What To Look For When Buying A Watch


Purchasing a timepiece can be a worthwhile investment. As such, you want to know what to look for when shopping. What constitutes a high-quality wristwatch? Is it all about the brand name or should you be looking at specific characteristics?

While the brand name is a great indicator of quality, there is a lot to choose from under that umbrella. To buy the timepiece that’s best for you, you should have an understanding of how watches work and what sets one apart from another. Here’s what to look for when buying a watch.

The Bezels

Having a watch isn’t just about having something shiny to adorn your wrist – you want to be able to use it too. A bezel is what holds the crystal in place over your timepiece and is often one of the last considerations when making a purchase, which is why we’ve highlighted it first.

There are different types of watch bezels used, depending on the watch you choose. For example, elapsed time bezels help you keep track of passing minutes and seconds, which is handy when you are involved in sports. A compass bezel is great for outdoorsmen who wear their watches on hikes. This often forgotten feature can be the difference between a great watch and one you can’t live without.

Swiss Made or Not

It’s no secret that the Swiss have the edge on watchmaking. For a watch to sport the iconic Swiss Made label, it must have been pieced together within Swiss borders using parts from Switzerland. Finally, it must also be inspected in Switzerland to get the final stamp of approval. Rolex, Swatch, and TAG Heuer are just a few of the world-renowned Swiss Made watch brands.

If you opt for Swiss Made, expect to pay a premium, even in comparison to other luxury watches. However, just because a watch doesn’t sport the Swiss Made label, doesn’t mean it isn’t a high-quality, desirable watch. There are many designers from various origins that create beautiful watches of comparable quality to those coming out of Switzerland, such as Seiko and Bell & Ross.

The Crystal

The crystal of a watch is the dome protecting your watch face. On watches you purchase at the local department store, these are often made of easily broken glass. On a nice watch, the crystal will be far more durable, resistant to scratches and breakage.

High-quality watch crystals are often made of sapphire crystal, the thicker, the better. This synthetic material is resistant to scratches and will only shatter if dealt a harsh blow. For example, you knocking it off your nightstand will not break the crystal.

The Movements

Whether or not you choose a Swiss Made watch, you want a watch with handcrafted movements that have been assembled in adherence with the Swiss practices. The movements are all of the tiny gears and cogs that keep your watch running smoothly and accurately. Quartz movements are also ideal when searching for a watch.

Japanese movements from Seiko are also comparable quality to those crafted in Switzerland. Seiko watches come from a long line of clock and watchmakers, who took the time to consult with Swiss watchmaking experts to improve their processes. They offer a reasonable alternative to watches labeled as Swiss Made.

Consider the Weight

Your watch weight preferences will be entirely subjective. For some, a heavy watch creates a feeling of power derived from quality. However, some find it exhausting to wear a heavy watch all day and prefer something lighter. The choice is ultimately yours.

Designers like Hublot have forgone the traditional metal straps and opted for a more comfortable, lighter rubber strap. TAG Heuer took a similar route by offering fabric over metal. As both of these brands target a physically active demographic, the metal alternatives make sense for those balancing their active lifestyle with luxury. Many watchmakers also offer leather straps or interchangeable straps. Do some research and find what appeals to you.

Design and Functionality Considerations

The design considerations are where your personal preferences come in. Do you want a watch that offers an iconic, recognizable look like the Omega Speedmaster? Or are you looking for a limited release watch that will stand apart from those on the wrists of your friends and colleagues?

The functionality will also tie into your lifestyle and desires. How the watch gets illuminated, for example, or if you can see the inner workings of the watch through the face or the back. Whether you choose to go for something with a lot of light-catching jewels or something more subtle, the choice is ultimately yours.

New or Used

Many people prefer to buy a new watch as a symbol of accomplishment and rite of passage. There are exceptions to this rule though. If you want a specific limited edition watch or a vintage timepiece that is no longer produced, used may be the only way to obtain it. Some people will also try to get a used watch as a budget option, though as many watches hold their value, their success largely depends on the brand.

Watches are a classic accessory that can be handed down through generations. Which one will you choose?

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