watchmaking words

If you’re in any way interested in clocks, watches and the study of horology, you may have come across a few funny sounding watchmaking words and terms along the way. Although they may not be as commonly used as they once were, most of these expressions are derived from French terms and are related to the world of ‘time’.

Watchmaking Words – A Glossary of Watch and Clock Terms


Also known as a ‘caliber’, this is the word used for the actual mechanism of a clock or watch, as opposed to the ‘case’ which encloses the mechanism and the ‘face’ which displays the time.


This is the French term for a watch movement that is not completely assembled yet.


Another French term for a ‘movement blank’, which is an incomplete watch movement which is sold as a set of loose parts. A movement blank is made up of the main plate, bridges, winding mechanism, setting mechanism, train and regulator. The ébauche doesn’t include the timing system, escapement and mainspring.

The method of manufacturing watches or movements by assembling the various loose parts. Établissage involves combining all of the various components.

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