This is an introductory lesson on watches, covering many of the basics which we at Signature Bob believe are important to you the buyer. If we left out anything, please feel free to contact us at email@example.com and we will reply.
Watch Sizing Guide
You’re wearing your perfect fitting Brioni suit, Alessandro Gherardi shirt, Paul Smith cufflinks and Salvatore Ferragamo Italian leather shoes. You obviously know a thing or two about style. Do you apply the same attention to detail and fashion sense to the watch you wear?
Know How to Find Your Right Watch Size
With the changing times of how people purchase luxury watches, especially now that people are buying more and more online, it’s even more important that you know your wrist size so you can navigate the watch buying process knowledgeably and efficiently.
There are some obvious guidelines to keep in mind. Smaller wrists should be wearing smaller watches and larger wrists should be wearing larger watches. But there are some additional elements to think about to ensure the right proportional fit.
Case Size Matters
Watch case diameter is the most significant and noticeable element when it comes to selecting the right watch. Men’s watches usually range between 38mm to 46mm; although if you’re looking at a vintage timepiece 34-36mm were common sizes for men and are still a classic size today.
Anything smaller than 38mm today is generally found on women’s watches, and anything larger than 46mm, well, that’s pushing toward overly flashy, yet some people can certainly pull it off in the right circumstance.
Measure Your Wrist
You’ll need to measure your wrist. If your wrist is 6 to 7 inches in circumference, you should typically go with 38mm, 40mm and 42mm watch cases. If your wrist circumference is 7.5 to 8 inches, you should be looking at 44mm to 46mm watch cases. These recommendations are based off of the modern trend of larger timepieces.
Knowing your wrist size is also important when ordering your watch so you can make sure the strap fits and the bracelet is sized properly.
Generally watch size looks like this:
Generally watch size looks like this:
34mm – 38mm Midsize
39mm – 42mm Standard
43mm – 46mm XL/Oversize
Other Things to Consider When Looking at Watch Size
The size of your wrist in comparison to the size of the watch diameter is not the only thing to remember when looking for your perfect timepiece. Case thickness, different straps and metals can all play an important role in how your watch feels when you wear it.
How Thick Should my Watch Case be?
Watch case thickness is generally correlated to the case size diameter. For example, a small to medium case size diameter will usually be around 7mm in thickness, while the large case sizes will have a thickness around 9mm. The more complications found in a watch, the thicker it will likely be.
If you’re looking at a piece with an exhibition case back, the extra crystal adds some depth as well. Not all of this will be true for every watch. Many brands have been producing ultra-thin models with exhibition case backs and complicated movements thinner.
Watch Band Width
Look for a watch band with a width that is approximately half its case diameter. In other words, if you were to buy a 42mm watch, the watch band should be approximately 22mm in width. A watch will tend to look out of proportion when the strap size is too small or too large.
Metal, Leather & Fabric Watch Bands
Metal watch bands always appear to be larger and heavier than leather or fabric band types so men with larger wrists tend to gravitate to the metal bracelets. A solid link bracelet will add some heft to the watch depending on the material but there are some hollow link bracelets available.
Leather straps provide a slimmer and more formal look while a woven or fabric strap will be more sporty. Depending on the style of a fabric strap, you can achieve different looks. A NATO style strap provides a sporty look but will add extra depth to the watch due to how the fabric slides under the case back.
Parts of a Watch 101 – Ultimate Intro Guide to Everything Watches Inside & Out
Everything from the numbers, the hours, second hands, lug size, to the pusher and changer all play a factor in the aesthetic of a watch and whether it is in the right proportion. If these details are larger in size, the watch may appear larger as well. All of these components should compliment the other elements of the watch so that the overall watch appearance is balanced and attractively proportionate.
Once you find a watch you like, the final decision comes down to personal preference that matches your style and compliments your wrist. Rules are made to be broken but you must first know the rules before straying away.
Quartz movements Automatic movements Mechanical movements Chronographs, Certiﬁed chronometers and Tourbillons. What does it all mean!? [And those are just some of the names for watch movements].
Being the dapper fellow that you are, you know that a watch is an important item to own. No doubt you have one or more in your arsenal already.
But what are the differences between watches, especially those that make one more expensive than another? What maintenance is involved to keep your watch at its best?
What should you know when shopping for a new timepiece?
Further down on this page, we will assist you in all different aspects of watches, so you can be a more informed man (or woman) in the wonderful world of horology (which is the art and science of measuring time, by the way).
We’ve separated this article into the five sections below for easier navigation. Use the links below to “jump” to learn about:
Outer Parts of a Watch
Watch Complications (Functions)
Parts of a Watch Movement
The Difference Between Bands and Bracelets
Outer Watch Part Basics 101.
Before we go over any movement options, let’s start with a rudimentary breakdown of a watch’s parts. The graphic below shows the elements that nearly every watch will have.
The case holds the inner working parts of the watch. Depending on the style of the watch, the case is usually made of stainless steel, because steel is resilient, handles light shocks that the watch could receive, and doesn’t tarnish. Cases can also be made of precious metals like gold or platinum, and can even be made of plastic in sports watches.
The case can also come in different ﬁnishes like high-polish, smooth, matte, or a combination of any of those. The case also contains the movement itself, be it electronic (quartz) or automatic (self-winding). We’ll cover more on movements later.
The lugs are where the case of the watch connects to the strap or metal bracelet of the watch, by use of metal spring bars.
The crown is what is used to change the time. Some watches offer a date window and a seconds indicator, which are engaged by pulling the crown out. Crowns on water-resistant watches screw down into the case. The crown can have embellishments like precious stones, to indicate luxury and attention to detail.
Strap / Buckle
The strap/buckle secures the watch to your wrist and there are a number of materials commonly used for these parts. Leather straps range from calfskin to lizard and more exotic offerings like ostrich, alligator, crocodile, and even toad. Instead of a strap, a metal bracelet is a popular option. Other options are nylon straps (for sportiness), satin straps (for dressiness), and rubber straps (for diving/water-sports). Most watches allow straps and bracelets to be interchangeable so you can dress it up or down when you want to change the look of your watch.
The hands, usually broken down into hours and minutes, indicate the time. The hour hand is usually shorter in size than the minute hand. The hands can also have a slight design to them.
Other more complicated watches, such as chronographs (stop watches / timers), may have additional hands for their other functions, known as “complications”.
The bezel is the outer ring of the case that connects to the lugs. It is typically a ﬂat-edged surface, but can also be rounded. The bezel can also have embellishments, like precious gemstones in upscale watches, and may be a different metal than the case itself, as in some two-tone watches.
The crystal protects the dial and hands from dust and dirt, allowing the time to be visible. Although it is termed a crystal, it may NOT be made of actual crystal, but plastic. Modern times have made sapphire crystal very popular as it is more scratch-resistant and durable.
Dial / Face
The dial is where the watch can be the most expressive. It is the ﬂat surface beneath the crystal, and can come in many color options, textures, and materials. Dials can use Roman numerals, Arabic numbers, or even more simple stick bar markers to indicate the time.
Watch Complications (Additional Functions)
The most basic watch function is where it tells the time only. These kinds of watches are considered the most “dressy” / formal of all watch types.
Anything in addition to the time is considered an added “complication” to the watches function, and thus the term. Below you’ll find some of the most popular watch complications and what they mean.
This indication on the dial can also be referred to as the day/night indicator. This allows you to see what time of day it is, based off of an image of the sun and moon. This function is especially helpful when found on a dual-timezone watch as you will be able to see the time in a different timezone and always know the time of day.
There are even some 24 hour movements (where the hour hand only rotates once per day.
This calendar function displays the day, date and month, and typically also includes the year. Unlike the Perpetual Calendar, this function needs to be adjusted at the end of February, as it does not account for leap years.
Battery Reserve (End of Life) Indicator
Found on a quartz watch, the second hand typically will jump in two to four minute intervals rather than every second. This function will alert you before the watch loses power.
A Standard Calendar function, rather than an Annual Calendar or Perpetual Calendar, will show you the date and the month depending on the complexity of the movement. Occasionally, more complex movements will also show the day of the week.
A chronograph makes it possible to measure continuous or discontinuous intervals of time. Typically a chronograph records from a fraction of a second, up to 12-24 hours. These are typically recorded in three sundials and are usually operated by two additional pushers surrounding the crown, but can also be found in a single pusher.
This function is primarily found on dive watches. Once a diver reaches a preset depth, an alarm sounds or vibrates.
Considered part of the calendar family, a date window will be the only numbers found associated with the date. Popular places to find the date window are: 3 o’clock, 12 o’clock and 5 o’clock.
A helpful complication for those who like to travel or have family located in a different timezone, this measures both the current local time and typically at least one other time zone and some can even track three times at once. This can be found in a second dial, an extra hand, or in a subdial. Dual time can also be called a “world time” function.
GMT stands for Greenwich Mean Time, which is the international standard of time that the world is set to. Similar to dual time, a GMT function is primarily found as a second hand and reads in a 24-hour mode to determine day from night. A secondary set of numbers is found in the bezel or around the outer rim of the dial depending on the model.
Although sometimes confused with world time watches, these are somewhat different.
Grand + Petite Sonnerie
This beautiful function refers to a watch that strikes a bell to chime the time. This function happens automatically like a grandfather clock or a large clock in a town center. A Grand Sonnerie strikes the hour, quarter hour and minutes. A Petite Sonnerie strikes the hours only.
Helium Escape Valve
Found as a part of diving watches that can dive deep into the ocean, a helium escape valve releases pressure that exist in extreme depths of the ocean. This avoids damaging the watch or popping the crystal due to excessive pressure.
Unlike a Grand or Petite Sonnerie, a minute repeater chimes the hours, quarts and minutes at the push of a button.
Shown in a window on the face of the dial, a moon phase function will show the waxing and waning of the moon as it circles the earth. This allows you to watch the different phases of the moon both in the sky and on your wrist.
This complex calendar function takes into account the different lengths of the month, including February, and is accurate until year 2100 [For some watches you can even buy the correct gearing out to the year 2400. This shows the day, date and month, but also includes the moon phase and year as added functions.
Similar to the end of life indicator on a quartz watch, the power reserve indicator will show the remaining time until the watch stops running and when it will need more winding. This is found on manual-wind watches primarily, but can also be found on an automatic, self-winding watch. Another name for a power reserve is the Reserve de Marche.
Sun / Moon Indicator
This additional complication shows the sun and the moon rotating on a disc, visible through a small window, showing the different time of the day in relation to the sunrise and sunset. A 24-hour dial or two tone bezel can also show off the different times of day.
Found in addition to a chronograph, a tachymeter measures the speed over a certain fixed distance, such as a mile.
Invented in 1801, a tourbillon was designed to eliminate errors in watches when watches change position in relation to the wrist movement. This consists of a cage surrounding the parts of an escapement, with the balance wheel at the center. A tourbillon is typically found as a cut-out on the dial which allows for viewing of the movement.
Parts of a Watch Movement
Below will now covered the major working elements / terms of a watches inner workings.
Balance Spring / Hairspring
The balance spring is a very fine spring in a mechanical watch that causes the balance wheel to recoil. The spring coils and recoils to swing the balance wheel which then regulates time.
The balance wheel is the second element to regulate time and is attached to the balance spring. As the balance spring coils, the wheel oscillates and divides time into equal segments. This mechanism regulates the accuracy and works the same way as a pendulum.
Affecting the length of the power reserve on a watch, the barrel is a drum which houses the Mainspring. Some watches feature a double barrel which creates an extra-long power reserve.
A bridge is fixed to the main plate, thus forming the frame of a watch movement which houses all other parts.
Calibre / Caliber
Originally, the caliber denoted the position and size of its components. Today, a caliber refers to the movement number, origins or its manufacturer.
An escapement is one of the most important parts of any watch. This piece maintains the oscillations of the balance wheel, which then lets the wheels and hands revolve.
A gasket is a small ring used to create an air-tight seal. These rings are located around the case back, crystal and crown to protect against water. Gaskets are typically rubber and should be checked every few years to maintain water resistance as the rubber can wear out over time.
While not a physical part of the watch movement, the Geneva Seal is a stamp on the movement. This seal is awarded by an independent bureau in Geneva. Each movement that is submitted to the bureau undergoes 12 different tests related to the quality, finish and materials. These movements must also be manufactured in Geneva.
A trademarked term referring to the shock-absorbing mechanism, this small piece is used in mechanical watches. The Incabloc prevents damage to sensitive parts during a fall.
A jewel is a real ruby, or a synthetic gemstone, that reduces friction in the gear trains. This helps to maintain accurate timekeeping while greatly reducing the wear on parts, thus increasing the longevity of the watch itself.
Main Plate / Base Plate
The main plate is the primary piece of metal that holds all the other parts of a movement together. Each part is mounted into the main plate.
The mainspring is a coiled spring giving power to the gear train. This tightens and unwinds to create movement.
A repeater is a complication that strikes like a gong. This can strike the hours, quarter hours and minutes using a gong. This complication is typically started using a button or slide on the case to activate.
The rotor is the oscillating part of an automatic watch. This moving part winds the mainspring, which allows a watch to be wound automatically, rather than manually as the wearer moved.
The shock absorber captures the shock from the balance staff, protecting pivots from being damaged inside the movement. This is especially important on sports models.
A tourbillion is created when the balance wheel and escapement are mounted inside a rotating cage. These two parts of the movement can then rotate completely to avoid errors caused by the rotation of one’s arm.
The tourbillion typically rotates once per minute, but some manufactures produce them with four or six minute rotations. This is an extremely complicated movement, which is hard to produce.
Parts of Watch Bands and Bracelets
The band, also known as a watch strap is what holds the watch to your wrist. A strap can be created from many materials including, but not limited to:
To close the strap and hold it around the wrist, there is a buckle. Different buckles include a tang buckle, which looks like a belt buckle or a deployment or folding buckle.
The free loop is the extra loop found on a strap next to the fixed loop. The free loop can be moved around the band of the watch. Both loops are used to fasten the excess band to the wrist.
The loops that you pass the strap through to “keep” your strap / band in place.
A lug hole is where you insert the spring bar to fix a strap or bracelet to the watch. Each lug has holes where a spring bar will fit. To attach or detach a spring bar, a tool will be needed.
Bracelets are made from metal, and are typically made to be “flush” with the watches case and lugs.
A deployment buckle is a tri-folding buckle that has pushers to release the clasp. Depending on the style of the bracelet, this can be a hidden buckle or similar to a folding buckle.
Note – this type of buckle can also be found on straps, especially higher end ones, as it saves on wear and tear of the material used for the strap.
A folding buckle, like the deployment style, is tri-folding. This buckle does not have pushers to release the clasp, but rather, typically features a folding bar to hold in place.
A metal bracelet is created using links held together. These links can be added or removed to create the perfect sizing of a metal bracelet.
Similar to a link, a milanese style bracelet is a metal bracelet. To create this style, small metal pieces are looped together to create a mesh. This mesh was originally designed to have the look and feel of leather while being breathable. This style was originally designed in Milan, which is where the name Milanese is derived.