Watches are one of the best investment pieces you can make when it comes to purchasing jewellery, especially since most people wear some type of watch every day.

You may think “I don’t need a watch, I have a phone”. Watches, however, are about so much more than telling the time; they really are about style and status. Some people say you can tell everything you need to know about a person simply based on the watch that they wear.

Typically, people own three watches: a sports watch, an everyday watch and one you can wear for special occasions like weddings or a night on the town.

Now, have you ever tried to shop for that special occasion timepiece or an extra fancy everyday watch? It sure can feel like watches have their own language.

To help you purchase your next watch, we’ve broken down all of the terminology you need to know with our watch buyer’s dictionary.

Automatic Watch

Back in the day, you used to have to physically wind your watch in order for it to keep running.

Technology, however, has obviously advanced since then. An automatic watch winds itself by the movement of your wrist and arm.


The bezel is the metal piece that surrounds the crystal that covers the face of the watch. On dive watches, the bezel can rotate for timing or other measurements.


A chronograph is a watch that features a stopwatch function in addition to the normal function of telling time. Chronographs can be either quartz (battery operated) or mechanical, operated by buttons on the side of the case.


Everyone knows Switzerland for their history with watches and they are still highly regarded in the watch industry. A chronometer is a watch that has been certified by the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute.

These watches undergo rigorous tests to measure the accuracy of the watch when exposed to different environments and temperatures. Mechanical watches must be accurate within a range of -4/+6 seconds per day and quartz watches must accurate within a range of +/-0.07 seconds per day.


A complication is any function of the watch that goes beyond telling the time. This could include a stopwatch (chronograph), calendar or even a moon phase indicator.

The more complications, the more difficult the watch is to make and therefore, the more expensive it will be.


The crown is the small knob on the side of the case that is used to set the time. In a mechanical watch, the crown is the piece you would wind to keep the watch running.


Crystal is the clear cover that covers and protects the face of the watch. Despite its name, it can be made from either glass, acrylic or synthetic sapphire.

Synthetic sapphire is the most expensive to make, but it’s much more durable and scratch-resistant compared to the other crystal materials.

Exhibition Case Back

Also known as an open case back, an exhibition case back is a transparent piece on the underside of the watch that reveals the inner mechanics of the watch.


Frequency is the rate at which the watch ticks, measured in hertz or vibrations per hour. High-end contemporary watches beat at 4Hz.


Jewels are synthetic gemstones like rubies and sapphires used as bearings to reduce friction between the moving parts to increase the longevity of the watch.


The movement of a watch is the inner-workings that can either be mechanical (automatic or hand-wound) or quartz (battery operated). Switzerland is still a main manufacturer of high-end movements, both quartz and mechanical.

Power Reserve

Once the watch is wound, the power reserve is the amount of time the watch will run. The more high-end the watch, the larger its power reserve.

Most entry-level watches can run for about 40 hours.


A quartz watch is one powered by batteries. The battery sends an electric signal via a microchip circuit to a small quartz crystal that then vibrates at a precise rate, powering the watch hands.

Quartz watches are less expensive and more accurate than mechanical watches, however, watch enthusiasts still tend to favour mechanical watches due to their complexity.


Similar to an exhibition case back, a skeleton exposes the inner workings of the watch.


The tourbillon is an internal component of a watch that is housed in a rotating cage meant to counter the negative effects of gravity on the movement.

This movement was originally designed for pocket watches but are now showcased in wristwatches to demonstrate the height of their skills.


A winder is a box or watchcase that gently rocks back and forth to wind automatic watches while they are not being worn.

There you have it! The complete watch buyer’s dictionary to help you in your search for the perfect watch.

Watches make great gifts for both men and women and come in a wide range of prices. If you ever have any questions or need advice on what watch would be the best accessory for your everyday life, stop by J.H. Young in Brantford, we are always happy to help!