FREE Shipping and Returns Worldwide

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.


Browse alphabetically:

‘I have been trawling the web learning everything I can about watches and CW represents the simplest most modern approach to selling that I have ever found…’

David Aldous, USA






Any kind of precious stone, such as sapphire, ruby or emerald, uncut and only polished, generally of a half-spherical shape, mainly used as an ornament of the winding crown or certain elements of the case.

Below: An example of a blue cabouchon stone inset in the crown of the Christopher Ward Belisama Women’s watch.


W900 Belisama Blue Cabouchon Stone



Calendar, Annual

The automatic allowances for the different lengths of each month of a year in the calendar module of a watch. This type of watch also usually shows the month and date, and sometimes the day of the week and the phase of the moon.



Calendar, Full

Displaying date, day of the week and month on the dial, but needing a manual correction at the end of a month with less than 31 days. It is often combined with the moonphase.



Calendar, Perpetual

This is the most complex horology complication related to the calendar feature, as it indicates the date, day, month and leap year and does not need manual corrections until the year 2100 (when the leap year will be ignored).




The Calibre term refers to each different type of watch movement e.g. ETA 2824-2. Watch movements come in various shapes to fit different case styles, such as round, tonneau, rectangular, rectangular with cut corners, oval and baguette. It is described in terms of its casing diameter, measured in lignes or millimetres. The round calibre is the most commonly encountered.

Below: An example of the ETA 2824-2 (undecorated) calibre as used in our C60 Trident Pro Automatic and a detailed image of our Calibre JJ01 highly modified ETA 2824-2 JJ02 used in the C9 Jumping Hour MK2.






An element in the shape of a hollow cylinder, sometimes also called pipe or bush, for instance the pipe of the hour wheel bearing the hour hand.



Carat (Karat)

Unit of gold fineness (and gemstone weight). Pure gold is 24k. 18k gold is 75% pure.




Device similar to the tourbillon, but with the carriage not driven by the fourth wheel, but by the third wheel.



Carriage or Tourbillon Carriage

Rotating frame of a tourbillon device, carrying the balance and escapement. This structural element is essential for a perfect balance of the whole system and its stability, in spite of its reduced weight. As today's tourbillon carriages make a rotation per minute, errors of rate in the vertical position are eliminated. Because of the widespread use of transparent dials, carriages became elements of aesthetic attractiveness.




Container housing and protecting the movement, usually made up of three parts: middle, bezel, and back.

  • The most common case shapes are:
  • • Round
  • • Square
  • • Tonneau


Center Second Hand

A sweep second hand, i.e. a second hand mounted on the center of the main dial.




The minute wheel in a going-train.




Hand-made treatment of the dial or case surface. The pattern is obtained by hollowing a metal sheet with a graver and subsequently filling the hollows with enamel.




Hour-circle, i.e. the hour numerals arranged on a dial.




Striking-work equipped with a set of bells that may be capable of playing a complete melody. A watch provided with such a feature is called chiming watch.




From the Greek words for time, chronos, and to write, graphein. Originally a chronograph literally inscribed the time elapsed on a piece of paper, with the help of a pencil attaché to a type of hand. We use the term today to describe watches that show not only the time of day, but also certain time intervals via independent hands that may be started or stopped at will as in the C4 Peregrine shown here.




A high-precision watch. According to the Swiss law, a manufacture may put the word "chronometer" on a model only after each individual piece has passed a series of tests and obtained a running bulletin and a chronometer certificate by an acknowledged Swiss control authority, such as the COSC.



Circular Graining

Superficial decoration applied to bridges, rotors and pillar-plates in the shape of numerous slightly superposed small grains, obtained by using a plain cutter and abrasives. Also called Pearlage or Pearling.




The attachment used to connect the two ends of the watch bracelet or strap around the wrist. Deployment Buckle - A three-folding enclosure, which secures the two ends of the bracelet and allows enough room for placing the watch on the wrist when fully deployed. When closed, the buckle covers the two-piece folding mechanism. Hook Lock - Two separate units each fitting on either end of the bracelet which allows the watch to be laid out. One end of the closure hooks onto the other to secure the two ends of the bracelet. Jeweller's Clasp - A closure that is generally used on better bracelets. Also allows it to lie flat. Sliding Clasp - Also a hook type method but allows for easy sizing of the bracelet by sliding up. Twist Lock - A closure similar to Jeweler's Clasp used on ladies jewelry bracelets.




A kind of enamel work - mainly used for the decoration of dials - in which the outlines of the drawing are formed by thin metal wires. The colored enamel fills the hollows formed in this way. After oven firing, the surface is smoothed until the gold threads appear again.



Clous de Paris

Decoration of metal parts characterized by numerous small pyramids.




A metal plate fastened to the base plate at one point, leaving room for a gear wheel or pinion. The balance is usually attached to a bar called the balance cock.




Decoration with a spiral pattern, mainly used on the barrel wheel or on big-sized full wheels.




Part of chronograph movements, governing the functions of various levers and parts of the chronograph operation, in the shape of a small-toothed steel cylinder. It is controlled by pushers through levers that hold and release it. It is a very precise and usually preferred type of chronograph operation.




Additional function with respect to the manual-winding basic movement for the display of hours, minutes and seconds. Today, certain features, such as automatic winding or date, are taken for granted, although they should be defined as complications. The main complications are moonphase, power reserve, GMT, and full calendar. Further functions are performed by the so-called great complications, such as split-second chronograph, perpetual calendar, tourbilon device, and minute repeater.




Pusher positioned on the case side that is normally actuated by a special tool for the quick setting of different indications, such as date, GMT, full or perpetual calendar.




Abbreviation of "Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres" the most important Swiss institution responsible for the functioning and precision tests of movements of chronometers. Tests are performed on each individual watch at different temperatures and in different positions before a functioning bulletin and a chronometer certificate are issued, for which a maximum gap of -4 to +4 seconds per day is tolerated. With fewer than 3% of all watches receiving this level of certification, it is easy to understand why chronometers are so highly valued by watch aficionados and collectors.

Below: The C70 VW4 is a rare chronometer version of Eta's superb 251 calibre movement.


COSC Certification



Cotes Circulaires

Decoration of rotors and bridges of movements, whose pattern consists of a series of concentric ribs.



Côtes de Genève

Decoration applied mainly to high-quality movements, appearing as a series of parallel ribs, realized by repeated cuts of a cutter leaving thin stripes.

Below: The detailed Côtes de Genève pattern on the C900 Worldtimer's highly modified ETA 2893 JJ03 movement can be observed through the backplate’s crystal window.


Cotes de Geneve



Countdown Timer

A function that lets the wearer keep track of how much of a pre-set period of time has elapsed. Some countdown timers sound a warning signal a few seconds before the time runs out. These are useful in events such as certain kinds of races.




Additional hand on a chronograph, indicating the time elapsed since the beginning of the measuring. On modern watches the second counter is placed at the center, while minute and hour counters have off-center hands in special zones, also called subdials.

Below: The C7 Rapide Chronograph MKII features 1/10ths second split timing.






The crown is used to wind and set a watch. A few simple turns of the crown will get an automatic movement started (as with the Malvern Automatic and Aviator models), while a manual watch is completely wound by the crown. The crown is also used for the setting of various functions, almost always including at least the hours, minutes, seconds and date. A screwed down crown like the one on the C11 Makaira Pro can be tightened to prevent water entering the case or any mishaps while performing extreme sports like diving.



Crown Wheel

Wheel meshing with the winding pinion and with the ratchet wheel on the barrel-arbor.




The clean cover over the watch face. Three types of crystals are commonly found in watches: acrylic crystal, mineral crystal and sapphire crystal.

back to top