A Brief Guide to Watch Slang

A Brief Guide to Watch Slang

| 06.08.23

“Correct.” “Honest.” “In the metal.” 

What does all this stuff mean

Watch people are like any other enthusiast group — we've developed our own slang and shorthand over the years, and it’s enough to make any newbie's  head spin. But if you count yourself amongst the uninitiated, don’t worry — it’s all fairly simple once you get the hang of it. 

Here’s a handy guide to some of the most commonly used slang in the world of watches:

The Slang: 


Watches of Switzerland - Soho, New York

"AD" is shorthand for “Authorized Dealer” — a retailer who has an official relationship with watch a brand, and can thus sell that company’s new products  with a factory warranty. Think of the classic jewelers: Watches of Switzerland, Betteridge, Mayors, Beyer, Gübelin, and so on.


Typically, a "beater" watch refers to an inexpensive watch that you’re not afraid to scratch up, something you might put on when hiking or going to the beach to preserve the looks of your "nicer" pieces, which you leave at home. In recent years, this term gets used much more liberally, and "beater" watches today can cost tens of thousands of dollars - the only comparison is the value of the other pieces in your collection!

Unimatic x Massena Lab U1-MLB - IN THE SHOP


A metal strap, such as the Rolex Oyster, Jubilee or a “beads of rice" style as fitted to the vintage Heuer Autavia pictured below.

Heuer Autavia 'Orange Boy' - IN THE SHOP


"Cyclops" is the nickname given to a magnifier on a crystal over the date window on some watches, commonly seen on Rolex models.

Rolex Day-Date 'Bark' 


A Rolex GMT-Master or GMT-Master II with a bi-color black and red bezel. Or, these days, any brand GMT with such a bezel color combination. 

Rolex GMT-Master II 'Coke' 


A part that, though not necessarily original to a watch as it left the factory, is the right part that would have come with that particular timepiece — even if it’s a replacement. 

Rolex GMT-Master 'Pepsi'

"Daily Driver"

A watch worn most every day. (Could be a "beater" watch, but not necessarily!)

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Date 

"Desk Diver"

This fun term refers to professional grade dive watches that are exclusively worn to the office, rather than being used in the manner it was designed for.

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Automatique - IN THE SHOP

"Fashion Watch"

An often-derogatory term for an inexpensive watch made by a fashion company rather than by a watch company, such as Michael Kors, Armani, etc. Most of the time, these watches don't bear a second glance — but there are exceptions!

Channel Boyfriend - IN THE SHOP


Entering the lexicon in the last fifteen years of so, "Fauxtina" refers to artificially manufactured patina used on a new timepiece to give it a vintage-style appearance. This is often a lightning-rod design choice that is highly polarizing to collectors. In our opinion, it can be done well (see the exquisite creamy-yellow lume on the 2011 Jaeger-LeCoultre Tribute To Deep Sea Alarm pictured below) or...not so much!

Jaeger-LeCoultre Tribute to Deep Sea Alarm - IN THE SHOP


A watch made of parts sourced from various watches, not all of which are correct for the reference.

(The definition may vary based on the individual, but generally speaking this term is used to explain a watch consisiting of components that are authentic, but cobbled together from a variety of different references to create one full watch. ie. an Omega Speedmaster that features a crown, pushers, and handset pulled from different references.)

"Full Set" 

A watch accompanied by all of its factory accoutrement, such as its box, papers, hangtag, books etc.. (This term is generally used for watches on the secondary market.) 

DOXA Sub 600T 'Pacific' Limited Edition - IN THE SHOP

"Grail Watch"

The "ultimate" watch on a collector's wishlist, i.e. the Holy Grail of timepieces. There are no further rules!

Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar Moonphase Chronograph - IN THE SHOP

"Head Only"

A sales term for pre-owned watches denoting that the sale includes just the watch head (case only, no bracelet).

Movado M95 Sub-Sea Chronograph - IN THE SHOP

"Hype Watch" 

An enormously popular watch that people are often willing to pay enormous sums for. These watches are often excellent in their own right, but are "hyped" by the marketplace, influencers, social media, and so on, causing a feeding frenzy.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak - IN THE SHOP


A watch that has been used - even abused - rather than babied. A watch that’s seen some stuff

Rolex Submariner 


"Iced" or "Blinged Out" refers to watches covered in diamonds or other precious stones, generally aftermarket.

Chopard Ref. 373276-1001 - (Image by Phillips)

"In The Metal"

This term refers to the experience of seeing, handling, or trying on a watch in person, not just judging it on pictures.

 Rolex Daytona 'Zenith' 


The luminous material on a dial — this could be radium (radioactive as hell), tritium (less radioactive), Super-LumiNova (not-very-radioactive), or something proprietary from a particular watch company (such as Rolex's Chromalight). 

Omega Seamaster 300 Professional Co-Axial - IN THE SHOP 


French for "house," maison describes a watchmaking/jewelry/fashion company, generally of the Swiss or French persuasion. (Though it could conceivably be any watchmaking/jewelry/fashion company.) 

Vacheron Constantin Rectangular Steel Dress Watch - IN THE SHOP


The hour indices on the dial, whether in the form of printed or applied Arabic or Roman numerals, dots, or otherwise. 

Cartier Escalier -IN THE SHOP


“New Old Stock.” A watch that was (likely) never worn, and is in factory condition to this day — often offered complete with intact stickers, tags, etc.



A sheen or color resulting from age, damage, exposure to light, etc. Dials, hands, and bezels on older watches often feature patina.

Rolex Datejust 'Smoked Salmon'


A Rolex GMT-Master or GMT-Master II with a bi-color blue and red bezel. Or, these days, any brand GMT with such a bezel color combination. 

Rolex GMT-Master 'Pepsi' OCC 


A watch that, while overlooked by most is highly valued by those "in the know" due to a combination of features such as internals, material, or rarity, that will likely become popular later - when everyone else catches on!

Movado Datron 'Blue Panda' El Primero Chronograph - IN THE SHOP


A pile of watches on a table, assembled so that their owners can take a picture of them — probably for social media. First known use credit to Kathleen McGivney of Red Bar.

Rolex Sexpile 


A watch (or watch case, more specifically) that retains its original case finishing (such as beveling) that hasn’t been overly polished. 

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Date


Patina, often on the dial or bezel, that has turned brownish. This term was first coined for vintage watches coming out of the tropics, where it was initially believed that excess exposure to sunlight could fade black to brown. There are now competing theories as to how this happens, but the term stuck.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 'Tropical' - IN THE SHOP


A photograph of a watch on someone’s wrist. Pretty straightforward!

Rolex Explorer