When you are looking for a truly distinguished gift that can be passed down for generations, there is no better choice than a fine watch.
But how do you know which watch is the right one for you? Not only does Goldsmith Co. carry some of the world’s most sophisticated and sought-after watches, but we know how to help you find the perfect fit—in the style, the bracelet (AKA the wrist band), the movement, and the brand.
When buying a new watch, there are three questions every shopper should ask himself.
1. What type of movement is best for me?
The movement of a watch advances the hands and accuratly measures time. It is the engine of the modern watch. Although new technology is introduced regularly, there remains three main types of movements:
- The Automatic Movement
- The Quartz Movement
- The Hybrid Movement
The Automatic (Mechanical) Movement
The automatic, sometimes called mechanical, movement is the oldest type of watch movement. Automatic movements rely on winding a main spring by hand or by other movement. The tension stored in the main spring acts as the source of power to move the mechanical gears which are calibrated to keep time. Due to the stored power in the main spring, an automatic movement does not require a battery to run. Because of this, many diving watches use automatic movements to ensure that battery power will not run out during a dive. One negative of automatic movements is that they do not keep time as accurately as the modern quartz movement, often losing several minutes a month. The finer the automatic movement, the more precise the time will be. Several other drawbacks to automatic movements are that they require periodic cleaning and they are more costly than a quartz movement.
The Quartz Movement
The quartz movement, introduced by Seiko Watch Corporation in 1969, utilizes the incredibly consistant vibrations of a quartz crystal to measure time. A battery sends an electronic current through a thin piece of quartz crystal that vibrates as often as 32,000 times per second. The movement measures the number of vibrations and advances the second hand one mark every allotted amount of vibrations. The quartz movement is the most commonly used type of movement in the world. Incredible accuracy can be achieved using a quartz movement, although very fine quartz watches will keep better time than cheaper versions. With incredible accuracy also comes reliance on a battery. The battery must be changed periodically, requiring that the watch be opened regularly. The process of changing a watch battery is the most common time for a watch to sustain damage.
In recent years, several hybrid movement options have been made available. Some of these include Seiko’s Kinetic and Citizen’s Eco-drive. These technologies focus on harnessing the accuracy of a quartz movement without the need to periodically change a battery. Kinetic movements do this by using the wearer’s movement to continuously charge a capacitor (re-chargable battery). Eco-drive movements are similar, but use a solar panel in the face to charge a capacitor. Both options remove the need to ever open the watch to change a battery, the most common way of damaging a watch.
In the last several years, new advancements in these types of hybrid technologies have allowed Seiko to introduce Kinetic watches that can generate enough energy to run the watch, a perpetual calendar (a calendar that automatically keeps track of the right date from month to month), and even a chronograph (stop watch). Hybrid technology movements generally will cost about 50%-100% more than a comparable quartz movement.
2. What type of crystal will best suit my lifestyle?
A watch crystal is the viewing glass that protects and encloses the face of the watch. The type of crystal used on a watch is a very important factor to consider when making a watch purchase. The better or harder the crystal, the more likely you are to keep the crystal free of scratches. There are several different qualities of crystals available on watches today,. In descending order they are:
- Sapphire Crystal
- Saphflex Crystal
- Mineral Crystal
- Acrylic (Plastic)
Sapphire crystals are generally reserved for the finest watches due to their manufacturing expense. A sapphire crystal is literally a lab grown sapphire that has been shaped and polished to fit the face of the watch. Because of the incredible hardness of sapphire, these types of crystals are nearly impossible to scratch.
The saphflex crystal was introduced by Seiko Watch Corporation in the early 90′s. This crystal uses a thin sheet of sapphire crystal which has been bonded to the top of a mineral crystal. Due to the hardness of the thin sapphire crystal, these types of crystals rarely scratch.
The mineral crystal is the most common type of watch crystal used in mid-range watches. This crystal is hard, but not as hard as a sapphire crystal, hence it is more likely to be scratched over years of wear.
This clear material has been used for many years as a way to protect and enclose the face of a watch. It is very soft and very susceptible to scratching. An acrylic watch face is the only face that can be buffed occasionally to remove scratches. This is the cheapest type of watch face, but has been used on all ranges of watches over the years.
3. Is the Watch “Swiss Made”?
A commonly known fact is that “Swiss Made” ( “Swiss” ) watches are among the finest watches in the world. This widely held belief remains true because of the strict regulation and testing required of any Swiss made watch. The Swiss government, in conjunction with The Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry, has passed numerous laws to protect the reputation of all Swiss made watches. They do so by regulating the quality of all watches that come out of Switzerland and establishing rules for how the “Swiss Made” title can be used.
The “Swiss Made” title can only be used if a watch meets the following requirements:
- Assembly work on the movement (the motor of the watch) and on the watch itself (fitting the movement with the dial, hands and the various parts of the case) must be carried out in Switzerland.
- Final testing of the movement must be performed in Switzerland.
- At least 50% of the components of the movement have been manufactured in Switzerland.
Certain regions in Switzerland also have their own “place of origin” labels. One of the most renowned is “Genève”, which identifies top-quality watches made in the city and canton of Geneva.
If the movement fulfills these conditions but is not assembled in Switzerland, either the “Swiss made” or “Swiss” titles can be put on the movement, but NOT on the outside of the watch. If the movement fulfills the above conditions and the the watch was assembled in Switzerland, the title of “Swiss Made” or “Swiss” can be put on the back casing of the watch and the words “Swiss Movement” can be labeled on the bottom of the watch face.
Due to the incredible amount of regulation put on any “Swiss Made” watch, they are among the finest watches available in the world.