How to Choose the Right Watch For You

I’m not much of a jewelry guy, but I still wear a watch. In fact, a watch is one of the few pieces of jewelry that guys will wear, and it’s often a time piece that reflects their personality or lifestyle. I wouldn’t classify my Swiss Army watch “jewelry,” but it’s attractive, and most of all, practical.

Choosing the right watch is akin to choosing the right cigar. You have to consider style, shape and size, brand reputation, and how much you’re willing to spend. Of course, a good watch will last for generations; a good cigar will not. Following are some things that will help you be a more educated consumer.

First, let’s look at the types of watch movements:

  • Mechanical chronographer (manual and automatic): Must be wound manually or automatically through the natural motion of the wrist.
  • Quartz chronographer: Battery powered.
  • Automatic quartz or kinetic: The timing element combines a self-winding rotor mechanism to generate electricity with a piezoelectric quartz crystal.
  • Lithium-iodine (LID) batteries: Uses a titanium lithium-ion secondary battery that is charged by an amorphous silicon solar cell located behind the dial. Depending on the electronic movement model, a fully-charged secondary power cell could run without charging from 30 days to almost 9 years.
  • Eco drive movement Thermo: Introduced in 1999, these watches use the temperature difference between the wearer’s arm and the surrounding environment as a power source. Pretty cool!

Now you know what makes watches tick, but what factors will play a part in your purchase?

Price. The more features, type and quality of the materials, workmanship, and movement, the more you’ll pay. That’s why your average Rolex costs more than your typical Timex. So, price is up to you.

Style. Do you want a practical watch for everyday, or as an accessory to complement your wardrobe or lifestyle? Watches basically come in three styles: Dress (or Classic), Designer, and Sports.

Dress watches tend to have a lot of gold detail, thin cases, thick markings, and tritium-laden hands that glow in the dark.

Designer watches can be any shape or size, and use any number of materials. (See watches by Franck Muller and Roger Dubuis.)

Sports watches tend to be larger in size, have bezels with pronounced markings, are water resistant, almost always have thick, luminous hands and markings, and may also have one or more additional dials on the face like chronograph models used for deep sea diving and flying.

Brand names. We all know the biggies; Rolex, Breitling, Cartier, Tag Heuer, Patek Philippe, et. al. That said, if you’re planning on investing in a fine watch, don’t go on name alone; do your homework and read-up about the manufacturer. Talk to people you know who own the kind of watch you’re seeking, or check online reviews. Unless you’re purchasing the timepiece from an authorized retailer, don’t count on a counter person to know much about the watch.