Professional Jeweler Archive: Timepiece Glossary, Part II

July 2000

Timepieces/Data & Statistics


Timepiece Glossary, Part II

Knowing the technical terms behind timepieces can help on the sales floor


These definitions continue a series we began last month on technical timepiece terms. (If you recall, we defined many basic terms in our May through October 1999 issues.)

As you sell more and more sophisticated timepieces, terminology can sometimes move ahead of your sales training. These terms will help you prepare for questions about new chronographs or perpetual calendars you may be selling this year. Likewise, knowing the Swiss or other European term for a particular function helps to accord you the professional stature you’ve worked hard to achieve.

All definitions are from the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry, which uses the famed Berner Watch Dictionary as its source.

Date Ordinal number for a day of the month.

Date Watch A watch indicating the date, month and sometimes year and moon phases. Also called a calendar watch or calendar. An advanced version, the perpetual calendar, indicates leap years as well as date.

Dial Piece of metal or other material with markings for hours, minutes and seconds (in ordinary timepieces). The indications are given in numerals, divisions or symbols. Dials vary in shape, decoration and material.

Direct Drive Refers to a seconds-hand that moves forward in little jerks. Trotteuse is the French term for a direct-drive seconds-hand, especially a center seconds-hand.

Display Indication of time or other data by hands moving over a dial (analog display) or numerals appearing in one or more windows (digital or numerical display). These numerals may be completed by alphabetical indications (alphanumeric display) or by signs of any other kind. Example: 12.05 MO 12.3 means 12 hours, 5 minutes, Monday 12th March. Displays can be mechanical or electronic.

Ébauche French term (but commonly used in English-speaking countries) for a movement blank. Also used to describe an incomplete watch movement. These are sold as a set of loose parts, comprising the main plate, bridges, train, winding and setting mechanism, and regulator. The timing system, escapement and mainspring are not part of the ébauche.

Escapement Set of parts (escape wheel, lever, roller) that converts the rotary motion of the train into to-and-fro motion (the balance).

Etablissage French term for a manufacturing method for assembling the various components of watches and/or movements, generally including the following operations: receipt, inspection and stocking of the ébauche; regulating elements and other parts of the movement and of the make-up; assembling; springing and timing; fitting the dial and hands; casing; final inspection; packing and dispatching.

Etablisseur French term for a watch factory that assembles watches but doesn’t produce components.

Factory, Works In the Swiss watch industry, the term manufacture describes a factory in which watches are manufactured almost completely. Meanwhile, an atelier de terminage is concerned only with assembling, timing, fitting the hands and casing.

Fly-Back Hand In a chronograph with analog display, an additional center second hand that can remain superposed on the other one as it moves, can be stopped independently and then made to “fly back” to catch up with the other hand, and can be stopped and reset to zero together with the other hand. In chronographs with numerical display, a “function” having the same effect.

This Conquest VHP Perpetual from Longines is a quartz perpetual calendar and illustrates several of this month’s definitions, including the date, the dial and the crystal. Longines, Weehawken, NJ; (800) 897-9477, www.longines.com.


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