Time to Learn: The A-Z of Watch Terms and Definitions

For watch enthusiasts and collectors, nothing compares to the thrill of bringing home a new timepiece, especially if it suits your personality. Whether it’s a classic dress watch or a vintage regatta chronograph, the right ticker can be both functional and stylish. However, with so many types of watches, movements, and features available, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information online. That’s where this luxury watch terminology comes in. By providing you with a comprehensive guide to the key terms every watch lover needs to know, this glossary can cut through the confusion and help you better understand the fascinating world of watches.


Watch Glossary

From A to Z, Biltmore Loan and Jewelry has got you covered with definitions, explanations, and examples to help you navigate the world of horology, especially if you plan to sell luxury watches or use them for a loan.

Automatic Watch: A watch that winds itself using the motion of the wearer’s wrist.

Balance Wheel: A component in a mechanical watch that oscillates back and forth, regulating the movement of the watch.

Bezel: The outer metal ring around the watch face.

Caliber: The movement or mechanism within a watch that powers its timekeeping functions.

Chronograph: A timepiece with a stopwatch function, allowing the wearer to measure elapsed time with accuracy.

Complication: A unique function that goes beyond telling the time, similar to a stopwatch (chronograph), calendar, or moon phase indicator. Complications need additional parts, as they make a timepiece more expensive and complex to build.

Deployant Clasp: A watch clasp that folds over and locks in place, providing a secure and comfortable fit.

Dial: The face of the watch featuring the hour markers and hands.

Escapement: A mechanism that controls the release of energy from the mainspring, powering a watch’s movement.

Exhibition Caseback: A transparent caseback that allows the wearer to see the movement and inner workings of a watch.

Finishing: The process of decorating and refining the surfaces of a watch’s movement and components for both aesthetic and functional purposes.

Flyback Chronograph: A type of chronograph that allows the wearer to reset and restart the stopwatch with a single button press.

Gear Train: A system of gears that transfer power from the mainspring to the escapement.

GMT: Short for Greenwich Mean Time, a time zone used as a standard for international timekeeping. Watches with GMT complications can display two different time zones.

Hacking: A feature on some watches that allows the seconds hand to stop when the wearer pulls out the crown, allowing for precise time setting.

Horology: The study of time and timekeeping devices, including watches and clocks.

Incabloc: A type of shock absorber used in some watches to protect the movement from damage due to impact or vibration.

Indication: The information displayed on a watch, such as the time, date, or other complications.

Jeweler’s Loupe: A magnifying glass that watchmakers use to examine the details and craftsmanship of a piece.

Jewels: Small synthetic rubies or sapphires used in a watch’s movement to reduce friction and improve accuracy.

Kinetic Watch: A timepiece that uses motion to generate power, much like an automatic watch.

Lugs: The protruding metal extensions at the top and bottom of a watch case, responsible for holding the straps in place.

Luminous: A material used on watch hands and hour markers. It glows in the dark to improve readability.

Minute Repeater: A watch that chimes the hours, quarters, and minutes.

Moon Phase: A complication on some watches that track the phases of the moon.

Nautical Watch: A watch designed for use at sea, often featuring a rotating bezel to measure elapsed time and water resistance to prevent damage from exposure to saltwater.

Oscillation: The back-and-forth movement of the balance wheel in a watch, typically measured in beats per hour or hertz.

Oyster Case: A durable and waterproof watch case by Rolex.

Perpetual Calendar: A complication that automatically adjusts the date for leap years, taking into account the varying lengths of different months.

Power Reserve: The amount of time a watch can run without rewinding.

Quartz Watch: A watch that uses a quartz crystal to regulate timekeeping, resulting in high accuracy.

Quickset: A feature on some watches that allows the wearer to quickly adjust the date without having to cycle through the hours.

Rattrapante: A type of chronograph with two seconds hands, allowing for the measurement of two separate events at the same time.

Sapphire Crystal: A scratch-resistant and durable watch glass, typically used in high-end luxury watches.

Skeleton Watch: A watch with a transparent case or dial, allowing the wearer to see the movement and inner workings of the watch.

Tachymeter: A scale on the watch bezel or dial, allowing the wearer to measure speed based on time and distance.

Tourbillon: A complex mechanical device used in some watches to counteract the effects of gravity on the movement, improving accuracy.

Universal Time: A system of timekeeping coordinated with the Earth’s rotation.

Valjoux: A Swiss manufacturer of mechanical watch movements, including chronographs.

Vibration: The rapid back-and-forth movement of the balance wheel in a watch, typically measured in beats per hour or hertz.

Water Resistance: The ability of a watch to resist damage from exposure to water.

World Time: A complication on some watches that displays the time in multiple time zones simultaneously.

X-Factor: A term used to describe the intangible quality that makes a watch special or unique.

X-Ray Watch: A watch with a transparent case or dial, allowing the wearer to see through the watch, giving the appearance of an X-ray.

Yachting Watch: Also called a regatta timer or sailing watch, this niche timepiece has the incredible water-resistance of dive watches and boasts additional complications for yachtsmen.

Zeitwerk: A type of watch made by A. Lange & Söhne. It uses a unique digital display to show the time in hours and minutes.

Zenith: A Swiss watchmaker known for producing high-quality mechanical movements.


Whether you’re a seasoned collector or a newcomer to the extravagant world of timepieces, this glossary is an essential resource for anyone who wants to learn more about watches. Moreover, familiarizing yourself with the terms and definitions in this guide may help you make informed decisions while buying or selling high-end watches, ensuring you understand the most basic terminologies a watch seller or potential buyer might use.


Sell Your High-End Watch in Phoenix, AZ

If you’re looking to sell your luxury watches from Patek Philippe, Omega, or Tag Heuer, consider Biltmore Loan and Jewelry – the leading provider of upscale collateral lending and outright selling services in Scottsdale and Chandler, AZ. Visit us today to get the best value for your timepieces.