The Tatler Watch Glossary: M To W

Watches & Jewellery

July 4, 2018 | BY Christian Barker

The world of watches can be confusingly complicated—in more ways than one. We break down some of the key terms the budding horology enthusiast needs to comprehend

Mechanical Movement

The heart of a proper timepiece, a mechanical movement is powered by a coiled mainspring that is wound up (either manually, commonly by turning the crown, or through the action of an automatic rotor) and functions by gradually unwinding, releasing pent up energy, much as one does with several glasses of wine at the end of the day.

Moon Phase

A complication that tracks the current phase of the moon in the lunar cycle. While most useful for fishermen and deer hunters, oddly enough, this function is frequently found on dainty ladies’ watches.

Perpetual Calendar

One of the most sought-after complications, a perpetual calendar displays the date, month and sometimes year, and cleverly self-adjusts to account for the months’ disparate lengths, as well as the extra day in February during a leap year. If kept wound, a perpetual calendar watch will remain accurate for the next 82 years (leap years are skipped at the turn of a century), at which point your grandchild will need to begrudgingly make a minor adjustment.

Power Reserve

Power Reserve refers to the amount of energy a watch can store. Most quality mechanical timepieces today will keep ticking for 36-72 hours before needing a boost.

Quartz Movement

Developed in the late 1960s, this is a low-cost, highly-accurate, battery-powered movement that sends an electrical signal through a piece of crystal quartz to keep the watch’s hands ticking.

See also: 6 One-Of-A-Kind Watches You Can Own

Swiss Made

A watch can legitimately claim this appellation if its movement was assembled, started, adjusted and controlled in Switzerland. Not to be confused with Swiss Maid, a role-play tactic that can be used to keep marital relations spicy.

Tachymeter

Sounds like a device measuring the level of kitsch, but is in fact a device on a chronograph watch gauging speed travelled over a given distance.

Tourbillon

Initially developed to counteract the ill effects of gravity on pocket watches, which were worn in the same position throughout the day. The tourbillon does increase a watch’s accuracy, however today it’s most commonly utilised to indicate wealth, with the presence of a tourbillon almost guaranteeing a hefty price tag—and all the status symbolism that confers.

Waterproof

In watchmaking, there’s no such thing. Watches can attain near imperviousness to moisture—timepieces tested as water resistant to 100 metres (330 feet/10 ATM) can safely be used for swimming and light snorkelling, while those boasting more than 200 metres water resistance are suitable for scuba and water sports.

But even the sturdiest dive watch has its limits and—like Trump’s White House—will eventually spring leaks when placed under tremendous pressure.

See more from the Tatler Watch Glossary.

Illustration: Emma Hope Reed

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