Guide to the Parts of a Watch and Watch Anatomy Diagram
Watches are one of the most game changing accessories money can buy. And they're also one of the most complex.
If you want to learn more about watches, the best place to start is with the names of the parts of a watch and their functions.
To learn about a specific part, click the name of that part in the table below to jump to that section.
10 Main Parts of a Watch
First, let’s go through the main watch parts that you'll find on most timepieces. Then, we’ll cover the watch band and finish up with some common watch complications.
The bezel of a watch is the outer ring that holds the watch crystal in place. Watch bezels can be fixed and plain, or they can be rotating and functional. Bezel functionality ranges from distinctly decorative to monitoring elapsed time and even calculating speeds across distances.
View our guide to watch bezels to learn more about this important part of every timepiece.
The case is the housing of a watch’s contents. Watch cases can be made from a wide range of materials including metal, plastic or ceramic. Rarer metals, like gold and silver, may also be used to create watch cases. And here at Nixon, we even make use of recycled plastic for cases on some of our sustainable watch models.
The crown is the small knob that pokes out from the side of a watch. To use the crown, pull it out from the body of the watch and turn it in the direction correlated with the changes you want to make. Common changes that can be made with a watch crown are the time and date.
And just like many parts of a watch, there are many different styles of watch crowns out there.
A watch crystal is the clear piece of material that protects the watch face. The crystal might be made of glass, plastic or sapphire, depending on the watch. Watch crystals can come in various styles, too. The Nixon Spectra, for example, uses a rare domed crystal.
Hour markers and hands are two main parts of a watch dial, but those are only the basics.
Analog dials can become quite complex. They can include features like date windows and functionality like chronographs. Plus, they can be a canvas for detailed aesthetics. The Nixon Spectra uses an exhibition dial which exposes the watch mechanics. And solar watches often use semi-transparent dials so that the underlaid solar panels can absorb light energy.
Digital watch dials are another beast entirely and can convey much larger amounts of information than Analog dials.
Hands move around the watch dial to indicate time. Usually, watches will have an hour hand, a minute hand, and a seconds hand. But this might vary depending on the watch. For example, chronograph watches might include several additional hands to help wearers time events.
And even watch hands can come in different styles. Nixon makes use of ‘skeleton hands’ in several watch models, and Lum tips allow watch wearers to read time in the dark.
Hour markers are positioned around the watch dial and represent measurements of time. Generally, watches have numerical hour markers from 1 to 12. Several Nixon watches use ‘applied indices’ as markers. Applied indices are applied individually and are a mark of good craftmanship.
Lugs are where watch straps attach to a watch case. Most watches have two lugs - one on both the 12 and 6 o’clock sides of the case. They come in difference sizes and it’s important to measure your lug width before changing your watch band.
The movement includes all the internal parts of a watch that help it track time. Watch movements include many small parts like springs and gears, but are referred to as a singular ‘movement’.
And there are several types of watch movements too! For example, Automatic movements convert energy generated by movement into power for the watch.
Watch straps keep your watch attached to your wrist. Watch straps come in many different materials and styles and can easily be changed or replaced. Common watch straps from Nixon include metal bracelets, leather bands, NATO watch straps and even sustainable watch bands made from recycled ocean plastics!
That about wraps it up for the main parts of most watches. However, it’s common for watches to have more features. Or, ‘complications’.
But before we get to watch complications, let’s go through the main parts of watch bands.
4 Main Parts of Watch Bands
Watch bands are fairly straightforward. But they’re almost as essential as any other part we covered above! There are many types of watch bands but there are just a few main watch band parts to know about.
Adjustment holes are holes along the watch band that allow wearers to adjust the watch for wrist size.
The watch strap buckle is used to hold the watch band size in place.
Lug holes are found at the end of a watch band. This part of the strap is used to attach the watch straps to the watch case.
The strap or band is the material which holds the watch against your wrist. Watch bands come in a wide variety of materials. Common strap materials on Nixon watches are leather, rubber, metal bracelets and even sustainable bands.
Finally, let’s check out some of the most common watch complications you’ll find on analog and digital watches.
What are watch ‘complications’?
Watch complications aren’t that complicated. If a watch does more than tell time, it has additional complications. In watches, complications are any added feature that aren’t necessary for the core function of watches – telling time.
3 Common Watch Complications
Watch complications aren’t rare in the world of watches. Whether it’s an additional window to read the date or a rotating timing bezel, it’s not hard to find a watch that has one or many complications.
Here are three common watch complications and the purpose of each.
A watch aperture is a small window in the watch face that provides information beyond the time of day. The current date or moon phase are two types of common aperture feature, but there are many other possibilities.
Pushers are knobs or buttons attached to the watch case, in addition to the crown. Pushers are used to control additional watch functions, like changing the date or starting and stopping a timer.
Subdials are dials located within the main watch dial. Subdials are commonly found on Chronograph watches.
And that’s the basics to the names and functions of the parts of a watch. There are many other parts to learn about outside of this post. But if you understand the watch anatomy presented here, you’ll know the major things to look at when buying a new watch.