GLOSSARY FOR TIME
A closer look at what makes a timepiece tick
Coming to terms with horology’s most complicated words
Most automatic timepieces use a larger rotor but Piaget’s Emperador Coussin Tourbillon uses a smaller version. The weighted rotor winds the mainspring by turning on a pivot, moving based on the user’s movement throughout the day.
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The barrel holds the mainspring. When the rotor spins, energy is transferred to the mainspring that is wound up and coiled. A click (which is how you get the sound) stops it from unravelling backward. Energy is released to your gear train as it unwinds.
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A gear train’s job is to transfer energy from the mainspring to the escapement. By multiplying the output rotation with more wheels (like the gears on a biycle), a watch can run longer. The train also divides time into hours, minutes and seconds.
An escapement incrementally manages the release of power from the mainspring. An escape wheel moves in steps thanks to a pallet fork (working with a balance spring) that alternates between stopping and releasing the wheel.
A tourbillon (not found in every watch, mind you) holds the balance wheel, balance spring and escapement in a cage. This cage constantly rotates to counter the effect of gravity on the isochronal properties of the balance wheel and spring.
Bridges are pieces of metal attached to the baseplate via screws to hold wheels and various parts of the movement in place. Bridges are an important factor in shock resistance, and need to be placed correctly to maintain accuracy.
The baseplate is what everything eventually sits on. The finishing or decoration on this part of the movement is often a great indicator of a watchmaker’s level of prestige, with the higher end brands putting plenty of effort in this department.
The minute and hour hands are the core of a timepiece. They tell you when you’re late or when there’s just enough time to grab a quick beer before your date. If these are missing on your timepiece, you’ve either paid too much or it’s out of your league.
Used to adjust the time and dates, the crown can also be used to wind manual timepieces. Instead of a rotor, a crown stem winds the mainspring when turned. It’s also, a great way to pass the time in the morning when you’re having your coffee.
It’s what holds your entire timepiece together. From stainless steel to platinum, the choice of material in your case is an important one. Factors such as weight, waterproofing and scratch resistance are just some to consider.