Monday, June 29, 2009

Timepiece 101

While you may know the best watch designers, do you know how they tick?

The best way to pick out a watch is to first understand its functionality and what components go into a good watch. Names can only get you so far, so let's take a dive into what lies behind the name of the watch you wear on your wrist.


The case is the chassis of a watch. Sometimes they are made with stainless steel, other times titanium.


This is the face of the timepiece, the glass disk that keeps the hand and dial safe from the elements. Crystals don't have to be made of crystal, they are often acrylic, mineral glass or sapphire. Sapphire is a great element in a watch because of its ability to resist scratching. Acrylic is most prone to little scratches, but it is also the easiest to buff. So it all boils down to what you prefer more.


The dial is the actual face of the watch, the canvas for the numbers and minute markers.


The crown is the small turning knob used to set the time, date and any other changing feature. Some crowns screw down when not in use, and others are designed to be pushed in.

Crown Guard

Designed in most sports watches, this part does just what it sounds like. Protecting the crown from damage due to the physical activity, which the watch was designed for.


The bezel of a watch can be fixed or rotatable depending on the design. Scuba divers often use an adjustable bezel to keep track of the amount of time they have been submerged by aligning the minute hand with the 00 on the bezel before descending.


The lugs in a watch secure the straps or bracelet of the watch that wrap around your wrist to the ticking clock.


This is the back of the watch that rests on your wrist. This is the piece that is usually removed in order to access the internal parts of the watch. Some designers use a clear back for the people who like to tinker and know how things operate.

Hour Markers

Bet you can guess this one! They are the dashes, dots or other various symbols used to indicate the hours that are not numbered.


While most of us learned what these puppies were back in the 1st grade, it is one of the most crucial pieces of a watch. Hands point to the minute and hour, allowing you to read your watch. Some feature a second hand for the man who needs to know exactly what time it is!

Date Windows

High quality watches almost always offer the date. It usually hangs out in the 3 o'clock position. The crown adjusts this function.


With watches that feature a date, a bubble that magnifies the numbers is often included to make the date more legible.


A bracelet wraps around your wrist to keep the time available at a moments notice. Bracelets tend to stick with durable metals like titanium and steel. The other option to a bracelet is a Strap.

A strap is most commonly made out of leather, but in the case of a sports watch or an underwater watch, rubber is often used.

And last, but most certainly not least, the Buckle or Clasp

This piece is crucial in keeping your watch snug. This is the hardware that connects the two straps or ends of the bracelet. The most common buckle is called a Tang. The tang is similar to a belt where a pin slides through a notch to the other side. There is also the deployant, which folds the buckle attached to both sides of the strap and snaps back into place. On a bracelet, the buckle is referred to as a clasp.

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