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Watch Buying Guide

Mechanical watches are generally more expensive than quartz, and although they are not as accurate, most modern timepieces are very accurate (the best watches, some of which are officially certified chronometers, are accurate to 5+/- seconds per day, or better). Power comes from a mainspring which is either wound by hand (the old-fashioned way) or automatically wound (self-winding) by a rotor that oscillates as your wrist moves, which in turn winds the mainspring.

watch buying guide

Unlike quartz, the power that is reserved is typically only enough for a few days, so if left unattended, the watch will need to reset and wound (this is why there are automatic watch winders). Good automatic mechanical timepieces allow you to also manually wind the timepiece (although some cheaper models do not, so be aware of this). Maintenance is more expensive on a mechanical timepiece than quartz, but it is not too bad considering the time between maintenance is very long.

Purists might argue that mechanical wristwatches are the only true watches. The first wristwatches were, of course, mechanical. And there is definitely a certain something about owning and wearing a mechanical timepiece. But everyone has to start somewhere, and many people who enjoy mechanical timepieces also own quartz timepieces as well.

Vintage watches ( watch at least 25 years old) tend to have much smaller diameters than many of the timepieces being made nowadays. Not only does the diameter of the watch affect the overall look, but it also affects comfort. If you buy a watch that is too big, and that has an oversized crown, it could dig into your wrists and be very uncomfortable to wear. The thickness of a watch is important as well. Too thick can be uncomfortable, so once again, try it before you buy.

Gold (which mostly comes in white, yellow, pink varieties) and platinum provide the most flashiness, but they are also the most expensive case materials, not to mention gold and platinum are extremely heavy. The common 18K gold allows used for watch cases is solid enough to support the case but is also relatively soft compared to a standard stainless steel alloy like 316L, and therefore can be easily scratched.

The caseback of a quartz timepiece is virtually always going to be solid, there is no point in being able to see the mechanicals of a quartz movement. Mechanical watches, on the other hand, are typically beautiful and therefore many watches have open or clear case backs.

Some brands will use a mineral crystal in the back, as opposed to sapphire crystal, to reduce cost. But most timepieces with a clear caseback will use a sapphire. For diver watches, professional instrument watches sports watches, the caseback is typically solid (steel, titanium are most common) to ensure water resistance and robustness.

Plexiglass (acrylic), mineral crystal, and sapphire crystal are the three most common types of glass on timepieces. Plastic is common in vintage watches, as well as low-priced timepieces. Mineral crystals are found mostly on entry-level timepieces. Sapphire crystals are the most premium type of crystal, as they are very clear and virtually scratchproof (however be careful as their hardness makes them extremely brittle which means they can shatter).

Unless you are buying a watch for under $500, or a vintage timepiece, then you should always look for sapphire glass. Also, it is best to have one or two coatings of anti-reflective treatment (inside and outside). Some companies forgo anti-glare treatment or do a poor job. When you look at a timepiece with and without a glare-proofing treatment on a sunny day, you will quickly realize the importance of an anti-reflective coating.

How many and which complications you want in a watch is a matter of preference. Dressier watches tend to be sleek and have one (usually the date) to none. More sporty and casual watches often include more complications.

In the 1950s, Rolex board member René-Paul Jeanneret wanted a watch that would be useful for when he went diving (a hobby he actively pursued) but still looked good as an everyday time piece. The Rolex Submariner was born and the standard for dive watches everywhere was set. Most dive watches on the market today take their design cues from the Submariner.

Signature Features: A dive watch is first and foremost water resistant. The standard for a dive watch is to be water resistant up to at least 100m, though some keep ticking at even lower depths.

When to Wear: While the dive watch was designed for underwater use, its all-metal casing and band, plus its iconic heritage, make it a suitable wristwatch for versatile everyday wear. You can don it with your sports wear, casual wear, business causal wear, and business formal wear. And if you take your style cues from James Bond, you can even get away with wearing a dive watch with a tux.

The general rule is if the circumference of your wrist is 6 to 7 inches, you want to go with a watch that has a case diameter of 38-42 mm wide. If your wrist is larger than 7 inches, then you can go with cases that are 44-46 mm wide.

Well, there you go. A guide to the world of horology. While we got pretty comprehensive in this article, we only scratched the surface on wristwatches. If this topic interests you, I highly recommend checking out sites dedicated to all things wristwatches. A few of my favorites include Worn and Wound, Hodinkee, and A Blog to Watch. Gear Patrol also does some bang-up write-ups on watches.

The simplest of the bunch, the Oyster Perpetual model is a three-handed Rolex watch that is both water-resistant and automatic. Rolex originally offered the Oyster Perpetual in a range of materials including steel, gold, and two-tone, but today, they are only made in stainless steel. There are plenty of different sizes to choose from for men and women, in addition to an assortment of dial colors. Due to the simpler time-only functionality and stainless steel construction, the Oyster Perpetual is considered the entry-level Rolex watch.

One of the most recognizable Rolex watch models ever made thanks to its consistent design, the Explorer has always been a time-only stainless steel Rolex watch with a black dial, Arabic numerals at 3, 6, and 9, and fitted with an Oyster bracelet. For most of its history, the Explorer sported a 36mm case but since 2010, it now comes with a 39mm case.

Almost 20 years after the introduction of the Explorer for adventurers and mountain explorers, Rolex released the Explorer II in 1971 specifically for spelunkers and polar explorers. Unlike the original time-only Explorer, the first Explorer II not only had a date window but also had a fixed bezel marked to 24 hours along with an extra 24-hour hand (synched to the traditional 12-hour hand) on the black dial. As a result, the first Rolex Explorer II was designed as a watch with an A.M./P.M. indicator for those adventurers who spend time in areas with irregular day/night cycles.

However, Rolex enhanced the second generation of the Explorer II watch to include an independent 24-hour hand, thus upgrading it to a dual time/GMT watch. Furthermore, the choice of a black or white dial was offered. Today, the Explorer II remains as a GMT watch but with a larger case, exclusively available in stainless steel and with the option of a white or black dial.

As commercial air travel was flourishing in the 1950s, Pan Am airlines requested Rolex to design a watch for its fleet of pilots to track multiple time zones. And the Rolex GMT-Master watch was born. As its name implies, the watch was designed to help pilots track Greenwich Mean Time (which was used as international aviation time during that era), as well as local time.

In the 1980s, Rolex introduced the GMT-Master II, characterized by a 24-hour hand that could be set independently from the 12-hour hand. This meant that the wearer could leave the bezel in the zero position (triangle at 12) and move the 24-hour hand freely to the correct time. Rolex eventually phased out the GMT-Master in favor of the GMT-Master II in the late 1990s. Today, all current-production GMT-Master watches have Cerachrom bezels and the models come in a variety of metals and bezel colors.

Rolex has made several versions of the Day-Date over the years. The most classic and ubiquitous is the Day-Date with a 36mm case, President bracelet, and automatic movement. However, select versions of the Day-Date have also been fitted with leather straps and Oyster bracelets. Rolex has also made Oysterquartz Day-Date models with angular cases, integrated bracelets, and quartz movements. Furthermore, there are the now-discontinued Day-Date Masterpiece watches featuring 39mm cases and five-link Pearlmaster bracelets. Additionally, there was the short-lived Day-Date II with 41mm cases, which has now been replaced by the Day-Date 40 with 40mm cases.

Also in 1956, Rolex introduced the antimagnetic Milgauss watch. Named after its ability to withstand 1,000 gauss of magnetic fields, the Milgauss was perfectly suited for the burgeoning scientist and engineering fields of the era. A signature design trait of early Rolex Milgauss watches was the lightning-bolt seconds hand on the time-only dial. However, the following Rolex Milgauss watch generation no longer had this quirky design detail and the collection was eventually phased out in the 1980s.

In 2000, Rolex revamped the Daytona yet again, this time with an in-house automatic movement. The design of the watches remained largely the same and the popularity of the Daytona continued. Sometime in the mid-2000s, Rolex began equipping select Daytona models with Cerachrom ceramic bezels. The current-production stainless steel Daytona with a black ceramic bezel is one of the most coveted luxury watches available today.

In 1992, Rolex unveiled the Yacht-Master as an ultra-luxurious sports watch for men in full 18k yellow gold with a rotating timing bezel and luminous time and date dial. Smaller models soon followed for women, as well as two-toned steel/yellow gold and steel/platinum versions. The steel and platinum Rolex Yacht-Master watches are known as Rolesium and are some of the most popular models within the range. 041b061a72


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