Watchbore’s Watchspeak Dictionary

of Devilish Definitions

May 2000



Watchbore’s Watchspeak Dictionary of Devilish Definitions is the result of profound research into the language used by watch brands to describe their products. The author, a notorious mesmerist, has conducted an in-depth analysis of the many thousands of press releases, brochures, books and catalogues that constitute watchmaking’s unsung annual contribution to the paper and pulp industry, to bring you this seminal work of unique scholarship that rips apart the veil obscuring the sinister Mafia controlling the lucrative trade in highly addictive timepieces by exploring the hidden meanings behind the heavily coded words and expressions of their secret language. Falling into a deep coma induced by this ordeal and aided by a bottle of Albanian snake-oil (one part battery acid, three parts distilled roof thatch, one scorpion) the author has dreamed up an inspired insight into a subject of truly jaw-dropping tedium.

It is a work that will certainly inspire TimeZoners to add new words and definitions to this by no-means comprehensive lexicon. Watchspeak is, of course a constantly evolving language, and will no doubt be enriched by far more amusing or no less cynical contributions from the true connoisseur of eye-glazing trivia.


The dictionary

Automatic: Operating without human intervention. So-called “automatic” watches need constant human intervention to work.

Bimbo: A usually decorative female employed in the public-relations departments of watch brands. The boss’s daughter.

Brand: An owner’s mark burnt on livestock, especially cattle. Lately worn by consumers.

Breakthrough: An invention too trivial to be patented.

Cheap: A taboo word. Use affordable, accessible, entry level or inexpensive.

Chronograph: A boy’s watch with knobs on to activate a primitive mechanical game.

Chronometer: A watch of proven imprecision. Less accurate than quartz.

Classic, or a future classic (noun): Last year’s unsold stock.

Classic, classical (adj.): Uninteresting. A watch totally devoid of any distinguishing features.

Client: A middleman, or any person of commercial importance.

Collector: A particularly gullible consumer.

Complication, complicated watchmaking: A cost-saving packaging technique enabling several watchmaking products to be sold in a single box for a price far greater than the sum of their individual values.

Consumer: The livestock of the watch business. Divided into yield categories, consumers are most prolific between latitudes 30° and 50° north. Top-yielding consumer breeds are found in the United States, where genetically modified consumers are reportedly under development.

Contemporary: Last year’s trend. Also a watch that is indistinguishable from that of another brand.

COSC: A marketing consultancy of the Wilsdorf foundation with a monopoly on chronometer certification. COSC performs certain rituals on watch movements for a fee, transforming them into chronometers of much higher value.

Craftsman, master-craftsman: Manual laborer. A usually female machine-minder or worker doing a repetitive and unskilled work in a watch factory.

Craftsmanship: Superfluous manufacturing operations.

Creativity: The power to claim credit for other people’s work.

Diver’s watch: A massive watch worn by divers instead of a lead belt to procure negative buoyancy. Also a watch for people who can’t swim.

Elegant watch: A watch for older women.

Emotion: An advertising-induced state of suspended disbelief, displayed by consumers prior to the impulse purchase of a watch.

Engine-turned (dial): Die-stamped.

ETA: A terrorist organization flooding the market with a highly addictive automatic derivative.

Exclusive: Inclusive. An exclusive watch includes the owner in a consumer or a peer group of would-be stunt pilots, racing drivers or polar explorers.

Finish: Part of the watch seen through the display back.

Hand-crafted: Subject to cursory inspection by a blind watchmaker.

Horology: Expensive watchmaking. Haute Horlogerie: Very expensive watchmaking.

Manufacture: A watch brand that maintains a casing-up workshop.

Manually wound: A watch that works automatically for at least 30 hours after winding.

Minute repeater: A loquacious midget with a limited vocabulary.

Movement: An apparently static assembly of wheels driven by a spring. The only discernible movement of a movement is in the balance-wheel.

Passion, passionate about watchmaking: A state of uncontrollable enthusiasm for money.

Passionate watchmaker: Underpaid production-line worker out of his mind with boredom.

Patek Philippe: The world’s largest private collection of Huguenot horology. Incidentally also a manufacturer of highly valued watches.

Perfection, the pursuit of: The precise calculation of how much imperfection can be cost-effectively tolerated.

Quality: The point at which any increase in resources applied to the manufacture of a watch fails to provide an increase in margins.

Rolex: A philanthropic organization that provides free watches to paid up brand loyalists.

Selective: Knowing lots of rich people. A selective retailer is one with a big-ticket client list. Quality required of anyone doing business with the Richemont Group.

Sportswatch: A style of watch developed for sedentary screen-gazing city-dwellers.

Technical: Anything beyond the mental grasp of a bimbo (q.v.).

Timepiece: An expensive watch.

Tourbillon: A device that enhances the motion of the balance-wheel by revolving it. This magically multiplies price of a watch by at least 20.

Tradition: The justification of a lack of imagination or ideas.

Traditional (watch): Obsolete. ” Crafted in the highest watchmaking tradition”: A replica.

Twenty-four: A watch for fat women compensating for not being like the skinny lady in the ad. The bracelet adjusts to outsize wrists.

Understated: A watch of unsurpassed vulgarity.

Unique: Identical, except for the color of the dial.

Watch: A time-keeping device you get free when you buy a brand.