Naturally, this means you are faced with a huge, and often overwhelming, range of options when it comes to watches. So how do you buy a watch that serves all your needs and makes you feel fabulous?
How to choose a watch that suits you
A timepiece you will love depends on your tastes, needs and budget. Luckily for you, we have an extensive range of watches so there is something for everyone.
Naturally, your budget will be a deciding factor in the watch you choose. You can pick up a beautiful watch for under $50. But watch prices can reach into the hundreds or even thousands of dollars, depending on their materials, functions, and, of course, the brand.
If you’re investing in a timepiece for years to come, make sure it carries the credentials it boasts. Many watches contain important information or certifications on their back.
Flip any watch over and you might find information about the model or make, the type of movement inside, water resistance, crystal material or battery requirements.
Or there might be certifications to prove a watch case’s gold or silver purity or whether the watch is certified Swiss Made (Swiss Made watches can increase the price of a watch by 20%).
Can you read the watch face with ease? The hourly markers could be written in Roman or Arabic numerals or they could be indicated with simple lines. In some watches, the markings are deliberately large while in others they are fine.
Is your watch comfortable? Does it sit well on your wrist without moving or digging into your skin? Your watch size and shape should be appropriate for the size of your wrist.
Do you have a preferred brand? Some watch brands are renowned for their craftsmanship or exceptional features. Others have become famous through popular culture (such as the Rolex Submariner sported by James Bond).
Seiko watches are notable for their reliability while Citizen watches are renowned for their beautiful style and craftsmanship. An Armani Exchange watch is synonymous with high fashion.
Do you plan to pair your timepiece with a smart outfit for a formal occasion or are you looking for an everyday watch that will stand the test of time? Some watches, such as a Casio G-Shock watch, are designed for rugged adventures.
Learn more about how to best match your watch to your outfit.
Watch mechanisms and materials
A watch’s movement, also known as the calibre, is the most important detail in a timepiece as it determines how your watch will keep time. But other features, such as the watch case material, the glass it uses, and the functions it comes with, all impact a watch’s value.
The very first wristwatches were mechanical watches, finely handcrafted by an expert watchmaker. Even today, mechanical watches contain intricate gears and cogs put together by professional craftspeople.
The advantages of a mechanical watch:
- It’s watch craftsmanship at its finest
- You don’t need a battery and won’t have to worry about battery replacements
- The second-hand moves beautifully smoothly
- It can be serviced almost anywhere in the world
- It will last a lifetime if properly maintained
Mechanical watches draw power from a mainspring (a coiled metal wire), which can be wound up either automatically or by hand. Once wound up, the mainspring gently unwinds, sweeping the second hand smoothly around the watch face. The longer the mainspring is, the longer your watch power will last.
Most mechanical watches these days are powered automatically (sometimes called self-winding watches). That is, they harness kinetic energy - in this case, the movement of your own hand. Your wrist movements turn a rotor, which in turn rotates the mainspring.
Naturally, that means that if you leave your watch unattended a few days, it will need to be reset and wound.
Automatic mechanical watches take time and skill to develop, making them a pride of point among horologists and an artisanal product by watch standards.
Because of their fine craftsmanship and detailed, handcrafted mechanisms, mechanical watches are usually more expensive than quartz watches.
The finest mechanical watches can keep time to within a second per day. But with more intricate moving parts, this accuracy wears down over time. Mechanical watches generally require a tune-up every 5 to 10 years.
The Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres (COSC) certifies super-accurate mechanical watches. But if you want one of these ‘chronometers’, as they’re called, expect to pay for the luxury. These certified watches make up just 6% of all mechanical watches, a rarity which makes them more costly.
First introduced in the 1970s, quartz watches are battery-powered and usually contain a long-life lithium battery that should last about 3 years. Some quartz watches are solar-powered.
The advantages of a quartz watch:
- It’s affordable
- It’s highly accurate (to within 15 seconds per month)
- It’s easy to maintain
- It’s durable and can withstand a beating better than a mechanical watch
- It can handle a range of functions
This type of watch gets its name from the small quartz crystal, which vibrates (exactly 32,768 times per second) when electricity is sent through it.
A circuit measures these vibrations and converts them into a pulse that moves the second hand. Because of that pulse, the second hand on a quartz watch jumps noticeably from one second to the next.
Case and Caseback
The look and feel of your watch will depend on the materials, shape, and size of the watch case and caseback.
Watch cases are available in a range of materials, including the popular stainless steel, which perfectly combines affordability, quality, and value.
Other possible watch case materials include ceramic and titanium, both of which are lightweight. Gold and platinum are heavier but add a luxury element to your timepiece.
Most watches are round, though you can also get rectangle, square, and tonneau-shaped watches.
The average watch case diameter is between 34mm and 44mm but your wristwatch size should be proportionate to the size of your wrist.
The caseback - the front side of a watch where the display appears - might be different depending on whether you have a quartz watch or a mechanical timepiece.
Quartz watches typically have a solid steel or titanium backing but some mechanical watches are enhanced with an open or clear case back so you can see the intricate mechanisms in action.
Watches with a clear caseback typically use the same glass you’d find on the front of the watch.
The three most common types of glass you'll find on timepieces are plexiglass (or acrylic), mineral crystal and sapphire crystal.
Plexiglass may be used in vintage watches or low-priced timepieces but mineral crystal is the most common glass on more affordable watches.
Sapphire crystal is the most popular glass for watchmakers, thanks to its almost scratch proof surface and clarity. It is also a hallmark of a high-end watch.
Quality timepieces usually have a coating or two of anti-reflective treatment to eradicate glare on sunny days.
Functions or Complications
Basic watches display the hours, minutes and seconds (sometimes even just the first two). But many watches today feature additional functions, which are called ‘complications’.
Complications can include functions as basic as an alarm or repeater (an hourly or minute chime activated by the press of a button). Others enable you to track time zones or to follow a calendar or the phases of the moon. Watches that incorporate many complications are often called Grand Complications.
Two renowned complications that deserve more attention are the chronograph and the tourbillon.
A chronograph is essentially a complicated stopwatch. A watch with a chronograph might have two or three small dials (sometimes called sub-registers) that show stopped time.
The timer is usually started and stopped by ‘pushers’ located at the 2 and 4 hour positions.
Some watches pair a chronograph with a tachymeter, a scale inscribed into the rim of the watch that helps you track speed, distance travelled or even fuel consumption.
A tourbillon is a complicated mechanism that compensates for mechanical inaccuracies caused by gravity.
A cage-like mechanism, a tourbillon is often displayed on the watch through dial cuts and is the ultimate sign of extravagance.
The different types of watches
These days, there is a huge diversity in the types of watches you can buy. From dainty, ornamental watches to heavy-duty sports watches, the watch you buy depends on your needs.
But to help you reach a decision, here are the five major traditional watch styles - and one very important modern addition!
The Divers Watch
A watch style made famous by James Bond, a dive watch is one of the most common types of watches you’ll see on men.
Designed to be waterproof to at least 100 metres (with some watches capable of a depth of 1000m), dive watches have far surpassed their original purpose. Today, they’re popular for their versatility, transitioning well from active sports to business meetings.
The first dive watches came out in about the 1930s but only became popular after the release of the Rolex Submariner in the 1950s.
- Water resistant design
- Luminescent hands and indexes
- Large, dark numerals dials to make them more visible underwater
- Corrosion-resistant case and band usually made of stainless steel or titanium
- Unidirectional bezels to track time underwater
The Dress Watch
In contrast to a sports watch, a dress watch is subtle and simple. Worn more like jewellery, a dress watch embraces understated sophistication with a super-thin watch face that can fit easily under a suit or dress cuff.
Dress watches are notable for their simple designs and functionality. You’re unlikely to find fancy adornments or watch complications on these timepieces.
Since the introduction of these watches in the early 20th century, dress watches are designed to go with evening wear and be worn on formal occasions.
- Smaller and more delicate
- Plated gold case and thin leather straps
- Subtle hour indexes (typically Roman numerals or simple lines)
- Few complications
The Pilot's Watch
The pilot’s watch, often commonly called the aviator’s watch, came out in 1911 after Louis Cartier designed a wristwatch for a pilot friend. It was one of the first-ever wristwatches.
Pilot watches are designed to allow pilots to operate the controls of their plane and still check the time (without needing to reach for a pocket watch).
Pilot’s watches blend a classic look with high functionality, including plenty of watch complications to help pilots track data. There’s a wide range of styles, although they’re often rugged and suit casual wear more than formal wear.
- Oversized dial around 55mm in diameter
- Large numerals that are easy to read
- Luminous hands
- Often made of leather
- Might feature date and chronograph to capture important aviation data
- Some pilot’s watches have an inner hour dial and outer minute dial
The Field Watch
The field watch came out of World War I, so it’s notable for its rugged design and functionality.
The field watch takes into consideration the need for effortless time synchronisation, night timekeeping, and rugged designs that withstand the elements.
Even today, field watches have a military feel, with canvas bands and distinctive black and white faces, with clear minute markings.
A versatile but masculine watch, this is a great accessory to pair with everyday casual to business casual wear.
- Small to medium-sized face
- Functional numerical indexes
- Stainless steel or titanium case
- Leather or canvas strap
- Luminous dials
- Few complications
The Driving Watch
Driving watches, or racing watches, are designed with car racing in mind, with Rolex pioneering the way with the Oyster watch back in the 1930s.
Since then, virtually every watchmaker brand has brought out driving watches. The most notable features of driving watches are the functions, like a chronograph and tachymeter to measure the speed of a vehicle against a kilometre.
These watches are even more bulky and flashy than dive or pilot watches, making them more fitting for everyday wear rather than formal occasions.
- Medium to large timeface
- A large dial with Arabic numerals
- Stainless steel case
- A chronograph and tachymeter to measure speed and distance
Bonus: Smart Watch
Smart watches have completely transformed the watch industry, taking the basic functionality of watches well into mini-computer territory.
Smart watches come with a whole array of features, from instant messaging to GPS, and accelerometers to heart-rate sensors. Some smart watches even boast voice control.
Unlike automatic or quartz watches, smart watches require daily recharging and can be bulky to wear. But that’s quickly changing, especially as more watchmaking brands enter the market.
Today, it isn’t just mobile phone brands that are producing smart watches. It’s possible to find stylish designs from fashion brands like Fossil and Michael Kors.
Find out how to pick the right smart watch for your needs.
Find a beautiful timepiece that makes you feel fabulous
At Watches Galore, we’ve sourced quality watches from all over the world, to suit every budget, style preference and function. Take a look at our stylish range of watches for women and our quality men’s watches today.