I’ve always had an interest in watches.
But up until recently, I never really thought about exactly how they worked, or what separated a good watch from a bad one.
After a bit of research, now I’m here to share my findings with you.
When you’re exploring the world of men’s watches, things can get pretty complicated and even a bit overwhelming. So in this watch primer, I’m going to share the basics of what you need to think about when buying a watch.
Big thanks to our sponsor, DAEM Watches! Designed in Brooklyn, NY, DAEM watches are handcrafted with the finest materials for form and function. Use offer code DM20 to save 20% off .
Watch the video below or continue reading.
Types of Watch Movements
You can’t really talk about watches without talking about “movements.” You can think of a watch movement as basically like the engine inside of your watch that keeps it running. It moves the hands, plus any other extra features of your men’s watch.
There are really three main types of watch movements that you need to worry about.
A quartz movement is what you’ll normally find inside of an everyday watch. Quartz watches come in a wide range of quality. From the inexpensive watches you’d find in mass retail chains to higher-quality watch brands. Quartz watches are battery powered, and their movement causes that signature “ticking” of the second hand.
They’re called quartz timepieces because there’s actually a tiny piece of crystal quartz inside. The electrical signal from the battery passes through the quartz, which makes it vibrate exactly 32,768 times per second. These vibrations get measured and converted into one pulse every second.
Pros and Cons of Quartz Watches
Here are some of the pros of quartz watches:
They’re the most accurate – Quartz mechanisms are far less likely to lose or add seconds throughout the day.
They don’t need much maintenance – Quartz timepieces have fewer moving parts, which means less stuff that can go wrong. Aside from swapping out your watch battery every couple of years, there isn’t much maintenance that needs to be done.
They’re the least expensive – Sure, you can find higher-end quartz watches that cost hundreds of dollars. But as a general rule, quartz watches are almost always cheaper than men’s watches with automatic or mechanical movements.
They’re more durable – The fewer moving parts in a quartz watch benefits them in this area as well. If your job involves getting dusty and dirty every day, you might want to wear a quartz watch.
Now for some of the downsides of quartz watches:
They don’t have a smooth movement – If you’re looking for that signature sweeping motion of a mechanical watch, unfortunately you’re never going to get it from quartz. That exaggerated ticking second-hand motion is just a signature part of how a quartz movement operates.
Less craftsmanship – Quartz watches are more likely to be mass-produced. So there often isn’t the same level of care or hours of specialized technical work that goes into creating a mechanical watch.
A mechanical movement doesn’t use a battery but instead needs to be manually wound to keep it running. Instead of ticking, a mechanical movement produces more of a smooth and steady sweeping motion.
A mechanical movement uses a spring-driven mechanism, called a mainspring, which needs to be periodically wound. Energy is transferred from the mainspring to smaller springs and gears, powering the hands and other functions of the watch.
Pros and Cons of Mechanical Watches
Here are some pros of mechanical men’s watches:
They last longer – A quality mechanical watch will last for your entire lifetime if it’s properly cared for and maintained. It might even be something that you pass down to the next generation.
No batteries required – With a mechanical movement, you never have to worry about batteries dying and needing to be replaced. Manually rewinding your watch each day can be an enjoyable ritual.
Better aesthetics and more luxurious – Mechanical watches tend to just look and feel better and of a higher quality than most quartz watches. Some may have gears exposed so that you can see the internal workings and oscillations of the watch. They tend to feature overall higher quality materials, like scratch-resistant sapphire crystal instead of glass. Mechanical watches are also just more tactile and have more character to them.
Smooth hand movement – Personally, I love the smooth sweeping movement of a mechanical watch and even find it a bit hypnotizing. I can just sit and enjoy watching it for minutes at a time. If that’s important to you, you should definitely consider a mechanical watch.
Here are some of the downsides of mechanical watches:
They require regular winding – With a quartz watch, you can just put it in a drawer for several weeks and it will keep on ticking. That isn’t the case with mechanical watches. At most, they can usually go about two days without winding. Some people really enjoy winding up their watch each day and look forward to it, while other people find it a bit of a nuisance. If you fall into the latter category, a mechanical watch might not be the best choice for you.
They aren’t as accurate – Even the best mechanical watches are only about 99.99% accurate. That might seem amazing. But even a 0.01% difference can result in your watch getting a second fast or slow each day. As your watch ages, it will start to get less and less accurate. Every 5 or 10 years or so, you’ll need to take your watch to a jeweler to get it tuned up a bit. Quartz watches don’t tend to fall out of sync like that.
They’re environmentally sensitive – A mechanical watch is full of tiny gears and springs. So any exposure to dust, shock, moisture, or even magnets can potentially wreak havoc on them. Most modern mechanical watches are designed to counteract most of these issues. But if you’re constantly hammering or working with dirty parts every day, it might be better to wear a quartz watch for everyday use and reserve your mechanical watch for when you get dressed up.
They’re more expensive – A lot more work and craftsmanship goes into creating a mechanical watch. Naturally, that gets reflected in the price. It’s hard to find a quality mechanical watch for less than $200, with most of them costing more than $500. When it comes to Rolex or Cartier watches, you could be looking at tens of thousands of dollars.
An automatic watch movement uses the kinetic energy from the motion of your wrist to automatically drive the watch mechanism, instead of relying on a battery or needing to be manually wound.
Automatic watches are also often called self-winding watches. If you think the idea of winding your watch every day could be annoying, then an automatic movement is worth looking into.
These movements use a metal weight called a rotor, which spins when you move your wrist. This spinning transfers energy and winds a mainspring inside the watch.
Pros and Cons of Automatic Watches
Here are some pros of automatic men’s watches.
No winding or batteries required – An automatic watch is almost like magic! It doesn’t need to be wound or be powered by a battery. As long as you wear it regularly, it will keep functioning as normal.
Smooth movement and aesthetics – An automatic movement is everything that a mechanical movement is, just with the additional self-winding feature. That means it comes with the same sophisticated look and smooth hand movement that you’d expect from any other mechanical watch. Just with the added bonus of not having the hassle of winding it every day.
More hefty – Automatic watches will tend to be thicker than a regular mechanical watch. That’s because extra room is needed inside for the rotor. An automatic watch feels more weighty and significant on your wrist. I like the heavy feeling. But if you’re looking for something more minimalist, this could actually be a downside for you.
The cons of an automatic watch are similar to those of any other mechanical watch:
They’re less accurate than quartz and will need some tune-ups. They’re also sensitive to the environment as well. Like other mechanical watches, automatic watches similarly come at a higher price because of the high level of craftsmanship and engineering involved in making them.
The biggest downside to an automatic watch is that it needs to be stored in a watch winder when you aren’t wearing it. Just like parking your car in a garage for months without driving it, leaving an automatic watch sitting for extended periods of time can actually damage it. So you need an automatic watch winder to keep it going.
A watch winder is a machine that slowly spins and keeps your automatic watch wound while it isn’t being worn. They don’t cost much, but they’ll take up space on your shelf and it’s one more thing to have to worry about.
Of course, the alternative is just to make sure that you wear your automatic watch every single day.
The 5 C’s of Watch Terminology
The world of watches is full of an entire vocabulary. Here are a few terms you might hear when looking for the perfect watch which don’t have immediately obvious meanings.
Caliber – This is just another word for a watch movement.
Chronograph – A watch that has a stopwatch function in addition to being able to keep time.
Chronometer – This is a watch that has been independently tested by the COSC (Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute.) To meet this standard, a watch has to be able to remain accurate to within certain thresholds in different positions and over the course of several days.
Complication – Any extra features that a watch has, besides simply telling the time. A watch might have a calendar or moon phase indicator built into it.
Crown – The crown of your watch is what you use to change the time. It’s normally a little knob on the side of your watch that you’ll pull out slightly to adjust the time.
Bonus Term: Bezel
Okay, I know this one doesn’t start with a C. But it’s still important for you to know.
A bezel is an outer ring on the case of your watch. It might be made of the same material as the case, or it may be made of a different metal. Higher end watches may even have bezels embellished with precious gems.
How To Buy A Men’s Watch
When it comes to deciding on what kind of watch to get for yourself, or as a gift for someone else, here is a quick guide with some key things to keep in mind.
What Kind of Movement Does It Have?
I already discussed the differences between quartz, mechanical, and automatic watches so I won’t go into too much depth again.
The main thing to keep in mind is that mechanical or automatic watches are more expensive to buy and maintain.
Quartz watches tend to be better if you’re on a budget, and can still look great.
What Is The Case Size or Diameter?
This one really depends on the size of your wrist. So I’d recommend going to a jewelry store to try on a few different types of men’s watches and see what works well for you. If you’re a bigger guy, you might want a really large and hefty watch. If you’re smaller, you might want something that matches your proportions—more slim and lightweight.
For most guys, a watch with a diameter of around 40mm tends to be ideal though.
In addition to matching the watch face to your proportions, you also need to be mindful of the thickness of the watch—especially if you wear tightly fitted sleeves.
What Materials and Colors Is It?
Watches come in all different case and face combinations when it comes to materials and colors. It really comes down to personal preference and the kind of fashion statement that you want to convey.
Some people love all-black watches, because they’re easy to match with just about anything. While gold and silver are more traditional.
I’d recommend looking at what rings and other types of jewelry you usually wear. You want to find something that matches your wedding ring instead of clashing with it, for example.
What Band Type Do You Want?
A leather band or metal links are great for a professional or business setting.
Fabric or canvas is great in terms of comfort and durability, but style-wise it works for more casual settings.
Suede bands are a bit more modern and urban.
Plastic or rubber bands are more common on inexpensive or sport watches.
With leather and other fabrics, one thing to look for is whether the materials have been glued together or stitched; stitching can often hold together better than glued components.
What About Water Resistance?
Some watches are stamped “water resistant” which means they have some basic protection against humidity. They can handle some splashing while washing your hands, but you shouldn’t take a shower or swim with them on.
If you plan on submerging your watch, you should look for a watch with that’s rated to at least 50M or “5ATM”, which means it can maintain its seal up to 50 meters or about 164 feet.
How Much Do You Want To Spend?
There’s almost no limit to the amount that you can spend on a quality men’s watch.
No, literally. There are mechanical watches out there that cost upward of a million dollars!
It’s possible to find quality mechanical watches for under $300, but most are in the $300 to $700 range. While some luxury brands can go for thousands of dollars.
Big thanks to DAEM, who sponsored this post and made it possible for me to get this information to you.
The name DAEM is an anagram of the word “made.” They make watches for ambitious men on the journey to becoming self-made. It’s a watch for people who create opportunities for themselves and others.
DAEM’s watches are designed from scratch in Brooklyn, New York. They have a wide variety of designs, whether you’re looking for something casual or a bit more formal. Their timeless designs go well with almost any outfit.
What really sets DAEM apart is their emphasis on quality components and extensive testing. Their watches are built so they can be handed down to the next generation.
They use Swiss-made Ronda 505 movements for precise and accurate timekeeping. Their face is protected by an ultra scratch-resistant sapphire crystal glass. The straps on their watches feature genuine stitched Italian leather for added longevity and comfort.
DAEM watches have a diameter of 40mm, which I think looks great on just about any wrist. The watch isn’t too thick either. I love the slim profile of their watch, which measures just 9mm from case bottom to top.
Despite all these finer touches, DAEM watches are still extremely affordable for the everyday guy.
If you’re interested in checking out DAEM watches, use offer code DM20 to save 20% off . Visit DAEM website.