Common Watch Terms You Should Know [Part 1]

As a watch enthusiast, it is important that you know your watch well compared to others. Somehow, learning first the basic watch terms is the best way to utilize your timepiece’s functionality to the fullest.

In general, there are several common watch terms used by watchmakers, depending on the types of watches. However, for automatic watches, here is the first part of the most commonly used terms:


ATM – the equivalent of atmospheres. It is a unit used to rate the water resistance of watches. It also has various ratings with the following as the ones commonly used:

  • 3 ATM = 30 meters (100ft) depth
  • 5 ATM = 50 meters (160ft) depth
  • 10 ATM = 100 meters (330ft) depth
  • 20 ATM = 200 meters (650ft) depth

Automatic Winding Movement – also known as an automatic movement. This mechanism refers to the automatic winding of a mechanical watch caused by the wearer’s natural movements while the watch is on the wrist.


Balance Spring – also known as hairspring. It is a fine spring that causes the balance wheel to recoil.

Balance Wheel – an integral part of a watch that oscillates and divides the time into equal segments to maintain time accuracy.

Barrel – an apparatus with geared teeth where a mainspring is enclosed.

Bezel – a ring that surrounds the watch crystal and is commonly found on chronographs and diving watches. A bezel can rotate and has some timekeeping functions while others are pure stationery and are for decoration only.

Buckle – a small metal attached at the end of a strap. This fastens the strap’s other end to completely lock the strap.


Capsa Spring Bar – also known as Capsa Quick Release or Changeable Spring Bar. Most useful for quick strap changing without the help of special tools.

Case – the outer covering of the watch. The materials used for watches’ cases vary from one watch to the other.

Case back – the back portion of the watch’s case. It is sometimes transparent (see-through) to see the movement of the watch’s rotor although other timepieces have this as a plain and solid closed cover.

Crown – used to set the time and/or date, if applicable. It is a grooved knob outside a watch’s case that is also used to wind a mechanical watch.

Crystal – the glass on top of a watch’s dial.


Date Window – part of a watch’s dial that indicates the date.

Deployment Buckle – also known as the deployant buckle or folding clasp. This is a type of buckle that commonly connects both strap/ bracelet’s ends in the middle. Commonly used in metal bracelets, it makes the bracelet expands so that it can easily slip on the wrist.

Dial – a watch dial is the face of a watch with the hands and indices on it.


Gasket – for water-resistant watches, gaskets are important. These are rings used to air-tight seal the back of the watches or crowns to prevent water penetration. To ensure its effectiveness, an annual checking of gaskets is recommended.

Gear Train – it is a system of gears that allows power transfer from the mainspring to the watch’s escapement.


Hands – the moving part on a watch’s face. Consist of two (minute and hour) or three hands (minute, hour, and second) that are either luminous or not.


Indices – also known as indexes or markers. These are markings on the dial used to indicate the hours instead of using numerals.

This ends the first part of this watch glossary. Check out for the next part soon and keep yourself always updated.