Watch and Clock Terminology

ALARM: Sound a clock or watch makes to awaken the sleeper at a certain time. Bulova produce a number of alarm clocks to help you get to work on time with varied sounds, including bell, double bell, chirp, beep, buzz and melody. Some Bulova watches are also fitted with an alarm which will either beep at a preset time or vibrate on your wrist.

ANALOG/DIGITAL: A watch or clock that has both an analog display, has a face with hands, and also a digital display like a calculator.

ANALOG: The traditional method of displaying the time by means of hour, minute and second hands.

ANNIVERSARY: Brass and crystal clocks that show time in constant motion. So called when invented because they needed winding just once a year on their anniversaries.

ANNUAL CALENDAR: A watch that will run for a full year without having to be reset. It will have to be reset at the end of February, the only month that varies in the number of days.

ANTI-MAGNETIC: Under Federal Trade Commission rules, a watch is considered anti-magnetic if it is placed in an electrical field of 60 gauss (electromagnetic units) for at least five seconds in each of two positions and the daily rate does not move by more than fifteen seconds. All Bulova watches meet this test, and can be worn with the assurance that magnetic influences will not affect them.

ATM: Atmosphere as in air pressure where one atmosphere is equal to ten meters of water pressure. 'Atmosphere' and 'bar' mean the same thing.

ARABIC NUMERALS: Most familiar numeral style (1,2,3, etc.,) used on clock and watch dials.

AUTOMATIC SELF-WINDING: This is a mechanical 'ticking' watch that has a rotating weight (oscillator) inside the watch that winds the mainspring in response to the movement of the wrist. As long as you wear the watch everyday and are fairly active, it will never need winding. Some watches have a power reserve indicator on the dial telling you how many hours of run time it has left.

BALANCE WHEEL: This flywheel is powered through the main spring and keeps a constant speed to measure time.

BASE METAL: (marking on case) A non-precious metal used in the manufacture of watch cases.

BEVELED GLASS: Glass used in a clock case with an angled surface beginning about � inch from the edge.

BEZEL: The front section of a clock case, including the grooved rim into which the crystal is set. The ring that goes around the outside of the watch face or dial that can hold the crystal in place. In some watches (e.g., Divers' watches) this can be rotated to show elapse time as well as other functions.

BILINGUAL: Day of the week available in two languages, usually English and Spanish. To ascertain whether a watch is equipped with this feature, set the day of the week to see if two languages alternate.

CABINET OF CASE: Wooden enclosure of the movement, dial and pendulum of a clock.

CABOCHON: A number of the ladies' Bulova watches have a Cabochon crown. This refers to a polished decorative stone placed in the watch crown or winder.

CALENDAR: Many of the Bulova watches not only show the time but also the date and even the day of the week. This is usually displayed through a square window at the 3 o'clock position on the watch face but sometimes it can be an analog display (a sub dial) on a chronograph.

CALIBER: Denotes the design of a movement, both quartz and mechanical.

CARRIAGE CLOCK: Unit with handle on top. Originally designed to enable it to be carried from room to room.

CASE: The protective covering surrounding a watch movement. Usually this is made from base metal, stainless steel, gold, etc., and includes a bezel, back and crystal.

CHAPTER RING: A decorative ring on the clock face upon which the hours are indicated. A feature on most traditional design Mantel clocks.

CHIME: An audible signal, usually a beep for a watch, on the hour to mark the passage of time.

CHIME MELODY: Tune played by a clock movement in portions to mark the quarter hour, half hour, three-quarter hour and hour.

CHIP: A minute square made of silicon, onto which integrated circuits are 'imprinted'. Used in Quartz watches.

CHRONOGRAPH: Any and all watches that have a build in timer or stop watch function.

CHRONOMETER: Term used to identify a watch which conforms to a standard set by the Swiss Official Chronometer Control (C.O.S.C.) as tested under various temperatures and conditions. Oddly enough this standard was originally introduced to classify high quality Swiss watches accurate to plus seven seconds and minus two seconds a day - not very exacting for today's quartz movements.

CLASP: The attachment used to connect the two ends of a watch bracelet or strap around the wrist.

COUNTDOWN: A chronograph feature in some LCD watches that permits counting backwards, such as during the launching of space vehicles, or to make the alarm ring after a predetermined time.

CROWN: The crown of the watch is the stem or pin that protrudes from the right of the watch face and allows the user to adjust the time and date settings on the watch. It also allows for winding the mainspring on manual watches. On some watches the crown can be screwed down into position to improve the efficiency of it's waterproofing.

CRYSTAL: The mineral or synthetic covering over the watch dial. In clocks, the glass or plastic piece that covers the dial for protection.

DEPLOYMENT BUCKLE (CLASP): A clasp that, when open, increases the circumference of a watch bracelet while keeping both ends connected, facilitating ease of removal.

DIAL: The face of an analog watch or the face of a clock. A decorative plate on which the hours of a clock are located.

DIGITAL WATCH OR CLOCK: A watch or clock that shows the time like a calculator display rather than through a dial with hands like an analog watch or clock.

DIVER'S WATCH: A watch that is water resistant to about 600 feet (200M) and meets the requirements of the International Standards Organization (ISO). These watches are often fitted with a screw down crown or push pull crown with double gaskets to prevent it from being pulled into a setting position underwater. Usually equipped with a rotating one way bezel to enable a diver to ascertain the minutes of oxygen supply left in the tank; one way, so that it cannot be accidentally moved to increase the time setting.

EQUATION OF TIME: A watch that differentiates between solar time and siderial time.

ESCAPEMENT: A mechanism in a mechanical clock or watch that regulates the discharge of the mainspring and controls the speed of the rotation of the cogs and hence the motion of the hands.

FINIAL: A decorative accessory, usually in wood or brass, forming the upper extremity of a column or structure. Often used to compliment design on Grandfather clock cabinets.

FOLD-OVER BUCKLE: A folding clasp which secures the two ends of the bracelet and allows enough room to place the watch on the wrist when fully open. When closed, the buckle covers the two-piece folding mechanism.

FULL CALENDAR: A watch that shows the date, the month and the day of the week.

GEAR TRAIN: The arrangement of cogs which transmit the discharge of the mainspring to the escapement mechanism.

GENEVA STRIPES: A pattern on a watch movement.

GMT: Greenwich Mean Time, as dictated by the international clock in Greenwich, England, the only official worldwide time and originating from the location of the position of zero longitude. (Used by commercial pilots worldwide)

GRANDE COMPLICATION: A watch with a split second chronograph feature and a perpetual calendar and a minute repeater and possibly even more complications.

GRANDE SONNERIE: A watch that chimes out the hours, both hours and quarters, automatically or when a lever is activated.


GUILLOCHE: Engraving with a pattern on the dial of a watch, either lines or waves or circles etc.,

HANDS: Usually decorative indicators which point to the hours, minutes and seconds on a dial.

KEYWOUND: A spring driven clock that is wound with a key or crank.

KINETIC or MOTION QUARTZ: A particular design of watch which uses the kinetic energy of the movement of the wrist of a wearer to charge a battery or capacitor which powers the quartz movement. These watches never need a battery and have the accuracy of quartz. Some Bulova models can store sufficient power to keep time for up to two months without the need to wear them. See Men's Bulova Millennia models for examples of this type of mechanism.

INTEGRATED BRACELET: A bracelet that matches the design of the watch case. See the Bulova bracelet collection.

JEWELS: Very small manufactured sapphires and rubies that act as bearings for gears in a mechanical watch. These jewels were first used in luxury watches to help reduce the friction in a mechanical watches' bearings making the mechanism last longer and perform more accurately. Bulovar Caravelle watches were the first watches to become commercially available with fully jeweled movements that competed at the same price range as non-jeweled movements.

JUMPING HOUR: A watch or clock dial which shows only the hour and jumps directly from one hour to the next.

LIGHT EMITTING DIODE (LED): Numbers telling the hours and minutes light up on a read out screen.

LIQUID CRYSTAL DISPLAY (LCD): Most frequently used in quartz alarms and some quartz watches. Time is continuous, displayed in digits.

LUGS: The fork-like projections from the top and bottom of a watch face to which one attaches the watch band.

LYRE: A decorative clock pendulum resembling and ancient musical instrument.

MECHANICAL MOVEMENT: A watch or clock movement powered by a mainspring and regulated by an escapement mechanism and hair spring or pendulum. Bulova still make many designs of traditional 'ticking' pendulum clocks with or without various chiming mechanisms and also a number of high quality self-winding mechanical watches.

MINERAL CRYSTAL: A tempered and hardened crystal that is scratch-resistant, such as Bulova's Dura-Crystal. Keeps watch looking like new and is virtually distortion-free.

MINUTE REPEATER: A watch that chimes out the time, hours and minutes, after a lever is activated.

MINUTE TRACK: Square or circular track divided into 60 equal segments. It may appear on the outer perimeter of the dial or in the dial center.

MODULE: The inside 'works' of a solid state watch.

MOON DIAL: A dial at the top of a clock face that operates on the lunar month of 29 � days and tells which moon phase the moon is in.

MOON PHASE: A watch or clock with a rotating disc that shows the phase of the moon, full, half, crescent, etc.

MOVEMENT: This is a general term for any and all watch and clock mechanisms including both quartz, electronic (Accutron) and mechanical. In a clock, it also produces the strike and chime.

MOTHER OF PEARL: The interior of the shell of an oyster which has been polished to a thin surface and is used on the faces of a number of Bulova fine ladies' watches. While normally off-white in color it can also be pink and light gray.

MULTI-FUNCTION: Usually refers to a watch which can give more information than the time of day, such as Calendar, Chronometer, Dual Time etc.,

PENDULUM: A swinging rod and weight suspended below a clock movement. It accurately determines the rate of operation of the movement. (For more information see 'All About Time')

PERPETUAL CALENDAR: A watch that knows the length of each year, even a leap year. If you keep a perpetual watch running you wont have to reset it until 2100.

POWER CELL: The tiny battery that provides the power in electronic watches.

QUARTZ ANALOG WATCH OR CLOCK; A tiny battery causes a piezoelectric quartz crystal to vibrate 32,768 times a second. These vibrations are then translated by a 'chip' containing computer circuits into impulses that drive a motor that moves the hands. Time is displayed by means of traditional hands.

QUARTZ MOVEMENT: A movement powered by a piezoelectric quartz crystal which, when energized by an electric current, will vibrate at an exact frequency as above.

QUICK-SET: Refers to the rapid setting of day and date in an analog watch.

REGULATOR: Mechanism that can be adjusted to make the clock more accurate.

RETROGRADE DISPLAY: A type of watch or clock display that counts up and then jumps back to zero.

ROMAN DIAL: Roman numerals (I, II, III) are frequently used in traditional style Carriage, Mantle and Grandfather clocks. They are also used in some styles of watch face.

ROTATING BEZEL: A bezel around the watch face that can be turned to perform different functions, depending on the type of watch.

ROTOR: The component in a self-winding mechanical watch that winds the mainspring through the movement of the wearers arm.

SAPPHIRE CRYSTAL: A crystal made of synthetic sapphire, which is transparent and highly scratch-resistant and strong, used to make the glass on many watches. Bulova uses it's own patented Dura-Crystal.

SCHOOLHOUSE CLOCK: Traditional wood cabinet wall clock with a round or octagonal clock case and lower pendulum cabinet. Said to be a true early American design. So called because it was a style most commonly found on classroom walls in American Colonial days.

SECOND TIME-ZONE INDICATOR: This is found on a number of Bulova watches and takes the form of an additional dial. This extra dial can be set to a different time zone so that the 'international traveler' can keep track of both local time and the time back at home.

SHOCK RESISTANT: Under Federal Trade Commission rules, a watch should not stop, or its daily rate be affected by more than 60 seconds, when dropped three feet onto a hardwood surface, to be called shock-resistant. All Bulova watches meet this standard. It means that a Bulova watch can be worn in practically all conditions.

SKELETON: A watch with an open dial so that the movement is visible. A partial skeleton is a watch with part of the face cut away to expose usually the balance wheel.

SNOOZE ALARM: An alarm that sounds more than once, at certain intervals, to assure that the user does not oversleep, or can sleep a bit longer once the first alarm is sounded.

SOLAR POWERED: A watch that uses the energy of natural or artificial light to charge a battery or capacitor to power a quartz movement. Bulova make a number of such watches under both the Bulova Millennia and Bulova Marine Star brands.

SOLEIL: A dial with straight lines radiating from the center that look like the rays of the sun, sometimes called a sun ray dial.

SOLID STATE: A term used to describe quartz watches without moving parts.

SPLIT SECOND (rattrapante) CHRONOGRAPH: A chronograph watch which has two chronograph hands allowing the user to time two different competitors in the same event. The two hands start together and then the next click will stop one hand the the following click will stop the other hand.

STEPPER MOTOR: A miniature motor used to drive the gears which turn the hands in a quartz analog watch. Also called Stepping Motor or Step Motor.

STOPWATCH: A watch with a controllable second hand that can be used to measure time elapsed. This function can be added to a conventional watch to create what is generally referred to as a chronograph.

STRIKE: Chime or gong to indicate the hour.

SUBDIALS: The smaller dials on the face of a watch used to show other functions like day and date or minutes and seconds.

TAMBOUR: A style of clock whose shape is supposedly derived from Napoleon's hat.

TACHYMETER SCALE: A ring of numbers used to indicate ground speed over a measured distance, often found on pilot's watches.

TEMPUS FUGIT: Latin phrase meaning 'Time Flies' usually engraved on a decorative panel on the clock dial. A feature of many Mantel and Grandfather clocks.

TITANIUM: A metal that is used in a number of Bulova watch cases and bracelets because it is much lighter than stainless steel. It is also hypo-allergenic for those wearers that have allergic reactions to many metals but the surface is much softer than steel and prone to scratching. Bulova titanium watches are specially coated to make the surface harder and less susceptible to scratching. Titanium is also the metal of choice for many diving watches as it is very resistant to salt water corrosion.

TONNEAU: A watch case with sides curving outwards to look like a barrel.

TOURBILLON: A devise designed to counteract the effect of gravity on the watch or clock movement's balance, thereby increasing the movement's accuracy. Tourbillon means 'whirlwind' in French and is a small cage which holds the escapement mechanism and the balance and can turn independently to the rest of the watch movement. The tourbillon is constantly rotating, usually at a rate of about once per minute.

WARRANTY: Bulova's 24-month guarantee of quality, dependability, accuracy and service. The Bulova warranty is a full year longer than those offered by the major competitors, assuring you of a perfectly operating timepiece, year after year.

WATER RESISTANCE: The ability of a watch to withstand water. It is generally accepted that most water resistant watches are sufficiently waterproof to withstand accidental splashing with water. For a watch to be suitable to be worn when one goes swimming we recommend that the watch states water resistance to at least 150 feet or 50M.

The Federal Trade Commission has dictated that no watch is truly 'waterproof' and so prohibits manufacturers from stating that any watch sold in the US is waterproof. Instead, we use the term 'water resistant' and further clarify the statement with a maximum recommended depth of water pressure (usually expressed in meters). To be called 'water resistant', the Federal Trade Commission requires that a watch admit no moisture after being immersed for five minutes at a depth of 113 feet (50 lbs per square inch). All Bulova watches marked 'water resistant' have been subject to this test, protecting them from the accidental entry of moisture.

Bulova use a variety of methods to create acceptable levels of water resistance in their watches. At the center of these designs is the use of a silicon rubber 'O' ring for the water seal and a watch back that screws into the watch case. It is important to remember that metal watch components expand and contract at differing rates and for this reason we would not recommend submersing any water resistant watch in hot water. For the same reason one should neither submerse a 'hot' water resistant watch in cold water without first giving it time to cool down.

Our recommendation would be that:-

  • water resistance to 100 feet (30M) is accepted to be splash resistant;

  • water resistance from 150 feet (50M) to 600 feet (200M) is satisfactory for use in shallow swimming;

  • water resistance to 600 feet (200M) and classified as a 'diver's watch' meets the specifications of the International Standards Organization and is considered suitable for scuba diving.

WORLD TIMER: A watch that displays the time in different time zones around the world.