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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





Tachometer or Tachymeter

A scale on the dial, flange, or bezel (as in the case of our C70 British Racing Green series) of a chronograph that, in conjunction with the second hand, gives the speed of a moving object. A tachymeter takes a value determined in less than a minute and converts it into miles or kilometres per hour. For example, the wearer could measure the time it takes a car to pass between two mile markers on a road. When the car passes the second marker, the second hand will be pointing to the car’s speed in miles per hour on the tachometric scale.





Quartz watches split time by exploiting the electromechanical phenomenon known as Piezoelectricity. When a continuous electrical current runs through it, the quartz crystal starts resonating at a constant frequency. Crystal oscillators for watches are manufactured to vibrate at 215Hz (32,768 Hz), a frequency that will then be halved 16 consecutive times by a processor to obtain the second (unit of time). The problem with quartz crystals is that they are easily affected by temperature: they tend to vibrate faster in heat and slower in cold. As a consequence, quartz watch can have between -10 to +15 sec. variations per month. Bearing in mind that mechanical watches can variate by -10 to + 15 sec. per day, the quartz oscillator is still far more accurate than the anchor escapement found in mechanical watches. The solution ETA engineers found was to add a thermometer that constantly feeds information to the processor, allowing it to compensate for errors caused by temperature. As a consequence, movements using this technology can be accurate to -10 to +15 sec. per year. This move by Christopher Ward to use a super-accurate quartz movement and to get it certified shows their commitment to using the best movements available for their timepieces.



Time Zones

The 24 equal zones into which the surface of the Earth is conventionally divided, each limited by two meridians. The distance between two adjacent zones is 15º or 1 hour. Each country adopts the time of its zone, except for countries with more than one zone. The universal standard time is that of the zero zone, the axis of which is the Greenwich meridian.

Time Zones




Titanium is an environmentally friendly, natural metal that is 40% stronger and 30% lighter than stainless steel. It is hypoallergenic because it is nickel-free. It is perfect for water sport enthusiasts as it is extremely resistant to salt water and other forms of corrosion and able to withstand extreme temperatures. Many titanium watches are further enhanced with a glass coating for increased scratch resistance.




Particular shape of a watchcase, imitating the profile of a barrel, i.e. with straight, shorter, horizontal sides and curved, longer, vertical sides.

The Christopher Ward retro-styled Tonneau Suisse women’s watch.





TourbillonA technically demanding device invented by Abraham Louis Breguet in 1801 to compensate for the interference of gravity on the balance of a pocket watch, thus improving its rate. In a tourbillon (from the French word for whirlwind), the entire escapement is mounted on an epicyclic train in a “cage” and rotated completely on its axis over regular periods of time, usually once a minute. This superb horological highlight, whilst being completely unnecessary for a wristwatch, is seen as a sign of technological know-how in the modern era. One day we may decide to commission our own CW tourbillon and have had early conversations with a bespoke manufacture of haute horologie. Watch this space.

An assembled tourbillon, clearly showing balance wheel, pallet fork and escape wheel.




Slightly radioactive material that collects light energy and is used to coat hands, numerals, and hour markers on watch dials in order to make reading the time in the dark possible. Watches bearing tritium must be marked as such, with the letter T on the dial near 6 o'clock. It is gradually being replaced by nonradioactive materials such as Superluminova and Traser due to medical misgivings and expected governmental regulation of its use.




A term use to indicate that a watch has both "silver" and "gold" tone color which may or may not be genuine gold or silver.

The C9 Harrison Jumping Hour MKII Limited Edition watch with 18ct solid rose gold bezel and 316L stainless steel case.



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