Watches Glossary

To help choose your new watch or maintain an existing watch, you may find the following glossary items useful. Please feel free to bookmark this page for future reference and remember to recommend to your friends and family.


Analogue (or Analog)
This term describes a watch face with one, two or three moving hands that represent hours, minutes and seconds. Analogue watches use the 12 hour clock and modern designs use dots, dashes as well as numbers or Roman numerals to show the time.

A common feature on digital watches where an audible alarm can be set to chime on the hour and/or at a particular time of the day.


This is the ring around the outside of a watch. On some fashion watches, the bezel is interchangeable for rings of different colours to match the wearer’s mood or clothing.

This is another term for watchstrap and is used to secure the watch face when worn on the wrist. Bracelets can be made of metal, fabric or rubber and lengthened or shortened as required.


This describes a watch face with multiple (usually three) dials which are used for additional functions such as a stopwatch.

The crown is the button positioned (usually) on the right side of the watch. The crown is used to change the time and date. On some watches, the crown is used daily or monthly to wind the watch to that it can continue functioning.


The dial is another name for the face of the watch where the hands, numbers or digital display is visible.

Divers Watch
This type of watch has high levels of water resistance and is suitable for underwater pursuits and activities. When choosing a divers watch or diving watch, check the depth of water resistance as there are significant differences between swimming/snorkelling watches and deep sea diving watches.


Emporio Armani
Worn by football legends and Hollywood stars, the Emporio Armani label has hit the High Street with hot, trendy watches available for men and women alike. In the top designs of the Armani brand you’ll find a watch for any occasion.

End of Life (End of Battery Life)
When the battery is low in a digital watch, the display will fade and disappear. Batteries are reasonably cheap to replace, however if you have a water resistant watch, make sure your battery is replaced by a qualified agent. On an analogue watch, when the battery is low, the hands will slow down, the time will become inaccurate and eventually the hands will stop. With a kinetic watch, which relies on movement, this isn’t a problem as there is no battery to replace.


Fob Watch
This watch has a half strap and clip and is designed to be read upside down. Fob watches are frequently worn by medical staff such as Nurses who clip the fob watch to their uniform and can keep their hands and forearms clear of jewellery.

Flyback or Flyback Hand
On a chronograph watch, the flyback is a hand measuring seconds, for example when training to measure a lap or record a finish time. When pressing a button on the side of the watch, the hand will ‘fly back’ to zero but not affect the other hands which are used for telling the time.


Greenwich Mean Time is the official starting point for world time. Watches with GMT indicators are usually configured to display the time in multiple time zones. This can be a useful feature for travellers who can set their watch to different time zones literally within seconds.

Grande Complication
This term is used to describe complications (features other than basic timekeeping), such as a minute repeater, perpetual calendar or split-seconds chronograph.


The most important part of an analogue watch are the hands which rotate and are used to tell the time. Some analogue watches have two hands, one for hours and one for minutes, and others will include a third hand to follow the seconds. On a watch face, the hour hand will typically be smaller than the minutes hand and the seconds hand will be longer and thinner so that they can be easily distinguished.

This is the measurement of time which comes from the Greek word for “hour” or “time”. Devices such as sundials, chronometers, clocks and watches fall under the category of Horology and people who study time are known as Horologists.


Founded in 1882, the Ingersoll watch brand began in America with a watch that cost less than $1. These were known as dollar watches and were available to everyone. Today, Ingersoll Watches are recognised worldwide. They are affordable and attractive watches for people of all ages.


As well as glittering diamonds on the face of the watch, it’s not commonly known that jewels and gemstones are also used inside the movement of the watch. In fact, most (mechanical movement) watches will contain up to twenty jewels.


Kinetic Watches
Using the natural movement of your wrist, a kinetic watch doesn’t need a battery or regular winding unlike other watch types. The constant movement provides energy to power the watch and, along with solar powered watches, is extremely environmentally friendly.


Short for Liquid Crystal Display, LCD was discovered in 1888 by Friedrich Reinitzer. Today, LCD is used on digital watches to display the time and other functions such as a stopwatch or calendar. Due to the digital display, the LCD screen is able to show the 12 hour and 24 hour clock.

On some analogue watches, the numbers or number indicators such as dots or dashes are painted with a glow in the dark paint. When the paint, usually a phosphor or phosphor pigment, is exposed to light, it will store the light and be visible in the dark for a period of time. This is somewhat superseded by digital watch technology where an internal light can be activated with a push button.


Mechanical Movement
These watches need winding daily, weekly or monthly using the crown on the side of the watch. Once wound, the watch’s internal spring is released and moves the hands evenly to tell the time. Modern automatic mechanical movement watches rely on body movement to wind and rewind the spring and typically store the movement for up to 3 days.

Military Time
This term simply describes the 24 hour clock format which is more informative than the 12 hour clock format. In the 12 hour format, adding “am” or “pm” is needed to distinguish between early morning, daytime, evening and night hours.


Formed in 1984, this Swiss company is now owned by The Swatch Group. Nivarox is also the trade name of a metallic alloy used to manufacture hairsprings and mainsprings used in mechanical watch movements.


This luxury Swiss brand of watches is famous throughout the world. Omega watches were worn by NASA astronauts, including Buzz Aldrin, on the Moon landing in 1969. In 2010, Omega was chosen as the official time keeping device for the Vancouver Winter Olympics. Omega is owned by The Swatch Group.


Perpetual Motion
The perpetual motion, also known as continuous motion, has been made famous by the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner luxury diving watch which boasts the ever rolling smooth motion of the watch hands that many have tried to imitate.


Quartz or Quartz Crystal
Quartz is used in watch making where a quartz crystal is vibrated or oscillated with a precise frequency to keep accurate time. The first analogue quartz wristwatches were developed in 1967 in Switzerland.

Quarter Repeater
Using the repeater movement, the quarter repeater will sound a chime or alarm at each quarter of the hour.


A repeater is a watch mechanism which can be used to make a sound or alarm at a particular time or at regular intervals throughout the day.


Stainless Steel
This tough metal alloy is resilient, durable and one of the main materials used in watch making. With its silver-like appearance, stainless steel is popular with men and women alike.

Strap (or Wriststrap)
This describes the bracelet or bangle used to hold the watch face on to your wrist. Straps can be continuous such as a bangle, or with a clasp or buckle. Straps can also contain links which can be added or removed for maximum comfort.


Titanium Watches
These watches are darker in colour than silver watches or stainless steel watches. The strong, corrosion-resistant metal takes its name from the Greek Gods, the Titans, and titanium is a durable metal well suited to modern daily life. Titanium watches are also noted to be hypo-allergenic and may be suitable for people who cannot wear gold, silver or nickel.


UTC (Universal Time, Co-ordinated)
Based on GMT (above), UTC is a time system recognised throughout the world. UTC supersedes summer/winter changeover times adopted by various countries and consequently avoids associated problems.


Widely known for Swiss Army Knives, the Victorinox brand has a range of stylish and functional sports and army style watches available on the High Street. In keeping with their reputation for adventure and excellence, the Victorinox watches and pocket watches are made for every eventuality.


Water Resistance
In terms of watches, water resistance is classified into four main groups where the watch is either not water resistant at all and should be kept away from water at all costs. The next type is “splash proof watches” which are suitable to wear when washing your hands or the dishes, but not immersed in water or exposed to water or other liquids for prolonged periods of time. True water resistance is when your watch continues functioning when swimming or snorkelling, usually up to 50m. The fourth category applies mainly to salty sea water where divers watches can withstand depths of up to 300m.


Yankee Time Zone
This refers to UTC-12, a time zone relating to the area of the world near the USA which includes Baker Island and Howland Island. Yankee Time is a phrase used by the Military to identify this time zone over the radio.

Yacht Timer
In sailing races, a yacht timer will be used to signify the countdown to the start of a race.


Zulu Time
In the Military, time zones have been allocated different letters of the alphabet and are referred to phonetically. Universal Time, Co-ordinated (UTC, above) uses the letter “Z” (short for Time Zone Zero, where world time starts). On the phonetic alphabet, used by the military, “Z” is “Zulu”. When times are given over the radio, the hour is quoted followed by “Zulu Time”, or “Alpha Time”, “Lima Time” etc, to indicate the relevant time zone.

If you enjoyed reading this glossary of watch terms why not check out our informative History of Watches page as well. Or, if you are looking to buy a watch, take a look at our Watches Buying Guide which includes lots of useful information on how to choose the perfect watch. With over 20,000 mens watches and ladies watches at, you’re sure to find something special for yourself or a loved one.