Guide to Watch Buying – Part Three

Dec 13, 2010

Our watch buying guide continues (click here to see Guide to Watch Buying – Part One and Guide to Watch Buying – Part Two) by taking a look at the various functions available in watches:


Calendar watches– Have a feature that shows the day of the month and often the day of the week and the year. There are several types of calendar watches. Some show the date and day of the week with subdials and analog hands. Others have a scale on the outer rim of the watch face numbered from 1 to 31 for the days of the month. Others show the day, date and sometimes the year digitally through an aperture on the watch face.
Moon phase watches- Have a window in a watch face that shows which phase the moon is in. A disk beneath the window with two pictures of a moon rotates as the month progresses revealing gradually larger or smaller segments of the picture.


Multi-Zone watches– Show the current time in two or more time zones simultaneously.
World timer watches– Watches with a dial usually on the outer edge of the watch face that tells the time in up to 24 time zones around the world. The time zones are represented by the names of the cities printed on the bezel or the dial. The wearer reads the hour in a particular time zone by looking at the scale next to the city that the hour hand is pointing to. The minutes are read as normal.


Water resistant watches– The case, crown, push buttons and crystal of a watertight watch are made in such a way that no dust or water can penetrate, providing longtime protection of the internal parts. Water-resistant watches should be tested once a year and opened only by a qualified watchmaker. Most manufacturers avoid the term “waterproof” as no internal standard has been devised. Waterproof is not a legal term in the US. Water resistant watches can have the following feature:
Screw-lock crown– A crown that can be screwed into the case to make the watch watertight.
Tidal watches– Indicate high and low tides. A must for yachtsmen.
Yacht timer– A countdown timer (see “countdown timer”) that sounds warning signals during the countdown to a boat race.
Diver’s watches– Watches able to withstand water pressure up to a specific depth without incurring damage. These can have the following features:
Depth sensor/ meter– a device on a diver watch that determines the wearer’s depth.
Depth alarm– An alarm on a diver’s watch that sounds when the wearer exceeds a pre-set depth. In most watches it stops sounding when the diver ascends above that depth.
ATM– 1 atm. Is the pressure of 1kg. cm2 and corresponds to 10 meters of depth.
Altimeter– A device that determines altitude by responding to changes in barometric pressure.


Chronograph– A watch which not only indicates the time of the day in hours, minutes and seconds, but is also equipped with an additional mechanism- operated manually by push buttons-which makes it possible to measure continuous or discontinuous intervals of time, from a fraction of a second to 12 hours.
Chronometer– Not to be confused with a chronograph, this term is assigned to watches that have undergone thorough and intensive testing at an official laboratory or an official institute. A chronometer is a precision instrument and is accompanied by a certificate.
Stopwatch– An instrument, usually a pocket watch, which only measures intervals of time and does not indicate the time of day. A stopwatch can be incorporated into a standard watch; both the stopwatch function and the timepiece would then be referred to as a “chronograph.”
Countdown timer– A function that lets the wearer keep track of how much of a pre-set period of time has elapsed. Some countdown timers sound a warning signal a few seconds before time runs out- these are usually events such as yacht races, where the sailor must maneuver the boat into position before the start of race.
Sweep seconds-hand– A seconds-hand that is mounted in the center of the watch dial.
Telemeter– Determines the distance of an object from the observer by measuring how long it takes sound to travel that distance. Like a tachymeter, it consists of a stopwatch or chronograph, and a special scale, usually on the outermost edge of the watch face. One use of a telemeter would be determining the distance of a storm from its observer.
Tachymeter– probably the most common feature on a chronograph, a tachymeter (also called tachometer) measures the speed at which the wearer has traveled over a measured distance. The wearer starts the chronograph when passing the starting point and stops it when passing the finish. The wearer can then read the speed in units, in this case, miles per hour, off the tachymeter scale.
Lap timer– A chronograph function that lets the wearer time segments of a race. At the end of a lap, he stops the timer, which then returns to zero, to begin timing the next lap.
Lap memory– The ability, in some quartz sport watches, to preserve in the watch’s memory the times of laps in a race that have been determined by the lap timer (see lap timer). The wearer can recall these times on a digital display by pushing a button.
12-hour recorder (or register) – a subdial on a chronograph (see “chronograph”) that can time periods of up to 12 hours.
Alarm– A device that sounds a signal at a pre-set time.
Yacht timer– A countdown timer (see “countdown timer”) that sounds warning signals during the countdown to a boat race.
Rotating bezel-a bezel (the ring which holds the crystal) that can be turned. Different types of rotating bezels perform different timekeeping and mathematical functions (see “elapsed time rotating bezel”, uni-directional rotating bezel”, and “slide-rule”.)
Elapsed time rotating bezel– a graduated rotating bezel (see “rotating bezel”) used to keep track of periods of time. The bezel can be turned so the wearer can align the zero on the bezel with the watch’s seconds’ or minutes’ hands. He can then read the elapsed time off the bezel. This saves him having to perform the subtraction that would be necessary if he used the watch’s regular dial.
Uni-directional rotating bezel– An elapsed time rotating bezel (see “elapsed time rotating bezel”) often found on diver watches, that moves only in a counterclockwise direction. It is designed to prevent a diver who has unwittingly knocked the bezel off its original position from overestimating his remaining air supply. Because the bezel moves in only one direction, the diver can err only on the side of safety when timing his dive. Many diver watches are ratcheted, so that they lock into place for greater safety.
Slide rule– A device, consisting of logarithmic or other scales on the outer edge of the watch face, that can be used to do mathematical calculations. One of the scales is marked on a rotating bezel, which can be slid against the stationary scale to make the calculations. Some watches have slide rules that allow specific calculations, such as for fuel consumption by an airplane.
Flyback hand– A seconds hand on a chronograph (see “chronograph”) that can be used to time laps or to determine finishing times for several competitors in a race. Usually has two sweep second hands, one positioned above the other. When the timer is running, the hands appear as one. When the start/ stop button is activated while the chronograph mechanism is running, one hand stops to record a lap time etc. and the other continues to run. Activating the start/ stop button causes the hand to return to the original position in tandem with the running sweep hand.
Auto repeat countdown timer– A countdown timer (see “countdown timer”) that resets itself as soon as the preset time has elapsed and starts the countdown again. It repeats the countdown continuously until the wearer pushes the stop button.
Subdial– A small dial within a watch dial used for any of several purposes, such as keeping track of elapsed minutes or hours on a chronograph or indicating the date.

For more information about Nashville watches and Miami watches that are available at King Jewelers, please visit our locations in Aventura, FL and Nashville, TN, or visit our website at


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