With literally hundreds of brands, styles and materials to choose from, buying a good, quality watch can be quite a daunting task. And when you consider that a watch can cost thousands of pounds it becomes clear that you are purchasing much more than just a timepiece.
But how do you know if you're buying the right watch for you?
Asking lots of questions is a good way to start.
The more information you have at your disposal the more likely you'll be to find exactly what you are looking for.
Of course, we all have individual tastes and we instinctively know what looks good on our wrist. But aesthetics aren't the only factor involved in the purchase of a wristwatch.
What about comfort, accuracy, and levels of functionality? And what does 'movement' actually mean? What is a 'bezel' or a 'complication'? Should you buy mechanical, quartz, or automatic? But questions aren't worth much if you don't understand the answers, and to the outsider, the world of watches can be a very complicated place.
But don't panic. The Watch Emporium is here to help. We've put together this handy guide to help you ask the right questions when you're planning to buy a wristwatch.
We'll introduce you to the different types and styles of watches available, and we'll explain the most important terminology. In short, this guide will give you the information you need to understand the choices you're making when it comes to the purchase of your perfect watch.
There are 6 basic styles of a wristwatch. Each style is designed to cater specifically to the individual needs of the wearer.
From the rugged and chunky sports watches to the elegant and dignified dress watch, it's good to ask yourself what you expect from a watch before you buy. Where and when are you going to wear it? Which functions should it have? And how much would you like to spend?
Here's a short description of each watch style:
The high price of a luxury watch can represent quite a hefty investment, but if you're buying a reputable brand from a trusted dealer then you can rest assured they're worth every penny.
Usually made from sterling silver, platinum or gold with diamond details, luxury watches often have multiple functionalities like moon phase tracking, month recognition, and can be automatic or self-winding. You'll probably want to keep your luxury watch for a long time, so bear in mind it will need a service every once in a while.
Classic and elegant, but modest in description a dress watch will usually be kept for those special occasions where you want to demonstrate a refined sense of style and taste. Definitely not meant for the great outdoors, they tend to feature simple but smart casings of gold and silver plate or polished steel.
A hybrid of timepiece and jewellery with up-to-the-minute styling, materials, and colours, fashion watches often follow current trends and capture the mood of the time. Available in a huge selection of innovative designs, and coupled with affordable prices these fashion-pieces are ideal to coordinate with a variety of wardrobe choices.
Designed to withstand the wear and tear of outdoor activity, sports watches will generally have a high level of water-resistance and are built to survive the physical impact. Most of these will come with extra functions like a stopwatch, pedometer, or even a heart monitor.
Pilot's and Diver's Watches
Right at the far end of the functionality and durability scale, these watches are designed for specialist usage, and for marine or aviation enthusiasts. A good pilot's watch may come with a variety of extra features such as slide rules, technical gauges, tachymeters, while as the name suggests, a diver's watch will be completely water-resistant to certain depths and come with high visibility dials.
Cheap vs Expensive - What's the Real Difference?
We've all heard stories about the dodgy dealer selling 'genuine' Rolex watches out of the back of his white van for £50 apiece. You may even know someone who bought one.
But apart from having the common sense to realize that you just can't get a truly high-end watch for that kind of money, it can be quite difficult to know real quality when you see it, especially if you're new to the world of high-end timepieces and looking to buy your first luxury watch.
Here are five tips to help you recognize a really good, high-end watch when you see one:
One way to get acquainted with quality watches is to go to your local watch or jewellery store and ask to see and actually hold a really expensive watch.
Take a moment to appreciate the time and effort that went into making the watch. Notice the details. Check the quality of the band, then flip it over and have a look at the back. Inspect the seal and read the markings.
If it's a mechanical watch you'll find information about the jewels inside. Feel the weight. These are small details, but all together they will instantly tell you you're holding a watch that is well worth the price.
Mechanical vs Quartz
Mechanical does not automatically mean that the watch is of high quality. What it does mean is that the watch will contain various mechanisms inside and it took a lot more effort and skill to make. That alone will push the price up.
On the other hand, quartz watches have very few parts inside, which again doesn't mean to say it's a cheap or bad, but the low number of moving parts can be assembled without the high level of craftsmanship required to build a mechanical watch. Our American friends at the Gentleman's Gazette provide a lovely explanation regarding the difference between watch movements.
Types of Glass
Have a look at the type of glass on the face of the watch. Generally, there are three types - Mineral, Acrylic, and Sapphire. Mineral will be the least expensive type of glass and it's going to scratch.
Acrylic is used on some mid-range watches which makes them a little bit more expensive but still affordable. It will be more scratch-resistant than the mineral glass, but nowhere near as resistant as Sapphire.
Sapphire is used in near-to all high-end watches. Note this is not true sapphire, but the man-made kind, and it is the most desirable and the most expensive watch glass you can find.
Many forums discuss the benefits in greater detail, one example being My Best Review Site which has a Free Watch Tips area, so be sure to google for more information.
Complications are all the other details that come with the watch such as, the chronograph, the calendar, the moon phase, etc. If you have a mechanical watch with a high number of complications then you know that a heck of a lot of highly skilled craftsmanship has gone into it.
Smoothness of movement
Look at the second hand. How does it move? If it's moving smoothly with no jumps then you're holding a good quality watch.
High-end watches usually have about nine movements per second, which makes the second hand appear to glide seamlessly around the dial. Lesser quality watches will have around five, four or even three movements per second.
Also, hold the watch to your ear and listen. If you can hear the second hand then that is usually a sign of a watch of lower quality. Again, this doesn't necessarily mean that it's a bad watch, just not as well made as the more high-end timepieces.
Of course...how much you want to spend on a watch is entirely up to you. It's not the purpose of this website to steer you towards something you consider to be too expensive. But what we are trying to do is supply you with the information you need to make a good purchase, and a purchase that fits you in every way possible, in style, quality, and price.
In other words, all of us here at The Watch Emporium are working really hard to make sure you get the best watch for your money.
Common Watch Terminology
Also known as a self-winding watch, these mechanical watches use the natural movement of the wearer to wind the mainspring. An automatic watch will also have a crown for the first time setting, and to rewind the watch if it is left to run down through non-use.
The outer ring of the watchcase that secures the glass fitting. Besides adding to the appearance of a watch, bezels can be used to calibrate time, distance and speed. Bezels were originally designed as a timer for divers.
A chronograph is any watch, mechanical, automatic or quartz, which features a stop-watch. The stopwatch is usually operated by two buttons above and below the watch crown. Most chronographs will show the elapsed minutes, and sometimes hours, on smaller dials set into the watch face. Want to know how to use one or maybe a tachymeter too - Take action with the art of Manliness (Ladies forgive the name, we just liked the advice . . . ).
These are the 'other functions' that come with the watch movement. It’s called complications because every additional function causes the watch to become more 'complicated'.
This is the general term for the timekeeping mechanism inside the watch. Its main function is to keep accurate time, but it can also come with a date, day-of-the-week, alarm, stopwatch and other functions (complications).
A watch complication that calibrates and displays the date and the number of days in each month while taking factors like leap years into account is known as perpetual calendars.
Perpetual calendars are crafted by highly skilled watchmakers and therefore are normally only found on expensive, high-end watches.
In simple terms, a quartz watch uses a crystal to regulate an electronic oscillator to keep accurate time. A battery usually powers quartz watches but some models also use kinetic, solar, and other means to generate the necessary electric power. Find out more on Explain that stuff - Quartz clocks and watches
This term refers to the transparent cover that protects the watch face. Please note that it has nothing to do with the tiny crystal that can be found in quartz watches and the similarity in terms is purely coincidental.
Commonly known as the 'winder', the watch crown is the wheel or button on the side of the casing used to wind up the mainspring. It can also be pulled out to set the time and adjust the date.
A watch escapement is found in mechanical watches only. It consists of a pallet fork and an escape wheel and its purpose is to transmit power from the mainspring to the balance wheel in a controlled and very deliberate way. The Doctor can help if you want to understand this better.