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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 shoe the information on sub-dials on the watch face.

Calibre – Has a number of meanings within horological circles. It can refer to the size of a watch movement. Most often used to referring to the model or series of movement within the catalogue of a particular manufacturer. A Calibre may have meanings such as type of movement, series, period of manufacture etc within the one number.

Case / caseback: The case of a watch must not only protect the mechanism and hold all the parts together but it must also look good -sometimes to the extent of making a timepiece into a piece of jewellery. A watch case is generally in 3 parts -the bezel, which holds the crystal, -the band or centre part, which contains the movement, -and the back, either snapped or screwed on, in to which, sometimes, is fitted a crystal so that an intricate mechanical movement watch.



Case materials: Materials range from inexpensive cast metal through moulded plastic to solid chunks of steel or gold from which the case is machined. In Great Britain, gold cases are usually 18k, but less expensive watches are 9k. In most other countries, 14k is preferred. Caratage indicates the gold content of metal, stated as the number of parts of gold in every 24 parts, i.e. 18k gold is 18 parts of gold alloyed with six parts of metal. Platinum is becoming increasingly popular, as is titanium for its lightness. Ceramic cases and bracelets -a scratch resistant space age material formed under great pressure and heat from powder -are used by some manufacturers. It does not bear any resemblance to the ceramics used in pottery. Some watches in the middle price ranges are gold plated over brass -9k or 18k plating usually. Vermeil is the term used to describe silver which has been gold plated.

Centre seconds: Seconds indicated by a hand at the centre of the dial, along with the hour and minute hands.

Chapter ring: The ring on the watch dial bearing figures and minute marks. The hour figures are sometimes called chapters.

Chronograph: 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 on the chronograph. Some operate with a center seconds hand which keeps time on the watch’s main dial. Others use sub-dials to time elapsed hours, minutes and seconds. Still others show elapsed time on a digital display on the watch face. Some chronographs can be used as a lap timer (see “fly back hand” and “split seconds hand”). The accuracy of the stopwatch function will commonly vary from 1/5th second to 1/100th second depending on the chronograph. Some chronographs will measure elapsed time up to 24 hours. Watches that include the chronograph function are themselves called “chronographs.” When a chronograph is used in conjunction with specialized scales on the watch face it can perform many different functions, such as determining speed or distance (see “tachymeter” and “telemeter”) Do not confuse the term “chronograph” with “chronometer.” The latter refers to a timepiece, which may or may not have a chronograph function, which has met certain high standards of accuracy set by an official watch institute in Switzerland.


Chronometer: Technically speaking, all watches are chronometers. But for a Swiss made watch to be called a chronometer, it must meet certain very high standards set by the Swiss Official Chronometer Control (C.O.S.C.). If you have a Swiss watch labelled as a chronometer, you can be certain that it has a mechanical movement of the very highest quality.


Co-Axial: The configuration of having two hands running on the same axis.
Complications: One or more features added to a watch in addition to its usual time-telling functions, which normally not only include the hours, minutes and seconds but also date and often the day of the week as well. Complications such as; perpetual calendars, moon phase displays, alarms, repeating mechanisms, quarter strikes as well as stop/start chronograph functions. Power reserve indicators are also usually regarded as ‘complications’
Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres – The official Swiss Chronometer testing institute that verifies a watch’s accuracy.



Côtes de Genève
– Machined oscillating pattern on the flat surfaces of a watch movement.


Cosmograph: The Cosmograph differs to the chronograph in that the tachymeter is on the bezel rather than on the outer rim of the dial. This was invented by Rolex to create a more modern look to the watch.


Countdown timer: A function that lets the wearer keep track of how much of a pre-set period of time has elapsed. Some countdown timers sound a warning signal a few seconds before the time runs out. These are useful in events such as yacht races, where the sailor must manoeuvre the boat into position before the start of a race.

Crown: Also called a stem or pin, a crown is the button on the outside of the watch case that is used to set the time and date. In a mechanical watch the crown also winds the mainspring. In this case it is also called a “winding stem”. A screw in (or screw down) crown is used to make a watch more water resistant. The crown actually screws into the case, dramatically increasing the water-tightness of the watch.


Crystal:
The transparent cover on a watch face made of glass crystal, synthetic sapphire or plastic. Better watches often have a sapphire crystal which is highly resistant to scratching or shattering.


Sapphire Crystals – Most often found on high end watches, all but scratchproof. However Sapphire crystal is subject to shattering under strong localized impacts.


Acrylic – Resistant to small knocks and scratching. It can be polished to restore clarity and appearance.

Mineral Glass: Glass hardened by a process of heat treatment. Approximately 10 times harder than acrylic, mineral glass is extremely scratch resistant but must be replaced if it is scratched.

Cyclops: Rolex term for a small lens in the glass/crystal used to magnify date elements on the face of a watch.

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Filed under: Watch Glosary

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