Close

Watch Buying Guide - Types of Watches

October 20th, 2011 Jewelry

Choosing a Watch Depends on Personality

There are many different styles of watches available in today's fine jewelry market. The most common is the wristwatch, though some opt for an antique-style, fashionable pocket watch. Wristwatches feature bands made of leather, nylon or additional plastic materials or links made out of metals, such as gold, silver or platinum.

Unlike many other types of jewelry, choosing a watch is all a matter of personality -- there are no style rules about the kind of watch you should wear and when the time is appropriate to wear it. From chunky digital timepieces to dainty, platinum links, watch style varieties are endless. For mix and match options, always keep three to four different looks in your jewelry box to go with any outfit for any occasion.

Choosing a Watch Style

When choosing a watch style, there are many options. The choice comes down to price and how elaborate a timepiece you would like to purchase. Keep in mind:

  • From gold to platinum to leather, the band options seem endless and there is no one style that is better than another is. Choose according to how frequently you plan to wear the watch.
  • Decide what core watch style works best for you: a mechanical, wind-up style, battery-operated or self-winding.
  • Search out extra features, such as built-in alarm, heart rate monitor, etc.
  • Look within your price range so you are not looking at pieces outside of your budget.

Clean and Re-Oiled Your Watch Periodically

The movement of the watch should be cleaned and re-oiled at least every three to five years. During this process, everything inside of the watch is taken apart and thoroughly cleaned. This makes the watch last longer and is in intricate process, so only a certified watch repair specialist or a watchmaker should do this. This can be an expensive process, sometimes running upwards of $400. Most watches can be repaired through this process, with the exception of those older than 30 years.

Even if some of the parts are rusted, it is better the leave in the original parts and have them repaired than have them replaced, which can depreciate the watch’s value. On average, Swiss manufacturers take about four months to complete the cleaning and repair process compared to American repair shops, which usually take a month or two.

Determining Vintage

Vintage watches stand out among many of the pieces on the market today. According to Edward Faber, who owns the well-known vintage retail Aaron Faber Gallery, vintage watches are those that were made between 1935 and 1985. During this time, Swiss technology had drastically improved features in timekeeping and on the latter end of the time period, the CAD/CAM computer system made it possible to mass manufacture the watch hand, making it easy for many different companies to make timepieces.

Vintage watches are usually very interesting looking and quite rare. They require special care so be sure to get proper instructions from a vintage watch dealer to extend the life of your vintage watch. In addition, if you are going to buy a vintage watch, be sure to do so from a reputable dealer to make sure you are getting a quality, authentic piece.

Different Watch Types

Watch types vary according to style as well as price. Most often, electronic watches with quartz movements are found in the lower price range. Collectible, antique-styles with intricate workmanship that have mechanical movements and move according to springs are found in the higher price ranges.

Mechanical watches are somewhat less accurate than their quartz counterparts are. However, if accuracy is most important, look for a watch with movements that are radio-controlled, similar to radio clocks.

How Can I Extend the Life of My Watch?

Watches do not generally require as much detailed care as other pieces of jewelry. However, there are a few tips to keep in mind to extend the life of your favorite timepiece:

  • Be careful! Any kind of impact affects how well your watch keeps time and its overall appearance. If you work in a high-impact job, choose a sturdy watch that can withstand frequent wear and tear.
  • If your watch is exposed to salt water, your watch might corrode. Take care to tuck it away while you enjoy a day at the beach.
  • Try to avoid exposing your watch to direct electricity or anything with magnetization.
  • When it's time to clean your watch, have it done professionally. A professional jeweler can clean your watch thoroughly and properly without interrupting any important functions.

Learn Watch Terminology

When shopping for a watch, learning the terminology will help you to communicate exactly what you are looking for.

Quartz : The movement of a watch powered by a battery-device and the oscillations of a quartz crystal. This is one of the more accurate timekeeping methods available.

Water Resistant: This is a big one, because this label does not automatically mean you can submerge your watch. Water-resistant has a wide range of abilities and only those that say water resistant to 100 meters can be submerged.

Movement : This refers to the movements of the bits and pieces of a watch, inside and out.

Complication : This term refers to any component of a watch that does not have to do with timekeeping. For example, extras like calendars or alarms fall into this category.

Levels of Water Resistance in a Watch

Some watches are made to be water resistant. Most of the time, these styles are diving watches, but more and more manufacturers are including water resistant features in a variety of regular timepieces. In the past, these watches were referred to as waterproof; however, the International Organization for Standardization issued a standard dictating that the term water resistant be used in place of waterproof.

Water resistance is achieved by forming a watertight seal around the watch along with a special sealant that is used on the case of the watch to help keep water out. The watch is then tested rigorously to ensure its water resistant qualities. Most water resistant watches are tested at a variety of different levels. They include:

  • Water resistant: Tolerates small splashes of water
  • 50 Meter: The watch can be used in the bathtub or shower and when swimming in shallow water
  • 100 Meter: The watch can be used during swimming
  • 150 Meter: The watch can be used during most water sports
  • 200 Meter: The watch can be used during most water sports and some diving
  • Diver’s 150 Meter: The watch can be used for scuba driving

Prolonged Exposure to Heat Can Damage Your Watch

Like other jewelry, do not leave your watch in extremely hot or cold temperatures. Extreme heat will shorten the life of your watch battery and extreme cold can affect how well your watch is keeping time. Prolonged exposure to any kind of chemicals and household cleaners will have the same effect on your timepiece.

  • When cleaning around the house, if you will be exposed to chemicals, remove your watch and store it in a safe place.
  • Don't leave your watch near open windows in direct sunlight. Too much heat can cause damage to the watch face and/or battery.

The Segments of the Watch Market

In today’s jewelry market, wristwatches are looked at more as pieces of jewelry than simply timepieces. There are varieties of different watch markets, from fashionable creations to those created simply to tell time. There is even a market for expensive, collectible watches. Additionally, there is a segment of the watch market for pieces that not only tell the time, but also feature calculators, small computers, navigational elements and more. Most watch companies specialize in one other another.

For example, Rolex makes watches in the fine jewelry market. Casio markets watches as timepieces instead of jewelry and incorporates computer functions. Because watches can fall into so many different categories, manufacturers are free to choose which market they would like to serve.

Watches Require Regular Maintenance

No matter how expensive -- or inexpensive -- your watch is, it is important to properly care for it. Regular maintenance will not only keep your timepiece looking good, but also will ensure that it is keeping time correctly. This is a particularly poignant issue for those who invest time and money into finding the right watch.

For specific care instructions, make sure you read the instruction manual from the manufacturer found in the original packaging.

Water Can Be Hazardous

Keep in mind that depending on your watch, the most destructive hazard can be water. If your watch has no water resistant qualities, even the smallest amount of water can cause it to malfunction. Take it off and store it in a safe place anytime you think you might be exposed to water.

However, do not count your timepiece out if water has made its way into the face. A professional jeweler or watch technician might be able to repair the damage. Be sure to have it repaired as soon as the damage has been done so the technician has an opportunity to undo some of the damage.