Now that you can tell time on your smartphone, your car, your microwave and dozens of other places that aren’t traditional clocks, a watch becomes more of a style statement and less of a necessity.
Not surprisingly, watches span a wide range of styles and prices, from the simple and affordable to the opulent and more expensive. Start by familiarizing yourself with the primary types of watches, watch materials and optional features.
Quartz watch movements, the most common type, offer accuracy and stability. Plus, quartz watches don’t require winding. The battery should last for a year or two. Quartz watches come in several styles:
- Analog watch faces have numbers, Roman numerals or markers around the dial. While this may be the most traditional design, there’s still a lot of variety to be found, from sleek and minimalistic to highly ornate.
- Digital watch dials display hours and minutes.
- Ani-digi watch displays combine an analog watch dial with a digital readout.
Mechanical watches rely on a spring to supply energy to an oscillator as it unwinds. Because of its nature, a mechanical watch can lose several minutes over the course of a week or month. Regular maintenance helps to keep yoru watch working as it should. Mechanical watches are available in automatic and manual models:
- Automatic mechanical watches have a rotor swing, which winds the spring with every movement of the wearer. You’ll find these watches with see-through displays to showcase its inner workings. If not worn for a few days, the watch will need to be wound. Different watch brands offer different power reserves.
- Manual mechanical watches must be wound every day to keep them running.
Smartwatches are a category of watches which can connect via Bluetooth technology to a smartphone. By creating a connection between a smartphone and a smartwatch, the smartwatch can extend functionality of the smartphone such as activity tracking and notifications right onto the wrist. Smartwatches come in a variety of forms. Some have bright screens that display texts, emails, calendar items and more while others are seamlessly integrated into the watch and provide subtle notifications that only the owner is aware of.
Watch cases and bands
The material used for the watchcase and band can change the entire look of a timepiece. The watchcase is the body of the watch and protects the watch movement inside it.
The two basic styles of watchband are bracelets (of metal or precious metals) and straps (of plastic, rubber, silicone, or leather). Some watchbands may be interchangeable to provide more flexibility and styling options.
The materials you’re likely to encounter while shopping for watches include:
- Aluminum watches are very versatile and durable too, resisting tarnish, rust and corrosion.
- Stainless steel is a strong and hardwearing metal popular for watches and bands.
- Ceramic carbide is a synthetic product that’s highly scratch resistant and highly durable. You can find ceramic watches in many colors, though a favorite is clean white.
- Gold watches, whether yellow, white or rose-colored, are classic luxury timepieces. You can find them in 18K, 14K and 10K.
- Leather watchbands are a classic look for any occasion.
- Platinum is the most precious of all jewelry metals due to its purity, rarity and strength. Its natural color is silver-white, and the metal ages beautifully, never tarnishing.
- Resin is a tough and durable plastic that’s available in many colors, so you can really accessorize anything.
- Rubber watchbands are great for athletes and their activites, and they’re also resilient enough for kids’ watches.
- Titanium is often used in sports watches because it’s light but incredibly strong — 30% stronger than steel. It also resists corrosion.
Optional watch features
Many watches have additional features beyond timekeeping, such as alarms, calendars and even GPS capabilities. In the jewelry trade, a watch that has one or more functions besides basic timekeeping functionality is considered a “complicated watch.” Here are a few more choices available when you shop for a watch.
Calendar watches display the day, date and year, and may offer the option of showing military time. Some watches also have a moon phase indicator on a rotating disk. If you travel a lot, a world-time watch could come in particularly handy. Perpetual calendar watches never need any adjustment.
Sometimes having a stopwatch on your wrist is a great convenience, especially if you’re an athlete. Chronographs come in split-seconds format and may even be able to measure two time segments simultaneously or consecutively. Some watches also have a tachymeter feature, which uses scales around the rim of the watch dial to measure average speed.
Water resistance is a great idea for any watch. Watches water resistant up to 30 meters may be called “splash proof.” Water resistance up to 50 meters indicates suitability for everyday wear, including in the shower. Watches with a water-resistance rating of 100 meters can be worn during water activities like swimming and surfing, while those with a rating of 200 meters are safe for SCUBA diving. Look for the water resistance depth rating on the watch dial or back of the case.