Watch Buying Guide

There's so much to think about when buying a watch, from the features you're looking for to the colour and style. In this guide we'll try and help you work your way through the most common choices people have to make when buying a watch.

The Face Size

We've had some customers saying that they can't determine the size of the watch face before they buy it, which makes it difficult to imagine how it would look on your wrist. Many online retailers try and include a measurement (usually in millimeters) of the watch case diameter, which should give you some idea of the watch size. A general guide for watch sizes is; 

Men's watch sizes range from 34mm-50mm, and general ladies watch sizes range from 22mm-44mm.

If you are looking at purchasing a watch as a gift and are completely unsure about what size to get, you can go with general "safe" sizes; 42mm-45mm for a man, and 35mm-38mm for a woman. Click the button below to find a helpful guide we came across online, which has the exact size cut-outs of watches. All you need to do is print the page (at 100% scale), cut out the size you are looking at and wrap it around your wrist to get a general idea of what it might look like on your wrist.

Here's the size guide we found on Amazon uk

 Mens'sWomen's
SmallLess than 36mm (1.42 inches)Less than 24mm (0.94 inches)
Medium37 to 40mm (1.43 to 1.57 inches)24 to 30mm (0.94 to 1.18 inches)
Large41 to 46mm (1.65 to 1.81 inches)31 to 36mm (1.26 to 1.42 inches)
Extra Large48mm and more (1.89 inches and more)40mm and more (1.57 inches and more)

 

The Strap

In the main there are four watch straps available.

  • Stainless steel metal
  • Leather
  • Resin or rubber
  • Ceramic 

 

The decision of which strap you may go for is generally down to personal choice and comfort. One thing worth considering, however, is the water resistance of the strap. A stainless steel strap is the most water resistant and durable followed closely by the resin/rubber and ceramic straps. Leather straps will not last long if they are immersed in water often. It is worth noting that the ceramic straps are more delicate than the others and can sometimes break from being dropped on hard surfaces.

Watch Movements

A watch’s movement is its main timekeeping mechanism. The movement of a watch refers to the mechanics that power the ticking of the timepiece, and there are two main choices when it comes to analog watches (watches with hour hands and are not digital), quartz or automatic.

Quartz movements are powered by a battery and do not stop working once removed from your wrist. Automatic mechanical movements mark the passage of time by a series of gear mechanisms. Most automatic movements are wound by the normal, everyday movement of your wrist, which charges the watch’s winding reserve.

What you choose really comes down to what you're looking for in a watch. There are many ways to look at what's attractive about both types of watches, but one way to look at it is the quartz watch as more practical and the automatic watch as more emotional.

Watch Features

At its most basic, a watch is there to conveniently remind you of the time with just the flick of your wrist. But for more timing capabilities, you can add what are known in horological terms as complications, which run the gamut of the stopwatch-like chronograph to a display of moon phases to a calendar window. Below are some of the most popular complications found in today's watches.

Calendar

One of the most ubiquitous complications, calendar watches include a small window showing the date, typically placed on the dial at 3 o'clock. You'll also find some date watches that include the day of the week in a separate window. Most calendars count out to 31, requiring you to manually reset the date on those months that don't have 31 days. 
Some date watches have smarter calendar complications. An annual calendar can run for a full year without resetting until you get to March (as February's 28 or 29 days throws it off). But you won't have to worry about resetting the date for a long time with a perpetual calendar watch, programmed to automatically adjust for the varying lengths of months as well as leap years to the year 2100. 

Chronograph

Another popular complication in today's watches is the chronograph, which enables you to use your watch as a stopwatch to time specific events as well as multiple laps. To start timing, you'll press one of the pushers on the side of the watch case. Depending on the watch, you may press that pusher or a second one to stop the timing. Chronographs have two or three smaller subdials (also called totalizers or registers) placed on the dial face that display the seconds, minutes, and hours. Quartz chronographs can measure events down to 1/10 of a second, while their automatic counterparts can get as accurate as 1/5 of a second. In addition to timing your exercise, chronographs can be paired with a tachymeter scale (placed around the outside of the dial or on the rim of the bezel) to determine the average speed covered over a specified distance. 
Note: Don't confuse the term "chronometer" with a chronograph. Where a chronograph is part of a watch's mechanics, a chronometer is a timepiece that's been certified by the Controle Officiel Suisse des Chronometres (or COSC, the official Swiss chronometer inspection body) as being highly accurate. Only three percent of watches produced in Switzerland are chronometer-certified. To achieve this highly coveted certification, the movements are subjected to numerous tests over a period of 15 consecutive days and nights, in five positions and at three different temperatures. And a chronometer may or may not be a chronograph.

Moon Phase Indicator. More of an ornamental complication, lunar phase watches depict the illuminated portion of the moon as seen on Earth via an illustrated disc that rotates beneath the dial. Once set, the indicator will rotate completely once every 29 days, 12 hours, and 44 minutes.

Dual Time Zone and World Time

If you do a lot of traveling, a dual time zone watch (also called a GMT watch) can be handy as it will show you the current time where you are as well as the time in a second time zone. This is done either via an extra hand, twin subdials, or a 24-hour scale placed on the dial. If you need to keep track of business time on several continents, a world time watch typically displays 24 city names placed on the dial or bezel to represent each individual time zone. You can read the hour in a particular time zone by looking at the scale set next to the city that the hour hand is pointing to.