From Chronometers to Chronographs, Here’s 15 Watch Terms and Meanings You Need To Know

If you are new to the world of watches knowing the difference between your chronometers and chronographs can be confusing. With a variety of specific terms out there, although your jeweller or favourite watch stockist will be able to advise you on the most suitable watch for your needs and requirements, knowing a thing or two will help you make an informed choice of your own accord.

Taking the mystery out of the decision making process, we’ve explained 15 commonly used terms- take these on board and you’ll look like the most educated of wrist watch experts.


1.  Analogue: the most commonly found watch, this is a typical traditional watch using hands, a dial, numbers or markers recorded in 12 hour format

2. Automatic movement: a watch that runs from a mechanical movement, created from the energy that occurs when the watch is in motion. The motion in your arm winds the mainspring but the power supply can be topped up by manually winding or in some instances shaking the watch

3. Calibre: the size and configuration of a watch movement- it can also be associated with a specific origin or watch maker

4. Chronograph: simply put, this is a watch with a stop function. The model will have the ability to keep track of time through sub dials recording seconds, minutes and hours in addition to displaying conventional time

5. Chronometer: a watch high on precision, with certified quartz movements. Seconds will be displayed, and movement will have been tested for days in different positions and temperatures. A chronometer watch will be identified with a number engraved on its movement and along with a certification number

6. Dial: a commonly used term for the face of a watch

7. Digital: a watch which displays various features through a LCD or LED format without the use of hands commonly loved by younger watch wearers

8. Horology: the science behind recording time, designing and producing both accurate, functional and beautiful watches

9. Manual Wind Movement: operates by manually winding the crown every day or two to keep it running- the oldest method of keeping a watch powered. These days they are less common but may be the functionality of older, vintage models

10. Mechanical Movement: a watch that can run without an outside electrical force- by winding the main spring the watch can operate

11. Oscillation: created by a hairspring and balance this is the movement that swings back and forth in a regular rhythm to help create the famous “tick tock” sound

12. Quartz Movement: commonly occurs in electronic watch movements with a quartz crystal that oscillates when a current is applied to it, normally powered by a battery. Considered to be more accurate than a mechanical movement

13. Rotor: found in an automatic watch this is the oscillating feature which winds the mainspring

14. Tourbillion: a complication found mainly in luxury mechanical watches that compensates for the effect of gravity. This ensures that a watch maintains its performance rate no matter if the watch is worn face up, down or side on

15. VPH: otherwise known as vibrations per hour where the movement of an oscillating element is limited by two extreme positions. Most mechanical watches vibrate at a rate of five or six a second

With fifteen need to know terms under your belt, this should help you make a smart choice whether you are looking for a watch to enjoy yourself or as a gift for a loved one in your life.

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