Do you know your movement from your calibre? Two centuries of watchmaking have birthed an impressive glossary of watch terms, some of which are quite peculiar. So whether you’re a horology novice or a pro, here are ten watch terms all horology enthusiasts should know.
- Automatic winding
Some watches don’t require an external power source or daily winding to keep time. These watches, like IWC’s Big Pilot’s Watch, operate through the continued motion of being worn.
Also known as Fausses Côtes, Côtes de Genève or Geneva Stripes, the term refers to the ornate patterning on the movement of a watch.
A French word meaning blank, outline or sketch. In horology, ébauche refers to watch movements that are manufactured elsewhere from final assembly. Often companies that produce watches for the mass market buy watch movements to integrate into their branded product.
The trade name for a shock protection system, this intricate mechanical watch part protects balance-staff pivots from damage in cases of impact. Pictured above is the Incabloc, delicately positioned above the balance.
- Lever Set watch (railroad watch)
This feature was included into pocket watches – called railroad watches – to avoid the time being accidentally set. Adjusting these watches would require winding the crown until resistance is felt. Then the bezel would be unscrewed for access to the lever. Moving the lever would allow the crown to set the time. Once the time is set, the lever can be moved to its original position, before screwing back the bezel.
- Skeleton watch
Skeleton watches have an exposed or transparent front or back, allowing the wearer to see the watch’s movement.
- Tank watch
Rectangular watches that look like the top-down view of a military tank.
- Tonneau watch
Tonneau watches are shaped like a barrel, with two convex sides.
This mechanism constantly rotates the balance wheel to avoid timekeeping errors.
Pictured above is IWC’s integrated tourbillion. This patented technology ensures that the balance remains accurate by disconnecting the escapement from the direct flow of energy generated by the gear train, before transferring it to the escape wheel. During this process the balance spring is put under tension once a second, advancing the seconds hand.
- Unidirectional rotating bezel
Often found on divers’ watches, unidirectional rotating bezels turn in only one direction to prevent a diver overestimating remaining air supply. The unidirectional rotating bezel forms an intricate part of the IWC Safedive System, which comes standard with all IWC Aquatimer watches.
For more interesting watch terms and things you might not know about horology, check out this brief history of watches, by clicking here.