Types of Watches – How to Choose

Tips&AdviceTypes of Watches - How to Choose

Even at the beginning of the last century, the wristwatch was more of an accessory than a chronometer. Today, with the advent of cell phones, the prevalence of status over function has become even more pronounced. The right watch can help you form an opinion about you when you get a job, impress the opposite sex or emphasize your personality. However, sometimes you really need them: at serious meetings, on a camping trip or during extreme sports, the cell phone with its built-in watch is not your assistant. Our article will help you choose the right watch that will both perform basic functions and look good.

Which brand to choose

If you want a really good model, choose a watch of famous brands (of course, taking into account your financial position):

You can read more about these and other popular brands of wristwatches in our article about the best models according to customer reviews. Those who want to choose a good chronometer for themselves, not limited to the brand on the dial, should read this instruction to the end.

Types of mechanisms

watch mechanisms

All wristwatches are divided in two types according to the type of their mechanism:

    • mechanical
    • quartz

Mechanical models, the oldest but still relevant type of chronometer, are assembled from a multitude of levers, spirals and gears. The engine here is a compressed spring, which is pulled down when it is wound, and ensures the operation of all the mechanisms when it is unstrung. To prevent it from “firing” immediately, a regulator (balance) is installed in the case to stabilize the watch, as well as an anchor escapement. The latter forces the balance wheel to turn evenly, maintaining a stable spring tension.

The quartz watch works differently. Here, a battery is installed inside, which starts a stepper motor—it receives an electric impulse from the generator every second, and as a result, the hands move from place.

By the way, electronic watch are also quartz watch, although no one calls them so. Here, there are no more gears driving the hand mechanism—the electric signal is transmitted to the display, which displays the desired numbers.

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Types of wrist watches

When analyzing the principle of operation of watches, we have already become familiar with the types of chronometers with different types of drive. Now we need to understand their features, and most importantly—to identify the main advantages and disadvantages.

Mechanical

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This type of watches is divided into watches with manual winding and automatic winding. In the first case, you will have to press the spring yourself to keep your watch running (usually once every 3-4 days).

Self-winding models are more convenient, of course. Constant movement of the mechanism is provided by the weight fixed on the axis of the drive, which moves the center of gravity. Each movement of the watch causes the weight to “drop” under the action of gravity. Part of the energy is transferred to the spring, and you no longer need to wind it manually.

Pros of mechanical watches:

    • Simple design;
    • Long service life (at least 50 years);
    • They will not stop at the wrong moment, as in the case of a dead battery;
    • Status which is due, among other things, to hand-assembly.

Cons:

    • Noticeable error – 5 to 60 sec/day;
    • High price because of the need for fine-tuning.

A mechanical watch is not just a chronometer, it is a way of life to which their owner adheres. They are chosen by those who know a lot about good things and prefer time-tested classics to everything.

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Quartz

quartz watches

Watches of this type are more modern and more accurate, although the analog models are virtually indistinguishable from mechanical in appearance. Their accuracy depends on the selected pulse frequency, which in turn is calculated mathematically. However, quartz crystals are also subject to aging, so here, too, the error can manifest itself over time.

Advantages of quartz watches:

    • No need to wind up regularly;
    • Minimum error (15-20 sec/month);
    • Compact body;
    • Lighter than mechanical watches;
    • Reliable and durable;
    • More affordable.

Cons:

    • Require battery replacement 2-3 times a year.

Quartz watches are the choice of those who want absolute precision and a stylish modern accessory without pretensions to elitism.

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Electronic

electronic watch

Although this watch type is also a quartz watch, we decided to separate it into an individual group. This is because they display the time in a completely different way—on an electronic display, rather than using an analog mechanism. Here, we have the option to use 24-hour format and at the same time display other useful information (alarm clock, calendar, etc.).

Advantages of electronic watches:

    • Extended functionality;
    • The most informative display;
    • Accuracy and durability of quartz watches;
    • Convenient time format;
    • You can tell by the “behavior” of the watch that the battery is about to run out;
    • Relatively low cost.

Cons:

    • The display is more likely to fail than the hand mechanism.
    • Usually have a plastic body, which does not add elegance.

Electronic watches are more often chosen by young people, athletes and people with an active lifestyle.

There are also quartz watches with a combined time display. They have both the usual analog dial with hands, and an electronic display. But, as is often the case, combining the two systems only made worse the drawbacks of the respective “pure” models. In this case, it affected the reliability and durability of watches—combined chronometers are the least durable, and their functionality remains limited.

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Choice options

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Now, we know all the features of watch movements. So we can begin choosing models of watches based on other parameters—no less important than the accuracy.

Body material

The first thing to decide is what the body of your ideal watch should be made of. There are plenty of options, and everyone has different tastes, so let’s briefly touch upon only the most popular materials:

    • Titanium is very light and very strong. It looks great on the watch case and does not cause allergies. Titanium chronometers are especially appreciated in cold countries because, due to their lower thermal conductivity than other metals, they do not chill the hand in winter.
    • Gold is a timeless classic and a symbol of prestige. Alas, it is not suitable for everyday wear for its high price gold is still heavy, soft and easily damaged metal.
    • Palladium, a lightweight and non-oxidizing material, is not a bad choice. Although not used in its pure form, it is introduced as an alloying element in precious metal alloys, creating a form of white gold. In the case of slight damage, such a watch can be easily restored by polishing.
    • Stainless steel is a simple and quite budget-friendly option for everyday watches. These cases are durable, although they are prone to scratches. But the defects can be polished without problems, and corrosion is also not a problem. The only issue—the presence of nickel in the alloy can provoke skin irritation, so it is better to choose surgical steel.
    • Brass is a cheap metal that requires a mandatory decorative coating. Otherwise, oxidation will leave dirty streaks on the wrist. The case back of such watches is made of stainless steel.
    • Plastic—despite its apparent cheapness, this material is very popular in the manufacture of electronic watches. It is lightweight, non-corrosive, but afraid of scratches and becomes brittle in the cold.

But the best metal for watch cases is platinum. And although it is really durable, because of its high cost it is used only in the manufacture of exclusive watches.

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Glass

The neat appearance of the watch when worn for a long time depends on the choice of glass. So you should also pay attention to the type of glass that protects the dial:

    • Mineral—resistant to scratches, but it is quite easy to break. But its price is affordable and its easy to replace.
    • Sapphire is an expensive material that is used only in the production of luxury models. Its scratch resistance rivals that of diamond, but the brittle synthetic sapphire breaks even more easily than quartz.
    • Plexiglass—the cheapest and most scratch-sensitive material. But small defects from its surface can easily be removed by sanding, but it is really hard to break such “glass”.
    • Sapphlex is a combined two-layer material. It is based on strong organic glass, which is simply covered with a scratch-resistant sapphire.

Athletes should also consider watches with an anti-reflective coating. Its presence makes it easy to read the dial or display in sunny weather. In this case, it may seem that they have no glass at all—very comfortable and looks great.

Level of protection

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We can re-divide watches into types according to this indicator, but the protection of the case and internal mechanisms from external factors is not always needed. This question mainly concerns athletes and people who work in difficult conditions, where there is a great risk of getting wet, breaking or damaging the watch with small dust.

The level of water resistance of chronometers is indicated in units of atmosphere or bar (which have approximately the same numerical value). Sealed cases of such watches can withstand external water pressure from 1 to 20 atm, which corresponds to 10-200 m of water column:

    • 20 atm models referred to as a diver’s or dive watch have the highest level of water resistance and allow deep diving;
    • 10 atm—diving without aqualung no deeper than 100 m;
    • 5 atm—you can just swim in a pool wearing this watch;
    • 3 atm—resistant to rain and brief hand washing only;
    • Chronometers labeled “water resistant” have no protection at all.

Anti-shock models are also quite varied, since each well-known manufacturer has its own unique protection system. But usually it comes down to the usual anti-shock feature. It provides smooth operation of the mechanism even after shocks, vibrations or just long shaking, but does not protect either the case or the glass.

Remember, any watch that can survive a fall from a height of one meter to a wooden floor is considered shockproof—don’t test its resistance with a hammer.

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Strap or bracelet

Here, the choice depends on personal preference, but you should understand that a bracelet lasts longer than any strap—sometimes as long as the watch itself. But its adjustability to wrist size is not so good. In addition, the bracelet increases the final cost of the watch, though it gives it more solid look and supports the overall design.

However, straps can also prove to be quite worthy, especially if they are made of natural and durable leather. And, most importantly, they fit tighter on the wrist and are easier to replace if necessary.

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Your watch type depends on your lifestyle

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1. Sportsmen and people who lead an active life will probably choose mechanical wrist watches with automatic winding or electronic models. The case here should be lighter—titanium or plastic, but it is better to use a combined glass. It is desirable that the chronometer has a handy strap and an anti-shock system. Choose the level of water resistance according to your preferences.

2. Those who work in harsh conditions may prefer an inexpensive watch made of stainless steel or plastic with plexiglass. It is better that they should be shockproof, quartz and have the appropriate degree of water resistance. You should also choose a strap for attaching it to your hand, because an inexpensive bracelet can accidentally unfasten.

3. In the world of business people have their own rules for selecting accessories—here, you have to be guided by the unspoken laws of your circle. But this applies only to the price and the brand of the watch. As for the specific criteria, it is better to choose a classic mechanical watch (in some cases, automatic winding is okay) in a heavy case made of precious metals. Glass— sapphire, bracelet is preferrable, but a good leather strap will be just fine.

4. For women, design is more important than functionality or durability. However, a calendar won’t hurt, and women will like the lightweight, thin case better. This means they’d better go for quartz models. Water resistance in the range 1-3 atm is enough; the choice of glass and decorative elements is up to the lady.

5. For kids, look for inexpensive quartz watches with electronic time display in a 24-hour format or with a combined dial so it is easier to navigate. The case and glass should be plastic, and water resistance to 3 atm would also help. Also, kids models may have additional features such as time sounding and alarm clock.

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