The Properly Wound Facebook Community has compiled a list of popular watch terms to be defined in order to help new watch enthusiasts. Horology has a language with an abundance of terms, which to a newcomer can be very confusing. This is the first part of our series on horology terminology.
What is Horology? Horology is the study and measurement of time that has evolved into a full blown hobby.
The Five Core Types of Watches:
While not all encompassing, this will clarify the general types and uses of watches.
Flieger: Watch enthusiasts drop this term a lot – simply put, a Flieger is a pilots watch. This style has become very popular; some of my favorite flingers are manufactured by Stowa.
Dive Watch: This is pretty self explanatory; and for good reason. The dive watch is truly the most popular watch. Some of the most popular high end divers are the Rolex Submariner, Omega Seamaster, and Blancpain Fifty Fathoms. Dive watches were designed for diving in the deep blue sea.
Dress Watch: Also another fairly self explanatory term – a dress watch is usually worn for more formal occasions, with a suit, for work, etc. Some dress watches are very minimalistic, some fairly complicated. The dress watch category is somewhat convoluted in my opinion; as a lot of the watches that might have once been considered a “dress watch” could really be worn casually today. Jaeger LeCoulture Reverso, and Patek Calatrava could both be considered dress watches.
Field Watch: Field watches are rugged, tough, and in the modern world often considered a “beater” watch (more on that term later). Field watches often have significant low light visibility via either high contrast dials, lume, or a combination of both. A traditional field watch would come on a textile band or a leather band. Great examples of field watches include the Hamilton Khaki Field, and the Tudor Heritage Ranger.
Racing Watch: Honestly I don’t like the term “racing watch” but thats what they call it. Racing watches in our circles is often referred to as a “Chrono”. They always feature a chronograph, often a tachymeter and several subdials and pushers. I will expand later on what defines a racing watch; but the most recognizable of this genre watch is the Rolex Daytona and the Omega Speedmaster.
Common Abbreviations Found in Watch World
COSC: Is the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute. COSC certifies the precision of watches in Switzerland. Only Swiss made watches are available to be certified by COSC and not all manufactures utilize COSC certification.
METAS: A METAS certification is most identifiable with OMEGA timepieces. METAS standard of quality is supposedly beyond that of COSC. METAS is the Federal Institute of Metrology – basically, in Switzerland this is THE institute for measurement of instruments and equipment.
PCL: Polished Center Links. Usually found on Rolex oyster bracelets – where the center bits of the bracelet are; well….polished nice and shiny.
SEL: Solid End Links, yes back in the day end links were often hollow. In the modern world, most higher end watches now have solid end links as opposed to the end links being hollow. Now if you are wondering; what the hell an end link is – End Links are the end of the bracelet that meets the case of the watch between the lugs, usually giving the watch a nice, finished look as opposed to the gap in between the lugs being exposed.
OEM: Original Equipment Manufacturer; usually refereed to when we are talking about replacement parts. Replacement parts can be “OEM” or “Aftermarket” – aftermarket parts are usually produced by a 3rd party that has no affiliation with the original manufacturer of your watch.
JDM: Japan Domestic Market, we are referring to watches originally designed and sold for Japan only. Often we find JDM watches in other markets because many of us import them. It is rumored that JDM watches, in respect to SEIKO are of higher quality; but I think that is just a ploy and another topic for another day.
RSC: Rolex Service Center, you may see or hear “RSC Warranty” or “RSC Card” – this just references the fact that the Rolex in question was serviced at Rolex and not an independent watchmaker.
AD: Authorized Dealer, An “Authorized Dealer” has an agreement with a manufacture to sell their watches, as opposed to a Gray Market dealer who does not have an agreement to sell on behalf of a brand. There is nothing wrong with gray market dealers vs AD’s and going with one over another usually has something to do with availability or price.
NOS: New Old Stock, you will see this term used in the vintage market and the modern market. NOS is used as a descriptor, sometimes you will see a 5+ year old submariner that is called NOS because while technically its not new, it was never sold to the public; the same goes for vintage.
LNIB: Like New In Box – usually a seller will refer to a watch they are trying to sell as LNIB – meaning its condition is almost new, and it has the box.
WIS: You will see this dropped, a lot. In it’s simplest form, it means
WWC: This is a social term, and I hate it. It stands for “Wrist Watch Check”. You will see people on social media post a wrist shot with their watch, and simply put WWC or WOTD (watch of the day) – this is stupid. Don’t do it. You are more creative than this.
EDC: Also another social term that has gotten entirely out of hand. It means “Every Day Carry”. Sure a lot of us carry all kinds of things with us; lets take a picture and post it online…#EDC.