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Glosary 3




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Perpetual calendar: A calendar complications that adjusts automatically to account for different lengths of the month (30 or 31 days) and leap years. Perpetual calendars, which can be powered by quartz or mechanical movements, are programmed to be accurate until the year 2100. Many watch collectors suggest storing mechanical versions in motorized winding boxes when they aren't being worn in order to maintain the calendar countdown.

Power reserve: The amount of energy reserve stored up to keep a watch running until it stops. The remaining power is sometimes indicated by a small gauge on the dial.

Pulsimeter: The scale sometimes found on a chronograph that measures pulse rate.

Quartz movement: A movement which allows a watch to keep time without being wound. This technology employs the vibrations of a tiny crystal to maintain timing accuracy. The power comes from a battery that must be replaced about every 1.5 years. In recent years, new quartz technology enables the watch to recharge itself without battery replacement. This power is generated via body motion similar to an automatic mechanical watch, or powered by light through a solar cell, or even by body heat. A digital quartz watch has no mechanical parts. Most quartz movements are made in Hong Kong, Japan or Switzerland.

Rose (or pink) gold: This softly hued gold contains the same metals as yellow gold but with a higher concentration of copper in the alloy. Long a favorite in Europe, rose gold has become an increasingly popular color in gold, especially in limited edition models.

Skeleton case: A transparent front or back that permits viewing into the inner workings of the watch.

Shock resistant: If shock resistance is specified on a watch case, a watch can withstand normal wear and tear, even during strenuous sport activities. According to U.S. government regulations, the watch must be able to withstand the impact of being dropped onto a wood floor from a height of 3 feet.

Split-second: A feature on a chronograph that actually is two hands, one a flyback; the other a regular hand. To time laps or different finishing times, the wearer can stop the flyback hand independently while the regular hands keeps moving, in effect splitting the hands in two.

Stainless steel: An extremely durable metal alloy (chromium is a main ingredient) that is virtually immune to rust, discoloration, and corrosion; it can be highly polished thus resembling a precious metal. Due to this and the importance of white metal jewelry, steel has become a popular setting for diamonds. Because of its strength, stainless steel is often used watch casebacks made of other metals.

Sterling silver: A white and highly reflective precious metal. Sterling refers to silver that is 92.5 percent pure. The silver fineness should be stamped on the metal, sometimes accompanied by the initials of a designer or country of origin as a hallmark. Although less durable than stainless steel and other precious metals, sterling silver if often employed in watches that coordinate or look like sterling jewelry. A protective coating may be added to prevent tarnishing.

Sweep second hand: A second hand mounted in the center of the dials instead of a subdial.

Tachymeter (also tachometer): A watch function that measures the distance traveled by means of a numerical scale on the watch bezel of a chronograph. Frequently used to determine a speed of a car over a measured distance.

Tank watch: A rectangular watch with heavier bars on either side of the dial, inspired by the tank tracks of World War I and created by Louis Cartier.

Telemeter: Another watch function that finds the distance of an object from the wearer by measuring how long it take sound to travel a distance. Like a tachymeter, a telemeter consists of a stopwatch function and special scale on the dial of a chronograph.

Titanium: The "space age" metal often with a silver-gray appearance. Because it is 30 percent stronger and nearly 50 percent lighter than steel it has been increasingly used in watchmaking, especially sport watch styles. Its resistance to salt water corrosion makes it particularly useful in diver's watches. Since it can be scratched fairly easily, some manufacturers use a patented-coating to resist scratching. Hypoallergenic.

Tonneau watch: A watch with a barrel-shaped case with two convex sides.

Tourbillon: a complicated mechanical movement designed to be more accurate by eliminating errors of motion due to gravity's effect on the movement. It has a cage that holds the escapement and balance in the center which rotates once a minute, canceling out gravity's effect on the mechanism's rotation.

Tritium: An isotope of hydrogen that is used to activate the luminous dots or indices on a watch dial. The radioactivity released in this process is too slight to pose a health risk.

Two-tone: A watch that combines two metals, usually yellow gold and stainless steel in the case of fine watches.

Waterproof: An illegal and misused term: no watch is fully 100 percent waterproof.

Water resistant: A watch bearing the inscription "water resistant" on its caseback can handle light moisture, such as a rainstorm or sink splashes, but should not be worn swimming or diving. If the watch can be submerged in water, it must state at what depth it maintains water resistance, i.e. 50 meters (165 feet) or more on most sport watches. Below 200 meters, the watch may be used for skin diving and even scuba diving depending upon the indicated depths. Sometimes water resistance is measured in atmospheres (ATM): each is equal to 10 meters of water pressure. (Some European made watches use the term "bar" instead). Watch bands other than metal bracelets may not be water resistant. New water-resistant versions of leather as well as nylon, rubber, and other synthetics are available, too.

White gold: Created from yellow gold by incorporating either nickel or palladium to the alloy to achieve a white color. Most watches made of white gold will be 18k.

Yellow gold: The traditionally popular gold used in all gold or gold and stainless steel or other precious metal combinations. Yellow gold watches may be found in 14k or, as found with most European manufacturers, 18k.

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