Friday, August 19, 2005


A watch provided with a movement capable of releasing an acoustic sound at the time set. A second crown is dedicated to the winding, setting and release of the striking-work; an additional center hand indicates the time set. The section of the movement dedicated to the alarm device is made up by a series of wheels linked with the barrel, an escapement and a hammer (s.) striking a gong (s.) or bell (s.). Works much like a normal alarm clock.

A watch displaying time indications by means of hands.

Said of a watch whose movement is not influenced by electromagnetic fields that could cause two or more windings of the balance-spring to stick to each other, consequently accelerating the rate of the watch. This effect is obtained by adopting metal alloys (e.g. Nivarox) resisting magnetization.

Superficial glass treatment assuring the dispersion of reflected light. Better results are obtained if both sides are treated, but in order to avoid scratches on the upper layer, the treatment of the inner surface is preferred.

Bearing element of a gear (s.) or balance, whose ends—called pivots (s.)—run in jewel (s.) holes or brass bushings.

A watch whose mechanical movement (s.) is wound automatically. A rotor makes short oscillations due to the movements of the wrist. Through a series of gears, oscillations transmit motion to the barrel (s.), thus winding the mainspring progressively.

Figures, placed on the dial or case of watches, provided with parts of the body or other elements moving at the same time as the sonnerie (s.) strikes. The moving parts are linked, through an aperture on the dial or caseback, with the sonnerie hammers (s.) striking a gong.

Oscillating device that, together with the balance spring (s.), makes up the movement’s heart inasmuch as its oscillations determine the frequency of its functioning and precision.

Component of the regulating organ (s.) that, together with the balance (s.), determines the movement’s precision. The material used is mostly a steel alloy (e.g. Nivarox, s.), an extremely stable metal compound. In order to prevent the system’s center of gravity from continuous shifts, hence differences in rate due to the watch’s position, some modifications were adopted. These modifications included Breguet’s overcoil (closing the terminal part of the spring partly on itself, so as to assure an almost perfect centering) and Philips curve (helping to eliminate the lateral pressure of the balance-staff pivots against their bearings). Today, thanks to the quality of materials, it is possible to assure an excellent precision of movement working even with a flat spring.

Component of the movement containing the mainspring (s.), whose toothed rim meshes with the pinion of the first gear of the train (s.). Due to the fact that the whole—made up of barrel and mainspring—transmits the motive force, it is also considered to be the very motor. Inside the barrel, the mainspring is wound around an arbor (s.) turned by the winding crown or, in the case of automatic movements, also by the gear powered by the rotor (s.).

Chamfering of edges of levers, bridges and other elements of a movement by 45, a treatment typically found in high-grade movements.

Top part of case (s.), sometimes holds the crystal. It may be integrated with the case middle (s.) or a separate element. It is snapped or screwed on to the middle.

A metal band attached to the case. It is called integral if there is no apparent discontinuity between case and bracelet and the profile of attachments is similar to the first link.

Structural metal element of a movement (s.)—sometimes called cock or bar—supporting the wheel train (s.), balance (s.), escapement (s.) and barrel (s.). Each bridge is fastened to the plate (s.) by means of screws and locked in a specific position by pins. In high-quality movements the sight surface is finished with various types of decoration.

Topical finishing giving metals a line finish, a clean and uniform look.

Any kind of precious stone, such as sapphire, ruby or emerald, uncut and only polished, generally of a half-spherical shape, mainly used as an ornament of the winding crown (s.) or certain elements of the case.

An intermediate complication between a simple calendar and a perpetual calendar. This feature displays all the months with 30 or 31 days correctly, but needs a manual correction at the end of February. Generally, date, day of the week and month, or only day and month are displayed on the dial.

Displaying date, day of the week and month on the dial, but needing a manual correction at the end of a month with less than 31 days. It is often combined with the moonphase (s).

This is the most complex horology complication related to the calendar feature, as it indicates the date, day, month and leap year and does not need manual corrections until the year 2100 (when the leap year will be ignored).

Originally it indicated only the size of a movement (s.), but now this indication defines a specific movement type and shape (e.g. round caliber) and combines it with the constructor’s name and identification number. Therefore the caliber identifies the movement.

Rotating frame of a tourbillon (s.) device, carrying the balance and escapement (s.). This structural element is essential for a perfect balance of the whole system and its stability, in spite of its reduced weight. As today’s tourbillon carriages make a rotation per minute, errors of rate in the vertical position are eliminated. Because of the widespread use of transparent dials, carriages became elements of aesthetic attractiveness.

Container housing and protecting the movement (s.), usually made up of three parts: middle, bezel, and back.

CENTER SECOND HAND, s. Sweep second hand.

Hand-made treatment of the dial or case surface. The pattern is obtained by hollowing a metal sheet with a graver and subsequently filling the hollows with enamel.

A watch that includes a built-in stopwatch function, i.e. a timer that can be started and stopped to time an event. There are many variations of the chronograph.

A high-precision watch. According to the Swiss law, a manufacture may put the word “chronometer” on a model only after each individual piece has passed a series of tests and obtained a running bulletin and a chronometer certificate by an acknowledged Swiss control authority, such as the COSC (s.).

Superficial decoration applied to bridges, rotors and pillar-plates in the shape of numerous slightly superposed small grains, obtained by using a plain cutter and abrasives. Also called Pearlage or Pearling.

A kind of enamel work— mainly used for the decoration of dials—in which the outlines of the drawing are formed by thin metal wires. The colored enamel fills the hollows formed in this way. After oven firing, the surface is smoothed until the gold threads appear again.

Decoration of metal parts characterized by numerous small pyramids.

COCK, s. Bridge.


Part of chronograph movements, governing the functions of various levers and parts of the chronograph operation, in the shape of a small-toothed steel cylinder. It is controlled by pushers through levers that hold and release it. It is a very precise and usually preferred type of chronograph operation.

Additional function with respect to the manual-winding basic movement for the display of hours, minutes and seconds. Today, certain features, such as automatic winding or date, are taken for granted, although they should be defined as complications. The main complications are moonphase (s.), power reserve (s.), GMT (s.), and full calendar (s.). Further functions are performed by the so-called great complications, such as split-second (s.) chronograph, perpetual calendar (s.), tourbilon (s.) device, and minute repeater (s.).

Pusher (s.) positioned on the case side that is normally actuated by a special tool for the quick setting of different indications, such as date, GMT (s.), full or perpetual calendar (s.).

Abbreviation of “Contr?le Officiel Suisse des Chronom?tres,” the most important Swiss institution responsible for the functioning and precision tests of movements of chronometers (s.). Tests are performed on each individual watch at different temperatures and in different positions before a functioning bulletin and a chronometer certificate are issued, for which a maximum gap of -4/+4 seconds per day is tolerated.

Decoration of rotors and bridges of movements, whose pattern consists of a series of concentric ribs.

Decoration applied mainly to high-quality movements, appearing as a series of parallel ribs, realized by repeated cuts of a cutter leaving thin stripes.

Additional hand on a chronograph (s.), indicating the time elapsed since the beginning of the measuring. On modern watches the second counter is placed at the center, while minute and hour counters have off-center hands in special zones (s.), also called subdials.

Usually positioned on the case middle (s.) and allows winding, hand setting and often date or GMT hand setting. As it is linked to the movement through the winding stem (s.) passing through a hole in the case. For waterproofing purposes, simple gaskets are used in water-resistant watches, while diving watches adopt screwing systems (screw-down crowns).