Anatomy Of A Watch
The Ins And Outs of Luxury Timepieces
You stand waiting in line, impatiently glancing down at your wrist every few moments. You’re running late, nearly jogging up the last flight of stairs before you reach the meeting room, worriedly glancing down at your wrist. You sit in your lazy boy recliner, calm and peaceful on the outside but anxious with worry raging within you, wringing your hands together as you stare at the front door, waiting to hear the light footsteps of your teenage daughter, all the while, glancing down at your wrist.
There are so many times throughout the day that we all glance absentmindedly at our wrists, but it is not our wrists that we truly see, but the watch that is clasped gently around our wrists. The watch that is ticking in the background of our entire lives. The bearer of time. The controller of when we wake, when we sleep. The dictator of what we need to do at any given point throughout our days. Our watches are the single most important thing that we put on each morning. We rely on them to the point of total dependence, reaching the point of near insanity without them close at hand.
Consistently, constantly, we all glance at our wrists, gaze at our watches, accept their dependable ticking throughout our lives. But what truly keeps our watches ticking? What goes into the exquisite design that enables this thing that we all keep so close, working so well?
The creation of a watch goes much farther than the minute and hour hand. Farther than the ticking of the seconds that pass us by. Even further than the dates that show in those tiny cut out boxes. There are a number of pieces that must be individually designed, created, and manufactured by an individual that is skilled in the trade of watchmaking. Watchmakers take pride in designing each watch unique from another, requiring each component of the watch to be unique from the ones that came before it.
Each fine watch is made with a list of standard components. Although the design of each of these components must be individually crafted with luxury and individuality in mind. To give you a basic understanding of the work that goes into crafting a fine watch, you must first understand what components go into the workings of typical watches. The main components of a watch are the strap, bezel, lug, hands, jewel, dial, aperture, crown, movement, rotor, pusher, crystal, sub-dial, and the case.
STRAP The strap is the part of the watch that allows you to fasten it around your wrist.
To be considered a strap, this band must be made out of a flexible materiel like leather, fabric or sometimes rubber or silicone. If the band is made out of metal, then it is referred to as a bracelet instead.
BEZEL Bezel is not a term that many of us are aware of. When watchmakers are referring to the bezel, they are indicating the ring that sits around the face of the watch, typically used to hold the glass plate in place. The bezel is most often made with metal products.
LUGS Also known as horns, points that stick out on the case of the watch to attach the watch case to the strap or bracelet
HANDS The hands are the pieces used to indicate what time it currently is. These can be made using various materials and designs depending on a few factors. Watch makers and designer’s work together to combine creativity and function of the watch hands. Generally watches will have three hands indicating the hours, minutes and seconds. In some instances, additional hands are used in sub dials. These display additional functionalities of the watch such as a stopwatch.
JEWELS On mechanical watches, jewels, typically small rubies or sapphires, are used to reduce friction caused by movement of the gears.
DIAL The dial is often referred to as the face of the watch. It serves to display numbers, or other markers which together with the hands indicate what time it is. The dial is also where much of the character of the watch can be portrayed. There are a plethora of designs which make each watch unique.
THE APERTURE The aperture is the small opening, or window, that is used to reveal the date or other functions and indicators.
CROWN A crown is the portion of the watch used to set the time or date. It is usually on the right side of the case. If the watch has additional functionalities then the crown may be used to set or activate those as well. In mechanical watches it is also used to wind up the watch.
ROTOR In the case of automatic watches, the winding is accomplished by the sheer movement of the watch. There is a rotor that works in conjunction with the movements of the human arm. The rotor turns freely in both directions to wind the mainspring, which stores and transmits the energy that powers your watch. This works whether it swings in partial or complete revolutions.
PUSHER Pushers are simply the buttons you push, typically located on the side of the watch, to control added features within the watch. These features may include the chronograph function in the sub-dial. A Pusher is also known as a 'push-piece' or a 'push-button.
CRYSTAL The crystal is the term watchmakers use to reference the clear covering that protects the face of the watch
3 types of crystal that is mostly used:
- Sapphire Crystal – This type is scratch resistant and very durable. A scale for measuring the hardness and classification of minerals is called Mohs' scale. In this scale of 1 to 10, sapphire measures a 9. The position on this scale depends on the ability to scratch minerals rated lower.
- Mineral Crystal – This type is made of glass. It ranks at 7 on the Mohs scale of hardness. Relative to sapphire crystals, it is less expensive. It usually cost less than one hundred dollars to replace if damaged.
- Plastic Crystal-This type is also called acrylic glass. Its benefits include lower cost, lighter weight and durability. It does not resist scratches well; however a watchmaker can easily polish out light scuffs.
SUB-DIAL A sub-dial is smaller than the main time indicating dial. It’s used to indicate different information, such as moon phase and chronographic functions.
CASE The case, of course, is the portion of the watch that overlays the movement and gears of the watch in order to protect them.
As you can see, there are many individual components that go into the creation of a single watch. Whether the specific component allows the watchmaker to add creativity and individuality or must be constructed precisely in order to function properly, each component that goes into a watch is crafted with a great deal of thought and work.