Skip to main content

Watches

This is what you need to know to understand & appreciate how watches are made. This is a basic 101 to introduce the ideas behind watch making.

Watch movements

There are broadly speaking three types

  • Quartz
  • Mechanical
  • Automatics

Quartz

Quartz are technically the advanced, but much more simpler to make in bulk. A quartz crystal vibrates at a particular rate when current is passed. This vibration in turn drives the seconds hand & therefore the time in the watch.

Although this is technically more advanced, since the number of moving parts are very less. This type is much easier to make in bulk. Thus also driving the price down. Most of the cheaper watches are running quartz.

Since this is simply battery driven, accuracy of these watches is also very high.

Mechanical

In the beginning of watch making, there was no electricity or batteries. Hence people used a loaded spring as a store of energy. And this spring would continuously release power, which would be then directed towards moving gears. This is how mechanical watches work. These are complicated to make and involve a lot of moving parts.

Also, since this is relying on a loaded spring. Depending on the spring, the charge reserve is also variable. Charge reserves usually are anywhere around ~ 30 hours - 80 hours. And after that, they would need to be manually wound and "recharged".

Since they are mechanical in nature, the time drift is also a problem. These watches could be off by a second or often times by a couple of seconds every day. So, recalibrating the watch once in a while is also important.

Automatic

Mechanical watches require to be wound manually every once in a while, automatics get rid of this problem by having a loaded weight at the back of the watch. Since the watch will be moved around when its worn, the loaded weight will move back and forth. Which in turn generates potential energy to charge the spring.

The automatic & mechanical watches have definite downsides, but the reason people buy them is in appreciation of the craftsmanship & engineering which goes in making them. My father has a HMT mechanical watch which was bought during his childhood, which still runs like a charm. The fact that these watches are built to last forever is very appealing to a lot of watch enthusiasts.

Watch glass

Broadly classified into a three categories

  • Resin: very basic, easily scratched. Very cheap to manufacture.
  • Mineral glass: slightly better, scratch resistant to a good extent. Slightly more expensive.
  • Sapphire crystal: Extremely scratch resistant & transparent. Try to go for this if your budget permits. Obviously more expensive to maintain. Apparently only diamonds can scratch a sapphire crystal.

Other important notes

  • Case diameter & thickness: These tend to be deciding factors when buying a watch. Watch makers usually have a couple of options here. Try them before buying to understand what size fits your wrist size.
  • Water resistance: Unless you plan on swimming with your watch, most of the times this is not a massive deal breaker and most watches come with decent water resistance by default. There is a class of watches called the divers watch's, these are meant to be worn by divers and have a very high water resistance (usually around 200m). If you plan on swimming then get a watch which is certified to be 100m/10 bar/10 ATM.

Respected brands in the industry

Not all brands of the conglomerate are listed, these are just some of my favorites

  • Swatch group
    • Tissot
    • Hamilton
    • Omega
    • Rado
  • Seiko
    • Seiko
    • Orient
    • Grand Seiko
  • Citizen
    • Citizen
    • Bulova
    • Miyota
  • Rolex & Tudor
  • Casio
  • Timex

A lot of the fashion brands like tommy hilfiger, Giorgio Armani etc.. actually source their machinery from Fossil usually. And just have a markup in price because of the branding. If that's something you enjoy, then it makes sense. Otherwise, it usually makes sense to go for the titans of the industry.

My wishlist

I currently own a fossil quartz. But intend to eventually get a mechanical watch. This is my wishlist as of now.

  • Vostok Amphibia (~$120)
  • Seiko SNK805 (~$100 )
  • Timex weekender (~$50 | 6k INR)
  • Lorus RXD425L8 or RG875CX9
  • Orient bambino or Orient Open Heart