ATELIER. This embraces factory/workshop/studio. It is the manufacturing facility for a creative person/enterprise or an artist and the term is used in several fields including couturiers as well as watches.
AUTOMATIC OR MANUAL? Automatic ( i.e. self winding) watches can be a convenience, especially if worn daily, but are not always preferred. If anything manual watches are growing in popularity. There is a certain pleasure which comes from winding a watch. Manual movements are more suitable for intermittent use. When an automatic is allowed to stop any day/date settings are lost. To avoid this some owners store their automatic watches on a motorized stand which keeps them wound. Automatic movements are not always silent.
BEOBACHTUNGSUHR. This term is roughly interchangeable with "pilot's watch". It translates literally as "observation's watch" and "Beobachter" translates as observer/navigator/spotter. "Beobachtungsuhr" also covers "deck watch" as used at sea.
CABOCHON. A polished but not faceted gem stone as might be inserted into the ends of crowns and pushers.
CASE MATERIALS AND FINISHES. Stainless steel is generally the most suitable material for instrument watch cases and bracelets. It is tough and durable and takes three normal finishes: matt, brushed and polished. Other words are used to describe finishes but they all resolve into these three groups. Matt and brushed are relatively non reflective and thereby more functional. Polished is more "dressy". Sometimes titanium is chosen as an alternative because of its lightness. Lightness is not always regarded as an advantage as it can give rise to a "lack of substance" in the watch. Titanium has a different colour from stainless steel and this colour is not always liked. In practice titanium often falls below expectations in respect of resistance to marking. Silver, gold and platinum have no place in an instrument watch. Their territory is the dress or jewellery watch.
CHRONOGRAPH. This is simply a stop watch combined with an ordinary (time of day) watch in one case. It can be used for timing intervals and usually gives totals of seconds, minutes and hours. In the normal configuration the pusher at 2 o'clock is used to start and stop the counting and the pusher at 4 o'clock is used to return the stop watch to zero.
CROWN. This is the main control knob used to wind the watch and set the time. It is so called because earlier examples looked like a crown. Colloquially it is sometimes called the "button". Some watches have screw down crowns to provide higher levels of protection. On these watches the crown needs to be unscrewed before adjustments can be made.
CRYSTAL. This is the transparent panel which covers and protects the dial and hands and through which the time is told. Generally three different materials are used. Plexiglass (plastic) is flexible and hard to break but very easy to scratch. Scratches are easily polished to the extent of improving the view of the dial. When the degradation becomes unacceptable the crystal is replaced. New plastic crystals are very cheap but not necessarily cheap to fit. Mineral glass is harder than plastic but nevertheless is still vulnerable to scratching and chipping. When this has occurred the only practical treatment is replacement of the crystal. Synthetic sapphire is nearly as hard as diamond and is very difficult to scratch. It is much more expensive than either of the other materials, especially when in large pieces or curved. Today a curved sapphire crystal is regarded as a quality feature, even though it has no functional advantage over a flat one. Sapphire is said to be brittle but in practice breakages are very rare. For most purposes a sapphire crystal is the best option.
DRESS WATCH. This is a watch where priority is not given to telling or measuring time. This gives the designer much more scope for presentation, fashion, artistic interpretation, choice of materials, originality etc. There is often an element of "less is more". Some of the top models from the most prestigious manufacturers have neither minute markers nor a seconds hand. This projects a disdainful and nonchalant attitude to time which often suits the owner. It is just possible for a dress watch to be also an instrument watch if the case is polished stainless steel and the dial is of the instrument type.
INSTRUMENT WATCH. This is a watch where priority is given to reading the time (and in some cases time intervals) easily and accurately. It must also be robust and today usually has a stainless steel case.
LIGNE. This is an archaic unit of distance which is still used by watch makers. It is 1/12th. of a Paris inch and is 2.256mm. The diameters of watch movements are often given in lignes (''').
LUMINESCENCE. Two methods are in common use for making watches readable in the dark.The one uses a compound containing tritium for coating parts of the dial and hands. Tritium is a mildly radioactive isotope of hydrogen and its use is carefully regulated in tne interests of safety. The other method uses the after glow property which some compounds possess. Here light energy is absorbed when a surplus is available and given out when it isn't.

MECHANICAL WATCHES v. QUARTZ WATCHES. Quartz watches use quartz oscillators and are electrically powered. In nearly all cases the power is provided by a battery. In a few cases mechanical movement or light energy is used to generate electricity which is then stored. Quartz watches, when working, are very good time keepers and in this respect outperform mechanical watches. They are easy to identify as they usually advance in whole seconds.They are generally disliked by watch enthusiasts some of whom almost regard them as cheating. There is a real downside to quartz watches. They don't like large temperature ranges, high ambient radiation or vacuums (not so far fetched - high altitude pilots and astronauts). They can be susceptible to mechanical shocks which make the motors jump a few steps destroying the time keeping. They radiate radio frequency waves which makes them unpopular in some environments. They depend on batteries. Batteries can leak or corrode, wrecking the movement. Incompetent battery changing can damage the movement. When a watch fails, repair is likely to be achieved by replacement of either the movement or the watch. This keeps quartz watches categorized as low cost disposable devices. Longevity is not for quartz watches. Many electronic components can be produced economically in huge volumes only. This means when they've gone, they've gone. Mechanical components can be produced economically in small volumes, even "one offs". This will always be the case. as long as there are human beings with mechanical skills. A mechanical watch is thus effectively ever lasting and is therefore a suitable vehicle for the very highest quality of work. There is great satisfaction to be had from solving problems using mechanical engineering alone and being totally independant of external power sources. People can relate to mechanical things. Mechanical watches have charisma and charm. A clear case of where the most refined versions of the old technology are preferable to the new.

MOVEMENTS AND WATCH MAKING. It is common, indeed normal, practice for Swiss and German watch makers to make use of companies which specialize in watch movements. The watch makers can order movements from specialists like ETA (which includes Valjoux and Unitas) to different stages of completion and completeness (i.e. not necessarily all components) and to different specification. The watch maker may then modify, adjust, or add his own components as required so the attention given may range from none at all on a movement bought in as finished to so many changes the watch maker may reasonably call the movement his own. Some makers tell you with pride which ETA movements they use. Others are happy to let you believe that their movements are all their own work.
There are hundreds of makers of Swiss and German watches. Of these only about five could reasonably claim to make all of their movements entirely in house. A further ten or so could claim to make some of the movements they use entirely in house. The rest do exactly as described in the above paragraph for all of their models. Some of the highest profile watch makers fall into this last group as do some of the makers of the best watches (not necessarily the same thing).
Most makers offer chronographs in their ranges. The number of chronograph movements available is small. This means that most chronographs, irrespective of maker, use Valjoux 7750/7760 or Lemania 5100 movements.
In house total manufacture of a movement is no guarantee of quality. ETA based movements are very cost effective. The important issues are to understand what you are getting and to be aware of how good or bad value for money it is. There are certainly many watches on sale which are much more expensive than ours without offering better quality.
PILOT'S WATCH. The so called pilot's watch is a concept which appeared in the years before WWII. It arose from the need for easy reading by day or night. It led to a rugged luminous design with a black dial and Arabic numerals. It was originally a "time of day" watch (the chronograph came later). Some pilots' watches were very large (about D= 55mm.) and came with extra long straps so that they could be worn on the outsides of flying jackets. Many of these watches were made during WWII. The pilot's watch theme is strongly represented in the Orfina, Hanhart, Fortis and Revue Thommen ranges as well as by some of the Limes models. Pilots' watches tend to remain timeless classics as short lived fashions come and go.
POSITIONS. The behaviour of any mechanical watch varies with position. For the purposes of testing this is formalized as: face up, face down, crown up, crown down, crown left, crown right. These are self evident descriptions of the attitude of the watch. The loading on the bearings and other components changes with the position of the watch even to the extent of being reversed. The better a watch is set up ("adjusted") the more similar will be the performance in the different positions.
POWER RESERVE INDICATOR. This serves to show how wound up a watch is. Although this may seem to be a useless feature on an automatic watch this is not the case. Some wearers are insufficiently active to keep a watch permanently fully wound. The indicator tells them the true situation and prevents over estimating the reserve or acts as a prompt for supplementary winding.
REGULATION AND ADJUSTMENT. Regulation is simply changing the effective length of the balance spring (hair spring). This speeds up or slows down the watch but does not address any irregularities in its behaviour. Adjustment is the fine setting of the balance/escape mechanism to optimize its performance, particularly in respect of different "positions".
SERVICING. We recommend servicing a watch either about every four years or when there is an obvious change in its behaviour, whichever comes up first. Divers' watches should be checked annually if used for diving.
SIZE MATTERS? Watch size is very much a matter of personal taste. Suffice is to say that a degree of caution is recommended where watches exceed 40mm. in diameter and 14mm. in thickness. It is not simply a matter of wrist compatibility. Most men can wear "oversize" 44-48mm. models if they really want to and some would not want anything smaller but the larger the watch the greater the risk of impact damage and snagging.
Diameters between 37mm. and 40mm. suit most people. Some few models are available in 34mm. diameter. This is on the small side by modern standards but may be just what some people want. Instrument watches are meant to be easy to read, if possible without spectacles, so perhaps, within reason, bigger is better. Generally the larger and bolder chronographs are easier to read than the smaller ones and this should be considered if the watch is to be "used in anger". In our product descriptions "D" is diameter, excluding the crown, and"H" is height/thickness.
STRAPS AND BRACELETS. Whether to have a strap or a bracelet is largely a matter of personal taste. Straps are cheaper but a strap should be regarded as a consumable on a frequently used watch whereas a bracelet is likely to be everlasting. Many straps are now water resistant. Generally we have a preference for straps rather than bracelets and would advise customers in doubt to start with a strap. Not all bracelets are equally good. They vary in quality. Aesthetic issues apart, bracelets are heavier, likely to cause cosmetic damage to themselves and likely to cause damage to the watch cases by contacting them when the watches are not being worn - unless simple precautions are taken. Sometimes the choice is indicated by the type of watch. Generally straps are more compatible with dress watches and bracelets are more compatible with everyday/sports watches.The only models where we clearly prefer and recommend a bracelet are Temption where the bracelet is an integral part of the design and perhaps the RT Airspeed chronograph. Not so obvious is that bracelets restrict the "straight ahead" viewing of movements where watches have see-through backs.
TACHYMETER. This is a scale, sometimes on a chronograph, which allows events per hour to be read directly, having timed one of them. An example would be timing a car over one mile (or km.) and then reading directly the speed in miles (or km.) per hour.
TELEMETER. This is another accessory scale sometimes found on a chronograph. It uses the speed of sound to measure distance. Examples would be thunder/lightning and torpedo impact. The timer is started when the flash is seen and stopped when the sound is heard. The distance is read directly from the scale.
TIME KEEPING. This is an issue on which most manufacturers are conspicuously silent, especially when it comes to quantification. All mechanical watches show some deviation from perfect time keeping with varying conditions and positions (face up, face down, crown up, crown down, crown left, crown right) and varying conditions and positions of storage when not in use. It is the mark of a good, well set up watch that these variations are small. Suffice is to say that a mechanical watch which keeps time to within a few seconds per day or remains within a few seconds of a predictable underlying trend is working well. In the latter case regulation is suggested. A watch which keeps time within plus or minus two or three seconds or so per day is a very good performer. It is unrealistic to expect much better performance from a mechanical wristwatch. Some watches come with a Swiss chronometer certificate (C.O.S.C.). The requirements for passing the associated tests are published and are measured in seconds per day. They are not about split second accuracy. Some manufacturers do not submit their watches to these tests even though their watches would exceed the standards as a matter of course.
WATER RESISTANCE. Today the use of the term "waterproof" is discouraged. Water resistance is usually expressed as a water depth, e.g. 50m., or in atmospheres, e.g. 5 atm. (1 atm. approximately equals 10m. of water pressure). A serious diver would want a 200m. or 300m. rating and would be advised to have the watch checked every year or so. The depth rating does not indicate safe diving depth for the watch. It is based on a static pressure test and not the dynamic pressures which apply in a real diving situation and which can be much higher.

There are many watch information sites on the internet. A very useful independant watch information resource is to be found on:
There are overviews of more than a hundred watch brands together with links to the manufacturers.

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