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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. After all, most people wear watches today solely as an accessory and not so much for the purpose of telling time (we’ve got the multi-function smart phone for that!).
Whether you are a woman or a man, buying the right watch is no mean feat. If you’re looking to purchase an affordable $20 watch that will serve you for a couple of years, your task is easy. However, if you want to add a high-quality accessory to your collection that can last for years down the line, then having some know-how up your sleeve will help you with your purchase.
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.
But let’s keep it simple.
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.[toc]
Consider the Material
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 metal section of 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.
Stainless Steel Watch Case
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.
Titanium Watch Case
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.
Gold Watch Case
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.
Platinum Watch Case
Platinum is a rare precious metal that does not discolor or corrode and is highly valuable. The white gold color of platinum makes for a more contemporary and stylish watch but as platinum is more expensive than gold a high quality watch made of the stuff can cost upwards of $15,000. 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.
The Crystal Watch Face
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:
This material is generally found on more affordable, lower end watches. Acrylic is a type of affordable plastic that has high durability. It is higly 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.
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.
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.
Choosing the Right 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:
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.
Paracord Survival Watch
Active Wear Watch
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 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.
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.
Movement of the Watch
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.
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.
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.
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.
Choosing the Right Watch Size
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 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?
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 come 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.
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.