month and four year cycle, and may show the day of the week and moon phase as well.

PERLAGE:

A surface decoration comprising an even pattern of partially overlapping dots, applied with a quickly rotating plastic or wooden peg.

PLATE:

A metal platform having several tiers for the gear train. The base plate of a movement usually incorporates the dial and carries bearings for the primary pinions of the “first floor” OF A GEAR TRAIN. The gear wheels are made complete by tightly fitting screwed-in bridges and bars on the back side of the plate.

POWER RESERVE:

A mechanical watch contains only a certain amount of power reserve. A fully wound modern automatic watch usually possesses between 36 and 42 hours of energy before it needs to be wound again. The power reserve display keeps the wearer informed about how much energy his or hers watch still has in reserve, a function that is especially practical on manually wound watches that have several days of possible reserve.

PULSOMETER:

A scale on the dial,flange or bezel that, in conjunction with the second hand, may be used to measure pulse rate. A pulsometer is always marked with a reference number-if it is marked with ‘gradue pour 15 pulsations’ for example, then the wearer counts 15 pulse beats. At the last beat, the second hand will show what the pulse rate is in beats per minute on the pulsometer scale.

QUALITE FLEURIER:

This certification of quality was established by Chopard, Parmigiani Fleurier, Vaucher and Bovet Fleurier in 2004. Watches bearing this seal must fulfill five criterea, including COSC certification, passing several tests for robustness and precision, top notch finishing, and being 100% swiss made (except for raw materials).

RETROGRADE DISPLAY:

A retrograde display shows the time linearly instead of circularly. The hand continues along an arc until it reaches the of its scale, at which precise moment it jumps back to the beginning instantaneously.

ROTOR:

The rotor is the component that keeps an automatic watch wound. The kinetic motion of this part, which contains a heavy metal weight around its outer edge, winds the mainspring. It can either wind unilaterally or bilaterally (to one or both sides) depending on the caliber.

SAPPHIRE CRYSTAL:

Synthetic sapphire crystal is known to gemologists as aluminium oxide (AI2O3) or corundum. It can be colourless (corundum), red (ruby), Blue (sapphire) or green (emerald). It is virtually scratchproof, only a diamond is harder.

SCREW BALANCE:

Before the invention of the perfectly weighted balance using a smooth ring, balances were fitted weighted screws to get the exact impetus desired. Today a screw balance is a subtle sign of quality in a movement due to its costly construction and assembly utilising miniscule weighted screws.

SEAL OF GENEVA:

Since 1886 the official seal of this canton has been awarded to Genevan manufactures who must follow a defined set of high quality criteria that include the following: polished jewel bed drillings, jewels with olive drillings, polished winding wheels, quality balances and balance springs, steel levers and springs with beveling of 45 degrees and cotes de geneve decoration, and polished stems and pinions. The list was updated in 2012 to include the entire watch and new components. Testing is done on the finished piece. The seal consists of two, one on the movement, one on the case.

SILICIUM/SILICON:

Silicon is an element relatively new to mechanical watches. It is currently being used in the manufacture of precision escapements.

SKELETONIZATION:

The technique of cutting a movements components down to their weight bearing basic substance. This is generally done by hand in painstaking hours of microscopic work with a mini handled saw, though machines can skeletonize parts to a certain degree.

SONNERIE:

A variety of minute repeater that-like a tower clock-sounds the time not at the will of the wearer, but rather automatically (en passant) every hour (petite sonnerie) or quarter hour (grand sonnerie).

SPLIT-SECONDS CHRONOGRAPH:

Also known in the watch industry by its french name, the rattrapente. A watch with two second hands, one of which can be blocked with a special dial train lever to indicate an intermediate time while the other continues to run. When released, the split seconds hand jumps ahead to the position of the other second hand.

SPRING BARREL:

The spring barrel contains the mainspring.It turns freely on an arbor, pulled along by the toothed wheel generally doubling as its lid. This wheel interacts with the first pinion of the movements gear train. Some movements contain two or more spring barrels for added power reserve.

SWAN-NECK FINE ADJUSTMENT:

A regulating instrument used by the watchmaker to adjust the movements rate in place of an index. The swan neck is especially prevalent in fine swiss and Glashutte watchmaking.

TACHYMETER

A scale on the dial, flange or bezel of a chronograph that, in conjunction with the second hand, gives the speed of a moving object. A tachymeter takes a value determined in less than a minute and converts it into miles or kilometers per hour. For example, a wearer could measure the time it takes a car to pass between two mile markers on the motorway. When the car passes the marker, the second hand will be pointing to the cars speed in miles per hour on the tachymetric scale.

VIBRATION FREQUENCY (VPH)

The spring causes the balance to oscillate at a certain frequency measured in hertz (hz) or vibrations per hour (vph). Most of todays wristwatches tick at 28,000 vph (4Hz) or 21,600 vph (3Hz).

TOURBILLON:

A technical device invented by Abraham-Louis Breguet in 1801 to compensate for the influence of gravity on the balance of a pocket watch. The entire escapement is mounted on an epicyclic train in a “cage” and rotated completely on its axis over regular periods of time. This superb horological highlight is seen as a sign of technological know-how in the modern era.

WATER RESISTANCE:

Water resistance is an important feature of any time piece and is usually measures in increments of one atmosphere (atm or bar, equal to 10 meters of water pressure) or meters and is often noted on the dial or caseback. Watches resistant to 100 meters are best for swimming and snorkeling. Timepieces rated to 200 meters are good for scuba diving. To deep sea dive there are various professional timepieces available for use in depths of 200 meters or more.