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Common Questions

Common Questions

Let’s answer some of the common questions we get about watches.

The art of watchmaking is called horology

A watch is made up of:

  • a calibre/movement (can be in-house, factory made or ebauched)
  • a case to hold the movement (can be made of steel, gold, platinum, titanium, bronze, wood etc)
  • case front (can be sapphire crystal or acrylic or mineral glass) and a case back (can also be any of the afore-mentioned or solid metal so it isn’t see through)
  • a dial or face to display the time (and other complications)
  • a band (NB the bits that stick out of a case to secure a band are called ‘lugs’)
A movement (or calibre) in is the mechanism inside the watch case that measures the passage of time (and possibly other information including date, month and day). Movements may be entirely mechanical (with moving parts), entirely electronic (potentially with no moving parts), or a blend of the two.
  • Quartz or Electronic movements (or modules as they are known) have few or no moving parts, as they use the piezoelectric effect in a tiny quartz crystal to provide a stable time base for a mostly electronic movement. The crystal forms a quartz oscillator which resonates at a specific and highly stable frequency, and which can be used to accurately pace a timekeeping mechanism. For this reason, electronic watches are often called quartz watches.
  • Mechanical movements, as the name suggests use various mechanical parts in an escapement mechanism to control and limit the unwinding and winding parts of a spring. Mechanical movements also use a balance wheel together with the balance spring (also known as a hairspring) to control motion of the gear system of the watch. similar in function to the pendulum of a pendulum clock. There are basically 2 main types of mechanical movements:


– automatic: A self-winding or automatic watch is one that rewinds the mainspring of a mechanical movement by the natural motions of the wearer’s body. The back-and-forth motion of the winding rotor couples to a ratchet to automatically wind the mainspring. Self-winding watches can also be wound manually so they can be kept running when not worn or if the wearer’s wrist motions are inadequate to maintain the power reserve, but this is not recommended as it places excessive wear on the internal parts. The best is to check the movement in your watch and the manufacturer’s recommendations.

– manual: Traditional mechanical watch movements use a spiral spring called a mainspring as a power source. In manual watches the spring must be rewound periodically (usually daily) by the wearer by turning the watch crown, hence the term hand-wound or manual movement.

The display is what we would think of as the watch face and 2 main categories exist.

Analogue: numbers and moving hands

Digital: crystal display

A complication refers to an additional feature of a watch movement beyond the standard time-telling functions ie hours, minutes.

Examples of complications include: day/date, perpetual calendars, moon phase displays, alarms, repeating mechanisms, power reserve indicators, quarter strikes as well as stop/start chronograph functions.

Today very few watch manufacturers can actually call themselves true manufacturers as they do not produce their own complete movements in house but rather use high quality Swiss movements from companies such as ETA/Sellita/Valjoux/AS or adapt existing movements in some way( adapting an existing movement is called ‘ebauching’).


It is important to note that the use of high grade Swiss movements in no way diminishes the worth, reliability or functionality of a timepiece as these Swiss movement manufacturers have generations of experience and product knowledge to back their movements.  They also manufacture a range of movements to varying levels and complications for use in simple manual watches through to high-end watches with complications.


However, due to the huge investment & specialised skills required to develop and produce in-house movements, very few companies opt to do this and when they do it is generally a stunning and impressive piece of horology.  For this reason, in-house movements tend to be more costly and more collectable.

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