Month: July 2019
Watch Terminology for Dummies, Part 2: Defining More Watch Terms for Those Who are Clueless
As mentioned in the previous blog post (and if you haven’t read it, this one isn’t going to make a whole lot of sense to you, so go read it), I felt it was my duty to create a glossary of watch terms using definitions that were simplified enough for someone like Boris Johnson (aka, a dumbf*ck) to understand. Today’s post is a continuation of that concept. Hope you enjoy this one as much as you seemingly liked the first (or at least, will click on this link as much as you did the other so that my overblown ego stays solidly intact).
While the word was originally defined in the 1990s as, “what guys who own Emporio Armani watches wear multiples of in yellow gold on the opposite wrist”, the term now applies to a part of an actual timepiece.
A bracelet is usually made of metal or ceramic, it is often adjustable, and it can be worn in place of most watch straps.
Not just a weekly card game played by groups of bitter women who sometimes throw tantrums when they feel they’re not winning (and no, this time I’m actually not referring to some of the people I’ve come across in my journalistic career), a bridge is also an essential part of a mechanical watch. A watch’s bridge is a bar or plate attached to the main plate with pins or screws and often labeled for the function or part in which the bridge supports.
FFS, if you don’t know what this is on a watch, don’t waste your money. You have an iPhone. Stick with that, genius.
No, pistol lovers, this isn’t the “Gun Terminology for Dummies” post. You’ll find that in any transcript of any Wayne LaPierre speech ever made. But you may want to check the NRA fan page. I hear it’s “buy one President, get one rifle free.” day.
Caliber, as it pertains to watches, refers to the watch’s movement. An in-house movement should (SHOULD!) refer to a movement made entirely (ENTIRELY!) by the watch manufacturer and not by outside sources.
This is America, so this word doesn’t matter.
Think of this part of a watch as its shell if that shell was waterproof, dust proof, moisture proof, and sometimes, inexperienced-watchmaker proof.
The case of a watch can be simple or ornate; embellished with gems or contain varying degrees of elaborate engraving. It is a large part of what gives any timepiece its beauty while still being as functional as many of the watch’s alternate parts.
(Sigh.) The back part of the definition above.
I’m super excited about this entry because I’m pretty sure this was the first legitimate watch term I ever learned. And while that was only like two weeks ago, still, it holds a special place in that thing in my chest that consistently makes thumpy type noises and causes me pain on a daily basis.
The word, “chronograph” comes from the Greek language and means, simply, “recording time.” Traditional chronograph watches doubled as stopwatches, though some modern chronographs use moveable bezels as tachymeters for calculations of distance as well as speed.
So, apparently the Swiss are the only people who can say whether or not a watch can be considered a certified “chronometer”. Yes, you heard that right, the same country that refused to take a stance in World War I or World War II by, oh, I don’t know, picking a side, has decided that NOW they’ll stand firm in their beliefs when it comes to the label your precious wrist clock should have. But hey, who am I to judge? After all, my father is Italian and my mother is German. (Does this not explain so much about my anger issues?)
All kidding aside (no, seriously Swissies, I don’t care whom exactly I piss off with these cheeky posts, but I certainly wouldn’t want it to be you, because being tortured with a giant cheese grater by an overtly indifferent executor is not the way I picture myself leaving this world), a Swiss wristwatch can be considered a chronometer if the Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres (or, “COCS” for sho… no… wait… wait, I’m wrong… I’m sorry, I meant “COSC” for short, my bad) deems it so by testing and certifying that these types of mechanical timepieces meet certain precision standards.
As a former metalsmith’s apprentice and junior bench jeweler, this is one definition I’m going to take seriously. The ancient art of cloisonné is still in use in the watch world today, usually seen on a watch’s dial. The decorative technique starts with the use of metal as both a backdrop and in the outline of the design itself (which will also come through in the finished product) before an enamel paste is added then fired in a kiln. Other materials which can be inlayed during the cloisonné process are minerals, gemstones, and glass.
Stay tuned for more definitions in upcoming blog posts. And if you like the artwork seen here, it was once again provided by the extraordinary Lee Yuen-Rapati – aka – OneHourWatch. Find him on Instagram, @onehourwatch, or for inquiries, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Watch Terminology for Dummies, Part 1: A Glossary for Those Who Don’t Know Their Shit
When friends text me with a question about watches before adding on the sentence, “Well, I figured I’d ask you because you’re the expert.” I laugh. No, seriously… I’ve been known to soil a couple of phone screens with wine coffee and once I even ruined a perfectly good Madewell blouse (not a sponsored sentence, but hey, Madewell, if you’re reading, call me). What all of this means is that no, dear people, I’m no watch expert nor have I ever claimed to be one. I’m about as far from that title as you can possibly imagine. There may or may not have even been a time where my eyes glazed over as Charris Yadigaroglou of MB&F explained the inner workings of the Legacy Machine Split Escapement before my mind drifted off to a daydream about my own “escape” to Split, Croatia with Charris, himself. (Shit, did I just admit that? I meant to think it.) Hell, I’m STILL trying to figure out why tourbillons have to fly or what the f*ck a 2.5Hz frequency is and why it matters to your everyday buyer, but even without knowing these mind-numbingly dull characteristics of a mechanical watch, I’m still able to tell their stories, because at the end of the day, the story is often what excites people about these timepieces, and if there’s one thing I know how to do and do well, it’s form even what I don’t know into a meaningful narrative that’s palatable to readers, knowledgeable about watches or not.
With that said, I decided it was time to create a glossary of watch terms for people like me. You know, those who are more “Watch Idiot” than “Watch Idiot Savant.” So I’ll be doing a multi-part series defining some of the more frequently-used watch-related words and terms in a way that speaks to the lay person, but whether you’re a “watch expert” or not, I hope you enjoy what you’re about to read. And if you’re the kind that’s easily offended by strong language or sexual innuendos, you may want to close your browser now. You’ve been warned.
While you may have immediately thought of that Welsh alternative band from the 80s known for their high hair and hit, “Sixty Eight Guns”, this isn’t a glossary of rock-n-roll terms, but depending on how many times this post is read, maybe that’s one for the future.
There are many watches out there that have an alarm function which does pretty much exactly what the clock by your bed does, or what your iPhone does, meaning it beeps, chimes, or buzzes, letting you know when it’s time to take your Cialis vitamins.
My, oh my, there are so many ways I’d like to describe this term but rather than go with the X-rated definition, we’ll stick with a simple sentence. Analog watches are non-digital; they’re the type of watches that have hour and minute hands. But fear not, they can be worn comfortably without the use of lubrication. OKAY F*CK IT I WENT THERE.
It means not magnetic. Duh.
While the word is defined by dictionary.com as an “opening, hole, slit, crack, or gap” (I mean, I’m being lobbed softballs in the form of innuendos here and I am really struggling not to take a swing at them), in the watch world, it refers to the cutout (often square, rectangular, or oval [let’s hope you at least know your basic geometry]) on the dial where *indications such as the date or month appear.
*See future definition of indications
The machine from which you’ll withdraw money – lots and lots of money – in order to buy the dive watch in which you’re interested. Also, with reference to terms about said expensive dive watch, “ATM”, in short, stands for “atmospheres” and represents the unit of pressure equivalent to the weight of the earth’s atmosphere at sea level. 3 ATM = 30 meters (100 ft) of depth, 5 ATM = 50 meters (160 ft) of depth, 10 ATM= 100 meters (330 ft) of depth, and so on. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you can wear your dive watch in the ocean as far down as its ATM indicates, though since I’m deathly afraid of the water, I suggest you read anything by Jason Heaton to learn more about how far down you should go with your watch.
Not just a 1984 catchy jam by The Pointer Sisters (which you can view here from their performance on Soul Train), but also a fairly common watch term referring to a mechanical watch that is wound automatically by the movement of the rotor as the wearer moves her arm. That rotor – or, oscillating weight to which it is often referred – tightens, or “winds” the mainspring, thus giving a steady source of energy to the watch.
YAY! I made it to “B” without giving up! This is another one of those watch terms that makes me a little bleary-eyed, but I’ll do my best to explain it to you in the way I wish it would have been explained to me.
A balance spring (or, hairspring) and balance wheel combined make up the heart of a mechanical watch. The balance spring is a flat wired spring which is affixed to the balance cock (I swear I did not purposely use that word. It’s the legitimate term, but it still made me happy to type it) which coils and recoils in order to regulate time through the motion of the balance wheel. (I’m absolutely sure I f*cked up this explanation, but don’t @ me.)
Honestly, writing the last definition was entirely too stressful so I’m just going to ask you to use Google for this one, m’kay?
Easiest. Definition. Ever.
If you’re like I am, you immediately thought of scotch when you saw the above word, and if you did indeed do that, then you and I can be friends. But in watch speak, a barrel is way less fun, a lot more complex, and can’t make you wake up in an empty hotel bed with your Rolex missing and a racoon chewing on your Yeezys in the corner.
In a nutshell, the barrel is an etched cylinder inside of a mechanical watch which houses the watch’s mainspring (see future definition), in turn, housing its power reserve. The larger the barrel, the higher the power reserve, and watches with two barrels (referred to as a “double barrel”) will have an even higher reserve.
Not to be confused with the city in Switzerland that boasts the most expensive sausages and Air BnBs in the world (that would be, “Basel”), the bezel of a watch can either be decorative or functional (whereas the city of Basel is mostly dysfunctional), depending on the watch’s purpose. The bezel is the ring around the watch’s face and crystal and often rotates counterclockwise, though some watches do have bidirectional bezels allowing them to turn forward as well as backward. Bezels are often made in precious metals, steel, or ceramic.
Stay tuned for more definitions in upcoming blog posts. And if you like the artwork seen here, it was provided by the extraordinary Lee Yuen-Rapati – aka – OneHourWatch. Find him on Instagram, @onehourwatch, or for inquiries, email him at email@example.com.