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Watch information
A
Annual Calendar
A mechanism that automatically corrects long and short months, These watches generally do not account for leap years & requires the 1 correction on February 29th every 4th year.
Annual / Perpetual Calendar
A watch that corrects various calendar dates.
Automatic Movement
The term automatic refers to a watch that automatically winds itself. Usually this is done with a rotor (which is usually a semi circular metal plate) that spins on the rear side of the watch. Many watches have transparent case backs that allow you to see the rotor in motion. Simply wearing the watch means that your everyday movement will wind the rotor and in turn power the watch. This generally does away with the need to manually wind the watch every time you need to “recharge” it. However if you leave the watch for long periods of time without wearing it the charge will eventually deplete and you may need to manually wind the watch the first time you use it again to ensure you fully charge it. Manually winding the watch about 30 to 40 times should completely charge it. This helps in the fact that the watch now has a full power reserve and your motion will keep the watch charged at near full if worn every day.
B
Bezel
A "Bezel" is a ring on the top side of the case around the crystal with time intervals engraved. The "Bezel" can be turned "Bi-directional" - both clock-wise & counter clock-wise, or more popularly "Unidirectional" or counter clock-wise. The purpose of the "Bezel" is to be able to begin timing an event at any given time by aligning the bezel's #12 at the beginning point.
C
Case
The case refers to the “unit” which houses the movement and dial. Case sizes can vary greatly from very small case sizes e.g. 10mm to much larger ones e.g. 50mm. Generally ladies watches come in smaller case sizes although this is not a strict rule. Watches that have a lot of complications and large movements obviously need larger case sizes to accommodate the parts. Cases can come in a range of materials for which they can be plated or made solid from. Cases made with precious metals increase the cost of a watch significantly.
Case Back
Watches can have a number of different kinds of case backs.
  • Transparent: Usually (but not always) automatic watches with complicated movements will have a transparent case back to show the parts of the movement in all their glory. Generally there will be transparent glass allowing a person to see the rotor as it moves along with all the other parts.
  • Solid: Many watches have a plain solid case back sometimes with the manufacturer logo / name and other production related information.
  • Engraved: Limited and special edition watches usually have their edition number carved into the case back and may have other marking related to the series they are part of.
Chronograph
Typical Chronograph is operated by 2 buttons on the right side of the watch. The top button starts & stops the stopwatch & the bottom button resets the stopwatch hands to zero.
COSC Certified Chronometer
A watch that bears a COSC certification is called a "Chronometer". A Chronometer watch has passed a vigorous 7 day test in extreme hot & cold, in various different positions. A mechanical watch (manual-wind or automatic wind) that maintains -4 to +6 seconds per day accurate during this test earns a COSC certification. A quartz watch (battery operated) that maintains an amazing +/-0.2 second per day accuracy during this test earns a COSC certification.
Crystal
The dial cover is the sheet of “glass” that protects the dial. There are a number of different types materials used for dial covers including sapphire crystal, plexiglass, and hesalite to name a few. Sapphire Crystal
D
Dial
The dial refers to the face of the watch. The dial can be any have any variation you can think of. It can be single colours, have multiple colours, be skeletonised (showing the movement underneath usually), or it can consist of multiple sub dials on the main dial. The dial usually bears a multitude of information including hour markers, sub dials, manufacturer’s logos, and sometimes edition numbers or names. The dial can also be made from many different materials including precious metals and in many cases it can be adorned with diamonds or rare stones.
F
Finishing
The metal used in various parts of the watch including the casing and bracelet can be finished in a number of different ways to give different appearances to the watch. The most common types are:
  • Polished Finish: This type of finishing makes the metal glossy and reflective.
  • Brushed Finish: This type of finish is a non reflective almost matte finish.
  • Gold plated finish: A thin layer usually about 5 microns is electroplated to the case usually stainless steel
It can be noted that there can be combination of finishes on a watch such as a polished bezel and a brushed case.
Flyback Chronograph
Operates much like a regular Chronograph with the additional feature that allows instant restarting of the chronograph with a single push of the button instead of the need to stop & then reset the stop-watch.
L
Luminous
Many watches have luminous hands and/or hour markers which illuminate in low light conditions. These can be extremely useful during night. These are also particularity useful for divers deep underwater where visibility can be low because of the low level of light under the sea. Luminous hands are standard on most watches today and the quality of the luminous effect is dependent on the quality of materials used.
M
Mechanical Movement
A "Mechanical Movement" is the term for watch that runs without an outside electrical source. The watches mechanism is composed of multiple parts, gears, screws & springs. By winding the mainspring (either manual-winding or via automatic winding) the watch will begin to operate.
Mechanical Watch
A mechanical watch (manual-wind or automatic wind) that maintains -4 to +6 seconds per day accurate during this test earns a COSC certification.
Mechanical Wind Movement
A Mechanical Movement that requires manual-winding of the crown to wind the mainspring which gets the watch going.
Moonphase
The moon phase complication is present on a number of different watch models. It shows the different phases the moon goes through and adjusts accordingly. Generally a small image of the cut out (or full) moon is present somewhere on the dial on a darkened sky background during night hours while during the day an image of the sun appears on the sky background. This is a quite a pretty complication to look at but because of the complexity of it, it can add a significant extra cost to a watch and is usually found on more expensive watches. Moon phase complications can be even more complicated than described above with stars appearing at different times and other extra features.
P
Perpetual Calendar
A mechanism that automatically corrects long and short months. In additional this watch will calculate & correct for the February 29th date on leap years.
Power Reserve Indicator
This complication displays an indicating feature which allows seeing the amount of power a mechanical watch has. This is a helpful complication that actually may help indicate problems with the watch otherwise unseen. I.E. a watch that stops while the Power Reserve shows that the power is still full - with a regular watch you would need to run time consuming tests while with a PR indicator you can immediately identify the problem.
S
Sapphire Crystal
The most popular dial cover on watches today is a material called sapphire crystal. This is a synthetic material that is very durable, scratch and shatter resistant. Because of all these features it is the most popular choice in watch manufacture today.
Single Button Chronograph, AKA Monopusher
The stopwatch feature is operated by a single button usually located in the center of the crown. The single button will start, stop & reset the Chronograph. The only downside to a single button Chrono is that one cannot restart the Chrono at the last stopping point. The Chrono must be reset to zero & then start the stopwatch counting again from zero.
Split Seconds Chronograph, AKA Rattrapante, AKA Double Chronograph
In addition to the original stopwatch function allowed by the Chronograph - a "Split-Seconds" feature is incorporated which allows for an additional timing option. The seconds hand is actually 2 hands overlapping, by pressing the button located at the 10 o'clock position the seconds hands "split - the top one stops yet the bottom one continues to run. The watch is recognizable by the additional button located at the 10 o'clock position.
T
Tachymeter
Common feature in chronograph watches. Measures the speed over a predefined distance. The wearer starts the chronograph when passing the starting point and stops it when passing the finish. The wearer can read the speed in units per hour off the tachometer scale. The scale is generally engraved on the bezel or printed on the outer diameter of the dial.
Tourbillon
With regular mechanical wristwatches the effects of gravity will speed up or slow down a watch depending on it position. The Tourbillon (French for "whirlwind") is a complication invented in 1795 by Abraham-Louis Breguet to counter the effects of gravity and other forces that affect the accuracy of clocks and watches. The Tourbillon was originally designed to eliminate the effect of gravity in pocket-watches, which were kept in single positions for long periods of time. The Tourbillon places the Escapement, Hairspring, Balance & other regulating organs in 1 carriage that rotates on its own axial & thus repeats the time in a consistent fashion. The Manufacturing of a Tourbillon is extremely difficult & thus a watch with this complication drastically increases the price of the watch.
U
Uni-Directional Turning Bezel
A bezel that turns in only one direction (counter-clock wise). The purpose is to measure the length of dive-time you are under water, should the bezel accidentally move, it will only indicate shorter remaining dive time, thus eliminating the risk of being left without oxygen.
W
Water Resistance
A watch that is water resistant can withstand water to a certain extent. Check the watch manual to find out the exact level of water resistance your watch is. The "Water Resistant" feature is common on most watches. It is important to remember that the water resistant rating is granted when the watch is new & tested in ideal conditions. As the watch ages the seals & gaskets begin to erode these ratings decline. Therefore it is necessary to have the water resistance tested every year.