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Watch Words


The following pages are a glossary of terms associated with horology, watches and watchmaking. Please click on one of the links or glossary terms below to learn more about them. Most of the terms are enhanced with detailed imagery. If you would like us to list any other words that you think may be helpful, please contact me direct We will update the glossary frequently.


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Alarm Watch

A watch provided with a movement capable of releasing an acoustic sound at the time set. A second crown is dedicated to the winding, setting and release of the striking-work; an additional center hand indicates the time set. The section of the movement dedicated to the alarm device is made up by a series of wheels linked with the barrel, an escapement and a hammer striking a gong or bell. Works much like a normal alarm clock.




Amplitude IllustrationThe maximum angle by which a balance or pendulum swings from its rest position. Each swing in either direction is called a “beat”. Amplitude is the number of degrees of rotation of the beat. Amplitude is higher, typically in the range of about 270 to 315 degrees, when a watch is lying flat or in the “dial up” or “dial down” position. Amplitude usually falls when the watch is in a vertical position, primarily due to increased friction.



Analog or Analogue

A watch displaying time indications by means of hands.



Analog Quartz

The most commonly-used term in referring to any analog timepiece that operates on a battery or on solar power and is regulated by a quartz crystal.



Annual Calendar

A watch that automatically adjusts 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 phase of the moon. It must be adjusted once a year.




Mechanical movements can be influenced by the magnetic fields often found in common everyday places. This problem is generally countered by using anti- or nonmagnetic components in the movement as in the eta 2824-2 which we use for the Malvern Automatic.



Anti-reflection, Anti-reflective

A film created by steaming the crystal to eliminate light reflection and improve legibility. This film can scratch quite easily so at CWL we choose only to use this treatment on the inside of the crystal glass although Dubey and Schaldenbrand are unusual in that they prefer to coat both sides of all their wristwatches.




Bearing element of a gear(s) or balance, whose ends, called pivots, run in jewel holes or brass bushings.



Atmosphere (ATM)

Unit of pressure used in watch making to indicate water-resistance. ATM can be expressed in different ways: 10 ATM = 10 bars = 100 metres.



Atomic Time Standard

Provided by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology, Time and Frequency Division, Boulder, Colorado, atomic time is measured through vibrations of atoms in a metal isotope that resembles mercury. The result is extremely accurate time that can be measured on instruments. Radio waves transmit this exact time throughout North America and some "atomic" watches can receive them and correct to the exact time.




A watch whose mechanical movement is wound automatically. A rotor makes short oscillations due to the movements of the wrist. Through a series of gears, oscillations transmit motion to the barrel, thus winding the mainspring progressively.



Automatic Winding

C60 Trident Pro Automatic ETA 2824-2 MovementA rotating weight, set into motion by moving the wrist, winds the spring barrel via the gear train of a mechanical watch movement. Automatic winding was invented during the pocket watch era in 1770 by Abraham-Louis Perrelet, who created a watch with a weight swinging back and forth (that of a pocket watch usually makes vertical movements contrary to a wristwatch). The first automatic –winding wristwatches, invented by John Harwood in the 1920’s, utilised so-called hammer winding, whereby a weight swung in an arc between two banking pins. The breakthrough automatic winding movement via rotor began with the ball bearing Eterna-Matic in the late 1940’s, and the technology hasn’t changed fundamentally since. The Eterna-Matic is the grandfather of our own automatic movements. Eterna became ETA and is now owned by The Swatch Group.

Right: The ETA 2824-2 movement used in our C60 Trident Pro Automatic




Figures, placed on the dial or case of watches, provided with parts of the body or other elements moving at the same time as the sonnerie strikes. The moving parts are linked, through an aperture on the dial or caseback, with the sonnerie hammers striking a gong.


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