While experienced watch buyers are going to be familiar with what I am talking about, for others, I would like to help guide your watch purchase decisions and give you some information that many of us take granted.
First of all, I will not discuss complications (functions) that watches have. It does not matter if you are looking for a chronograph (stopwatch), perpetual calendar watch, GMT (24-hour hand for a second-time-zone), or otherwise… As long as you make sure the watches you are looking to satisfy the items below.
1. SAPPHIRE CRYSTAL
Watch crystal is the transparent part over the face of the watch. Over the years, crystals were made using different materials but today only a few major materials dominate the market. Most of the watches were made of two types of crystals; mineral glass or synthetic sapphire crystals. One of the benefits of mineral crystals is that they are cheaper and they do not tend to shatter if struck hard. Shattered sapphire crystals occur with a very harsh impact. They can crack but not easily shatter.
The thickness of sapphire crystal determines the quality of the watch. Thicker crystal means a better watch, and thus, less likely to break. Sapphire crystals are incredibly resistant to scratch. Therefore, sapphire crystals are desired more than mineral crystals and should be preferred.
2. SOLID METAL CONSTRUCTION
Many people prefer to get a watch made of solid metal, but it is a very surprising fact how some cheap watch companies cut costs. If you are buying a watch made of steel, your watch should be made from grade 316L stainless steel most of the time. The watch case and band links should be solid pieces of metal instead of folded metal or anything hollow. You can easily check the side of the watch band and see if it is made of solid metal. There should be the least or no materials made of plastic or such.
3. SWISS MOVEMENT OR JAPANESE MOVEMENT?
Switzerland is very well known for its high-quality watch movements. Japan is also good at making movements, but we cannot say that all movements are created equally. Even though these countries are not the only movement makers, at the price points, it is best to get movements from these regions.
4.SOLID FEELING CONSTRUCTION
Your watch should give you the feeling that it is put together well and solid. You should check if the strap fits the case well and the clasp should operate well enough when you put the watch on your wrist. The size should be a perfect fit for you.
Another sign of a good watch is that it does not make too much or any noise when shifting around on your wrist. It is best if the watch is assembled in a tight-fitting manner.
5. DESIGNED BY ACTUAL WATCHMAKERS
There are two types of watch designers; those that focus on how well a watch functions and those that just care about how they look. However, best watches are designed based on the fundamental watch design principles. Those principles value both function and form. For example; fashion watches might look nice but they have superfluous or vestigial design cues. The last thing you want is to have a watch that do not function properly. So, take a good long look at the dial and all other features of your watch and understand what each function does. Then, decide if those features match with your standards.
6. LOCKING DEPLOYANT CLASP IF ON A METAL BRACELET
A lot of the watches today have what single locking clasp. Higher quality watches have double or triple locking clasps. In the double locking clasps, the second clasp locks the first piece again to secure it being closed. There are different types of double locking clasps such as the ones with a push button. As a result, you would like to have a watch that will stay secure on your wrist no matter what you are doing.
While some people prefer light watches, others like heavy ones. As the price of watch increases, you start to see materials such as titanium. Titanium is lighter than steel. However, in the luxury watch segment, most of the time weight is a sign of quality. For the watches that sell less than 1000$, you are probably not going to get the higher (grade 5) quality titanium. You are more likely to have that nice crisp quality look with steel.
8. GOOD DIAL LUMINATION
Typically, more classic or formal watches are expected to have dials that illuminate in the dark for low light viewing. However, most of the sport and causal watches have the type of lumination that can be applied on the hands as well as on the dial. The quality of luminant also varies. Some of the luminance is so impractical that it should not even be there. For example, some luminance shines a bright light directly to the face of the watch for a minute or so, and then the dial dimly glows for a few minutes. Alternatively, you could also have a luminant that charges easily when exposed to room or sunlight and glows for hours.