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.

Main Parts of a Watch
Watch Straps
Watch Complications
Bezel Adjustment Holes Aperture
Case Buckle Pusher
Crown Lug Holes Subdial
Crystal Strap/Bracelet
Dial
Hand
Hour Marker
Lugs
Movement
Strap
    Diagram of the parts of a watch using Nixon 51-30

    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 strap and finish up with some common watch complications. 

    Bezel 

    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.  

    Case 

    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. 

    Crown 

    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.  

    Crystal 

    A watch crystal is the clear piece of material that protects the watch dial. 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. 

    Learn more about watch crystals at our blog.

    Man wearing a Nixon Spectra Automatic watch

    Dial 

    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. 

    Hand 

    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 Marker 

    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 

    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 strap. 

    Movement 

    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. 

    Strap 

    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 straps, NATO watch straps and even sustainable watch straps 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 straps. 

    4 Main Parts of Watch Straps

    Guitar player wears the Nixon Thalia

    Watch straps are fairly straightforward. But they’re almost as essential as any other part we covered above! There are many types of watch straps but there are just a few main watch straps parts to know about. 

    Adjustment Holes 

    Adjustment holes are holes along the watch strap that allow wearers to adjust the watch for wrist size. 

    Buckle 

    The watch strap buckle is used to hold the watch strap size in place.  

    Lug Holes 

    Lug holes are found at the end of a watch strap. This part of the strap is used to attach the watch straps to the watch case. 

    Strap/Bracelet

    The strap or strap is the material which holds the watch against your wrist. Watch straps come in a wide variety of materials. Common strap materials on Nixon watches are leather, rubber, metal bracelets and even sustainable straps. 

    Finally, let’s check out some of the most common watch complications you’ll find on analog and digital watches. 

    But first... 

    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. They aren't vital pieces in how watches work, but they do add style and functionality. 

    Setting the time on a black Nixon Analog watch

    Here are three common watch complications and the purpose of each. 

    Aperture 

    A watch aperture is a small window in the watch dial 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.  

    Pusher 

    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.  

    Subdial 

    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.