Watch Repair Glossary

Horology, or the study of time, has evolved with its own terminology over the millennia.

For example, the Tourbillon (French for “whirlwind”) is designed to increase a watch’s accuracy. Patented in 1801 by French-Swiss watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet, it’s essentially a rotating carriage device making one rotation per minute. When the watch’s balance, pallet and escape wheel are mounted in the tourbillon, the device averages any errors in the vertical positions.

Your Watch Service or Repair

For today’s customers having a watch serviced or expertly repaired, please ask us if about any terms you may not understand. We’ll gladly explain.

Here’s a small sampling of common terms you may hear in a discussion with one of our Timekeepers or Watchmakers.

Term

Description

Number of complete oscillations made by the balance & spring in one second. Example: 18,000 Vibrations per hour = 2.5 cycles per second, (Also referred to as “Hertz” – 2.5Hz).

Galling is a cold welding phenomenon which can occur when uncoated stainless steel (or aluminium alloy parts), such as the threads of the case and case back are forced together. These materials owe their corrosion resistance to the ease with which they passivate, forming a thin protective oxide layer. The friction scrapes off this oxide layer from the surface asperities and exposes clean reactive metal. If the mating parts are of a sufficiently similar material, no additional activation energy is needed to cold weld them together. Galling can occur even if the parts are brought together slowly, and it is prevented by the presence of grease or surface coatings, even if the surface coatings increase friction. It does not occur when joining dissimilar materials (for example threading 18-8 stainless into 17-4 stainless) even though both of those materials are susceptible to galling. Galling does not occur on carbon steel.

The attraction exerted by Earth on all bodies. Its value is defined by the acceleration it causes in a free falling body.

The science and study of time measurement, the art of manufacturing or repairing timepieces.

Energy transferred to the balance or pendulum to maintain it in oscillation.

Electronic procedure for fine tuning a quartz watch without modifying the specific frequency of the quartz, periodically (every 60 seconds) adapts the moment of electrical impulse to the motor, correcting the display.

A metal alloy comprised of about 36% nickel, 64% iron, having a very low coefficient of expansion. Comes from the word “invariable”

Condition when time taken for 1 vibration remains the same, regardless of amplitude.

William Thompson

Life and Times

With an a Master of Fine Arts diploma in one hand and an Anthropology PhD in the other, William Thompson discovered a way to parlay his passion for mountaineering into a fascinating career as a photojournalist – using the camera lens as his ultimate “paintbrush.”

Thompson worked for 12 years with National Geographic, having created the first and only complete aerial coverage of Mt. Everest for the magazine. Other exotic assignments involved traveling via yak train through the Bhutanese Himalaya, living with pygmies in deep of Africa, and photographing the Asian elephant on its tragic path toward extinction.

His commercial image work includes major campaigns for Wells Fargo, Leo Burnett, Starbucks, Marlboro, Boeing, United Airlines, Intel, and Holland America.

Today, Thompson lives in a 90-year old log home near the waters of Puget Sound – and still finds adventure in climbing. Fee free to reach out to William via the following points of contact:

William Thompson Photograph/Film
15566 Sandy Hook Rd. NE
Poulsbo, WA
360-908-2000
williamthompson@aol.com