Some essential watchmaking words – and their explanations


What you need to know about Steven Hale

With this list of terminology popularly used by expert watchmakers when describing timepieces, their parts and functions

Automatic Movement

A mechanical movement that needs no winding because the automatic mechanism winds the mainspring every time the watch moves.

Automatic Watch

A watch whose mainspring is wound by the movements or accelerations of the wearer's arm. A rotor turns and transmits its energy to the spring by means of a mechanism originally invented in Switzerland in the 18th century.


This is a French word meaning a watch movement (not including the dial and hands) that is incompletely assembled.


A precision watch tested in various temperatures and positions so as to match accuracy standards set by an official Swiss institute.


A watch functions in addition to timekeeping. For example, a minute repeater chime, split-second chronograph, tourbillon (See below) or perpetual calendar.


Button on the outside of the case used to set the time and calendar. In the mechanical watches, it is also used to wind the mainspring.


A French word for a movement blank – that is to say an incomplete watch movement sold as a set of loose parts. These comprise the main plate, bridges, train, winding and setting mechanism, and regulator. However, the timing system, escapement and mainspring are not parts of the ébauche.


A mechanism that alternately checks and releases the gear train by a fixed amount and transmits a periodic impulse from the spring to the balance wheel


The visible side of the watch containing the dial. Most faces contain Arabic or Roman numerals to indicate hours. When Roman numerals are used, it is traditional to use IIII, rather than IV, to indicate 4 o'clock. 

Gear Train

The system of gears transferring power from mainspring to escapement. 


The driving spring of a watch, situated in the barrel.


A device that chimes the time when the wearer pushes a specific button.


A watch with a seconds hand that measures intervals of time. When a stopwatch is incorporated into a standard watch, both the stopwatch function and the timepiece are referred to as a ‘chronograph’.

Sweep Seconds-hand

A seconds-hand that mounted in the centre of the watch dial. 


A device on a chronograph watch that measure the speed at which the wearer has travelled over a measured distance. 


A device in a mechanical watch that eliminates timekeeping errors caused by the slight difference in the rates at which a watch runs in the horizontal and vertical positions. The tourbillon comprises a round carriage (or cage) holding the escapement and the balance. It rotates continuously once per minute.

What our customers had to say

"My wife brought the watch back today and It's really fantastic to see it working like new and looking like new. I really appreciate that you didn't polish the housing too much and it  has a real feel of authenticity about it with the combination of refurbished internals and original casing.  I'm really delighted with the result, it's great to have something from nearly 100 years ago to hold and describe for the next generation"


What our customers had to say

Just to say how pleased I am to have my watch back and that it is keeping perfect time for the first time since I bought it some 68 years ago.  My congratulations to the team who have given it the ability to keep working accurately for more years. Thank you all.

Brian Hugo

What our customers had to say

Watch arrived safely this morning thank you and it looks stunning just have to have it adjusted strap wise. Thank you for your wonderful service i shall certainly use you guys again and reccomend you.

Anthony Haire

What our customers had to say

I collected the watch on 11 August, as you know.  It is a pleasure to have it back in full working order and looking as good as new.  How it came to be so damaged, I do not know.  The crystal and dial are fresh and clean in striking contrast to their previous condition.  The watch was my grandfather’s silver wedding anniversary present to my grandmother.  It was with her when she and my grandfather were deported from Guernsey to Germany in 1943 and returned with her to Guernsey in 1945.  The watch will pass to my granddaughter in a few years’ time.Please pass my thanks and appreciation for his work to the watchmaker.

Peter Boon