What Are the Parts of a Mechanical Watch?

4:02 PM

If you are new to the watch world, you may not be familiar with the different parts that make up a mechanical watch. I have put together this basic list of watch parts for anyone who still isn't sure what's what when they read about their favorite wristwatch models. I included photos of each component with a brief description of its function below.

Rolex Oyster Case (photo: Rolex)
Rolex's Oyster case is shown in the photo above in stainless steel with a gold fluted bezel and gold winding crown. The case houses and protects the movement, a small mechanism that powers the watch. The case above is empty, but does have the crystal and Rolex's Cyclops magnifying lens attached. The back of the case, visible through the crystal, is referred to as the case back. Rolex's case backs are all made of metal and screw into the middle case. Other watch brands feature clear case backs that expose the inner workings of the movement.

Dial and Hands of a Rolex Datejust (photo: Rolex)
The dial or watch face is the part of a watch that displays the hour and sometimes minute indicators and conceals the movement from sight on a completed watch. The hands are attached to the dial and move around as the day progresses. Some dials feature date apertures and other displays, like the chronograph of the Daytona, for example. They come in various colors and styles and feature arabic or roman numerals in some configurations.

Rolex Cerachrom Bezel Insert (photo: Rolex)
The bezel is the ring that surrounds the crystal of a watch. Bezels vary from model to model, some with utilitarian purposes and others purely aesthetic. The gold fluted bezel on the Oyster case in the first photo is an example of a bezel that serves an aesthetic purpose. The blue and black bezel in the photo above features a 24-hour display that allows the wearer to set the 24-hour hand of the GMT-Master II to the time of any GMT timezone with the turn of the bezel. The GMT bezel turns clockwise and counterclockwise and is known as a bi-directional bezel. A unidirectional bezel, as seen on the Submariner model, turns only one way.

Rolex's Twinlock Winding Crown (photo: Rolex)
The crown of the watch seals the case from the righthand side and also interacts with the movement to allow the user to adjust the time. Depending on the complication of the movement (a complication is any other function of the watch in addition to telling time) the crown can also be used to adjust other aspects, including the date and countdown timers. Rolex offers Twinlock or Triplock winding crowns with double or triple protection against water entering the case, indicated by the number of dots under the crown logo. The crown must be sealed at all times to protect the movement from water damage.

Rolex 3235 Movement (photo: Rolex)
The watch movement, also known as a caliber or calibre, is the center of operations of the timepiece. It controls the power, functionality and precision of the watch and sits inside the sealed case between the dial and the case back. The movement has a series of component parts that contribute to its functionality, which you can take a look at in the Tech section of this blog. Rolex manufactures their movements in-house and, aside from the materials used for the case and bracelet, the quality of the mechanical movement usually determines the value of the timepiece. Rolex offers their watches with automatic or self-winding movements, meaning that you don't have to wind the crown in order to power the movement.

Gold Rolex Oyster Bracelet with Oysterlock Clasp (photo: Rolex)
The most common Rolex bracelet is the Oyster bracelet shown above in yellow gold. When metal links are involved, you refer to it as a bracelet. Leather and rubber watchbands are what you would call straps. Rolex has a limited number of bracelet and straps options available on their models which you can read about in detail here. Their most notable is the President bracelet that is commonly seen on precious metal configurations of dress watches like the Day-Date or Datejust. The clasp is the part of the bracelet or strap that you open to put it on then close to secure it on your wrist. Rolex has a couple clasp options that you can read about here with various sizes and functions.

For more information on all of the watch parts shown above and an in-depth look at the tech innovations that set Rolex apart from other watchmakers, check out the Tech section of this site and visit the watchmaking section of rolex.com.

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