Ten Watch Terms Every Man Needs to Know

For most men, a watch occupies a unique space in the wardrobe. A luxurious watch is a key accessory that, in many ways, “completes” an urban gentleman. I always say, an expensive, elegant watch, peeking out of a man’s shirt cuff always makes a strong statement. While it is true that fashion can be enjoyed on any budget, I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to watches. We will all agree that when it comes to men’s watches, the more expensive the better! Whether you’re a watch lover or a first-time luxury watch buyer, you ought to familiarise yourself with certain watchmaking jargon that will help you understand the mechanism better. Learn the difference between a chronograph and a chronometer, a bezel and a crown, a dial and a display. We’ve put together a quick list of ten watch terms that every man needs to know. How many are you familiar with? Read on…


Breitling Cosmonaute 1962

The Chronograph works as a stopwatch. It displays the elapsed time of the stopwatch as well as standard time. The entire mechanism can be controlled by just 2 buttons with functions such as ‘start, stop’ and ‘reset’. These buttons are placed right at the edge of the case and on each side of the crown. In most timepieces, the chronograph has an independent dial which indicates the minute function and it also has a seconds hand on the primary dial to which indicates the stopwatches seconds function.



Louis Erard

The ‘crown’ or the ‘winder’ is situated outside the case. It is used to tune the hands on the watch as they indicate the minutes, seconds and the date. The crown is also used for winding the mainspring of the device.




The cylindrical drum that holds the Mainspring in place is called the Barrel. The barrel is an important determinant of the watch’s power reserve. The more barrels it has, the longer your watch’s power reserve will last. The barrel’s rim has geared teeth all around itself which plays a vital role in the mechanism of the watch.



A. Lange & Sohne

Pronounced (toor-bee-yon)

I personally believe a tourbillion is one of the most elegant and premium features of a wristwatch. Watching a tourbillion in motion is one of those oddly satisfying and mesmerising sights. It adapts to the movement and different positions with the help of 3 axes and is contained in a cage. The tourbillion usually gyrates on standard one minute rotations but there are exceptions of 4 minutes and 6 minutes.


Jumping Hour/Minutes

Bovet 1822

Standard automatic wristwatches and clocks use hands to indicate the time and date, but this particular feature doesn’t. We all recognize the hand movement as the conventional way of conveying time on a watch but in this case the hand is substituted by a disc with hour numerals. Much like a calendar, the end of one month is the start of the next. So here, at the end of every hour, the disc switches to the next. The Jump Hour feature also applies to minutes in some cases, hence “jumping minutes”


Movement and Calibre

Bovet 1822

“Movement” of a watch simply explains itself. It is the primary rotation and change in position in the mechanism that allows the watch to function. The internal mechanisms or the size of movement in a watch is called its Calibre. The calibre varies from watchmaker to watchmaker and for some it is often considered to be a watchmaker’s signature feature.


Automatic Winding Movement


Before the Automatic watch came into play, we all had to manually wind our watches. In modern mechanisms, the ‘Rotor’ spins around the inside of the watch and automatically winds it. Thus, gives us one less thing to worry about. The Automatic winding system however works only when it is worn and will remain fully wound. After removal, it will continue for a specific period of time as indicated in its manual. Therefore, if you own an automatic watch, make sure you wear it regularly to keep it moving.




Most contemporary watches perform certain functions other than indicating the time. Chronographs, alarms, annual calendars and GMT functions are a few functions as such. For watches with more advanced and infrequent features, a watch may have a tourbillion or a perpetual calendar. Watches with such additional functions are considered to be complicated watches.




“Bezel” is a ring placed on the upper side of the watch case. The bezel usually has increments marked on it that indicate seconds and minutes. The bezel has various functions; some of them are the stopwatch function and the timer function. This is often used by divers to keep track of their oxygen supply and breath. However, in my experience, I’ve seen a few bezels that focus rather more on their appearance than functionality. Some studded with jewels and gold too. These types of bezels are called ‘uni-direction bezels’ or ‘bi-direction bezels’


Perpetual Calendar


One of the most important complications and references in watchmaking is the Perpetual Calendar. It is used by multiple luxury brands and is a signature highlight in the watchmaking industry. The “Perpetual Calendar” is a calendar mechanism that accurately displays the date on the watch ‘perpetually’ it functions in accordance to lengths of months and leap years too. The internal mechanism will move the dial to the next day. For each day, month and year there usually is an independent dial, they all work in sync with one another.


Written by Mikhail Gomes


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