Professional Jeweler Archive: Timepiece Glossary, Part IV

September 2000

Timepieces: Data & Statistics

Timepiece Glossary, Part IV

Advanced definitions of terms you may use daily at the sales counter

These definitions end our four-part series begun in June. The series consists of terms that are more technical than those defined in last year’s series (Professional Jeweler, May 1999-October 1999).

As more retailers sell sophisticated timepieces, terminology can sometimes move ahead of your sales training. So knowing these terms will help you prepare for questions about new chronographs or perpetual calendars you may be selling.

Likewise, knowing the occasional Swiss or French term for a particular function indicates to customers you are knowledgeable and have worked hard to attain your professional status.

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

Second Basic unit of time equal to 1/86,000 of the mean solar day. The second is subdivided into tenths, hundredths, thousandths (milliseconds), millionths (microseconds), thousand-millionths (nanoseconds) and billionths (picoseconds).

Setting (to time) Bringing the hands of a timepiece to the position corresponding to the exact time.

Shock Absorber Resilient bearing that takes the shocks received by the balance staff, protecting its delicate pivots from damage.

Skeleton Watch When the case and various other parts of a watch are made of transparent material, leaving the main parts visible.

Stopwatch A timekeeping instrument used to measure intervals of time. When this is done, the time display is partly or wholly lost until the hands are reset.

Striking-Work, Striking-Mechanism An automatic or hand-operated mechanism in a watch or clock that strikes the hours, rings an alarm or otherwise notes a designated time.

Tachometer Instrument to measure speed. In watchmaking, this instrument is a timer or chronograph with a graduated dial on which speed can be read in kilometers per hour or some other unit (see timer).

Terminage French term for the process of assembling watch parts for the account of a producer.

Termineur French term for an independent watchmaker (or workshop) engaged in assembling watches, either wholly or in part, for the account of an établisseur or a manufacturer that supplies the necessary loose parts.

Timer An instrument that registers time intervals without indicating the time of day.

Tourbillon A device invented to eliminate errors of rate in the vertical position. It consists of a mobile carriage or cage carrying all parts of the escapement, with the balance in the center. The escape pinion turns around a fixed fourth wheel. The case makes one revolution per minute, annulling errors of rate in the vertical position.

Vibration The movement of a pendulum or other oscillating element, limited by two consecutive extreme positions. The balance of a mechanical watch generally makes five or six vibrations per second (or 18,000 or 21,600 vibrations per hour); the balance of a high-frequency watch may make seven to 10 vibrations per second (or 25,200 to 36,000 vibrations per hour).

Watch Material The components required to produce or repair watches. In the latter case, they are often called “spare parts” or “repair material.”

Water-Resistant A case designed to prevent water from entering. A water-resistant case has joints made to prevent moisture from damaging the movement inside.

Winding The process of tightening the mainspring of a watch. This can be done by hand (by means of the crown) or automatically (by means of a rotor, which swings along with the movement of the wearer’s arm).

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