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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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‘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






Steel or brass element used in movements provided with a repeater or alarm sonnerie. It strikes a gong or bell (s)..




Indicator for the analogue visualization of hours, minutes and seconds as well as other functions. Normally made of brass (rhodium-plated, gilded or treated otherwise), but also steel or gold. Hands are available in different shapes and sizes and take part in the aesthetic result of the whole watch. Early watches only had one hand for the hours.

  • The most common hand forms are:
  • • Baton – straight hands that taper to a fine point. These are the most basic and common hands used on most watches today.
  • • Daupine – are in the form of an elongated triangle
  • • Feuille – a hand in the shape of a leaf
  • • Poire
  • • Skeleton
  • • Spade
  • • Sword


Hardlex Crystal

is Seiko's trademarked name for a hardened mineral crystal



Harrison (John)

John Harrison was born in 1693 in Foulby, West Yorkshire and lived for most of his life in Barrow upon Humber. He became a carpenter, like his father, was a gifted musician and a self-taught watchmaker, creating his first timepieces entirely out of wood.

He moved to London in the 1750s, at the height of his development of his “sea watches” and died in the capital in 1776. The ship’s chronometers were rediscovered at the Royal Greenwich Observatory in the mid-20th century and restored.

Today the H1, H2, H3 and H4 are on display at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. The H5 is owned by the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers, and is displayed in the Clockmaker’s Museum in London’s Guildhall.

Below: The Longcase clock movement (1713) is the earliest known clock by John Harrison, made when he was 20 years old. The clock features an oak dial with date aperture and 8-day striking movement with Anchor escapement. The pocket watch (right) is Harrison's famous H4 Chronometer, which solved the centuries old “Longitude Problem”.


John Harrison




Heart-shaped corn, generally used to realign the hands of chronograph counters.



Helium Valve

Valve inserted in the case of some professional diving watches to discharge the helium contained in the air mixture inhaled by divers. The helium escape valve prevents the crystal from being blown off by an internal build-up of helium pressure seeping into the watch case.

Below: The C11 Titanium Elite Chronometer boasts CW’s first-ever titanium case and helium release valve.


C11 Titanium Elite Chronometer




An artificial glass made of a plastic resin. Back in the 1960's, many watches used either mineral glass or acrylic crystals. These are not difficult to scratch, but very inexpensive to replace. Now though, most all luxury watches use the highly scratch resistant synthetic sapphire crystals, there are some styles/brands that use the Hesalite (a trade name for an advanced synthetic( acrylic) crystal). The reason for this is directly related to the watch's certification for use in high stress/impact situations. While sapphire crystals are less prone to scratching, they can be shattered. When shattered, they break into tiny fragments that would be hazardous in some environments e.g. NASA specify hesalite crystal for all watches going into space. The Hesalite crystal is shatterproof so is maintained on some specific models as a safety feature.



Hunter Caliber

A caliber characterized by the seconds hand fitted on an axis perpendicular to the one of the winding stem.


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