WATCH ANATOMY

Watch Parts

Case

The watch case holds the movement, protecting it from the elements and normal wear and tear. This can be made of different metals and comes in different shapes.

Crown

The crown is the mechanism allowing for the winding of the movement, as well as functions like date and time. To improve water resistance, crowns can screw into the case to form a seal.

Exhibition Caseback

Exhibition casebacks are fitted with mineral or sapphire clear crystal to show the movement finishing.

Hour Marker

Hour markers are indicators applied or painted on the dial to help tell time.

Lugs

Lugs attach to the case, allowing for a strap or bracelet to be attached.

Hour Marker

The watch case holds the movement, protecting it from the elements and normal wear and tear. This can be made of different metals and comes in different shapes.

Movement

The main engine – the mechanism of the watch that makes it work.

Pusher

Pushers attach to the case and control functions such as the chronograph or adjusting the date.

Rotor

Rotors are an oscillating weight that winds the automatic watch during when worn.

Strap

Straps are commonly made of leather or rubber, securing the watch to your wrist. Metal attachments (steel or precious metals), are referred to as bracelets. Learn more about the various types of buckles and clasps available to secure your straps and bracelets on our blog post about watch closures.

Movement

Subdials are small dials which are set within the main dial. They are used to display additional complications such as chronograph readouts, seconds, or the date.

Watch Dials

On the watch face, there are many different ways a dial can be marked. Below are the most popular types:

  • Stick
  • Arabic
  • Arabic & Stick
  • Roman
  • Roman & Stick
  • California

Watch Cases

The case protects the internal parts of the watch, coming in different shapes and a variety of different materials. Although the most common shapes are round and rectangular, below you can see some of the other popular watch case styles. Not pictured is the asymmetrical variety, with no prescribed geometric shape. For an example of an asymmetric watch case, see the Hamilton Ventura.

Case MaterialsCases can be made from a variety of materials that include:

14K GOLD

  • Rarely used
  • 3.0 – 3.5 on Mohs Scale

18K GOLD

  • Yellow, rose & white
  • 5 – 3 on Mohs Scale

CERAMIC

  • Lightweight, Manmade
  • Scratched only by diamond
  • 8 – 8.5 on Mohs Scale

DIAMOND-LIKE CARBON

  • Bonded to base metal as a coating
  • Nearly as hard as diamond
  • Slicker than Teflon

PLATINUM

  • Noble, rare & hard
  • 5 on Mohs Scale

GOLD PLATE

  • Rarely used
  • Gold over metal
  • Wears over time

PVD

  • Layer of material over base metal
  • Improves hardness & wear resistance

STERLING SILVER

  • Not popular due to Tarnishing
  • 5 on Mohs Scale

STAINLESS STEEL

  • Most popular
  • Harder to scratch
  • Can be refinished to original state
  • 5 – 6 on Mohs Scale

TANTALUM

  • Dark, dense, hard
  • Highly resistant to corrosion
  • 5 on Mohs Scale

TITANIUM

  • Lightweight & durable
  • Hypoallergenic
  • 0 on Mohs Scale

TUNGSTEN CARBIDE

  • Dense metal-like substance
  • High strength, hard & rigid
  • 5 on Mohs Scale

Watch Crystals

The watch crystal is the glass covering the face of the watch, protecting it from dirt and water. There are three major types of crystals used in watchmaking:

Synthetic Sapphire

Sapphire is the second hardest known element, right after diamonds, making it scratch resistant and useful for watch crystals.

Mineral

Mineral (glass) crystals have been used for centuries. Easy to scratch, and cannot be buffed out, but are rather inexpensive compared to sapphire.

Acrylic

The most affordable type but also the most prone to scratching (small ones can be buffedw out) and can crack if impacted. Acrylic can be molded into elaborate shapes.

Watch Luminosity

Many modern watches have glow-in-the-dark hands and hour markers. The substances used for this has changed over the years. Here are three of the most notable luminescent paints used in watchmaking over the years:

Radium

Discovered by Marie and Pierre Curie in 1898, Radium, other than its use in nuclear medicine, has no commercial applications, though it was once used as a radioactive source for radioluminescent devices. Today, these former applications are no longer in vogue because radium’s toxicity has since become known, and less dangerous isotopes are used instead in radioluminescent devices.

Tritium

Tritium is a safer radioactive isotope of hydrogen. The emitted electrons from the radioactive decay of small amounts of tritium cause phosphors to glow so as to make self-powered lighting devices called betalights, which are now used in firearm night sights, watches, exit signs, map lights, knives and a variety of other devices.

Super-Luminova®

Strontium aluminate–based non-radioactive and non-toxic photoluminescent or afterglow pigments. This technology offers up to ten times higher brightness than previous zinc sulfide-based materials. Not only that, it lasts longer – as the material does not suffer any practical ageing. It has to be protected against contact with water or moisture though since this degrades the pigment.

Watch Buckles

Ardillon Buckle

An ardillon buckle is a traditional buckle where one end of the watch strap is pulled through a buckle with a pin used to lock it in place.

Deployant Buckle

The deployant buckle is a leather strap or metal bracelet attached to a folding metal buckle. These are more secure than the Ardillon Buckle because if it unbuckles, it is still on the wrist.

Watch Bezels

After the clock face there’s no more noticeable part of a watch than the bezel. The look and design can easily make or break a watch. Bezels are more than just for show though. They have practical purposes, evident from the array of numerical patterns commonly seen surrounding a wrist watch face. With that said, nine times out of ten a given watch is chosen for its style, not the need for its bezel function. It’s still good to know the difference between watch bezel types, even if you’re only going to demonstrate the utility for friends.

GMT

Watch bezels with Greenwich Mean Time markings are meant to allow the wearer to keep track of time in two time zones.

Medical

Also known as a pulsometer, the medical bezel helps doctors and other healthcare workers determine heart rate.

Dive

The markings on a diver’s watch are there for matters of life and death – keeping track of available air and also timing ascents to avoid the bends.

Pilot

The complexity of a pilot’s watch bezel isn’t just for show. There are loads of data to gain from it – if you’re able to do the additional math required, including fuel economy, speed, and rate of descent.

Golfer

Move the ring marker to your tee time and the bezel helps to keep the player on target for a roughly four hour game.

Compass

Once the outer dial is appropriately turned the user can then point the 24-hour hand to the direction of the sun to get a rough idea of where the cardinal points are.

Tachymeter

Similar to the pilot watch, tachymeter bezels are used mainly to clock distance. The tachymeter bezel can also be used to calculate the speed of just about any moving object.

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