Watch Buying Guide

Quartz Watches

Quartz watches, the most commonly used type of watch, offer accuracy and reliability. A small piece of quartz oscillates at more than 32,000 vibrations per second to ensure accurate timekeeping. Benefits include:

  • Watch never needs winding.

  • Displays come in analog, digital, and a combination of both analog and digital.

  • Quartz watches include watches powered by light or an internal generator, so that battery changes are not necessary.

Mechanical Watches

Mechanical watches show off traditional craftsmanship and usually cost a little more than their quartz counterparts because they demonstrate the skill and cost of labor required to build a complex and valuable timepiece. Mechanical watches depend on a spring (the "mainspring") to provide energy to an oscillator (often a wheel called a "balance wheel") as it unwinds. The wheel oscillates at about 28,000 vibrations per hour, which means your watch can lose several minutes in a given month.

Automatic Watches

A rotor swings in response to motion, winding the mainspring running the watch. Watches often come with a transparent or partially-transparent case back so you can see the rotor in action. If you wear an automatic mechanical watch for more than 12 hours per day, your motion will keep the watch mechanism running. You'll need to wind your watch if you don't wear it for a few days or if the watch has stopped.


Aluminum : Aluminum is known for being lightweight, durable and resistant to tarnish and rust.
Stainless steel : Many manufacturers use stainless steel, a durable metal, for watch cases and bands.
Carbon fiber : Tough lighweight material used both for watch casing and dials. May come in many colors.
Titanium : A strong, lightweight metal that has benefited from recent trends in sports watches which require sturdier materials. Titanium is 30% stronger than steel and is corrosion resistant.
Plastic/rubber : Frequently used in sports watches, plastic or rubber is lightweight, sturdy and colorful.

Common Features

When you look at watches, find out if they come with any extra features.
Calendar : The face of the watch displays the date, day of the week ("day date" watches), and month ("full calendar" watches).
Chronograph : A stopwatch or meter measures time elapsed. Chronographs can also come in a "split second" format to measure two time segments simultaneously or consecutively.
Moonphase indicator : Display indicating the phase of the moon through an image on a rotating disk.
Tourbillon : A small but very costly mechanism within a mechanical watch that helps eliminate potential time errors.
Repeater : When a wearer presses a button, watches with a repeater announce time through a series of chimes.
Telemeter Scale : Scale that measures distance between a watch wearer and an object that generates a visible signal and a loud noise (such as a fired cannon or electrical storm).
Tachymeter : A scale located around the rim of a watch dial that, when used along with the chronograph, allows measurement of average speed through the calculation of time and a pre-measured distance.
World Time : Watch feature that indicates time in all time zones around the world simultaneously. The dials or face display the names of cities around the world in each time zone and can be adjusted to read the time in that zone.

Daily Care

Never leave your watch in extreme hot or cold temperatures. Do not expose quartz watches to magnets.

Regular Maintenance

Clean your watch regularly to remove sweat, dirt, and oil. Wipe the crystal, case, and band with a soft cloth. Clean metal bands with soap, water, or a glass cleaning solution and a soft brush if needed.

Definition of Water Resistance

A watch marked as water resistant without a depth indication is designed to withstand accidental splashes of water only. Do not submerge such a watch. Higher levels of water resistance are indicated by increasingly higher acceptable depths, usually indicated in meters. There are a variety of ways to make a watch water resistant. All such watches use rubber gaskets or O rings to seal the case back. A watch with a back that screws onto the case provides a higher degree of water resistance. Some crowns (the winding stem) actually screw into the case to further increase water resistance.

Usage Recommendations

* Water-resistant to 30 meters (100 feet). Will withstand splashes of water or rain but should not be worn while bathing, swimming or diving.
* Water-resistant to 50 meters (165 feet). Will withstand splashes of water or rain but should not be worn while bathing, swimming or diving.
* Water-resistant to 100 meters (330 feet). Suitable for cool bathing, swimming and snorkeling.
* Water-resistant to 150 meters (500 feet). Suitable for snorkeling.
* Water-resistant to 200 meters (660 feet). Suitable for skin diving.
* Diver's 300 meters (984 feet). Meets ISO standards and is suitable for scuba diving.

Care for a Water Resistant Watch

You should never wear your water resistant watch in a hot shower, sauna or hot tub. The extreme heat causes the metal parts to expand at a different rate than the rubber gaskets. This creates small openings that can allow water droplets to penetrate the watch. Sudden temperature changes are especially harsh. After swimming or diving in salt water, immediately rinse the watch in a stream of fresh water. If your watch has a rotating bezel, turn the bezel several times while rinsing it. This will prevent salt buildup and corrosion of the bezel ring.

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