Watch Glossary

The following is a list of common terms that you will read describing watches for sale at

Case: The body of the watch, includes:

  • Crown: Winder for adjusting time, etc.
    • Screw-down crown: Push-in and turn clockwise for water resistance; turn anticlockwise to unlock for crown functions
  • Horns: The two protrusions each side of the crown on most watches
  • Lugs: The two protrusions on the top and bottom of the case for watch strap or bracelet attachment
    • Lug width: The space between the two lugs
  • Dial: The face on which the time is read
  • Crystal: The transparent glass or plastic which protects the dial
    • Sapphire crystal: Scratch-resistant
    • Mineral crystal: Standard, scratches with time
    • Hesalite: Hard plastic, polishable, non-shatter
  • Bezel: The fixed or rotating ring around the crystal on most watches (functions of rotating bezels described below)

Movement: The internal workings of a watch, described as:

  • Caliber/Calibre: Manufacturer-specific movement name
  • Quartz: Battery operated, high accuracy
  • Self-winding: Mechanical movement which automatically winds ("recharges") from the movement of the wrist
  • Manual-wind: Mechanical movement which requires winding up on a daily basis
  • Chronometer: Certified by Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres (C.O.S.C.) - tested as adhering to strict time keeping accuracy under various conditions
    • Quartz: Average daily time keeping tolerance of ±0.07 / second
    • Mechanical: Average daily time keeping tolerance between -4, +6 seconds

Features: Functionality in addition to telling the time:

  • Date: Shows today's date
    • Perpetual calendar: Automatic date correction for short months, usually can display day and week number
  • Chronograph: Ability to record elapsed time; stop watch
  • Alarm: Audible buzzer at chosen time
  • Unidirectional rotating bezel: Ratcheted bezel that can only turn anticlockwise, used to record elapsed time
  • Bidirectional rotating bezel: Ratcheted bezel that can turn clockwise and anticlockwise, used for mathematical calculations such as average speed, elapsed time, etc
  • GMT: Additional hour hand to show GMT time
  • Tachymeter/tachometer: Scale for determining speed
  • Other functions include: Countdown, second time zone, back light, hour pips

Water Resistance: Usually buttons or crown cannot be operated under water

  • Water resistant (no depth rating): Protection against splashing and rain, should be dried a.s.a.p.
  • Pressure testing: Replacement of seals and testing to rated depth, this should be done every two years for maintaining manufacturer's depth rating
    • 50 Meters (165 ft. 5 ATM): Protection against splashing, rain, shallow swimming
    • 100 Meters (330 ft. 10 ATM): All the above and snorkeling
    • 200 Meters (660 ft. 20 ATM): All the above and scuba diving
    • 500 Meters (1,600 ft. 50 ATM): All the above and deep sea diving
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