‘Whether you want to learn more about watches to better understand the services we perform in our workshop or whether you want to learn more about watches out of pure curiosity, we’re excited to share some watch fundamentals, starting with the outer components.’
The fine art of watchmaking is highly complex. You may have even read articles on this blog before and wondered to yourself, what’s a lug or a bezel? Understanding watches is somewhat of an art within itself. Whether you want to learn more about watches to better understand the services we perform in our workshop or whether you want to learn more about watches out of pure curiosity, we’re excited to share some watch fundamentals, starting with the outer components.
The aperture is a small opening or window on the dial that displays information like the date, day, month, or moon phase. Not all watches have an aperture. It just depends on what type of complications the watch has.
At the most basic level, the bezel is the outer ring on the watch case that surrounds the dial. It not only helps secure the crystal but also connects to the lugs. Bezels are typically flat-edged, but they can also be rounded. Some bezels are rotating while others are fixed. There are three main types of bezels, two that are functional – diving and timing – and one that’s purely decorative – diamond or gemstone set.
The case is simply the container that houses and protects the internal watch parts. They can be made from a variety of materials, including stainless steel and other metals like gold or platinum. Cases also come in a wide array of shapes, from basics like round, square, rectangle, and oval to more complex like carre, tonneau, carage, or tank.
The crown is a small knob on the side of the watch case. It’s most often used to control the watch hands, wind the watch, stop the watch, or change the time. It can also be used to operate additional functions on a watch, like the date. The crown is typically located at the three-o’clock position. In some watches, the crown can screw into the watch case to form a seal against dust and moisture.
The crystal is the transparent cover that helps to protect the watch dial and reduce glare. There are three main types of crystal used in watchmaking. The first is sapphire crystal, which is highly durable and scratch-resistant. The second is glass crystal. Glass is more easily scratched, but it’s also relatively easy to buff out imperfections and much less costly to replace than sapphire. Finally, there’s plastic or acrylic crystal, which is similar to glass in that it’s more easily damaged but also more easily repaired and the least costly.
The dial is the face of the watch, and it’s where fashion truly meets function. It’s not only where you read the time but also where the watch showcases its personality with elements of colour and texture. The dial showcases the hour markers, hands, and subdials, if the watch has additional complications. Hour markers surround the dial, labelling the time, and may consist of Arabic numerals, Roman numerals, sticks, or a combination. The hands on the dial point to the hour markers to indicate the time. Most watches have hour and minute hands, and some have a sweep second hand. Many watches have hands and hour markers with a glowing material called lume so that the dial is visible in the dark.
The lugs, also known as horns, are the two points that stick out from the watch case to attach the case to the strap. Each lug has holes where a spring bar fits in to secure the strap to the watch case.
The pushers, also known as a push-piece or a push-button, are controls on the side of the case that operate additional functions on a watch, like a chronograph. Not all watches have pushers. It just depends on what type of complications the watch has.
The strap may seem like one of the most straightforward aspects of a watch, but they’re more complex than you may think! First, a band is a strap made of leather, rubber, or other textiles, and a bracelet is a strap made of metal, like stainless steel or gold. Bands and bracelets come in all different sizes, colours, and patterns. They help to personalize your watch and add that stylish flair.
On every band or bracelet is a clasp, and there are four main kinds. Most bracelet watches feature a butterfly clasp. As the name indicates, a butterfly clasp opens to both the right and left like a butterfly spreading its wings. There are three different types of clasps you might see on a band: a buckle, flip, or security. A buckle is the most common clasp for a band. Just like a belt, they open and close by adjusting the buckle pin. A flip clasp is a common alternative to the buckle clasp. It opens to one side using a single metal hinge. Finally, a security clasp opens to one side like a flip clasp but has an additional flap to keep the watch more secure, which is fastened to the watch with a spring bar.
We hope you’re feeling like a bit more of a watch aficionado after reading about all the outer components of a timepiece. Check back on our blog in the coming months to keep learning about watches, from the inner workings to watch complications and more.