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What is a Chronograph? The Most Popular Watch Terms Defined

Jun 19, 2017

Don’t know a chronometer from a chronograph? Our helpful glossary of essential horological terms to get yourself up to speed on the world of watches. Anti-reflection A film covering the sapphire crystal to eliminate light reflection, improving legibility. Anti-reflection functions best when applied to both sides of the crystal, but because it scratches, some manufacturers […]

Ben Bridge Jeweler

Don’t know a chronometer from a chronograph? Our helpful glossary of essential horological terms to get yourself up to speed on the world of watches.

Anti-reflection

A film covering the sapphire crystal to eliminate light reflection, improving legibility. Anti-reflection functions best when applied to both sides of the crystal, but because it scratches, some manufacturers prefer it only on the crystal’s interior.

Automatic winding

The rotor, a rotating weight on the movement, is set into motion by moving the wrist, winding the mechanical watch movement. As long as the watch is moved, the kinetic energy will keep it would indefinitely. Without a rotor, a mechanical movement much be wound by turning the crown.

Carbon fiber

A composite material made with carbon filament threads a mere 1 mm to 2 mm in diameter. The filament itself comprises several thousand seven-micron carbon fibers held together by resin.

Ceramic

A nonmetallic high-tech material that is practically unscratchable. It is generally used for cases and bezels, and now comes in many colors.

Chronograph

From the Greek “chronos” (time) and “graphein” (to write), this term is used for watches that show not only the time of day but also time intervals, like a stopwatch.

Chronometer

As the term is used today, a chronometer denotes an especially accurate watch. Chronometers are usually supplied with an official certificate from an independent testing office like the C.O.S.C., the Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres.

C.O.S.C.

The Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres is the official Swiss testing office for chronometers. For a fee, the C.O.S.C., the world’s largest issuer of chronometer certificates, tests, and certifies the rates of movements.

Decoration/Finishing

The traditional polishes and embellishments added to movement parts. The better finished a movement is, the more expensive it will be.

Blue Rolex Watch Bezel made with scratch resistant material

Jewel

To minimize friction in the movement, the hardened steel tips of a movement’s rotating gears are lodged in synthetic rubies fashioned as polished stones with holes and lubricated with a very thin layer of special oil.

Luminous substance

Tritium is a slightly radioactive material used to coat hands, numerals, and hour markers on watch dials in order to make reading the time in the dark possible. Tritium has now, for the most part, been replaced by nonradioactive materials such as Super-LumiNova.

Manufacture

Modern definitions of this word are not clear-cut, but most experts agree that the term should be used for a company that manufactures at least one caliber on premises. Derived from Latin, it means “made by hand.”

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