Watch Speak: Timepieces, Wristwatches, and Horology Glossary and Terminology

When reading about the complex world of watches, you’re bound to come across some very specific terminology. While some of them are self-explanatory, others require a little more knowledge to understand. To help you decipher these terms, here is a comprehensive glossary of common terms and names used when referring to watches, horology, and timekeeping.

 

A

____________________________________________

Alarm

A mechanism that makes a sound at a pre-determined time.

Altimeter

An instrument that measures altitude

AM/PM Indicator

An indicator a 12-hour display that shows whether it’s nighttime or daytime. Also referred to as a Day/Night Indicator.

Analog Watch

A watch that indicates the time via hands on a dial.

Aperture

A small window on a dial. Typically refers to a calendar window to show the date, day, month, or moonphase.

 

Annual Calendar

A watch that indicates the time, day, date, month, and leap year (often moon phase too) correctly throughout the year with only the need for one manual adjustment at the end of February.

Anti-Magnetic

A watch built to withstand the detrimental effects of magnetic fields.

ATM

Unit used to measure atmospheric pressure. Used in watches to denote water resistance where 1 ATM equals 10 meters or 1 bar.

Automatic Movement

A type of mechanical watch movement that relies on the motion of a wrist (or watch winder) to move the rotor back and forth to automatically wind the mainspring, which then transmits energy to power the watch. If left motionless, an automatic movement will stop working until it’s wound up again. Also referred to as a self-winding movement.

Automatic Watch

A watch powered by an automatic mechanical movement.

 

B

____________________________________________

Balance Spring

A tiny spring that returns the balance wheel back to its neutral position. Also referred to as a hairspring.

Balance Wheel

The timekeeping device in a movement that swings back and forth and divides the time into equal parts. Combined, the balance spring and the balance wheel serve as the regulating mechanism of the movement much like a pendulum in a clock.

Band

A strap, typically leather, textile, or rubber, that secures the watch to a wrist.

Barrel

A round box that houses the mainspring in a mechanical movement. The exterior of the barrel has a ring of gear teeth that drives the gear train. The larger the barrel the more power reserve a movement has.

Baselworld

The largest annual watch fair that takes place in Basel, Switzerland, during the springtime. It’s when most watch brands release their novelties for the year.

Beats Per Hour (bph)

The number of vibrations/ticks/beats per hour of a watch. High-end watches boast quicker frequency rates such as 21,600 bph (6t ticks/second), 28,800 bph (8 ticks/second), or 36,000 bph (10 ticks/second). The faster the ticking the higher the precision.

Bezel

The ring that sits on top of the case to secure the crystal above the dial. There are several types of bezels including decorative ones and functional ones to track elapsed time. A bidirectional rotating bezel turns clockwise or anticlockwise. A unidirectional rotating bezel, typically used on diving watches, turns only anticlockwise.

Bracelet

A metal strap, typically steel, gold, platinum, or titanium that secures the watch to a wrist.

Bridge

Bridges are a series of plates or bars that hold components of the watch movement together and are attached to the mainplate with screws.

C

____________________________________________

Cabochon

A polished but not faceted stone, typically mounted onto a winding crown for decorative effect, a signature detail on many Cartier timepieces

Calendar

A watch function that indicates the date, day, month, and/or year.

Caliber

Another name for a watch movement—the mechanism that powers the watch.

Case

The main portion of the watch that houses the movement. Available in a range of metals and shapes.

Caseback

The opposite side of the dial on a watch—the portion that lies on the skin when the watch is worn. Casebacks can be snap in, screw in or screw down. Plus, casebacks can also be solid, which is typically engraved with watchmaker hallmarks, or transparent for a view of the movement within.

Chronograph

A chronograph is a watch function that can measure periods of time via a start, stop, and reset mechanism—essentially a stopwatch. Modern chronograph watches typically measure time via the central seconds hand and often come with extra subsidiary registers that can record elapsed times (in minutes and/or hours). Chronographs are quickly identified by extra pushers on the case.

Chronometer

A highly precise watch that comes with an official certification. Swiss made chronometers are certified by Controle Officiel Suisse des Chronometres (COSC).

Cloisonne

Decorative work where materials such as enamel, glass, or gems are separated by thin strips of metal. Typically found on the ornate dials of very high-end watches.

Column Wheel

Some chronographs have column wheels, which, thanks to its ratchet teeth, acts as the on/off switch for the chronograph function.

Complication

In watch speak, any additional function over and above time indication is a complication. For instance, calendar, chronograph, moon phase, minute repeater, and world timers are all complications.

COSC

Controle Officiel Suisse des Chronometres, the institute responsible for testing and certifying the precision and accuracy of Swiss watches.

Côtes de Genève

Also known as the Geneva Stripes, the Côtes de Genève is a special type of stripe-based decoration found on watch movements.

Crown

A button positioned on the outside of the case to wind the movement, set the time, and set other functions on the watch such as the date. Sometimes referred to as the winding stem. A screw-down crown improves water resistance.

Crystal

The component covering the dial, typically fashioned from acrylic, glass, or sapphire. Today, sapphire crystals are ubiquitous on luxury watches, prized for their resistance to scratching and shattering.

 

D

____________________________________________

Day-Date

A watch function that indicates the day of the week along with the date of the month like on the Rolex Day-Date

Day/Night Indicator

An indicator a 12-hour display that shows whether it’s nighttime or daytime. Also referred to as an AM/PM Indicator.

Deployant Clasp

A type of folding metal buckle on watch bands and bracelets that offers more security than a typical tang buckle. Often erroneously called a deployment clasp.

Depth Alarm

A mechanism that emits a sound when a diver submerges below a pre-set depth.

Dial

The face of the watch that houses the watch hands, indexes, and/or functions. They range in materials, colors, and decorations.

Digital Watch

A watch that displays the time using digits on a screen, typically LCD.

Dual Time

A watch that includes two hour hands to indicate the time in two different time zones. The secondary hand is typically referred to as a GMT-hand, 24-hour hand, or UTC hand.

 

E

____________________________________________

Ebauche

Unassembled movement kits that are built, modified and branded by different watch companies. The most Swiss famous ébauche movement maker is ETA and these ETA movements are the basis for many luxury watch movements.

Enamel

An opaque glassy substance applied to metal surfaces, typically used as a decorative element on dials of high-end watches.

Engine Turned

Repetitive patterns engraved into metal surfaces as a decorative technique. Also known as Guilloche.

Equation of Time

A watch complication that displays the disparity between mean solar time and true (apparent) solar time.

Escape Wheel

Part of the escapement, the escape wheel gears includes very large teeth to interact with the pallet fork, allowing the watch’s wheels to advance by a fixed amount, moving the hands forward.

Escapement

Sitting between the train and the regulating organ, the escapement maintains the oscillations of the regulating organ.

 

F

____________________________________________

Flyback Chronograph

The timing on a fly-back chronograph can be reset without first having to be stopped.

Frequency

The number of vibrations or beats per hour determined in hertz (Hz) such as 4Hz (28,800 bhp) or 5Hz (36,000 bph).

 

G

____________________________________________

Gasket

Rubber rings that create airtight seals around the caseback, crystal, and crown for improved water resistance. Gaskets typically require replacing every couple of years.

Gear Train

A mechanical system comprised of mounted gears that transfers energy from the mainspring to the escapement.

Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG)

Created in 2001, the GPHG is an annual awards ceremony in Geneva, Switzerland, that awards the best watches of the year across several categories. The top prize is the “Aiguille d’Or” awarded to the very best watch of the year.

Grande Sonnerie

A complication that combines quarter striking and minute repeater complications. At every quarter hour, it sounds the hours and quarters on two gongs. It can also strike the hours on demand via a button.

Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)

Previously used as the international civil time standard, replaced by Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). Dual Time watches are sometimes referred to as GMT watches.

 

H

____________________________________________

Hack Feature

A mechanism that stops the watch completely when the crown is pulled out for precise time setting or synchronization.

Hand

The indicator that rotates around the dial to point to the hour, minute, second or any other display. Hands come in a range of shapes and sizes.

Haute Horlogerie 

A French word that translates to high watchmaking to denote the very best in mechanical watches and very complex watch complications.

Helium Escape Valve (HEV)

Diving watches built to dive to extreme depths are typically fitted with Helium Escape Valves to releases gases that build up in decompression chambers. This release prevents the crystal from popping off in pressurized chambers.

Horology

The science of measuring time or the art of making instruments such as watches for indicating time.

Hour Markers

The indexes around the dial that indicate the hours. There’s a wide range of hour marker styles including sticks, batons, round plots, Arabic numerals, and Roman numerals.

 

I

____________________________________________

Integrated Bracelet

A style of bracelet that is incorporated into the watch case that became very popular in the 1970s like the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and the Patek Philippe Nautilus

 

J

____________________________________________

Jewels

In watch movements, jewels refer to synthetic rubies used as bearings in gears to reduce friction. They are set into the drilled holes of plates and bridges.

Jump Hour

As its name suggests, the Jump Hour hand jumps to the next hour every 60 minutes rather than slowly edging towards it over the course of an hour. Sometimes, rather than a hand, a Jump Hour watch will include a window with numerals that jump to the next hour every 60 minutes.

 

K

____________________________________________

Karat

The measure of the purity of gold where 24-karats is pure gold. While many vintage watches were made in 14k gold today, gold luxury watches are almost exclusively made from 18k gold.

Keyless Works

Gears that not only wind the mainspring via the turning of the winding crown but also allow the hands to be set when the crown is pulled out. Named so because prior to this invention, keys had to be used to wind the movement.

 

L

____________________________________________

Lacquer

A hard protective coating for a range of materials. Originally made from the sap of a lacquer tree there are also synthetic substitutes today. Sometimes found as a decorative technique on the dials of high-end watches.

Lever Escapement

A type of escapement that includes a forked lever that positioned between the escape wheel and the balance that locks and unlocks the escape wheel teeth.

Liquid Crystal Display (LCD)

Composed of liquid encased between two clear plates and activated by electronic impulses, LCD is typically found on digital watches to display the time using digits.

Lugs

The protrusions on a watch case that holds a spring bar. The spring bar is what attaches the watch band, strap, or bracelet to the case.

Luminescence

A substance applied to the face a watch to emit a glow in low light. Also known as watch lume, a range of materials have been used from (highly radioactive) radium to (lesser radioactive) tritium to (nonradioactive) photoluminescence.

 

M

____________________________________________

Mainspring

The spring that is wound to supply power to the watch.

Manual-Winding Movement

A mechanical movement that requires manual winding of the crown to wind up the mainspring to power the watch. Also known as a hand-wound movement.

Manufacture

The French word for manufacturer, in horology it refers to high-end watchmakers that typically produce very luxurious watches and/or their own movements in-house.

Marine Chronometer

A chronometer specifically built for the use on a ship that can calculate longitude while sailing.

Mechanical Watch

A traditional type of watch that doesn’t require electricity to operate but rather gets its power from a wound mainspring. The two main types of mechanical watches are automatic and manual.

Minute Repeater

A watch complication that sounds the time on demand using bells or gongs.

Moon Phase Display

A watch complication that indicates the phases of the moon on the dial.

Mother-Of-Pearl

Also known as nacre, mother-of-pearl is the outer layer of a pearl or the inner layer of a shell that is sometimes used on the dials of watches—typically ladies’ luxury watches.

Movement

The whole mechanism that powers the watch. There are quartz movements powered by batteries and mechanical movements powered by a wound-up mainspring. Mechanical movements are then further divided into automatic and manual movements.

 

O

____________________________________________

Oscillation

Also known as swing, oscillation is the movement back and forth at a regular speed. For instance, each oscillation of a pendulum represents one second.

 

P

____________________________________________

Perpetual Calendar

A watch that correctly indicates the time, day, date, month, and leap year (often moon phase too) in perpetuity (forever) without the need for adjustment. The only time a perpetual calendar will need manual adjusting is in 2100 when the leap year will be ignored.

Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD)

A thin coating applied to a watch to add color. Black PVD watches are especially popular.

Power Reserve

The amount of energy that can be stored in a watch before the mainspring needs to be wound again. A power reserve indicator is sometimes placed on a dial of a watch.

Pusher

A button on a case that is pressed to drive a mechanism, for example, chronograph pushers, alarm pushers, and striking pushers.

 

Q

____________________________________________

Quartz Movement

A movement powered by a quartz crystal, which oscillates to regulate timekeeping. A quartz movement does not require winding, but rather typically gets its power from a battery. Sometimes, the battery can be recharged via solar power or kinetic energy.

Quartz Watch

A watch powered by a quartz movement.

Quick-Set

Also known as quick-date, the quick-set function allows the date to be set independently from the center hands.

 

R

____________________________________________

Rattrapante

Also known as a split-seconds chronograph, a rattrapante features two sweep seconds hand rather than just one to allow for the timing of two different events with the same start time.

Retrograde

A retrograde feature includes a hand that moves over a portion of an arc then jumps back to the beginning again rather than in a full circular motion. A retrograde display can vary to indicate the day, date, hours, minutes, and/or seconds.

Rotor

The part of an automatic movement that swings back and forth thanks to the natural motion of the wrist to wind up the mainspring.

 

S

____________________________________________

Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (S.I.H.H.)

An important watch fair that takes place in Geneva, Switzerland at the beginning of each year. Led by the Richemont Group but increasingly including other brands, SIHH also presents watch novelties for the year.

Skeleton Watch

Also known as openworked, a skeleton watch reveals the interior of the watch as much as possible by stripping away as much of the dial, case, and movement as possible. Typically sports a transparent caseback too.

Slide Rule

Typically found on pilot watches, a slide rule bezel allows the wearer to perform a host of calculations including fuel consumption, airspeed, and distance calculations.

Small Seconds Indicator

Rather than the sweep seconds-hand on the center of the dial, a small seconds indicator displays the running seconds elsewhere on the dial, typically in a subsidiary dial.

Subsidiary Dial

Also known as a subdial or register, subsidiary dials are smaller dials placed on the main dial to indicate a range of information such as seconds, calendar, chronograph, or a secondary time zone.

Sun/Moon Indicator

A complication that displays the phases of the sun and moon over the course of the day and night.

Sweep Seconds Hand

The seconds hand positioned at the center of the dial instead of a subdial. Also typically refers to the motion of the seconds hand of a mechanical watch that “sweeps” around the dial rather than the seconds hands “ticking” around the dial on a quartz watch.

 

T

____________________________________________

Tachymeter

Also known as a tachometer, a tachymeter is a scale on a watch dial or bezel used to determine speed based on time.

Telemeter

A telemeter is a scale on a watch dial or bezel used to determine distance based on time.

Tourbillon

A watch device invented to offset the detrimental effects of gravity by constantly rotating the balance wheel, balance spring and escapement typically within a cage. A tourbillon usually makes one full rotation every minute and is often prominently displayed on the dial.

 

V

____________________________________________

Vibrations

The movement of an oscillating component of the watch, typically five (18,000 vibrations per hour) or six vibrations per second (21,600 vibrations per hour) but can reach much higher frequencies. Also denoted by beats per hour or frequency measured in hertz (Hz).

 

W

____________________________________________

Water Resistance

The rate at which a watch can withstand exposure to water typically indicated by meters, feet, ATM or bars. Important to note that waterproof is an illegal and erroneous term in watchmaking as no watch is 100% waterproof.

Wheels

While wheels and pinions are sometimes used interchangeably, large gears made of brass are referred to as wheels and small gears made of steel are referred to as pinions. These components make up the gear train, which transfers energy from the mainspring to the escapement.

Winding

The action of winding the mainspring to power a mechanical watch. This can be done manually via the crown or automatically via a rotor that swings back and forth with the natural motion of a wrist.

World Timer

A watch complication that permits the simultaneous indication of 24 time zones around the periphery of the dial typically denoted by major cities.

Quick Ways to Spot a Rolex Zenith Daytona Without Opening the Case

Few luxury watches today are as iconic as the Rolex Daytona. However, unbeknownst to some, Rolex’s signature chronograph had a rough start and things only started to turn around with the introduction of what is commonly referred to as the Rolex Zenith Daytona. Let’s find out what the Zenith Daytona is and how to spot one without opening its case.

 

What is the Rolex Zenith Daytona?

Rolex Zenith DaytonaIn 1963, Rolex unveiled their latest chronograph watch dubbed the Cosmograph. A short time later, the Daytona name joined the Cosmograph as Rolex wanted to align the watch with the city famous for auto racing. Today, this watch is simply known as the Daytona.

While it may be hard to believe today since they are so coveted in the vintage Rolex watch market, early generation Daytona watches were not strong sellers during their era. Consumers found their manual-wound movements to be cumbersome and their look a little old-fashioned.

In 1988, Rolex finally unleashed an automatic Cosmograph Daytona that would change the collection’s popularity forever. The watch grew from 37mm to a robust 40mm, included a sapphire crystal protecting the dial, and came exclusively with engraved metal bezels.

But the biggest innovation to the new Daytona was its engine under the hood, so to speak. The Daytona was now an automatic chronograph thanks to the Caliber 4030, which was based on the famous Zenith El Primero movement. But of course, this being Rolex, the company heavily modified the movement to suit their own exacting standards.

It’s estimated that the original El Primero movement underwent around 200 modifications including a new escapement, reductions in vibrations per hour, and the elimination of the date function, to become the Rolex Caliber 4030.

 

The Hallmarks of the Rolex Zenith Daytona

The Zenith Daytona watches bear 5-digit reference numbers: ref. 16520 for stainless steel, ref. 16523 for Rolesor two-tone, and ref. 16528 for solid yellow gold. There’s also the yellow gold ref. 16518 and the white gold ref. 16519 with leather straps. If you don’t have the reference number handy, however, there are some design details to consider when identifying a Zenith Daytona.

Rolex Zenith Daytona

The quickest way to spot a Rolex Zenith Daytona is to look at the dial configuration. The running seconds register is positioned at 9 o’clock while the chronograph hour counter sits at 6 o’clock. On future Daytona models, these two sub-dials are inverted. Also note that the registers on the white dial versions of the stainless steel ref. 16520 are outlined in black rather than silver.

Furthermore, the three registers are closer together on the Zenith Daytona compared to later Daytona watches. Also, the hour markers and center hands are slimmer on the Zenith Daytona models.

Stainless Steel Rolex Zenith Daytona

The introduction of an automatic Rolex Daytona changed the course of the collection forever. As a thoroughly modern watch, the Zenith Daytona paved the way for the chronograph’s iconic status. While Rolex eventually manufactured their own in-house chronograph movement—Caliber 4130—and vintage manual-wound Daytona watches are the most sought after in the secondary market, it’s important to remember that the Zenith Daytona made all of this possible.

Check out this steel Zenith Daytona here

Which Rolex Watch Should I Gift My Husband?

Which Rolex Watch Should I Gift My Husband? When it comes to the subtle art of gift giving, husbands have a much easier time than wives. Men have a vastly more diverse range of options to choose from when it’s time to present the special woman in his life with that certain something that will make her eyes light up, and earn himself a few Brownie points into the bargain.

Between bags, shoes, makeup and jewelry, men don’t really have an excuse for getting it wrong. For women, the process takes a whole lot more careful consideration. Husbands can be tricky creatures.

However, a fine timepiece is one gift that is practically guaranteed a great reception.

Giving watches as gifts has been a tradition for almost as long as watches have existed. They are the go-to present to celebrate specific events, such as graduations or retirements. But the gifting of beautiful watches between loved ones has always been particularly meaningful.

As something that will delight your significant other for a lifetime, and be passed down to future generations, a luxury watch is very hard to beat and the gift of a Rolex is perhaps the best of all.

Datejust Rolex WatchWhy Rolex?

As a brand, Rolex have transcended their status as mere watchmakers and are now one of the most recognizable names on the planet. Even if the husband in question is not a watch fanatic, a Rolex watch signifies the ultimate expression of prestige and success.

Of course, if he is a fanatic, you will be presenting him with the type of watch that many collectors aspire to, a piece of horology history that is also useful, ultra-reliable and intensely personal.

More than possibly any other brand, Rolex also has the most comprehensive variety of watch styles, suited to the broadest range of applications. From the sports models that cover everything from aviation to motor racing and exploration both above ground and underwater, to the elegance of the dress watch collection, there’s no such thing as the ‘perfect’ Rolex watch; there’s only the one that fits in best with its intended wearer’s lifestyle.

Which Rolex Should I Give?

It would be tempting to say there is no wrong choice when deciding which Rolex watch to give as a gift but, in reality, selecting exactly the right model for your husband can be a complex affair. Rolexes have been called ‘engagement rings for men’, meaning they place the same importance on their watch as women do on their diamonds. As watches are generally the only significant pieces of jewelry men wear, it’s vital to know his particular tastes and favorite styles before you buy. Below, we’ve laid out several different possibilities and our reasons for choosing them. Hopefully it’ll help make your decision a little easier.

The Submariner

Submariner Rolex WatchWhen you hear the name Rolex, the Submariner is the Rolex watch that immediately comes to mind. Its design has inspired countless homages and its popularity has bred a million counterfeits.

A timeless classic, it has barely changed, outwardly at least, in its more than sixty years in production. Today, it remains the watch that all other dive watches are measured against. Waterproof to 300m, its minimalist styling and understated ruggedness give it a go-anywhere appeal that looks as at home worn with a wetsuit as it does peeking from beneath the sleeve of a tuxedo.

As a Rolex to wear every day, no matter the situation, the Submariner is in a league of its own. If buying pre-owned, expect to spend anywhere from $6000 and up for a Submariner. Here is our Submariner Collection.

Datejust Rolex WatchThe Datejust

Tracing its history back even further than the Submariner, the Datejust was released in 1945 to celebrate Rolex’s 40th anniversary. Now available in a bewildering number of different configurations of dial, metal, case size and finish, there is a Datejust out there to suit everyone’s taste.

Depending on your audience, you can go for the masculine discreetness of a steel 36mm with a white dial sitting on an Oyster bracelet, all the way through to the eye-catching extravagance of a yellow gold 41mm, Datejust II, bedecked with diamond hour markers and bezel.

The introduction of the 28mm Lady Datejust range has seen the series become a particular favorite as a wedding or engagement present, as bride and groom sport matching timepieces on their big day.

You can expect to spend anywhere from $3000 and up for a Datejust model, depending on the model. Check out our Datejust Collection.

 
Milgauss Rolex Watch
The Milgauss

The Milgauss has always reveled in its role as Rolex’s dark horse. Officially a sports watch, it was actually designed to be worn by engineers and scientists. Its movement is housed inside a soft Faraday cage, making it impervious to the effects of strong magnetic fields—the name comes from the French for 1000 Gauss, with Gauss being the measure of magnetic flux density.

The watch has a quirky nature that sets it apart from the ubiquitous Submariners and GMT-Masters, but in recent years, it has been enjoying a resurgence in popularity. The understated, sober design is given an uncharacteristically playful pop of color in the bright orange lightning bolt seconds hand and markings above the hour indexes.

The Milgauss is the ideal gift for someone who likes to stand out as an individual.

Daytona Rolex WatchThe Daytona

A combination of beautiful, uncluttered design, a long and illustrious pedigree and the buzz surrounding the upcoming auction of a model once owned by a certain Paul Newman himself, all add up to make the Rolex Daytona currently one of the most desirable and important watches in the world.

Possibly the only model in the catalog to out-iconic the Submariner, the Daytona is now an institution. It follows Rolex’s overriding philosophy of housing flawless mechanics inside a bombproof case and turns it all into an exquisite piece of jewelry.

The model with the most variations out of all the sports watches, the Daytona can be had in everything from stainless steel, through yellow, white and Everose gold, all the way up to platinum. Throw in dials of white, black, green, blue and mother-of-pearl and it becomes one of the most versatile offerings there is.

Intended for those only content with the very best, the Cosmograph Daytona is something very special. This model can start at $8000 and go up much higher in some variations. See our Daytona Collection.

Should I Buy New or Pre-Owned?

Opting for a vintage or pre-owned watch has a great many advantages. Along with the obvious benefit of a lower initial cost, another key factor is availability. A brand new steel version of the Cosmograph Daytona we talked about above has a waiting list that will take you comfortably into the next decade. Most of the Rolex range available today has been in production for generations, and the brand is renowned for the extremely subtle tweaks they make to their designs. That gives you a pre-owned market populated by gems of watches at a fraction of their retail price, ready to buy now and that look brand new.

Unlike the engagement rings they are sometimes compared to, there is no one specific occasion that is the right time to gift a Rolex. Anniversaries, promotions, holidays; it is the gift that can mark many different moments in your lives together. For a birthday present with the ultimate bespoke factor, recently there has been an upsurge in gifts of vintage Rolex watches that were produced in the recipient’s birth year. While they might take some searching for, the serial numbers on the watchcase can be matched with Rolex’s official records to ensure you purchase one with exactly the right date.

We hope our guide has helped you answer some of the questions over which Rolex to gift your husband. Whichever one you decide to go for, take it from us, he’s a very lucky guy!

 

Don’t Miss These Five Popular Luxury Chronographs

When looking at the abundance of luxury sports watches available in the market, one type stands out as the most prevalent and popular: the chronograph. More than just a time keeping instrument, the chronograph also records time. During its heyday, the chronograph was important to a variety of fields including sports, aviation, and military. While today, time recording is typically relegated to computers, this hasn’t stopped the popularity of luxury chronographs. Whether or not the chronograph function is used is of no consequence since it’s the aesthetics of a chrono that is particularly appealing for today’s consumer. Let’s review five highly popular luxury chronographs.

 

The Omega Speedmaster

Popular Luxury Chronographs: Omega Speedmaster Professional

Making its debut in 1957, the Omega Speedmaster is one of the most famous luxury chronographs on earth and beyond—literally. As the first watch to reach the moon on the historic lunar landing of 1969, the Omega Speedmaster quickly gained its celebrated nickname, the “Moonwatch.”

Staying close to the original NASA approved timepiece, modern Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch models sport the iconic black dial, black bezel with the tachymetric scale, stainless steel case. Plus, they run on manual-wound calibers.

However, as Omega’s signature chronograph collection, there’s a slew of other Speedmaster models too. With a variety of sizes, materials, and movements, there are plenty of Omega Speedmaster chronograph watches to choose from.

 

The Rolex Daytona

Popular Luxury Chronographs: Rolex Daytona

While Rolex had already manufactured chronographs prior to the 1960s, it was in 1963 that the Swiss watchmaking giant unveiled the Cosmograph. Later known as the Comosgraph Daytona, or simply, Daytona, this is arguably one of the most coveted luxury chronographs to own.

Prior to 1988, Rolex Daytona watches were manual-wound. In 1988 however, Rolex introduced the first automatic Daytona chronograph powered by a movement based on the famed Zenith El-Primero movement. Finally, in 2000, the company revamped the Daytona to include their own in-house movement—the Caliber 4130, which still powers the Rolex chronograph today.

In terms of style, the Daytona is instantly recognizable thanks to its 40mm case, tachymeter engraved bezel, trio of registers on the dial, and the duo of pushers flanking the winding crown. The Rolex Daytona is available in a range of materials including gold, platinum, and steel, and the most modern versions also have ceramic bezels.

 

The Breitling Chronomat

Popular Luxury Chronographs: Breitling Chronomat

Along with Heuer and Hamilton, Breitling was part of a consortium to develop the world’s first automatic chronograph movement. In fact, long before that, Léon Breitling—the founder of Breitling—was instrumental in the development of the modern-day chronograph.

Presented in the early 1940s, the Breitling Chronomat included an integrated slide rule along with the time and chronograph functions. Since the watch allowed for complex calculations, it quickly became the go-to timepiece for mathematicians and scientists of the era.

Fast-forward to the 1980s and the Chronomat made headlines again. During what is now referred to as the “Quartz Crisis” Breitling took a bold step by reintroducing the Chronomat. But this time, it ran on an automatic mechanical movement. The bet paid off and the Chronomat has since become one of Breitling’s most popular chronographs available in a range of metals, colors, and additional functions.

 

The Breitling Navitimer

Popular Luxury Chronographs: Breitling Navitimer

A direct descendant of the Chronomat, the Breitling Navitimer came out in 1952. Taking it a step further from its predecessor, the Navitimer incorporated an enhanced slide rule bezel. By allowing pilots to compute complex navigational calculations, the Navitimer became the quintessential aviator’s chronograph.

Although the Breitling Navitimer has undergone several enhancements throughout its 65-year history, the fundamental design traits are still there. For instance, a very technical dial and a large case.

Today, the Navitimer collection is Breitling’s signature line. In addition to in-house movements, the Navitimer also offers a variety of additional functions to the chronograph. There are Navitimers with GMT, World Timer, and others functions.

 

The IWC Portuguese Chronograph

Luxury Chronographs: IWC Portuguese Chronograph

The IWC Portuguese collection did not begin as a chronograph. However, the chronograph version became the company’s most successful watch ever produced since its introduction in the 1990s.

The inaugural Portuguese dates back to the 1930s. Two businessmen from Portugal commissioned large wrist watches from the International Watch Company. To this day, the look of the IWC Portuguese is very much like a pocket watch. Take note of the railway style minute track. The dials of the IWC Portuguese Chronograph watches are minimalistic and beautifully balanced while the bezels are super slim.

Always presented on a leather band, both steel and gold IWC Portuguese Chronograph watches lean more towards a dress timepiece than a sports watch.

 

The chronograph has always been a very popular luxury watch choice. As a result, every fine watchmaker includes several versions in their collections. And that’s great for the consumer because that means plenty of styles, sizes, materials, and price points to choose from.

Watch Education: Is My Watch Automatic, Battery Powered, or Hand Wound?

While the style of the watch—from the case to the dial to the bracelet—is what gets noticed first, for many watch enthusiasts, what lies underneath is just as important. In watch-speak, the mechanism that powers a timepiece is referred to as a movement or a caliber. Read on to find out what the three main types of watch movements are and the famous luxury watches that house them.

Omega Caliber 1861What is a Hand-Wound Mechanical Watch Movement?

The most traditional watch movement is what is referred to as a hand-wound or manual-wound movement. As its name suggests, a watch that runs on this type of caliber requires the wearer to manually wind the crown of the watch regularly to keep it going. Turning the crown winds the mainspring, where the energy of the watch is stored. In simplest terms, that energy is then distributed through the gear train, balance wheel, and escapement to drive the hands around the dial to indicate the time. Depending on the power reserve of movement—how long energy is stored before it runs out of juice—a manual watch needs to be wound anywhere from daily to weekly. The biggest advantage of a hand-wound mechanical movement—aside from prestige and tradition—is that its construction is thinner than its automatic counterpart. Therefore, manual calibers are typically found in ultra-thin timepieces. For example, many models within Patek Philippe’s signature Calatrava collection contain manual movements. Furthermore, there’s Omega’s famed Speedmaster Professional “Moonwatch,” which has the distinction of being the first watch to journey to the moon. Powered by hand-wound movements, the original 1957 Speedmaster Professional contained the Caliber 321, followed by the Caliber 861, and finally the Caliber 1861.

Rolex Datejust MovementWhat is an Automatic Watch Movement?

An automatic or self-winding movement is also a mechanical caliber, but it doesn’t require manual winding. Rather, it winds itself automatically via a rotor that moves back and forth thanks to the natural motion of the wearer’s wrist. As the rotor moves, it winds the mainspring, which subsequently powers the watch. The leading benefit of an automatic movement is prestige mixed with practicality. As long as it is worn, an automatic watch will keep running without the need for manual winding or battery. Automatic movements are prevalent in luxury watches today. Take for example Rolex’s famous Caliber 3135 found within the Datejust, Submariner, Yacht-Master, and Sea-Dweller watches. There’s also the Caliber 3155 of the Day-Date, the Caliber 3186 of the GMT-Master II, and the Caliber 4130 of the Daytona. While some top watchmakers manufacture in-house movements, many of them also depend on ébauche movements. These are unassembled movement parts that are then built and modified by the watch companies as they see fit. Famous ones include the Valjoux 7750 movement and the ETA 2892-A2—both used by watch brands like Omega, TAG Heuer, Breitling, and IWC.

What is a Quartz Watch Movement?

A quartz movement is one that depends on a battery for energy. Seiko unleashed the world’s first mass-produced quartz watch in 1969 with the Astron. Not only are quartz movements more accurate than mechanical ones, they’re also cheaper and faster to produce. As a result, this technological breakthrough almost eliminated the Swiss watch industry in the 1970s and 1980s. Swiss watches not only bounced back, but most leading luxury Swiss watch companies today include quartz models in their lineup. For example, there’s the Cartier Panthère, the OMEGA Constellation, the TAG Heuer Aquaracer, and the Breitling Colt. In fact, Breitling flaunts that their SuperQuartz movement is ten times more accurate than a standard quartz caliber.

Aside from opening up the watch, an easy way to tell if a watch is quartz is to look at the seconds hand. A quartz watch will have the once-every-second ticking action while a mechanical piece will feature smoother sweeping strokes around the dial.

Manual, Automatic, or Quartz Movement?

The discussion of watch movements can be a heated one among the watch crowd with loyal fans in each camp. However, the truth is, each caliber brings its own advantages (and disadvantages) to the table. Like any other component of a timepiece, a particular movement—whether manual, automatic, or quartz—should suit the wearer’s lifestyle, budget, and taste.

Watch Highlight: OMEGA Speedmaster Reduced 3534.71.00

The Speedmaster is without a doubt OMEGA’s most famous model. Launched in 1957, the Speedmaster rose to fame as the watch that made it to the moon on the historic Apollo 11 lunar landing. Since its debut, OMEGA has offered countless versions of the Speedmaster chronograph, including this Speedmaster Reduced ref. 3534.71.00. Let’s get a closer look at the details.

What is the Speedmaster Reduced?

OMEGA unveiled the Speedmaster Reduced model in 1988 to complement the Speedmaster Professional collection of watches. Compared to the 42mm size of the Professional, the Reduced measures a smaller 39mm. Furthermore, while the Speedmaster Professional is famous for its manual-wound movement, the Reduced line features automatic calibers instead. As a result, the layout of the dial is slightly different, as are the positions of the winding crown and pushers at 2 and 4 o’clock. It’s worth noting that the Speedmaster Reduced is sometimes referred to as the Speedmaster Automatic.

The Omega Speedmaster Mother Of Pearl

The particular OMEGA Speedmaster Reduced watch is the ref. 3534.71.00 sporting a 39mm stainless steel case with the characteristic tachymeter bezel. Flanking the winding crown on the case are the chronograph pushers. As we mentioned, these are positioned differently to the Professional models. Rather than the straight alignment on the Speedmaster Pro watches, the winding crown of the Speedmaster Reduced is positioned lower than the accompanying pushers. This is due to the movement within, which we’ll discuss in more detail below. Housed within the case is a white mother-of-pearl dial with blue oversized Arabic numerals. Also on the dial are the three registers at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock. Compared to the Professional models, the Speedmaster Reduced watches have the subdials placed further out from the center and closer to the edge. Additionally, the arrangement is slightly different where the registers at 3 and 9 o’clock are reversed, thus placing the small seconds at 3 o’clock. Protecting the face of the watch is sapphire crystal and the Speedmaster Automatic ref. 3534.71.00 can safely plunge down to 330 feet (100 meters) deep underwater. This particular stainless steel model is presented on a matching stainless steel bracelet where the center links are decorated with fine lines for a dressier effect. Super comfortable to wear and great to look at—the perfect combo.

Omega 3220 Caliber

OMEGA introduced an automatic caliber to the Speedmaster line in 1972. That was the Caliber 1040, which was developed in collaboration with Lemania. Driving the Speedmaster Reduced ref. 3534.71.00 however, is the newer and updated Omega 3220 caliber. A self-winding caliber that was introduced in 2000, this particular movement is based on the ETA 2890-A2, along with a Dubois-Dépraz 2020 chronograph module. With 46 jewels and a rhodium-plated finish, the Omega 3220 caliber offers 40 hours of power reserve. Among the wide selection of OMEGA Speedmaster watches, the Reduced ref. 3534.71.00 is a great choice for those looking for a smaller and less expensive model. Plus, thanks to its automatic movement, the Speedmaster Reduced is a practical watch to have on hand.

 

Part sporty, part elegant, this unisex OMEGA Automatic is undoubtedly a great everyday luxury chronograph.

Watch Highlight: Rolex Datejust Ref. 16220

Rolex certainly doesn’t have a shortage of “firsts” to its name. It all started with the world’s first waterproof wristwatch in 1926 with the Rolex Oyster. Then, in 1931, Rolex followed up with the Oyster Perpetual—the world’s first automatic watch mechanism equipped with a Perpetual rotor. A little over a decade later, in 1945, Rolex offered up yet another groundbreaking innovation with the world’s first self-winding wristwatch with a date indicator on the dial. An automatic watch that could indicate both time and date was an incredibly big deal in the 1940s. Rolex named that watch the Oyster Perpetual Datejust, or Datejust for short. While the inaugural model was crafted in 18k yellow gold and presented on a Jubilee bracelet, there have been countless iterations of the watch since it was first released. In fact, a major appeal of the Datejust is the immense variety of the collection.

The Design of the Rolex Datejust Ref. 16220

Rolex produced the stainless steel Datejust ref. 16220 from 1989 to 1996. Like other Datejust models such as the Datejust 16014, 1601, 16234, and 16233, it sports the traditional 36mm Oyster case. It’s important to note that although 36mm sounds small — particularly considering today’s watch trends — the Datejust wears larger due to the design of the case and lugs. Many are surprised at just how great it fits on a man’s wrist. As with most Datejust models, this reference offers plenty of dial options including different colors and indexes. Furthermore, the Datejust ref. 16220 also comes paired with either the dressier Jubilee five-link bracelet or the sportier three-link Oyster bracelet. The most distinguishing detail of the Datejust ref. 16220, however, is its engine-turned stainless steel bezel, which is not too common when considering Rolex catalog. Stainless steel bezels on Rolex Datejust watches are typically smooth. On the other hand, the iconic Rolex fluted bezel is always in gold, whether white, yellow, or pink. As a result, the Datejust ref. 16220’s engine-turned bezel offers a great balance between the classic elegance of the fluted bezel and the contemporary appeal of stainless steel.

 

 The Mechanics of the Rolex Datejust Ref. 16220

Beating at the core of the Datejust ref. 16220 is the famous in-house Rolex Caliber 3135 automatic movement. It includes the instantaneous date change feature, thus allowing the date to instantly “jump” to the next date at midnight. The Caliber 3135 is also a “quick-set” movement, meaning that the date can be changed independently from the hour hand. Due to its practicality, this feature is a must-have for many Rolex fans. The 3135 mechanical movement operates at 28,800 beats per hour and offers a respectable 48-hour power reserve.Beating at the core of the Datejust ref. 16220 is the famous in-house Rolex Caliber 3135 automatic movement. It includes the instantaneous date change feature, thus allowing the date to instantly “jump” to the next date at midnight. The Caliber 3135 is also a “quick-set” movement, meaning that the date can be changed independently from the hour hand. Due to its practicality, this feature is a must-have for many Rolex fans. The 3135 mechanical movement operates at 28,800 beats per hour and offers a respectable 48-hour power reserve.

The quintessential Rolex timepiece, the Datejust is a luxury watch that offers a rich history with a distinct and timeless design, along with modern practicality. And thanks to its intriguing bezel, the Rolex ref. 16220 is a Datejust that proudly stands out among its siblings.