The Hardware of a Watch

In this post, we are getting into the outer components of a watch. Let’s jump right in and look over our blueprint below.

Strap / Bracelet

Let’s start with what keeps the watch on your wrist – a strap or bracelet. If the thing that keeps the watch on your wrist is made of metals links its referred to as a bracelet. If it’s made of anything but metal, you have a strap. Straps come in all different types of materials ranging from nylon to rubber to crocodile skin. Although a watch may come with a certain type of strap, there is often a spring-loaded bar holding the strap or bracelet onto the lugs of the watch. Watches often come with different straps so one can either dress up or dress down a watch for different occasions.




The buckle of a watch is what affixes the watch to the wearer’s wrist. Typically, on a watch strap, an Ardillon buckle (tang buckle) is found. Ardillon buckles are a traditional buckle (like a belt) where a strap is slid through a buckle and secured by a pin through a hole in the strap. Ardillon buckles are often found on leather, rubber, or cloth straps. Another type of clasp was developed by Louis Cartier in the early 1900’s and that is a Deployant clasp. These are often found on metal bracelets but are popular on leather straps as well. A Deployant clasp is a tri-fold metal buckle that is an expanding mechanism designed to fasten a watchband with a fitted look. Deployant clasps usually have pushers or push buttons to release the clasp. Lastly, the folding buckle, like the Deployant buckle, is a tri-fold buckle that has a folding bar to hold the clasp closed.


Keepers are the loops that hold the extra portion of a watch band. The free floating loop is called the free loop.


The lugs are the part of the case of the watch to which the straps or bracelet are attached. Lugs are also referred to as ‘horns.’


The case holds the guts or inner workings of the watch. The case of a watch can be fabricated from many different materials. Cases are often made of stainless steel due to its durability and resistance to tarnishing. A watch case can be forged from titanium, precious metals, plastic or even wood. Regardless of the material used to create the case, the case can have different finishes to make the watch appear shiny or matted. The shape of the case ranges from round to rectangular to triangular.


Is a button on the outside of the watch that is used to set the time and date if the watch has an aperture “window” for the date. On mechanical watches, the crown is also used to wind the mainspring of the watch.


The bezel is usually made of metal and is the ring around the crystal on the top of the watch. The bezel holds the crystal in place. Bezels can have embellishments like jewels or number markings. Additionally, Bezels can rotate such as with diver watches or aeronautical watches.


The hands of the watch move across the dial pointing to the hour (shorter hand), minute (longer hand) or seconds. Some watches with other complications such as a chronograph will have additional hands.


The is the clear protective layer that protects the dial and hands from dust and dirt. The crystal is often made of glass, plastic or synthetic sapphire crystal. Plastic crystals are prone to scratches and are typically on lesser quality watches. Glass or mineral glass are found on mid-level watches. A synthetic sapphire crystal, which is second only to diamonds in hardness, typically adorns higher quality watches.


The dial (also known as the face) is the plate under the crystal that carries the indications of time such as hours, minutes and seconds. As well, on watches with more complications, the dial will contain more indicators. The dial will also carry information about the watch such as the movement and brand.

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