How to Choose a Watch – A Quick and Handy Buying Guide

A high quality watch is an important accessory and an expensive addition to your outfit. It makes a statement about you and your personal style and is a great way to show off your personality and taste.

Watches come in all price ranges, sizes and shapes and with a mind-boggling array of features. What with smart watches, vintage, mechanical and automatic, each with their pros and cons, it can be difficult to pick out the perfect watch.

In this article, we’re going to focus on the basics of buying a watch and the initial factors that you need to know to understand your purchase.

What’s the Best Metal?

Watch parts

When choosing a watch, it’s important to consider the quality of the material used. One of the most important parts of the watch is the case. This refers to the head the watch, the entire ‘machine’ of the piece. While durability is one main aspect to consider, the beauty of the case is also paramount in the overall appearance of the watch.

1. Stainless Steel Watch Case

fossil women's stainless steel case watch
Fossil stainless steel case watch. See it here.

The most popular option for most watch cases is stainless steel. This material does not corrode nor does it change color or fade with time. It is also a very hard metal and is quite scratch resistant.

2. Titanium Watch Case

seiko titanium case watch in silver and gold tone
Seiko Titanium watch case. See it here.

Titanium is a modern metal that is increasingly used in watch cases. It makes a great option as it has the added benefit of being much more lightweight than stainless steel and extremely durable. Titanium is highly resistant to scratches and does not easily break. Both titanium and stainless steel are roughly around the same price.

3. Gold Watch Case

van cleef arpels solid gold case watch
Van Cleef & Arpels 18k solid gold case watch. See it here.

A gold watch is the standard of high quality watches for men and women. Solid gold cases can be rather heavy and also somewhat sparkly and flashy. It is a common favorite among men. If yellow gold is not for you, consider white gold for a contemporary look. Another great option is rose gold, which is a feminine and stylish option that many women are gravitating towards.  Gold retains its value in terms of liquidity making it a valuable option.

4. Platinum Watch Case

platinum elgin ladies wrist watch
Elgin platinum ladies wristwatch. See it here.

Platinum is a rare precious metal that does not discolor or corrode and is highly valuable. Platinum watches are great as a statement piece and one to last generations. Bear in mind that, however, that these tend to be on the heavy side, as platinum is a dense metal.

What Are the Types of Crystal?

bulova rose gold watch with mineral crystals
Bulova watch with mineral crystals. See it here.

One of the most important parts of the watch is the crystal, which refers to the watch face covering. As you can imagine, the crystal needs to be very durable and able to resist shattering and cracking to some extent.

The material used to make the crystal varies depending on the quality and price of the watch. It also ranges in durability and hardness. Here are the most commonly used materials for the crystal:

1. Acrylic Crystal

This material is generally found on more affordable, lower end watches. Acrylic is a type of affordable plastic that has high durability. It is highly resistant to breakage, making it perfect for active people, which is why it is often used for sports watches. However, acrylic, like most plastics, is prone to scratching and needs to be taken care of to avoid scratches.

2. Mineral Glass Crystal

This is a commonly used material for many watches in the low- to mid-price range. Mineral glass is basically regular glass that has been treated and enhanced to strengthen it. It is highly resistant to scratches but may shatter if dealt an intense blow.

3. Sapphire Crystal

Sapphire crystal is made using colorless synthetic sapphire, which is almost the same as mined sapphire gemstones. Sapphire is made of corundum which is a very hard substance ranking 9 on the Mohs scale.

It is highly resistant to scratches and only objects with a higher rating than 9 can scratch a sapphire. Nothing comes to mind except moissanite (9.25 Mohs) and diamonds (10 Mohs).

Sapphire crystal is also more costly than most other crystal materials, making it  the material of choice for most high-end watches. While it is very hard to damage, sapphire crystal can break if it comes under intense pressure.

What’s the Best Watch Band?

The type of watch band is critical in determining the style of the watch. Generally, metal watch bands are considered dressier and more formal, while straps are more casual and suited for various functions.

Most watches come in three main band styles:

1. Strap Bands

anne klein womens leather strap watch
Anne Klein leather strap watch. See it here.

Watches with straps can be made of various materials, including leather, nylon, paracord, rubber, plastic and many other types of materials. These are chosen based on the purpose of the watch. For example, sports watches are often made of nylon or rubber due to their durability and resistance to water.

Some strap watches come with interchangeable bands, which allow you to swap the straps for a different look. Strap watches offer you more options with color and texture and are a versatile option.

2. Bracelet Bands

michael kors darci 3 gold watch
Michael Kors watch with bracelet band. See it here.

Bracelet bands are made of metal segments, linked together to form a continuous band. Often, it is made of the same metal as the case. The benefit of this is that you can easily adjust the band by taking it out and putting in links to fit your wrist. Bracelet bands are very popular among both men and women and add a touch of class and sophistication to an outfit.

3. Bangle Bands

anne klein womens light pink and gold bangle watch
Anne Klein bangle watch. See it here.

Watches with bangle bands are stylish and fashionable, with the watch looking more like a piece of jewelry than a watch. These are often formal in appearance and ideal for dressy events or smart casual attire. They are popular among women and have a feminine look.

The watch band you choose depends largely on your purpose of wearing the watch and the occasions on which you might wear it. For an everyday watch, most people opt for a simple bracelet or leather watch.

If you lead a very active lifestyle and get your hands wet a lot, consider a sporty water resistant band. For a dressier event, you can opt for a blingy bangle or bracelet watch.

What Are the Best Watch Movements?

Movement refers to the way in which the watch works and what makes it ‘move’. While this can become a complicated and highly technical topic, let’s keep it simple and have a look at the three main types of watch movements.

1. Mechanical Movement

sugess mechanical chronograph watch
Sugess mechanical chronograph watch. See it here.

These are common in vintage watches and ideal for those with a love for all things old. To make these watches move, you would need to remember to use the crown to wind a spring within which keeps the parts moving.

While these can be quaint and there’s something magical about the idea of the watch moving seemingly by itself, you will need to check periodically that the time is accurate. Most mechanical watches can speed up or slow down by over 10 seconds daily, which adds up over time.

2. Quartz Movement

Michael Kors analog quartz watch
Michael Kors analog quartz watch. See it here.

The most popular type of watch movement, quartz requires a battery to keep it moving. Here, the battery is used to keep a piece of quartz moving at the right frequency. Every year or so, the battery will need to be replaced but these are often quite inexpensive and does not cost too much to do.

Bear in mind that sometimes, a waterproof watch may lose this characteristic if the battery is changed. Quartz movement watches are affordable and found in most watches.

3. Automatic Movement

armani exchange women's automatic watch in rose gold color
Armani Exchange automatic watch. See it here.

Automatic watch movements are mechanical watches that self-wind automatically due to the movements of the wearer. It doesn’t require a battery to produce energy and instead relies on the energy produced by your movements. They will still need winding every now and then, especially if the watch has been stored away for several days or not worn.

Automatic watches also require resetting at least once a month as they can tend to slow down or speed up and lose accuracy. They are easier to maintain and don’t have any ongoing battery-related costs which is why they are becoming an increasingly favored option. However, automatic watches are more expensive than quartz watches.

How to Choose the Best Watch Size

timex 31mm case two-tone watch
Timex watch with 31mm case. See it here.

This is another important factor related to aesthetics rather than performance. How large is too large when it comes to watch faces? It seems that people love oversized accessories, from sunglasses to watches that go beyond the commonly accepted standard of size. Wearing a large watch does stand out and make a statement. It can show confidence and boldness and a break from tradition.

There is such a thing as a watch that is too big. You will need to check whether the watch is complementing your look or is just simply too large! The traditional size of a watch case for women has been one that measures roughly 33 mm or less.

Today, you’ll see large watch faces that measure almost double this size! Factor in the size of your wrist and how the watch sits on your wrist before you purchase. Does the case sit on your wrist like a saucer or does it look stylish and cool? Your taste will guide you on this one.

Which Brand Should I Buy?

seiko solar diamond-accented watch
Seiko women’s solar watch. See it here.

For every style and type of watch, there is a brand that dominates the space. For example, if you’re looking for a luxurious brand, Rolex or Breitling comes to mind. These brands are expensive but they stand for prestige.

For a practical, everyday watch, Citizen and Seiko are two top brands that have dominated the market for years. Looking for a watch for sports and fitness? How about Samsung, Garmin, Suunto or G-Shock?

Do some research and find a brand that is known for providing high-quality products in the style that you are after and within the range of your budget.

Not every brand is created equal and some popular brands have overpriced, low-quality watches that will not stand the test of time. This is why it’s worth investing in a well-known watch brand.

Wrapping Up

A carefully chosen watch is the perfect accessory to complete an outfit. However, there are many factors to consider when picking a stylish and comfortable watch to wear. Hopefully, the tips outlined in this article will help provide some pointers.

Looking to browse for watches? Amazon has a stunning range of watches from a few dollars all the way up to $50,000 and more! Check out top brands like Tiffany & Co, Bulgari, Gucci, Invicta, Casio and many more featured on Amazon.  There is surely something for everyone.

Dani Rhys

Dani Rhys has worked as a writer and editor for over 15 years in the jewelry niche. She holds a Masters degree in Linguistics and Education. She has always been interested in expression through fashion and accessories, and her extensive experience in the field has made her a respected voice in jewelry trends and education. As the chief editor of Jewelry Shopping Guide, she not only leads the content strategy but also shares her insights through engaging articles. Her passion for storytelling is reflected in every piece she curates, exploring the intricate relationship between jewelry and personal identity.

Jewelry Guide