Starting a watch collection is a very daunting and sometimes expensive task. In addition to possibly being sold a fake watch, there are specific terms that will define how you collect and what pieces you will be interested in collecting. There are so many different types and styles of watches that a newbie might become overwhelmed and quite frankly confused. Not to worry though here are a few terms used in horological circles that will add clarity to a watch purchase and make you appear much more knowledgeable in the area of time keeping.
What makes a Watch Tick?
At the very core of every analog watch, there is a highly specialized machine that works similarly to a human heart or the engine of a car. It drives all of the watch functions and the watch would be dead on arrival without it. This is the movement or the caliber of the timepiece. A movement can have many innovations based on a given manufacturer but they will fall into one of two categories: a quartz or manual movement.
Quartz movements are reliable and require much less upkeep. Just pop in a new battery and maybe a cleaning ever so often and you will have a watch for many years to come. A mechanical movement, on the other hand, is a finely tuned and highly engineered piece of equipment. The power source for a mechanical is a little bit of elbow grease, well more like finger grease. The mechanical movement uses intricately wound springs, gears, and levers to power the watch for a given time until the energy is fully used up. Mechanical watches do require a bit more upkeep, but they are more likely to maintain their value or increase in value over time.
Speed, Time or Quality
Before you drop $10,000 on a watch, at least take the time to understand the functions of the timepiece. The phrases chronograph, chronometer, and tachometer are often displayed proudly but most owners never use or even understand what they mean. That’s just a huge waste of money just to be flashy.
A chronograph is simply a watch that has a stopwatch function; they do get more complicated by having multiple dials and options for multiple lap times, but that’s the basic gist. A chronometer, on the other hand, is a certified mechanical movement watch of the highest quality as set out by set by the Swiss Official Chronometer Control (C.O.S.C.). The C.O.S.C. has a plethora of extreme watch tests designed to ensure a branded watch can bear the Swiss Made logo with pride. Since the Swiss are known for setting the standard in watch making, the world tends to follow at least their baseline standard when looking at a watch movement. A tachometer is a feature which measures speed over distance. Yes, a bit of math is required but once the values are plugged in, a tachometer can help with calculating speed or any variable that may be missing in that moment.
What’s on the Outside Counts
What you see is what you get. In the case of watch lingo it means knowing the case of your product. It’s very important to know a few of the terms because that will determine current and future value. Some of these terms are:
Bezel- This is usually a metallic outer ring that holds the crystal in place and it connects to the lugs. Some will rotate which allows for the user to set a new time zone or to track elapsed time.
Crystal- While usually made from a mineral or sapphire, the crystal covers the dial and gives access to the face of the timepiece. Its basic use is to keep dust and dirt out of the watch while minimizing glare when exposed to light.