A Gent’s Guide to Watch Buying Part 1: Basics

There’s never been a better time to buy watches for men. There’s great information about and communities for them online. There are crowdfunded watch companies that have become excellent brands. And in a world of digitalization, a watch is a conscious step a Gent can take to make a small, but noticeable, fashion statement.

But so many options can also make buying watches more challenging, so we’ve put together a short guide to help you think about a possible watch purchase.

Dress or Sport

What kind of watch are you looking for, broadly?

A dress watch is usually slim in profile, made with fine materials, and sports a leather strap.

A sports watch, on the other hand, often comes in still with a matching steel bracelet or fabric strap.

Let’s be clear that “sports” watches don’t mean “use me at the gym” but are associated with aid for professionals, like divemasters (Rolex) or pilots (Breitling).

Keep in mind that watch straps matter a lot, especially if this watch is going to be an everyday wear. Don’t discount the possibility of grabbing an “aftermarket” strap that you like better even right away, to replace the strap it comes with. What matters is that the strap works for your lifestyle, not how it’s offered for purchase.

Quartz or Mechanical

Mechanical watches have the wheels, gears, and springs that move in precise concert to deliver the time (and/or day and date if you desire).

Quartz watches shortcut all that by using a small crystal quartz that magically does many of these functions on its own.

Before you beat up on quartz too much, keep in mind that a balance wheel in a mechanical watch typically works at a rate of 18,000-36,000 beats/hour. A quartz crystal? It vibrates 235,929,600 times an hour.

Since quartz is abundant and inexpensive, these watches are much more affordable, leading Swatch and Time to offer many quartz models under $200.

So, given that it’s more accurate and cheaper, why are quartz watches not as valued by the market as mechanical watches? The same reason vinyl has carved out a niche in a world of streaming: Gents love stories (remember Christopher Walken in Pulp Fiction?).

Pricing

We’ll have articles in the future showcasing watches at various price points, but for now we’ll give you a few standout brands in different ranges.

Affordable (sub-$500)

  • Timex
  • Seiko
  • Swatch

Mid-range ($500-$3000)

  • Longines
  • Oris
  • Hamilton

Luxury ($3000+)

  • Rolex
  • Cartier
  • Omega

There’s also ultra-luxury, where brands like Patek Philippe live, and we will cover some of those brands in the future as well.

In the future articles in the series, we’ll talk about case sizes, straps, fashion brand watches, and the rising demand for vintage watches.

Did you like this article on watches? We’ve got a few more, including a selection of seasonally-themed watches, a primer on Swiss watches and some thoughts on opting for a smart watch vs. a fitness tracker.

40720cookie-checkA Gent’s Guide to Watch Buying Part 1: Basics

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