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What is a Quartz? The Most Popular Watch Terms Defined

May 31, 2017

Don’t know a moon phase from a perpetual calendar? Our helpful glossary of essential horological terms to get yourself up to speed on the world of watches. Minute repeater A striking mechanism with hammers and gongs for acoustically signaling the hours, quarter-hours, and minutes elapsed since noon or midnight. Normally, a repeater uses two different […]

Ben Bridge Jeweler

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

Minute repeater

A striking mechanism with hammers and gongs for acoustically signaling the hours, quarter-hours, and minutes elapsed since noon or midnight. Normally, a repeater uses two different gongs to signal hours (low tone), quarter-hours (high and low tones in succession), and minutes (high tone).

Moon phase

Usually found in a little cutaway on a watch dial, this indication provides information about the current status of the moon by use of a graphic representation of the earth’s satellite like a golden disk or a more lifelike representation.

Perpetual calendar

This type of calendar display automatically makes allowances for the different lengths of each month as well as leap years until the next secular year (in 2100). A perpetual calendar usually displays the date, month, and four-year cycle, and may show the day of the week and moon phase as well.

Power reserve display

A mechanical watch’s energy is provided by winding (manual winding) or rotor (automatic). The power reserve display keeps the wearer informed about how much energy his or her watch still has in reserve, a function that is especially practical on manually wound watches with several days of possible reserve.

Quartz

Timekeeping’s technical revolution found its way to the world’s wrists in the late 1960s. The first working quartz wristwatches were manufactured by an early joint venture within the Swiss watch industry, but Japanese firms — primarily Seiko — came to dominate the market with the new technology. The quartz movement uses the vibration frequency of a quartz crystal subjected to electronic tension (usually 32,768 hertz) as its norm.

Sapphire crystal

Synthetic sapphire crystal has become the material of choice to protect the dials of modern wristwatches. It is virtually scratchproof, as only a diamond is harder.

Scratch Proof Synthetic Sapphire Crystal

Silicium/Silicon

Silicon, the most common element on earth after oxygen, is an element that is relatively new to the watchmaking industry and is thus often described as a new material. Many companies prefer to call it by its Latin name silicium. It is now used in the manufacture of some escapements and other precision parts, replacing traditional materials.

Tourbillion

Patented by Abraham-Louis Breguet in 1801, it compensates for the influence of gravity on the escapement. From the French word for “whirlwind,” the entire escapement is mounted on an epicyclic train in a “cage” and rotated completely on its axis over regular periods of time.

Water resistance

Water resistance is an important feature of any timepiece and is usually measured in increments of 1 atmosphere (atm or bar, equal to 10 m of water pressure) or in meters and is often noted on the dial or case back.

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