Watch Anatomy 101: The Parts of a Watch

A look at what makes a watch really tick at Fink's Jewelers.

If you take a second to slow down and think about it, do you understand how your favorite watch works? What happens if you need a watch repair? While there are countless styles of watches, they all contain the same internal components to make them tick, and whether you’re a novice or an experienced lover of designer watches, everyone can benefit from learning about the functions of the nine basic parts of a watch. 

How Does a Watch Work?

Breitling Super Chronomat Diamond Watch

Watches convert energy, whether kinetic or electrical, into the movement of watch parts, turning different gears, mainsprings, barrels, and more to tell the wearer the current time. The nitty gritty details of the functions depend on the type of watch, but whether you are sporting a diamond designer watch or prefer manual winding styles, all watches work in essentially the same way. 

Main Types of Watches

Although the overall design can look similar, understanding the internal workings and potential watch repair for the three main mechanism types can help you find your perfect timepiece:

Automatic: is self-winding, meaning the energy runs off the wearer's movement.

Quartz: is powered by a battery, using a small vibrating piece of quartz crystal regulated by an electronic circuit to keep time. 

Manual winding: does not have a rotor, meaning the wearer has to wind the mechanisms by hand for it to run. 

9 Basic Watch Parts and Components

All designs feature these nine essential watch parts:  

1. The Movement 

The movement of a watch (sometimes known as the caliber) is the engine. It's responsible for powering the various functions of a watch, like the calendar or hands, and keeping time.

The movement is all the tiny gears and details you don't see underneath the watch face—like the man behind the curtain! Different types of movement structures exist for quartz, automatic, and manual wound designs—all of which can be studied if needed during a watch repair.

2. The Dial 

Cartier Tank Must Watch

The dial is the face of the watch where the time is displayed. Depending on the watch, it can feature different markers for the hours, minutes, dates, and more. Generally made from metal, most people choose their designer watches based on their style choices, and whether you're looking for an understated steel watch or an ornate one, there's a type for everyone. 

3. The Hands

There are typically three hands on a watch: one for the hour, one for the minute, and one for the second. Each has its track directed by the movement mechanism to keep accurate time. Depending on the designer, the hands can come in various shapes and styles and can occasionally include more than the basic three to indicate additional functions. If these stop working, it’s an easy watch repair fix.

4. The Crystal 

The crystal is the industry name for the transparent material covering the watch's face, protecting the dial and hands ticking underneath. The so-called "crystal" is often made with a different substance, such as sapphire, plexiglass, or mineral-glass, and can be replaced, if necessary, during watch repair.

5. The Case

The case is the outer casing meant to protect the internal watch parts and movements from any potential damage. Most designer watches use high-end metals like stainless steel or gold, but plastic or ceramic are great alternatives. Any watch case can be embellished with engravings, gemstones, polishing, and plating to create a stylish and unique look.  

6. The Bezel

TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph Watch

A bezel is the ring surrounding the dial that secures the crystal into place. Sometimes, the bezel can be a multifunctional watch part, but when it comes to designer watches, it’s a common area for ornamentation, whether it's a bezel made from gemstones or a rich green watch design.  

7. The Lug

Lugs connect the watch strap to the case using a metal spring bar. The lug is the watch part responsible for connecting the two main components of a watch—giving a designer endless style options and being vital to function. 

8. The Crown

The crown is a small button or dial on the side of the case with two main functions: winding a movement and setting the time and date. Each watch has specific directions for using the crown depending on the type of movement, but they are a vital watch part for every design. 

9. The Strap

The watch strap is the bracelet piece that allows a wearer to attach it to their wrist. These can be made from leather, plastic, metals, nylon, fabric, and more—the designer watch strap options are endless. 

Where is The Logo on a Designer Watch?

Rolex GMT-Master II in Yellow Gold - M126718GRNR-0001 at Fink's Jewelers

Most of the time, high-end designer watches feature their logo directly on the watch face. Other popular choices are the backside of the case, strap, or crown. Wear your favorite designer on your wrist, whether it's your first Rolex or you’re looking to buy your first luxury men’s watch

Some Watches Have Extra Watch Parts

If you’re looking for an anniversary present or interested in adding a sophisticated timepiece to your collection, certain designs have extra functions, also called complications.

If you're looking for a unique designer watch to suit your style, search for pieces with these complications: 

  • AM/PM indicator
  • Battery Reserve
  • Calendar
  • Chronograph
  • Moon phases

Watch Battery Replacement

While watch batteries are designed to be durable and long-lasting, they should be replaced every so often during watch repair. Vintage watches need a battery replacement more often than a modern watch to keep everything working in tip-top shape. Luckily, replacing a watch battery is relatively straightforward, whether you're learning it as a hobby or taking it to a professional watch repair store.

Looking for a Watch Repair?

Oris Aquis Date Watch with Pink Mother of Pearl Dial

Did your vintage watch stop working? Have you noticed any of your watch parts malfunctioning? Our watch repair resources offer specialists on location to provide expert service on your timepieces. It’s important to find a reputable repair team, and whether you purchased your designer watch with us or elsewhere, you can trust our specialists to examine, clean, change batteries, and repair your watch parts. 

Whether you're starting your first watch collection or looking for answers about watch parts or watch repair, understanding a watch's key components will make you feel like an expert in no time. Discover striking designs, from the strap to the bezel, impress your loved ones with your newfound knowledge, and choose your next designer watch today.