Whether you are buying, selling or just browsing through luxury watches, you may read a lot of watch terminology. At Bezel Brothers, we think it’s important that you know your bezel from your buckle. Therefore, we have put together a quick and easy guide on some watch parts and watch complications that may prove useful as you think about expanding your watch collection.
Case – The case holds the inner workings of the watch. Often made with stainless steel due to its durability, the case of a watch can come in many sizes and shapes, and in a variety of finishes.
Lugs – The lugs connect the case to the bracelet or strap, depending on the watch design. Some watch styles have hidden lugs and are said to be lugless!
Bracelet or Strap – The vast majority of luxury watches feature a metal bracelet which wraps around the wrist and secures the watch in place with a metal clasp. Bracelets come in a variety of metals such as stainless steel, yellow gold, white gold, rose gold or a mix of two. Many other watches come with a strap made of leather, rubber or other materials, secured on the wrist by a buckle. Several watch styles have interchangeable straps or bracelets which can update or completely transform the look of a watch.
Bezel – The bezel is the outer ring on the case around the face of the watch (guess where we got our name from!) and come in a variety of materials, with Rolex more recently moving to ceramic for many of their models. Bezels come in various styles such as smooth, rounded, flat, fluted or embellished with precious stones. A bezel can be fixed in place or can be a rotating bezel, either uni-directional or bi-directional, and some even snap on and off. Bezels can be solely decorative but in many high-end luxury watches, the bezel has specific features or functions such as a tachymeter, timer or decimetre.
Crown or Pusher – Manual watches have at least one crown at the side of the watch case which can be wound to change the time and date on the watch. On chronograph watches, this knob is used to control other internal mechanisms such as to start, stop or reset the timer. A crown pusher is when the functions of a crown and a pusher are combined in one.
Dial or Face – There is more to the dial than just telling the time. The dial is one of the most attractive features of a luxury watch but it is also where the watch showcases it’s functions, whether it be simple time-keeping, a day and date display or a more complicated chronograph feature. Different watch brands offer a variety of styles and colours when it comes to watch dials and functions. Variety also comes in the design of the numbers on the dial, with brands usually opting for Roman numerals, Arabic numbers or stick bars to indicate the time.
Hands – More than just for telling time, the hands on a luxury watch often come with specific design features such as arrow or sword shapes, a luminescent coating for night-viewing or be different colours to show the time in other time-zones.
Crystal – The crystal is the protective “glass” which covers the dial of the watch. Durable crystals are naturally the most appealing and when it comes to luxury watches, these are a given. Interestingly, the hardness of watch glass materials is measured from 1-10 on the Mohs hardness scale. Sapphire crystal, artificially produced to be incredibly scratch resistant and break resistant, is the most common material used in the manufacture of luxury timepieces.
Complications in a watch are additional features other than the basic function of telling time. Some of the most common complications in luxury watches are explained below.
Calendar – A calendar function can display a combination of the day, date, month and year on the dial of the watch. A standard calendar is the most basic of these functions, simply displaying the day and date. In a watch with an annual calendar function, the month is shown but the date needs to be adjusted at the end of February. The perpetual calendar function is more complex, as it takes into account the different lengths of each month, including February and is accurate until year 2100.
Chronograph – This is the ability for a watch to measure periods of time whether it be fractions of a second, minutes or hours, with some chronograph watches measuring distance. In addition to this, a tachymeter feature on a chronograph measures speed over a fixed distance. The chronograph feature is controlled by the crown and pushers on the side of the watch which are used to start, stop and reset the chronograph.
Time-zone or dual time – Often, a 24-hour dial with a second set of numbers around the inside of the dial can offer the ability to tell the difference between AM and PM. Sometimes, a two-tone bezel presents the different times of day on the watch face. Some watches present GMT which benefits those who frequently travel across time-zones.
Helium escape valve – An essential feature of diving watches, the helium escape valve releases pressure when diving to the ocean depths. This is significant to protect the watch from getting damaged under high pressure conditions.
Tourbillon – This feature improves the time-keeping accuracy of a watch. Although not an essential component in modern wristwatches, many luxury watch brands choose to expose or display the watch’s tourbillon as a stylistic feature.
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