Clock dial glossary

Tel: 01432 271261

Index page

dialpainte r@gmail.com

- please note email is encoded to stop spam, so please click on the link, do not copy and paste

If you have arrived at this page from another link and want to visit the homepage and index, click Here

The following is a helpful glossary of terms and names given to clock dials and associated parts.

Arch dial - a dial with a full arch to the top
Automaton - a dial may have an automaton - a moving figure, animal or object either on the dial or in the arch. Most commonly seen are ships, swans, adam and eve and the grim reaper.
Bezel - This describes the brass or wooden surround that contains the glass covering a dial. Also see 'sight ring'
Break Arch - describes a partial arch to either the dial, hood or door
Cartouche - an applied tablet or scroll normally engraved
Chapter ring - the ring carrying the hour numbers
Collet - a collar holding parts in place
Dial - sometimes referred to as the 'face' of a clock
Dial Feet - legs on the back of the dial which are fixed onto the movement or falseplate.
Enamel dial - Painted longcase dials are often referred to as 'enamel' this is not strictly correct, as the surface is paint. Enamelled dials are powdered silica fired in a kiln and most commonly found on french clocks or carriage clocks..
Falseplate - An extra plate sandwiched between the dial and movement to which the movement is fixed.
Hands - This are sometimes referred to as 'fingers'. They can be made of brass or blued steel, on modern clocks they are more likely to be aluminium or plastic.
Moon dial - These dials have a subsidiary dial either in the arch or an aperture in the dial body, which records the phases of the moon. The waxing and waning of the moon is recorded for a full cycle (29.5 days). Traditionally the dial will feature 2 moon faces, and 2 scenes depicting 'home and away' possibly a ship and a country house scene.
Numerals - The numbers on a dial are generally either in Arabic ( 1,2,3 etc) or Roman (I, II, III etc) form, depicting the hours or minutes. To be correct the Roman numeral for 4 should be IV, but it is generally seen as IIII to balance the visual aesthetics.
Sight ring - This secures the glass in place, normally made from silvered brass, but can be of wood. They are fixed in place by either, screws, a plaster based cement or are of the push fit type.
Silvered dial - This describes a brass dial that has a thin layer of silver nitrate applied. The picture shows a silvered chapter ring and subsidiary dials,
Spandrel - the gaps in the corners of dials either painted, engraved or with applied brass decorations.
Subsidiary dials - These extra dials can be either painted onto the surface, applied rings or extra dials located behind the main dial, normally depicting either seconds or dates
Tidal dial - Tides are recorded for the area in which the clock was made. i.e Bristol, Plymouth etc. These tidal measurements can normally be found on the arch.