Watch Lingo Every Man Should Know

Ever mistaken chronographs for chronometers? Puzzled by tachometers? Here, we have compiled some essential watch terms every man should have in his vocabulary, designed to help you appreciate better your current and future timepieces, and, soon enough, help  you converse like an expert.


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Quartz vs. Automatic. This one is pretty obvious: whilst a quartz watch is operated by a battery, which is replaced when it ran its course; the automatic watch has a mechanical movement. A rotor turns and transmits its energy to the spring via a mechanism (introduced by one Abraham-Louis Perrelet in the 18th century). Essentially, the mainspring is wound by the movements of your wrist! 


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Balance: The (usually) circular moving component oscillating about its axis of rotation. The hairspring connected to it makes it swing to-and-fro, dividing time into exactly equal parts. Each of the to-and-fro movements of the balance is called an ‘oscillation’ and consists of two vibrations.


Calendar: A feature that shows the date, and often the day of the week. There are several types of calendar watches. A perpetual calendar, for example, displays the date, day, month and year, and, if correctly set, it will reflect the 31 day months and also the leap years. A pretty extraordinary feat!


Chronograph: A watch that features two independent time systems: one indicates the time of day, while the other measures (with a stopwatch function) brief intervals of time, making it possible to measure the exact duration of an event, like a car race.

There can be a few variations on the chronograph. Some work with a centre seconds hand which keeps time on the watch's main dial; others use sub-dials to time the elapsed hours, minutes and seconds.


Chronometer: A watch with a mechanical movement of the highest quality. A Swiss made watch is declared a chronometer only of it meets the standards set by the Swiss Official Chronometer Control (C.O.S.C.) and undergoes the series of precision tests set by this institution.


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Tachometer: A feature found on some chronographs which measures the speed at which the wearer of the watch has travelled over a certain distance.



 Published at Esquire Online, July 2015

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