5 Things You Should Know Before You Buy a Watch

Knowing a little bit about watches before you purchase one can save you a costly mistake or aggravation of having to make a return. Common reasons our customers return watches to us include having no knowledge of the movement or how it works, or not understanding how to use the watch functions. Other things you should consider before purchasing a watch is the movement type, water resistance, actual size of the watch and/or style and fit, and of course to make sure the watch is purchased from an authorized retailer for the brand and that it will have a valid manufacturer warranty when it is received.


1. Know What Kind of Watch You Want; or Need

If all you want is a watch that tells the time and maybe displays the date and/or day, then you won’t have to look far for a simple timepiece in a style you like. However, if you are looking at a watch  based on an ad in the latest issue of International Watch magazine with miraculous gizmos and functions, you better research it in depth before making a purchase. Watches come in a variety of movements, with various functions, water resistance and other features. If all you want is a watch that tells the time, we don’t recommend purchasing a flight chronograph that was designed for a pilot. However, if you need a certain function, make sure you research the watch and that it is capable of doing what you need it to in a way you understand how to use it. Purchasing a watch with extra functions and features may just complicate the way you have to use it, creating unnecessary frustration.

2. Movement Type

Today, there is more to choose from than a hand-wound mechanical or battery operated quartz watch. Many manufacturers are now offering solar powered or rechargeable movements. However, this doesn’t mean that each movement type is the same. Mechanical and Automatic watches both require winding, an automatic simply winds as you wear it; however without regular winding, both can slowly lose time and stop working until they are wound and re-set again. Quartz (or battery operated watches) are generally highly accurate so long as the battery is good. If the battery dies, it will generally stop working and need to be replaced. Solar powered and Kinetic watches both work by means of creating energy that is stored in a rechargeable cell. These movement types offer renewable energy without sacrificing accuracy. However, both generally have a limit to how long they will stay charged without given the chance to re-charge.

Note: Atomic watches will sync the time with one or more of the Atomic clocks located around the world by radio signal. These kind of watches are highly accurate, but on the other hand, if you are one of those people who likes to set their watch a few minutes fast so you aren’t late, don’t expect to be able to do this with an Atomic watch.


3. Water Resistance & Durability

Like any piece of technology, watches have their limits. While mobile device manufacturers are still trying to make shock-resistant and water-resistant smart phones, the watch industry already has a lot of this covered – you just have to know what to look for. There is no such thing as a “waterproof” watch. However, watches do have different levels of water resistance usually referenced by ATM (atmospheres), (ft) Feet, or (m) Meters. But a “30 Meter” watch doesn’t mean you can take it 30 meters underwater, these are simply “pressure” testing guidelines. A 30 meter watch will only resist water splashes and rain, a 100 meter watch you can take for a swim or snorkel, while you would need a 200 meter watch for recreational diving. In addition to water resistance, some watches can also be produced with “shock resistant” movements such as the Casio G-Shock collection. So, if you are going to be hard on your watch, it would be best you look for a shock resistant movement. You may also want to consider the crystal type. Mineral crystal is the most common and is harder than your average glass, however sapphire is a bit harder and less likely to scratch, but more likely to shatter. Acrylic crystal is generally seen on sport watches as it is hard to shatter, however it can be easily scratched – but, in some cases the scratches can be buffed out.

4. Watch Size, Style and Versatility

If you aren’t buying a watch as a part of your massive timepiece collection, and genuinely need one to wear on a day to day basis, make sure you read the details about the size, strap and clasp type especially if purchasing online and not in a jewelry store. Photographs can be deceiving in more ways than one, and reading the details about the dial color and size can save you from making a mistake. Consider the material type and if it will be comfortable and sufficient for your use. Watches are generally made with Stainless Steel, but can also be found in Titanium (hypoallergenic), genuine Gold, PVD color plating (generally black), resin and ceramic. If you wear jewelry, pick a watch with your most commonly worn jewelry color combination… or with a strap or band color that may be more versatile for you. Bracelets and bands also come with different clasp types. If you have trouble operating certain clasps or using a buckle you can look for a watch with a stretch band or easier to use clasp.

Have a Budget? Just because a watch is expensive doesn’t mean it has all the features you need. Surprisingly, you can purchase a watch that is more durable with more functionality than a high end timepiece with a Swiss Movement at a fraction of the price.

5. Authenticity and Warranty

Purchasing a watch off a store kiosk for around $30.00 probably won’t phase most people with concerns of authenticity or if it has a warranty. However, if you are looking at a watch in the $100 and up range, you probably want to make sure you are getting the real deal. Almost ALL major brands, such as Seiko, Bulova, Casio, Victorinox Swiss Army and Movado have Authorized Dealers. Authorized Dealers are retailers who are contracted by the manufacturer to sell their watches. So what does this mean? This means that the watches come directly from the manufacturer, to the retailer and into your hands with a valid manufacturer warranty. A valid manufacturer warranty means that the manufacturer is responsible for anything the warranty covers in a particular time frame. The most important thing to note about this is that many NON-authorized retailers will sell or give you an “in-store” warranty, meaning, they are selling you their warranty because they know the manufacturer’s warranty is not valid. What does this mean for you? This means you may be purchasing a gray-market timepiece that was not purchased directly from the manufacturer, used, re-furbished, and may not be authentic even though they may publicize otherwise. If you need to validate that a retailer is authorized to sell a watch you are looking at purchasing, you can generally contact the manufacturer directly or check their website for a list of authorized dealers or retailers.

Questions or comments? Share with us below! Princeton Watches is an Authorized Dealer for every brand we sell and all items include a manufacturer’s warranty.

One thought on “5 Things You Should Know Before You Buy a Watch

  • September 6, 2015 at 7:16 pm

    Great advice, thanks for sharing.


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