You probably splurged on a watch and are proud of your purchase. Having a new watch is something to smile about. Unfortunately, not knowing a thing about it is not.
Countless watch owners know little to nothing about their devices, especially what parts they have. If this sounds like you, don’t worry.
We’ll educate you on everything you need to know by running through a watch’s components.
Table of Contents
Before we dive into watch part names, let’s talk about how we’ve structured this guide. In the first section, we’ll run through the main components, then the not-so-important ones.
Sounds good? Read on.
This is the part of the watch that keeps the dial and its inner components in place. It does this by being screwed to the side of the dial.
It is the small, usually stainless steel outer ring around the display. Notice how I said it’s ‘usually’ made from stainless steel? This is the most common material used as it is cheap, light and easily accessible. However, you can always find a watch made from a higher-end material like gold.
What material the case is made from is important as if you drop the watch, the case would be one of the first parts that hit the ground.
Manufacturers also tend to add finishings to them. That’s why you’ll find cases that are polished or buffed down, even having a matte coat.
Okay, you obviously know what a watch’s strap is but for the sake of this article, let’s also include it in our guide.
The strap is the part that attaches the device to your wrist. It can be made from countless materials and comes in all sorts of thicknesses.
For the most part, you’ll see dress watches having a stainless steel bracelet. This is due to its high-end finish. The more premium watches tend to have a strap made from leather, for obvious reasons.
The material the band is made from also depends on the watch’s functionality.
Let me elaborate:
If you’re looking for a diving watch, you’ll notice that the watches at your disposal have a strap made from rubber or polyurethane. This is because they are extremely water-resistant. Not just this, but they’re easy to clean too, which is a diver’s dream.
The buckle is the mechanism that latches the strap into place on your wrist. As you can imagine, there are different types of buckles available.
Why a specific type of buckle is chosen really depends on what the manufacturer was going for. For example, a high-end dress watch may come with a jeweled clasp.
Everyone hates the crown of their watches. Yes, it’s essential but at the end of the day, it keeps digging into your hand.
It’s the rotating disk that’s usually placed on the 3 o clock position of your device. It is more prominent than other buttons on the watch’s side as it needs to be easily accessible.
It needs to be gripped as the crown helps you change the time. If you’re the owner of a mechanical or automatic watch, the crown acts as a self-winder a lot of the time.
Hopefully, you know what a self-winder is. If you don’t, relax:
An automatic watch moves with you. It doesn’t have a battery so the kinetic energy produced by you keeps its gears going. This requires that you wear it very often. Unfortunately, you may be forgetful and leave your watch lying around.
This can affect the accuracy of the device so it needs to be rewound, which tightens its gears and springs. This is what the crown does.
Essentially, it’s the clear sheet that lets you peek inside a watch’s display. The window is made from a specific type of glass. This glass depends on the quality and the price of the watch.
The glass needs to be sturdy as otherwise, it’ll get pretty scuffed up. That’s why you’d prefer a watch that has a Sapphire display. Sapphire displays are the toughest out there.
Other than Sapphire, you could get one made from other types of minerals. Unfortunately, they’re not actual minerals but synthetic versions.
Some brands have patented displays. For example, the watch giant Seiko uses its own ‘Hardlex Crystal’. It’s very similar to regular mineral but tougher.
You should know that the window can be modified. Most dive watches have a glass that’s quite anti-glare as water reflects a lot of light.
There isn’t anything too important that you need to know about lugs.
It’s the part of the watch that connects the dial to the strap. Hence, it’s the four pieces of stainless steel on each corner of the display.
It connects the dial to the strap through holes where a screw is passed through.
The lug can be made from a range of materials, but it’s very unlikely that it’ll be made from anything other than stainless steel.
Between the dial and the lugs is the watch’s bezel. Basically, it’s the outer-outer ring of the dial as It comes right after the case. Unlike the case, it’s pretty wide.
The bezel of a watch is not just decorative. Most of the time, it carries some sort of scale and can rotate.
If you’re a diver, the bezel will be unidirectional which lets you track the time you spend underwater. This helps you manage your oxygen supply.
At other times, it can have a tachymeter, pulsometer, telemeter or even a decimeter.
Although the hands don’t seem like much, they’re arguably the most important part of a watch. After all, it helps you read the time.
There are two hands on a watch. One displays the hour while the other showcases the minutes. The smaller of the two points at what hour it is while the longer one points to minutes.
There is also a ‘third’ hand. It rotates continuously as it lets you know how many seconds have passed. It allows you to track time more accurately. Although it’s great, the third hand isn’t present in every watch (it’s in the majority of them though).
They come in countless designs and shapes. Most manufacturers ensure they’re large in size to read the time with ease.
The dial is the body of the watch. It is the surface underneath the window.
You can see the hands run through the numerals annotated. The dial can come in any color and most of the time, it’s luminous.
Watches have luminous paint on the numerals and hands. This lets you see what time it is in the dimmest environments.
Well, we’ve covered the essential parts of every watch. So, we’ve almost much wrapped things up.
To top everything off, let’s run through some less important components. Although they are only optional to know about, this section will keep you as informed as possible.
There are two types of calendars you see in a watch.
It could either have a perpetual calendar or a regular one.
The perpetual calendar marks leap years so you always have the right day and date. A regular calendar has to be adjusted every February to ensure that the date is correct.
Usually, the calendar function is on the side of the watch. In most watches, it’s where the 3 o’clock position is.
Depth alarms are only present on dive watches. To some extent, you can see them on waterproof watches as well.
The name of the feature tells you what it is.
It’s an alarm that notifies you when a specific depth is reached. The depth the sound goes off can be preset by you.
Ever looked at a watch and noticed another tiny clock on the bottom of its display? This is its sub-dial.
For some higher-end watches, you’ll see up to 3 extra clock faces. It isn’t just decorative as it lets you track the time of other time zones.
The dual time function is a counterpart to subdials. Here, you’ll have the time in another time zone read to you digitally.
It’s usually on the 3 o’clock position of the watch.
You need to do some math to use your watch's tachymeter.
It’s sometimes on the bezel but at other times, it’s around the sides of the display.
It lets you track the speed you’re traveling at between points A and B. It gives you a reading and you’ll have to pull out your calculator to figure out what this means in terms of speed.
A helium valve is very beneficial when diving. If you’re pretty deep underwater, resurfacing is dangerous as you could have a lot of gas trapped in the watch.
Once you release the helium valve, the collected gas leaves the device.
The valve’s mechanism is in the insides of a watch and you can work it through a switch on the side of the device (possibly next to the crown). Much of the time, it’s marked with a label.
We discussed a bit about automatic watches above. To know how long you can wait until it can be worn, they come with a power reserve. The reserve is usually between 35-40+ hours.
Although it’s important, not a lot of automatic watches have the power reserve annotated on their display.
You can find it on some, which is usually in the 6 o’clock position of the watch. It doesn’t read from 0-40 but like a gas level reading on a car.
Jewels are found in automatic watches. Before you get too excited, they are not on all of them.
Their function is to help the gears move as smoothly as possible. Usually, the more expensive the watch is, the more jewels it has.
If you think they’re real jewels, you’ve been misled like most of the world.
They’re synthetic pieces of glass that are colored. They are only called jewels because they resemble them.
You’ll only see this in a mechanical watch and frankly, it’s a pretty cool feature.
Let’s talk about the grande sonnerie:
Whenever a quarter-hour is reached, it strikes a little ‘gong’. So, if it was 6:45 it would make a sound, then make 6 not-so-loud sounds to signal it was 6. It could strike at 8:15 as well, making 8 less loud sounds to make it obvious it’s 8.
A minute repeater is very similar to a grande sonnerie. The only difference is that it works with the push of a button. So, it’s not automatically set.
There are many components that make up the anatomy of a watch. This article looked at everything you should know about them, helping you understand which is which.
Knowing about a watch’s parts can help you appreciate how thorough these devices are.