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How to Choose A Watch
All the Dos and Don'ts

How to choose a watch is a question everyone asks since there are so many out there. You have to keep in mind movement, appearance, comfort, and most importantly – price. We’ve got you covered. Below is an in-depth look at everything you should consider.

1. Movement

Newbies don’t realize that there’s more than 1 way a watch moves. You’ll see that some movements are more common in certain regions.

As of now, there are 3 main movements: 

• Quartz
• Automatic
• Mechanical 

Let’s take a look at them:

Quartz

Ever heard your watch tick? It’s probably a quartz timepiece. It comes with a battery, which sends currents to a quartz crystal. It vibrates and is measured by a circuit. The circuit converts the vibrations into pulses, moving the watch’s hands. 

Quartz watches are pretty accurate. They have few parts too, which makes them reliable. What’s best about them is that they’re low-cost. Watch enthusiasts believe expensive watches are superior. The timepieces also have less craftsmanship involved.

Mechanical

Mechanical watches have been around for centuries. They have gears that are powered by a mainspring. The spring is wound, slowly unwinding to power the watch’s hands. If the timepiece has a long mainspring, it’d wind slower, making the hands move for longer. 

Its power reserve indicates how long it can last without being wound. Usually, this is 40+ hours. 

As there are many parts in them, mechanical watches aren’t that reliable. However, they are a watch enthusiast’s dream. A lot of craftsmanship goes into them, and they have history. It isn’t surprising that they’re on the higher end of the price spectrum.

Automatic

Automatic watches are cousins to mechanical ones. They also have mainsprings powering their gears. You don’t wind the springs, though - your body does all the work. When you move with the watch, the mainspring winds. This is why they’re also known as “self-winding” pieces. 

To understand how they do this is not too technical. There’s a tiny weight inside of them. It’s attached to the spring, winding it as it moves. 

Unfortunately, you can’t have automatic watches off you for long– they’ll run out of kinetic energy. The fact that they become a part of you makes them favoured amongst watch enthusiasts. 

Price-wise, automatic watches are more expensive than quartz, but aren’t as bad as their mechanical counterparts.

Speaking of mechanical watches: 

Automatic and mechanical pieces have jewels in them. Before you get too excited, they’re synthetic. They make their gears move smoother.

2. Watch Type

Although there are 3 types of movements, there are many more watch types. To find the right watch, you’ll have to consider which would be the most functional.

Dive Watch

Its name is pretty self-explanatory. To be a dive watch, a timepiece needs to be ISO 6425 certified, or be resistant up to 1000 feet (300 meters) underwater. 

To handle such depths, they are greatly modified. You’ll see that their case and crown are sealed tight. They’re also made from waterproof materials, making them easier to take care of. 

The best dive watches have luminous displays. Since it can get very dark underwater, so you’ll still be able to read the time. The best dive watches also have rotating bezels. They tick, acting as timers for you to get out of the water.

Sports Watch

Sports watches are anything that can handle the outdoors. They’re durable. They usually have sapphire dials, letting them handle a beating. 

They are also made from waterproof materials. This prevents mud from sticking to them. 

Most notably, they have compasses. How else will you navigate the outdoors? Sports watches are also super luminous, helping you read the time at night.

Nurses’ Watch

The watches are small so as not to get in a nurse’s way. They’re also very minimalistic. This prevents them from being distracting. 

The timepieces are usually made from resin or silicone. As you can imagine, it gets pretty messy in a hospital, so being able to easily wipe things off is great.

Nurse watches are quartz pieces. Not only does this make them reliable, but saves nurses time as they regularly won’t be winding their watches. 

Although they’re called nurse watches, they aren’t used exclusively by nurses. You’ll see EMTs and doctors wearing them as well.

Fashion Watch

Fashion watches don’t have a purpose other than looking good. They’re not built that well and are cheap. If you see a good-looking watch at a clothing store, it’s likely a fashion piece.

Dress Watch

These watches look great. They’re classic and are seen as a “gentleman’s watch”. They are super simple and are usually quartz pieces. When you think of an analog watch, you’re probably thinking of a dress one.

Pilot Watch

They come with features that help pilots fly. The most obvious is the compass. The timepieces also come with slide rules, allowing for calculations in the air.
  
You’ll see chronographs and tachymeters as well. These two help figure out the speed and distance between objects. 

Worst case scenario, your plane crashes in the sea. Most pilot watches are water-resistant. They also have luminous dials. 

Pilot watches were made in the early 1900s. The earliest ones are in the Flieger style. They have large, round cases.

Field Watch

Field watches are similar to sports ones. They’re made for outdoor use but are specifically created for the armed forces. 

They were introduced during WWII, with the sole purpose of giving highly accurate time. You might have guessed that they come with quartz mechanisms. 

They also have easy-to-read dials, made out of tough materials like sapphire. Their straps are commonly made from fabric. This makes wearing them comfortable, which is important when you’re out-and-about.

Digital Watch

Digital watches are wonders of the modern world. They’re electronic gadgets that not only read the time but provide useful features. For example, you get alarms, world-time, stopwatches, back-lights, and accurate time-keeping through atomic clock syncing.

Digital watches are quartz devices. Many come with resin bodies. Ones like G-Shocks are solar-powered as well.
Digital watch

3. Brand

There are about as many watch brands available as the stars in the night sky. They’re from all over the world and are probably increasing as we speak. 

Not all brands are alike – some put more personality into their pieces while others focus on functionality. Some brands will appeal to you more than others, which is why we’ve discussed them.

Citizen

Citizen produces affordable pieces. However, they have some expensive ones in their line-up. They’ve been around since 1918 and are a Japanese watch company. Their pieces are reliable as they’re mostly quartz - most of their quartz devices are solar-powered. Their biggest competitor is Seiko.

Seiko

Whatever type of watch you want, you’ll be able to find it from Seiko. They produce a few expensive pieces, but most of them are affordable. They used to have a Grand Seiko line, which had timepieces that were on par with very luxury names. 

Moreover:

Seiko is also a Japanese watch company. They’ve been at it since the 1800s. They produce a lot of automatic watches. Because of this, you can say Seiko watches are not as accurate as Citizen. Overall, the manufacturer is respected by watch enthusiasts.

Nixon

Nixon is known for their fashion pieces. However, they have diversified their range. You’ll find some pricey, quality watches if you look around. Nixon’s products are good-looking, but watch enthusiasts don’t think much about them.

Burei

Burei produces high-quality pieces for an affordable price. The brand was created by college drop-outs for the sole purpose of producing good quality watches. Unfortunately, not many people know the brand.

Bulova

Bulova watches are expensive, which is why they market themselves as a luxury brand. However, they are not on par with Rolex or Omega.

Heritage is very important to watch enthusiasts, which is why you’ll like to know that Bulova has been around since the 1800s. It’s currently owned by the Citizen group.

Rolex

Everyone knows about Rolex. They produce watches for the rich and famous. They use quality parts and swiss craftsmanship, resulting in their price. Another reason their watches are so expensive is due to the name you’re buying from. Rolex watches have a superb resale value, so you’ll be making an investment

Their pieces became especially popular in the 90s. The Daytona caught everyone’s attention as it just exuded luxury. Compared to some watch manufacturers, they are not old. Rolex was founded in the early 1900s.

Omega

Omega is Rolex’s biggest competitor. Their watches cost an arm and a leg but are not as expensive. They are also not as recognized. 

Omega is known to produce more “sporty” watches, including the Sea Master. The Sea Master gave the brand a push – Pierce Brosnan in the James Bond franchise wore the timepiece. 

Unlike Rolex, Omega has been around for a long time. Their watch history stretches back to 1848. They were founded in Switzerland.

4. Size

When we say watches come in all shapes and sizes, we aren’t kidding. Below are some tips to help you how to choose watch size.

Case Size

If your watch has a case that’s too small or big, you’ll still be able to wear it. However, it’ll look odd. If your wrist is between 5.51 inches – 7.08 inches (139.9 – 179.8 mm), you will need a watch that has a case between 1.49- 1.65 inches (38-42 mm).

Case Thickness

If the case’s thickness is not proportionate to its size, wearing the watch would be uncomfortable. Generally, timepieces that are 1.49 – 1.65 inches (38-42 mm) would have cases that are 0.27 inches (6.58 mm) thick. Watches that are around 1.73 inches (44 mm) would have thicknesses over 0.35 inches (9 mm)

Strap Diameter

A watch usually has a bandwidth that’s half its cases’ size. So, if its case is 1.65 inches (42 mm), you’ll need a strap that’s 0.82 inches (21 mm). Of course, this rule isn’t set in stone. Depending on your taste, you may like a thinner or thicker strap. Men’s watches have started to include thick ones.

5. Comfort

How comfortable your watch will be to wear depends on the strap used. Different watch types have different straps. That’s why timepieces exposed to the elements have silicone, resin, and rubber bands.

The thing is, silicone causes you to sweat. Stainless steel is also useful but can be heavy. In general, nylon straps are uncomfortable due to fibres rubbing against your skin. 

You may also not be able to wear timepieces as you’re allergic to the materials used in them. You may have a leather allergy, so dress watches won’t be an option.

6. Features

Although certain features are common in many watch types, they are not exclusive. The following are features you should look for before making a purchase.

Chronograph

Chronographs are basically stop watches. You’ll see 3 chronograph sub-dials on a display. One measures the seconds passed, the other the minutes, while the final one measures the hours. If you’re a swimmer, being able to time yourself is useful.

Tachymeter

Tachymeters work hand-in-hand with chronographs. They tell you how fast an object is moving. They’re a major part of pilot watches.

Slide Rules

Slide rules are also major parts of pilot watches. They come with a ring that helps with basic calculations.

Compasses

Many timepieces come with compasses. Some of them only have North, South, East, and West painted on, while others have fully functional units. As you know, the feature is popular in sports watches.

Sapphire Displays

Our personal favorites are sapphire displays. These watch windows are indestructible. Many think that they’re only available in premium watches, but this is not true.

Rotating Bezel

Rotating bezels act as timers. They tick as they turn, helping divers get out of the pool before their oxygen supply runs out. This is especially useful if the bezel has a “danger zone”.

Atomic Time-keeping

This feature is only available in digital watches; it ensures that your time is accurate. Your watch syncs to an atomic clock through radio waves, keeping your time in check.

World Time

Another feature that is exclusive to digital watches is world-time. It tells you the time in different timezones. Depending on the watch you own, the number of time zones it’ll show will vary.

7. Ease Of Use

The wearability of your watch is influenced by the clasp. You can divide them into 2 types.

Deployant Clasps

Also know as deployment clasps, they are very intricate. They come in multiple types, like butterfly, push-button, and double-locking clasps. They fold into many parts, and you work them by latching a piece into an opening. 

You generally see deployant clasps in stainless steel watches, but they can be installed into any strap.

Tang Buck Clasps

If you own a dress watch, it probably has a tang buckle clasp. It’s when your strap has holes, which you feed a pin into. Depending on how big your wrist is, feeding the pin into the hole may be tough.

Velcro Straps

Velcro straps are the easiest to work. You attach one end of the Velcro to the other – and voila!

8. Gender

Unfortunately, not all brands produce watches for both men and women. You’ll see that the majority of them producing timepieces for men. What exactly differentiates a watch for a man and woman, though?

Men

Men’s watches are on the larger side. You’ll see them with an automatic movement and stainless-steel bracelet. Their straps are wider and the numerals on their dial are huge. Of course, this isn’t set in stone. 

A few manufacturers have started making men’s watches feminine, giving them a unisex look. You won’t find women’s pieces that look masculine.

Women

Women’s watches are petite. They usually come with quartz mechanisms as it’d be hard to fit many gears into their body. They normally don’t rock stainless steel straps and look pristine. Of course, this description is general and not definite.

Conclusion

Hopefully, you enjoyed our list. When you want to find out how to pick a watch, there are many things to consider. The most important are:
 
• Movement
• Brand
• Watch type
• Watch size
• Comfort
• Features
• Ease of wearing
• Gender

Author
When Thomas Vanderlaan was a child, the moment he learned about mechanical watches he was hooked. His first love being mechanical watches, he decided to pursue a career in engineering as he was entranced by the science behind its gears.
Thomas Vanderlaan
Thomas Vanderlaan
Watch Expert / Automobile Engineer