Question of the week: A beginners guide to the world of watches

Question of the week: A beginners guide to the world of watches

Sara Philpott

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Articles Guides Question of the Week

Hi, I’m Sara and I have just joined the WatchGecko team as the E-commerce & Digital Marketing Administrator and as part of my new role, I'm also taking on the new challenge of writing for the Magazine. I am not only a new to WatchGecko, but I am also a complete newbie to the watch industry and, with so much alien vocabulary being thrown around the office I’ve got a lot to learn in terms of watches. 

The watch world is a vast and complex place, so it may seem a bit intimidating. For those who have delved deep into the world already you will have gained a vast wealth of knowledge that comes with experience, and it is easy to forget that not everyone has the same education behind them. Here in the office, I find myself surrounded by self-confessed watch geeks who are all well-versed within the industry. With watch terminology being thrown around daily, I confess, it can be hard to keep up at times. I spent most of my first week shouting across the desk to my colleague (sorry Holly!) asking her ‘What in the world is a lug and where do I find it?’ I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t know a £12,000 watch from a £200 watch when they’re put in front of me. But we’ve all got to start somewhere and let’s face it, at some point we’ve all been where I am today. Even for those of you who are well established in the industry, there may be a burning question you’ve always wanted to ask but feel like you should already know the answer. 

So, are you a newbie to the watch world finding yourself lost in the terminology without a clue as to whether you’re looking at a ‘good’ watch? Or perhaps you’re well-versed in watches but feel you could still know more in one area? Well, this is where Richard, WatchGecko Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief, and I have devised an idea to help and encourage new-comers to the watch world. And you don’t have to worry about asking the questions, I’ll be doing that for you. I’m going to be asking (and answering with in-depth research!) all those burning questions that you may have on a weekly basis. From ‘What is a lug width?’ to ‘Why are some watches so expensive?’.  My plan is to get progressively more and more technical as my knowledge expands covering diverse subjects like water resistance, luminescence, different movements and trying to understand what 28,800 bph means! So, keep checking in to read my newest question of the week. 

On that note, I thought I’d begin my weekly rambles with covering all the major parts of a watch. Basically, all that ‘must know’ terminology that I hear flying around the office and those that are essential for all of us watch newbies to get to grips with. I love popping in a visual where I can so check out the diagram below to show all the elements of a watch that we’ll be getting to grips in this article.  

Case - The case holds all the inner working parts of a watch. Usually, the case is made from stainless steel as it handles light shocks well and is extremely resilient. It also does not tarnish easily. Cases may also be made of precious metals like gold or platinum and, in the case of sports watches, sometime plastic polymer. 

Lug - Where the case of the watch connects to the straps. Lugs widths are important as you need this measurement to fit a strap. They will typically be 18mm, 20mm or 22mm. 

Crown – The Crown is the little button on the outside of the case that is twisted to set the time and the date. On mechanical watches it is also used to wind the mainspring. On waterproof watches these screw in rather than just push down. 

Bezel - The bezel is the ring that goes around the crystal on the top portion of a watch. The bezel is usually metal and can sometimes revolve to give a timer function. 

Hands - The indicators that move over the dial to indicate the hour, minute or seconds. 

Crystal - The crystal is the transparent cover protecting the watch dial and reducing glare. It is usually made of glass, synthetic sapphire, or plastic. Some watches have a crystal display back so you can see the inner workings. 

Aperture - The small opening in the dial that displays information such as the date, day, month, or moon-phase.  

Dial - The dial is the plate visible under the crystal and indicates the hour, minutes and sometimes seconds. 

Hour Markers - These indicate the hour and usually stand out against the minute or second markers. We often refer to them as indices. 

Movement: A movement is the inner mechanism of the watch that keeps time and also powers the watches function acting like an engine. There are many options which I will explore in a later feature such as quartz, mechanical and automatic.  

Rotor: Attached to the watch movement the rotor rotates freely winding the mainspring and, in automatic timepieces storing power. 

Jewel: Small Sapphires or Rubies located on the movement to create friction by acting as bearings for gears in a mechanical watch. 

There are many more parts that I could name and explore in much more detail but for now I think it is best to start with the more straight forward parts that are likely to pop up in watch conversation. As I delve deeper into the world of watches I can image we’ll begin to touch on much more complicated subjects… 

Sara Philpott

About the Author: Sara Philpott

About the Author: Sara Philpott

I've always loved writing and writing about watches is a completely new venture for me. The watch industry is well established and with lots to learn I can't wait to get stuck in!

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