Watch Buying Guide
Tell a story with your watch
You may think watches just tell time; however, a watch can also make a personal statement: "This is who I am; this is where I'm going." For men, a statement watch can be particularly meaningful, since it is often the only piece of jewelry they wear.
What do you want to say? What do you want to spend? While you could spend more, $500-$7,000 is probably where you'll start.
Here's what you need to know about the main parts of a watch from the inside out: the movement, case, crystal, and band.
The Watch Movement
The inner workings, or guts, of the watch. We'll cover on three types: Mechanical, quartz and automatic.
- Mechanical: Truly old school. It has springs and gears and must be wound by hand. Vintage watches tend to have mechanical movements. These can lose or gain time of up to 10 seconds a day.
- Quartz: Uses a tiny quartz crystal that vibrates at a precise frequency when electricity is passed across it. They're battery powered and affordable. Also called "Swiss quartz," these are the most accurate.
- Automatic or self-winding: Run on the energy you produce by moving your arm. Even if you wear it daily, you'll still need to reset it once a month, as these watches can gain or lose a few minutes.
- Light-driven power: Light transmitted through the dial is absorbed by a solar cell, converted into energy, and cached in a lithium-ion cell in the movement.
The Watch Case
The metal outer covering designed to protect the inner workings.
- Stainless steel: the most popular in high-quality watches. It looks great forever because it resists tarnishing and discoloration.
- Titanium: as durable as stainless steel, but not as heavy.
- Ceramic, particularly white, is a newer look and becoming popular because it's durable, scratch, and stain-resistant.
- Solid gold (not gold-plated): The standard for luxurious men's and women's watches, in 10, 14, or 18 karat gold.
Watch Case Size
Case size is measured in millimeters. The average women's case diameter is 34mm. The average men's case diameter is 40mm (a little more 1.5 inches).
The trend for both men and women is toward a larger watch case size, so today you often see case diameters of 48, 50 and even 55 mm (that's 2.2 inches). However, a larger size does not always mean better or more expensive.
The Watch Crystal
The watch crystal is a clear covering of glass, plastic or synthetic colorless sapphire that covers the face of the watch.
- Sapphire crystal: Clear lab-created sapphire is most common on watches over $500. High-end watch manufacturers prefer it because it withstands scratching better than the others. Only a diamond or another sapphire can scratch the surface. Often is treated with anti-reflective coating to reduce glare.
- Mineral glass: Glass that has been heat- or chemically treated. It's more resistant to scratches, but can crack or shatter under extreme conditions.
The Watch Band
- Straps come in materials like leather, rubber, and fabric. Statement watches tend to have bands in high quality materials like leather.
- Metal bracelets are common in statement watches. Bracelets are made of interlocking metal links, usually in the case metal.
This information, combined with your personal style, will guide you to the right statement watch.