Lignes Watch Movements

What Are Lignes?

Lignes Watch Movements

If you’ve been in the Caliber Corner Community for some time, you’ve seen the word lignes here and there. What does it all mean? What is a lig-nez?!

Lignes is the French word for lines (and pronounced the same way), a unit of measurement for watch movements. Although most watch movements will have the diameters listed in millimeter (mm), you may also see linges listed – especially when dealing with raw movements.

Here is a brief history from Wikipedia:

The ligne or line or Paris line, is a historic unit of length used in France and elsewhere prior to the adoption of the metric system in the late 18th century, and used in various sciences after that time. The loi du 19 frimaire an VIII (Law of 10 December 1799) states that one metre is equal to exactly 443.296 French lines.

Interestingly, in addition to watch movements, the lignes unit of measurement is also used by some button and ribbon manufactures. Here is an explanation about lignes from ETA:

Following a centuries-old tradition, watchmakers use lines rather than millimetres to describe the size of the movement’s diameter. This measurement is generally indicated as a triple apostrophe, so 16 1/2 lines is written as 16 1/2´´´, or 37.22 mm diameter. The line, or Parisian line, is an ancient watchmaking measurement that predates metrification and is a direct descendant of the French pied (foot) measurement used under the Ancien Régime. Each line is equivalent to 2.2558 mm, which is rounded up to 2.26 mm for ease of calculation. In the past the French foot used to correspond to 12 inches measuring 12 lines each.

American watchmakers also had their own measuring system for watch movements, more on that here.

How to Measure Lignes

There are calipers and rulers that are set up for measuring lignes such as this one. If you don’t have a tool, you can convert mm to lignes the old fashioned way:

1 Ligne = 2.25583mm

And conversely 1 mm = 0.4433 ligne.

Representing Lignes

Caliber Corner posts as much information about each movement as possible – including the diameter in lignes and millimeters. When you see three ”’ after the number, it’s not a typo. That’s the linges measurement.

Lignes to mm to Inch Conversion Chart

LignesMillimetersInches
¼0.056400.0222
½1.1280.0444
¾1.6920.0666
12.2550.0888
2.8200.1111
3.3380.1332
3.9490.1554
24.5170.1776
5.0760.1998
5.6400.2220
6.2040.2442
36.7680.2664
7.3320.2886
7.8950.3108
8.4590.3330
49.0230.3553
9.5870.3775
10.1510.3997
10.7150.4219
calibercorner.comcalibercorner.comcalibercorner.com
511.2790.4441
11.8430.4663
12.4070.4885
12.9710.5107
613.5350.5329
14.0990.5551
14.6630.5773
15.2270.5995
715.7910.6217
16.3550.6439
16.9190.6661
17.4830.6883
818.0470.7105
18.6110.7327
19.1750.7549
19.7390.7771
920.3030.7993
20.8670.8215
21.4300.8437
21.9940.8659
1022.5580.8881
10¼23.1220.9103
10½23.6860.9325
10¾24.2500.9547
1124.8140.9770
11¼25.3870.9992
11½25.9421.0214
11¾26.5061.0436
1227.0701.0658
12½28.1981.1102
12¾28.7621.1324
1329.3261.1546
13½30.4531.1990
1431.5811.2434
14¼32.0461.2656
14¾33.2731.3100
1533.8381.3322
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15½34.9551.3766
15¾35.5291.399
1636.0931.4210
16¼36.6571.4432
16½37.2211.4654
1738.3491.5098
17¼38.9131.5320
17¾40.0411.5764
1840.6051.5987
18½41.7331.6431
18¾42.2971.6653
1942.8611.6875
19¼43.4251.7097
19½43.9891.7319
2045.1171.7763
2147.3721.8651
2249.6281.954
2351.8842.0427
2454.1402.1315
2556.3962.2204
2658.6522.3092
2760.9072.3980
2863.1632.4868
2965.4192.5756
3067.6752.6644

Hopefully this guide helps you understand lignes more, if there is anything we missed or any questions, please leave them in the comments below!

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