Watch - Functions

Functions

All watches provide the time of day, giving at least the hour and minute, and usually the second. Most also provide the current date, and often the day of the week as well. However, many watches also provide a great deal of information beyond the basics of time and date. Some watches include alarms. Other elaborate and more expensive watches, both pocket and wrist models, also incorporate striking mechanisms or repeater functions, so that the wearer could learn the time by the sound emanating from the watch. This announcement or striking feature is an essential characteristic of true clocks and distinguishes such watches from ordinary timepieces. This feature is available on most digital watches.

A complicated watch has one or more functions beyond the basic function of displaying the time and the date; such a functionality is called a complication. Two popular complications are the chronograph complication, which is the ability of the watch movement to function as a stopwatch, and the moonphase complication, which is a display of the lunar phase. Other more expensive complications include Tourbillon, Perpetual calendar, Minute repeater, and Equation of time. A truly complicated watch has many of these complications at once (see Calibre 89 from Patek Philippe for instance). Some watches can both indicate the direction of Mecca and have alarms that can be set for all daily prayer requirements. Among watch enthusiasts, complicated watches are especially collectible. Some watches include a second 12-hour or 24-hour display for UTC or GMT.

The similar-sounding terms chronograph and chronometer are often confused, although they mean altogether different things. A chronograph has a stopwatch complication, as explained above, while a chronometer watch has a high quality mechanical or a thermo-compensated movement that has been tested and certified to operate within a certain standard of accuracy by the COSC (Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres). The concepts are different but not mutually exclusive; so a watch can be a chronograph, a chronometer, both, or neither.

Many computerized wristwatches have been developed, but none have had long-term sales success, because they have awkward user interfaces due to the tiny screens and buttons, and a short battery life. As miniaturized electronics became cheaper, watches have been developed containing calculators, tonometers, barometers, altimeters, a compass using both hands to show the N/S direction, video games, digital cameras, keydrives, GPS receivers and cellular phones. A few astronomical watches show phase of the Moon and other celestial phenomena. In the early 1980s Seiko marketed a watch with a television in it. Such watches have also had the reputation as unsightly and thus mainly geek toys. Several companies have however attempted to develop a computer contained in a wristwatch (see also wearable computer).

Braille watches have analog displays with raised bumps around the face to allow blind users to tell the time. Their digital equivalents use synthesised speech to speak the time on command.

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