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Watch Terminology

Alarm
Alarm functions may be fitted (most commonly) to battery powered quartz watches; the alarm with beep at the pre-set time. There are mechanical alarm watches featuring a hammer which produces the alarm sound at the pre-set time.

Analog or Analogue
Analogue simply refers to the means of showing the time on a watch dial by means of hands which point to the hours, minutes and usually seconds.

Automatic (self-winding)
Automatic or automatic watches usually refers to those mechanical watches which wind themselves by means of a swinging mass or rotor (which rotates by arm movement) which through a series of gears, winds the mainspring which in turn powers the watch.

Bezel
The bezel is the topmost ring of the watch, surrounding the dial of the watch. A bezel may be fixed or in the case of a diver's watch, rotating. It can either be plain (usually fixed) or can be marked with, for example a 0-60 minute scale in the case of divers' watches. Older rotating bezels were usually bi-directional, modern diving watches are equipped with a unidirectional bezel.

Bi-Directional Rotating Bezel
The panels, which can be moved either clockwise or counterclockwise. They are used for mathematical calculations or for tracking elapsed time.

Calendar
A feature that shows the date, and often the day of the week. There are several types of calendar watches. Most calendar watches show the information digitally through an aperture on the watch face. Some chronograph watches show the information on sub-dials on the watch face.

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

Chronograph
A multifunction sport watch with a stopwatch function. Most have two or three subdials, or minidials, for measuring minutes and hours.

Chronometer
The chronometer indicates that the watch is in perfect running condition with high degree of precision according to the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute standards.

Clasp
The attachment used to connect the two ends of the watch bracelet or strap around the wrist.

Crown
The ridged winding knob on the right side of the case that is used to set the time (and date). On a manual watch the crown doubles as the winding mechanism to power the watch.

Crystal
The clear cover over the watch face or dial. Crystals can be made of mineral, synthetic sapphire, plastic, or acrylic material. The sapphire crystal is the most durable.

Dial
Face of a watch, on which time and further functions are displayed by markers, hands, discs or through windows. Normally it is made of a brass—sometimes silver or gold.

Digital
Said of watches whose indications are displayed mostly inside an aperture or window on the dial.

Diver's Watch
Designed and manufactured especially for divers whose lives depend on the reliability of their watch in the water. Divers watches traditionally feature a graduated, rotating bezel, screw down winding crown, and must be water resistant to at least 200m or 660 feet.

Dual Time
A watch that measures current local time as well as at least one other time zone. The additional time element may come from a twin dial, extra hand, subdial, or other means.

Face
The visible side of the watch where the dial is contained, most are printed with Arabic or Roman numerals.

Fly Back
An additional hand on a chronograph which moves with the second hand but, can be stopped independently to measure an interval and can then "fly back" to catch up with the other hand. This is useful for capturing lap times without losing the ability to capture the finish time.

LCD (Liquid Crystal Display)
Used for the display on most modern digital watches. Followed from the earlier LED or Light Emitting Diode display of the first quartz digital watches. The LCD was preferred as it used vastly less power than the LED thus the time could be shown constantly as opposed to having to press a button for time display.

Lugs
Double extension of the case middle by which a strap or bracelet is attached. Normally, straps and bracelets are attached with removable spring bars.

Mechanical Movement
A watch's mechanism that is powered by a manual activity such as being wound up by hand or by the movement of the watch.

Movement
Simply used to describe the workings or engine(!) of a watch, be it mechanical or quartz. Often referred to as a calibre by manufacturers.

Quartz
A watch with a mechanism powered by a "quartz crystal." The crystal vibrates when placed in an electronic field, thus powering the watch. Most affordable watches today have Quartz movements. Quartz watches are mostly battery operated.

Screw-Down-Crown
A watch winding crown which screws tightly to the case of the watch on a tube; the purpose is to ensure extreme water resistancy.

Shock Resistant
Describes a watch that has certain components of the movement protected by shock absorbing devices. Most often the escapement of the movement is protected by such, more specifically the balance staff.

Sub-Dial
A small dial used for any of several purposes, such as keeping track of elapsed minutes or hours on a chronograph or indicating the date.

Split-Second
A feature on a chronograph that actually is two hands, one a flyback, the other a regular hand. To time laps or different finishing times, the wearer can stop the fly backhand independently while the regular hand keeps moving.

Tachometer or Tachymeter
A scale used to measure units per hour. Commonly found on the bezels of chronograph watches, an event is timed by using the chronograph seconds hand. The hand is stopped when the event ends and the hand will point to the number of units per hour that could be achieved.

Telemeter
A watch function that finds the distance of an object from the wearer by measuring how long it takes sound to travel the distance.

Uni-Directional Rotating Bezel
An elapsed time rotating bezel, often found on divers watches, that moves only in a counterclockwise direction. It is designed to prevent a diver who has unwittingly knocked the bezel off its original position from overestimating his remaining air supply.

Water Resistance
Describes the level of protection a watch has from water damage. See our water resistance section that describes the different levels.


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