Introduction to  Watch Glossary

Introduction to Watch Glossary


This watch glossary is to help explain some of the technical terms which are often referred to on this site when describing watch products.

Although by no means an exhaustive list, it should detail most of the terms used on this site to aid you in selecting your watch.


A watch function which produces an audible tone at a predefined time to alert the wearer of an event. Watches which feature alarms include Tissot's T-Touch. Some watches feature multiple alarms.


A watch which uses physical hands to display the time, rather than an LCD.


An automatic watch operates differently to a quartz watch. It is powered by an internal main spring - and this spring is wound up by the movement of the watch itself. This usually means that the watch has to be worn every day to keep it running. If the watch runs out of power reserve, it will need to be set again when being worn for the next time. The other disadvantage of automatic watches is that they are not as accurate as quartz watches, and can lose or gain a few minutes per week. Despite quartz watches being the most common, automatic watches are still very popular.

Base metal

This is a term used to refer to any metal type which is non-precious. Precious metals are gold, silver and platinum, therefore metals such as stainless steel and brass are classed as base metals.


A battery powered watch is called a Quartz watch. It is powered by a small button sized battery which is fitted into the electronic chip inside the watch. Battery life for watches can vary, but is usually a minimum of 2 years.


The bezel is the outer ring around the dial of the watch.


When a watch strap is made from metal, it is referred to as a bracelet. This usually means it is made up of a series of metal links which can be added or removed as required to fit the wearer's wrist.

Bracelet set

This comprises a watch which is supplied with a matching bracelet, usually to be worn on the other wrist to the watch.


The buckle is the fastening fitted to watches with leather straps.


The term carat can refer to one of two things in the context of watches:

  1. The purity of the gold from which it is made - this only applies to gold watches, and means they are generally 9 carat or 18 carat in the UK.
  2. The total diamond weight of the diamonds which are fitted into the watch, which is measured in carat.

Chronograph watch

A chronograph is commonly referred to as a stopwatch. Chronograph watches come in both analogue and digital varieties, and allow the wearer to start, stop and reset timings.


This is often called the winder or the button. The reason it is often referred to as a 'winder' is because many watches were mechanical or 'wind up' before the quartz revolution. The crown is the part of the watch which sticks out and allows the wearer to set the time. It can also be used to calibrate chronographs and all other general watch functions, as well as setting the date.


The dial is the face of the watch. It is the part which is situated under the glass.

Digital watch

A digital watch is generally fitted with an LCD (Liquid crystal display) or LED (light emitting diode) rather than analogue hands. This is most common in brands such as Casio and Tokyo Flash. The time is told by lighting up the display to show the time, either segments with the LCD or bulbs with the LED.


A standard used by Rotary which means your watch is suitable for all forms of water activity except deep sea diving.

Dual Time

A watch which features two independant movements, and therefore allows the setting of two different time zones - often used for travelling.

Exhibition case

A watch with a see-through dial, where the internal movement of the watch can be seen from either the front, back or both. This is used almost exclusively for automatic watches.


The glass of the watch is on the front and used to protect the dial. This term is often called the Crystal, particularly in America. There are various types of glass, including mineral and sapphire. These materials offer greater hardness than glass itself, proving to be more scratch resistant, or in the case of sapphire, very hard to scratch indeed.

Gold plated

Gold plated watches usually consist of being made from stainless steel, and then coated in real gold. These days, almost all quality watches are PVD gold plated, meaning that during the plating process the gold actually penetrates into the stainless steel, meaning it will not rub off.


The mark, which is legally required in the UK, to identify a genuine gold watch. All gold watches sold by Watch Shop UK contain the official UK hallmark.


The hands of an analogue watch are the arms which rotate and point to tell the wearer the time.


The keeper is the part of a leather watch strap which keeps the strap in place once it has been passed through the buckle. There is usually one keeper with a leather strap watch.


A mechanical watch is commonly referred to as a wind up watch. Although relatively uncommon in the mainstream designer watch market these days, mechanical watches are still present in traditional watch brands such as Rotary and Tissot.


The term movement refers to the inner workings of a watch. Every watch has an internal movement, be it automatic, mechanical or quartz.


Nickel is a term associated with watches and jewellery as many people are allergic to it, and it is used in small amounts in the manufacturing process. All stainless steel or gold plated watches contain very small amounts of nickel. Every watch sold by Watch Shop UK conforms to EEC regulations. Please be aware that base metal watches are never completely nickel free. For those who are allergic to nickel, we recommend titanium watches.


The pin can sometimes be referred to as a Spring bar. It is the metal pole which is used to fasten either the watch strap or bracelet to the lugs of the watch. If a watch is damaged or caught on an object and tugged, it is quite common for the pin to fail - this can usually be replaced by a local jeweller or watchmarker.

Precious metal

This refers to either gold, silver or platinum. At Watch Shop, we stock both gold watches and silver watches.

Sapphire glass

Sapphire is a substance used to make watch glass, particularly on higher end models. This is due to the hardness of sapphire as a substance which makes the glass more scratch resistant.

Stainless Steel

The most common material used for the creation of watches. It is rust-proof and highly durable, and is also versatile in terms of its appearance. Stainless steel is regarded as the ideal metal type for watches.

Swiss made

Switzerland, the world renowned home of watch making, holds a specific term for watches which have been produced in the country. A watch which is classed as Swiss Made must have been assembled and tested in Switzerland, and also the internal movement of the watch must be at least half swiss. Any watch identified with the term 'Swiss made', such as Calvin Klein watches will be an example of extra quality.


The strap is generally made of leather or fabric. If the 'strap' is made from metal, it is called a bracelet. The other common term for the strap is a 'band', which is commonly used in the USA. All watches stocked by Watch Shop use high quality leather or fabric. We do not stock watches with imitation leather.

Screw down crown

A crown which, instead of pushing in and pulling out, screws down to increase the water tightness of the watch. In general, watches with a water resistancy of 100m or over will have a screw down crown. However, this is NOT a necessary requirement. e.g. On certain Citizen watches a standard push-in crown is used, and the watch has an internal gasket to maintain the water resistancy.

Water resistancy

The water resistance stated on a watch is one of things we find that consumers most often get confused with. For more information, please see our water resistance explanation.

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