Are Automatic Watches Still Worth Buying?

automatic watches worth it

Automatic watches have seen its popularity surge thanks to its novelty, though the real fact is its origin can be traced to centuries old technology that just came back in fashion. But then, it does have a higher price tag compared to the normal and cheaper quartz watch that have been the standard watch type nowadays.

So, are automatic watches worth buying? Depending on how you look at it, automatic watches are definitely worth buying as it has special characteristics that are not found in our increasingly electronic world nowadays.

However, bear in mind that automatic watches have its own properties that might be confusing to people. In this article, I’ll try to cover the main things that you should know prior to getting one so that you’re clear about these important stuffs.

Is Automatic Watch Worth The Money?

If you have the money and are interested in automatic watch, I’d say just buy it because it’s definitely worth it. Now, I’d like to clarify my recommendation to buy is for the general automatic watch, and not for the very expensive brands costing more thousands of dollars per piece – without a doubt, purchasing those watches would be very debatable….

So why did I say automatic watches are worth it?

It’s because of two things: it’s special mechanical movement and higher quality material, fit and finish in the watches.

The watch movement, or the mechanism that ensures the watch is ticking/running uses purely mechanical parts without any electric/electronic parts. The automatic movement have been around for more than a century and is actually the original type of watch.

(If you want to learn how automatic/mechanical movement works, check out my previous article here)

The currently normal watch (or quartz watch to be more specific) was only invented some decades ago. Seiko invented the first quartz wristwatch in 1969 with the quartz movement invented few decades prior to that (in 1927 to be exact).

While quartz watch have many benefits and considered novel at that time, the manufacturing boom that we had in recent times made electronic items cheaper and accessible, quartz watch included. Because of this, it became a commonplace item despite its technical advantages. The widespread use of laptops and smartphones in recent years just further increases the amount of digital stuffs surrounding our lives.

And that’s why automatic watch is becoming sought after: its mechanical construction and timekeeping is very different from all the electronic stuffs around us. Thus, if you have the money and are interested in it, it’s definitely something that is worth to get.

However, they are more expensive to buy….

Why Are Automatic Watches Expensive?

Currently, automatic watches are more expensive than quartz watches. If you can get a good quartz for $10 to $50, a good automatic watch can only be had upwards of $150-$200.

So why are automatic watches expensive? Automatic watches are expensive because of higher manufacturing costs (material and parts) as well as the labor costs involved in it.

Well, it’s not always been like this. Although currently the quartz watch is much cheaper than the automatic watch, back then when it was first invented, quartz watch is much more expensive!

So what happened then?

Mass production happened. Industries managed to come up with ingenious ways to accelerate production of things, making costs lower than ever. And in the case of quartz watch, its much lower parts count makes it very easy to mass produce, hence the much lower cost nowadays.

In the case of automatic watch, it usually has over 100 different parts inside it, all require manufacturing and assembly. Now imagine the work needed to manufacture 100 small parts, and then assembly them into a small 42-44 mm diameter case. So yeah, that’s the reason why automatic watch is expensive: it’s needs more parts and require more labor to assembly.

Also, automatic watches do uses higher quality materials.

The watchmakers know that they will not be able to compete with quartz watches in terms of pricing. No matter how you cut costs, automatic watches will cost more to make.

So what most brands do is to employ a different strategy: to market automatic watches to more affluent customers. By doing this, they will position their watches outside the territory of the cheap quartzs and will be able to carve a niche market for them.

That’s, why most automatic watches uses higher quality materials. You’ll usually see stainless steel (casings, bracelet, most of the parts), sapphire crystal (for the glass) and leather (for straps). For those with see-through casebacks, there’s also beautiful engravings on the rotor that can be seen from behind.

Compare this with the cheaper quartz watch where plastic is the main components and you’ll see how different in quality it is. Hold both watches side by side and you’ll be able to feel the vast difference in the fit and finish of both watches =)

All of this enables the brands to market their watches at a higher price point, and ensuring the survivability of automatic watches in this current modern era.

The Lifespan of Automatic Watches

With such higher price, what about its lifespan? How long do automatic watches last? Fortunately, automatic watch do have a high lifespan, with some vintage watches were still able to function after decades!

Now, I need to emphasize that not all automatic watches are this robust as it will depend on the watch itself i.e if the high quality watch will definitely last longer than the lower quality watch and vice versa.

But there’s another important thing that need to be addressed, and that is the need for properly taking care of the watch and regular servicing it.

Automatic watches are made of various small parts, parts that are quite sensitive to sudden jolt. So if you don’t take good care of it i.e throwing it around at the end of the day, wearing it for sports etc., then the internal movement in the watch could get screwed up which will cause problems with it. At worst, you could cause severe damage that will cost thousands to repair!

So you should always take care of your watches by being delicate and treat it as a fragile item. Another important tip is to always keep it in a dry and cool place (not cold, just room temperature would be good) to ensure the watch won’t get rusty or exposed to extreme temperatures.

But that’s not all. While the above tips will protect the watch, all automatic watches need to be serviced regularly (around once every 3 to 5 years), like all the other mechanical things that we have such as cars, motorbikes, etc.

Service is important as it will keep the watch’s internal squeaky clean after all the wear and tear that it had to endure to run. Servicing the watch is done by a watchmaker which will also inspect the watch for any damaged parts and get it replaced. He/she will then re-oil the parts for it to have enough lubrication.

Just like a car, a watch will just go on and on without you knowing there’s something wrong under the hood. Thus, if you’d like to keep your expensive automatic watch running for decades, then don’t be a cheapskate and send it for a service =)

(If you’d like to learn about how to keep your watch lasts long, check out my article here for more tips)

Does Automatic Watch Keep Good Time?

Now, do automatic watches keep a good time? Well, it does keep an acceptable time but not as accurate as a quartz watch.

Automatic watches usually have few seconds of inaccuracies per day, depending on the movement and grade. From what I’ve seen a basic automatic watch will usually have a published inaccuracy of +/-25 seconds per day, with the actual accuracy usually being lesser than that.

Do bear in mind that this will widely vary depending on the movement models used, and not the brand. For instance, Seiko have many movement models and most of them have varying accuracy (read my article on the accuracy of my 4 Seiko automatic watches here).

There’s also the higher grade movement chronometer watches that have the best accuracy at -4/+6 seconds per day. Chronometers can only be called as such if it’s certified after tested by the COSC institute in Switzerland.

As I’ve mentioned, this is still worse than the inaccuracy of a quartz watch which is usually rated to +/-15 seconds per MONTH (so you can see how

Now, even if we take the +/-25 seconds per day inaccuracy as our benchmark for automatic watches, I still feel that is acceptable. With a +/-25 seconds per day, we’re getting about one and a half minute per week, which is truthfully not that much. You can then reset the time again on the next Monday.

Things will be more natural for those with few automatic watches as you can rotate them before it lose or gain to many minutes.

For example, I’d usually rotate my watches after about 3-4 days of using and prior to wearing the next one, I’ll reset its time. Hence, even after the end of the 4 days, the inaccuracy of my watches will be about one minute maximum – definitely something that I can live with.

Are Automatic Watches Durable?

Without a doubt, automatic watches are durable, provided that you don’t use them incorrectly. This also extends to quartz watches as most of the watches made nowadays are designed only for normal wear.

There are some watches that are designed for extreme cases (e.g diving watches, sports watches etc.) but these are considered special watches which of course will have greater durability.

But for the typical and normal automatic watches, I’ve own few of them and I do think they are durable provided you don’t treat them harshly.

But there is one thing that makes automatic watch quite durable and that is the stainless steel case which comes standard for most of automatic watches.

With the cheaper quartz watch, it will usually be fitted with a plastic case as it’s the cheaper option. But automatic watch brands have known for some time that if they want to sell their watches, they have to market it properly to the more affluent customers.

Thus, with a higher price range ( more than $200), the watch itself needs to be made using higher quality material. Nowadays, stainless steel is usually used for automatic watch casings and it has the good ability to be durable – it’s steel after all!

The watch’s casing will hold up far longer than any plastic-made watch can and that’s another reason why automatic watch can last longer.

Conclusion: Should You Buy Automatic Watch?

Although it’s more expensive than normal quartz watches, automatic watches are definitely worth buying. With its high price, you’ll get a watch made out of higher quality material (stainless steel at least) with better fit and finish than any cheap quartz watch.

In addition, you’ll also get a special mechanical movement that is completely different from all the electronic stuffs that we have around us nowadays.

However, the choice to buy it will depend on your financial situation. If you have excess money and are interested in it, I’d say just go for it because you won’t regret it. If this is your first watch purchase, then I’d advise going through my article about how to pick the correct watch and the some of the best affordable automatic watches in the market right now. Do read also about where to buy the watches as it will greatly help you in the hunt.

But if you are not blessed with extra money, then I’d suggest deferring your purchase till you’ve got things sorted out. Watches are certainly not necessary and I highly suggest to not get into a debt just to fund your watch purchases. Try to increase your income first and once you’ve got a good amount of savings, then you can start to dabble with automatic watches (starting with the most affordable ones will be a good idea).

I hope this article has helped you to understand if automatic watches are worth it or not. Do let me know if you have further questions.

Cheers!

Quartz Watch: Everything You Should Know About It

Have you ever see a watch or clock with the word “Quartz” on its face? Do you know what does the quartz word means? We all learned in our chemistry classes that quartz is an element on earth but what does it have to do with watches?

So what does quartz watch means? The word quartz on a watch indicates that the watch is run by quartz movement, the most efficient type of watch movement currently around.

In this article, I’ll be writing about why it’s called quartz in the first place, how it works, and why anyone on the planet should cherish this invention. Let’s start!

Quartz Watch Uses Quartz Element For Timekeeping

Quartz watch actually was called as such because it uses quartz element (yes, the sand like what we learned in science class) as part of its timekeeping mechanism.

Quartz is a unique element because it has piezoelectric property – it will vibrate when electrical current flows through it and vice versa. This made it an important part in a quartz watch mechanism (or called quartz movement) to regulate time.

Time regulation is the most important part in any watch. Prior to quartz watch’s invention, mechanical/automatic watch was the most used watch. It uses purely mechanical parts to track and move the time display. While it works fine, it has some disadvantages of being not as accurate and lack of power reserve (it does not use electricity to run).

After various attempts with other electric-powered watch mechanism, Seiko invented the first quartz wristwatch, the Seiko Quartz Astron. It uses quartz element shaped into a tuning fork that will vibrate as electric passes through it. The vibration then will be detected by a chip inside it to be used as a signal for 1 second.

The Caliber 35A quartz movement was a technical breakthrough as it solves all the problems that mechanical watches have: accuracy and lack of power reserve. It accuracy was around +/- 5 seconds per month with 1 year battery power – all of these have been greatly improved in time.

All of this was made possible from the use of quartz element. And that the story of how the humble quartz sand became so important to horology to warrant the watches to be called as quartz watch.

How Does Quartz Watch Works?

Quartz watch is one of the smallest electronic item that you can buy nowadays. It’s only made possible through the inventions in electricity, electronics and manufacturing. If you ever open up one, you’ll see the inside is made out of a circular block containing the movement and a battery cell. What goes inside this assembly is truly outstanding for such a small size.

Everything starts from a battery cell that supplies electricity to the whole watch circuit. These batteries are small round-shaped often called button battery due to its resemblance to buttons.

But unlike the very common AA or AAA battery with standard sizes, button batteries have lots of sizes measured in diameters and thickness. In addition, there could be different voltage rating (1.5V and 3.0V are the most common). So do keep this in mind and always check your watch’s battery in case you want to change it yourselves.

The electric current then was passed to a microchip that then direct some of it to a tuning fork made of quartz/sand. As I’ve mentioned above, quartz is a piezoelectric material and will vibrate when electric passes through it. By shaping it into a tuning fork, the quartz was actually designed to vibrate at 32768 Hz (or 32768 times in one second).

This vibration was picked up by the microchip which then divide this signal by 2 fifteen times to get to 1 signal, which translates to 1 second. Or you could also say the microchip counts the signal 32768 times before declaring 1 second has passed.

This is the basis of all timekeeping mechanism, either mechanical/automatic or spring drive. The determination of 1 second is the most important as it’s how the watch can track time.

From then, the microchip will send a signal to the motor to move the second hand 1 second. After the second hand moved 60 times, 1 minute has elapsed and the minute hand will be turned automatically by gears connected to the second hand. The same goes for hour hand after 60 minutes has elapsed.

For a watch with digital display, things are much simpler as there is no mechanical time display part. The microchip can easily change the display of the watch without having to use a motor/gear/hands assembly.

It’s One Of The Most Accurate Watches You Can Buy

Accuracy is an area that the quartz watch excels at (in addition to very low costs, of course). The thing is, prior to the invention of quartz clock in 1927 (by Warren Marrison and J. W. Horton) and the wrist watch version by Seiko in 1969, watches mostly used the mechanical movement which was around for more than a century.

Although it works fine, mechanical movement was not great at accuracy. It relies on a set of balance wheel and escapement assembly that rotates in 6 Hz or 8 Hz frequency. While it’s not really bad, it’s not good either. The mechanical watch has an abysmal accuracy of +/-6 seconds per day, and that is for the top of the line COSC chronometers. For the normal versions, the accuracy is far worse up to +/-30 seconds per day. Now imagine if your watch is constantly losing up to few minutes per week!

Although the lack of accuracy of mechanical watches can be said to be acceptable for regular use, it’s horrendous if you’re trying to use it for industrial use. Industries crave for accurate timekeeping to keep things standard. As mass production being more and more prevalent, accurate timekeeping is a definite need to ensure good implementation of systems.

Thus, the invention of quartz watch brings the much-needed accuracy into mankind. It has great accuracy, with +/-15 seconds per month for the most common quartz watches. That number can go even lower for higher end watches. Thus, with such accuracy, chances are you only need to adjust the time only when you’re changing its battery every 1-2 years.

Is It Durable?

In terms of durability, quartz watch is definitely one of the more durable watches. The digital display versions are actually more durable thanks to its less moving parts, compared to analog ones that still have the motor and time display hands. Well, lesser moving parts means lesser chance of anything going out of place and broken.

However, there is a big IF. Quartz watch is mass-produced all over the world and you can get a good-looking one for as low as $10 or as high as $100 and more. But do remember when something is cheap, there will be some cutting corners done to make that price feasible. In this case, the cheaper watch will be built using cheaper stuffs with lack of quality control.

What this entails is you can’t expect a $10 quartz watch to have a great robustness and durability to lasts you for years. At such a very low price, I’d be glad if it can last for a year. There will be something that will go off – the hands might come loose, water can seep in due to low quality waterproofing, the straps might come off thanks to low quality plastic, and the potential issues list can go on and on.

But still, it’s a $10 watch so you can just easily replace it if it’s broken right LOL!

However, if you want a more durable watch that you can wear for years, I can only recommend to pay more and get a decent one. It will be built using higher quality materials (another plus is it won’t look cheap), better quality control and it won’t get broken with just a small nudge to the wall.

Quartz Watch Is Cheap!

Are quartz watches expensive? No, quartz watches are the cheapest type of watches currently. Its simple mechanism can be fit into a very small casing which means low material costs are needed to make one. In addition, mass production of quartz watches are feasible which will once again lower the costs.

However, that’s for the basic quartz watch that most of us will use. There also exists higher range of quartz watches that costs more. These watches will either have: 1) more features, 2) ornaments and decorations, and 3) combination of both.

Thanks to its electronic nature, quartz watch is very easy to be upgraded in terms of features. Chronograph, alarm clock, world time, moon phase, perpetual calendar – all of these are great features that can exists in a quartz watch easily. In comparison, these features will be very difficult to implement in the traditional mechanical watch.

In addition to that, some watch manufacturers also put decorations on their watches which will only increase its price. Gold casings, diamond/jeweled decorations are popular especially with women’s watches. You can bet that these will fetch a hefty sum.

Do You Have To Service It?

Do you have to service a quartz watch? This is another area where quartz watch has an advantage as it is generally service-free. Thanks to its lower moving parts, there is lesser wear and tear in the quartz movement as compared to the mechanical movement.

For a mechanical movement, a 3-5 years service interval is required to keep the watch in a good condition. If you look into how it works, the various mechanical parts and gears are constantly moving which induce lots of friction, causing wear and tear. (read more about automatic watch servicing in my previous article here)

A service is needed to clean up the parts, re-oil it back for optimum lubrication and replace any worn parts. Yes, you can don’t service it regularly but if you’re already spending hundreds of dollars on an automatic/mechanical watch, then why would won’t you spend some money to keep it in good condition?

A quartz watch, on the other hand, don’t have that high number of moving parts. Sure enough, the motor and hands are moving constantly but this is in a low speed, unlike the automatic/mechanical watch movement, and any friction is not a cause for concern. Thus, quartz watch is usually regarded as service-free.

However, if you have an expensive quartz watch (such as made from rare materials with decorations and such), there is no harm in servicing it. With that kind of watch, you’d definitely want it to last a lifetime and can be passed to your children.

Hence servicing the watch will ensure that it’s in perfect condition in and out and any hard to detect issues such as waterproofing and rust inside the watch can be cleared up before any permanent damage could happen.

Are Quartz Watch Good? It’s One Of The Best Watch Movements Currently!

Although my personal preference is automatic watches (that’s the name of this website LOL!), I have to say that for most people, quartz watch would be your best option. In fact, even when pitted against the other types of watch movements (such as solar, kinetic, spring drive, and others. Read my article on the 8 types of watch movements currently around), quartz watch always come at or near the top.

Sure, it does not have that much character when millions were using it, but for its price, quartz watch can deliver just about what you need in a watch (that is to tell time, of course) and much more depending on what you want to pay.

Some of the quartz watch’s advantages that will be beneficial to a regular guy are:

  1. Affordability – it’s the most affordable type of watch out there. You can get a basic one for lower than $20! And if your small child want a watch, you can always get him/her the cheap China-made ones for just lesser than $10.
  2. Versatile – Be it the traditional analog watch or the digital display, quartz watch has it all covered. It’s also offered in various styles, from dressy to sporty so you’ll always able to find the one that you need.
  3. Accurate – Accuracy was the quartz watch’s main selling point in the past decades. With just few seconds lost in a month, quartz watch is your best option when it comes to accuracy.
  4. Huge range of products – Quartz watch are available in a wide range of prices from the basic cheap ones to the high-end ones. Pay more, and you’ll be able to afford a more refined watch at a fraction of what an automatic watch will cost.
  5. Lots of features – The electronics inside it enables it to be equipped with many features such as chronographs, alarm clock, perpetual calendar and many more.
  6. Durable – The electronics are kept tight in a waterproof case (depending on the watch model) and will run perfectly unless you bump or drop it hard. In general, it’s a durable watch though you need to adjust your expectations depending on the price.
  7. Just a good value for money – With all the benefits above packed in a small price, quartz watch is a very good value for money buy.

For a more detailed analysis on why a quartz watch is a good buy, check out my previous article here.

Typical Problems With Quartz Watch

Nothing is perfect in this world, and the same is true with quartz watch. For a start, quality issue might be the main problem that you’ll face when buying a cheap quartz watch, those with a price tag of $10 to $50. With such watches, you can definitely expect that it’s being produced in a part of the world with very cheap labor and manufacturing costs.

As such, it does not have much quality control imposed on it during production and you’ll see how these watches are not very durable and robust.

For example, my cheap China-made alarm clock only last for a month before it stopped functioning after I accidentally dropped in into the floor. While the cheap plastic outside looks fine, the clock just went dead and won’t function anymore, signaling a problem in its internals. So be warned when you use one of the cheap quartz watches as a slight knock might cause it to stop working.

Battery leakage is something that I believe almost all of us experienced before. If you let a dead battery left inside a watch, the chemicals inside the battery will leak, staining the movement of the watch at least, and at worst, might render the watch unusable without expensive cleaning and service.

The next common issue is with moisture inside the watch, where you can see the watch face suddenly has fogging inside. This is a fairly common problem that will happen if your watch don’t have adequate waterproofing built-in by the watch manufacturer.

Water can seep into the watch through crevices either on top of it, from the bottom and lastly from the crown or the knob used to adjust the time. In a properly designed watch, all of these areas will have rubber gaskets used to keep the watch internal tightly sealed from moisture seepage.

If the watch does not have these seals, which is common with watches without water resistance rating, then water can seep into it just from you being exposed to it either during rain or even just washing your hands in the bathroom.

The best way to ensure this issue does not happen is by getting a watch with at least 50m water resistance rating. I found that this is a good compromise between water resistance (you don’t want it to be too low at 10m or 30m) and not being too pricey.

However, if you want to use your watch for a dip in the swimming pool, I’d recommend at least 100m water resistance rating for a peace of mind.

Should You Get A Quartz or Automatic/Mechanical Watch?

One of the most common questions that I got is whether you should buy a quartz watch or an automatic/mechanical watch. For me, automatic watch is the more preferred choice because it’s different from all the other electronic stuffs we have around us. But then again, there are many reasons why anyone would be better off with a quartz watch depending on his/her circumstances.

Below are some possible circumstances or situations which I think quartz watch is a better, if not the best option:

  1. Someone new to watch: If you’re new to wearing a watch, then a quartz watch will be a good option. It’s cheap so you can just grab one at the store and wear it. And since you’re blind buying it, a cheap quartz watch will be a good option. Once you’ve got used to wearing a watch, then you can explore more about other watches e.g automatic watch and see if it fits what you want or not (check out my article about how to choose the correct watch for you)
  2. Need a watch urgently: If you need a watch urgently for an event or anything, quartz watch will be a good choice – again, because it’s cheap. Just go into a store and pick something that fits your event and you’re good to go. A problem with automatic watch is it’s varies between brands/manufacturers so you need some research before buying one. That is not the case with quartz as the movement is more or less the same and only the exterior is different.
  3. You want a cheap watch: Want a cheap watch? Then quartz watch is the one to go. No other watch type is as cheap as the quartz watch!
  4. You want many features in a cheap watch: Thanks to its electronic nature, quartz watch can have many features packed inside its small body. Yes, these features (e.g chronograph, dual time zone, perpetual calendar, etc) can also be had in an automatic watch or a smart watch. However, price wise, quartz watch will always have the cheaper price compared to others with the same features.

Conclusion

I hope you already learn what the meaning of the word “Quartz” on top of some watches. It serves an important function of indicating that the watch uses quartz movement, the most commonly used watch movement nowadays.

With it, you can be sure you’re getting an accurate, robust and durable watch that is perfect for everyday use. It’s accuracy is its main selling point as you’ll be sure that you can always trust your watch.

With its affordable price, quartz watch is highly recommended for those wanting to get their first wristwatch. Once you’ve been accustomed to wearing one, then you can explore other types of watches such as the automatic/mechanical watch, solar or the more modern smartwatch.

Thanks for reading and cheers!

Isaac

Purchasing Automatic Watch: From Where Should I Buy?

Due to its exclusivity and mechanical nature, automatic watch is more expensive than the typical normal quartz watch. So for those wanting to buy one, the question of where to buy is one of the most common question. There are many ways to buy an automatic watch which I’ll divulge in this article, as well as the pros and cons of each option.

So where do you buy automatic watch? You can buy automatic watch from an authorized dealer store, at the department store of your local mall, an online store/website or purchase it directly from the brand/manufacturer.

I’ve tried all the buying options above and I found there are some pros and cons to each of them. Hence, your choice of place to buy your watch will depend on what you want and need.

Where To Buy Automatic Watch?

There are 4 ways that you can buy an automatic watch:

  1. Authorized Dealer store
  2. Department store in malls
  3. Buy Directly From Brand/Manufacturer
  4. Online retailer

1- Authorized Dealer Store

In any big cities, there will be stores dedicated to sell watches, either just for one brand or few brands. These kinds of stores are called authorized dealer stores and is one of the best places to survey watches. Brands don’t sell to anybody, and when they do, they will only give their watches to some sellers – hence why it’s called authorized dealer (or just AD).

AD stores can be split into 2 categories: AD store for a single particular brand and AD stores that carry multiple brands. Some brands have such exclusivity that there is a demand for an AD store to carry only that particular brand, such as Rolex, Patek and other luxury brands. However, such stores are rare and far in between.

The more common AD stores will typically carry multiple brands inside them. These stores will display the watches in cabinets around the walls segregated into brands which really make viewing and searching for a watch much easier.

If you’re in for shopping an automatic watch but in a lost on what watch will work for you (classic issue with first timer), then these stores will provide a good avenue to be exposed to lots of watches in a single store. In addition, I find that the store keeper usually have good knowledge on the watches and can recommend a watch to you depending on their history of best-selling watches and what people generally buy. This well translate into better customer service than others.

(Though I still recommend that you figure out for yourselves what watch do you need to avoid regret later on. Check out my 10 step-by-step guide on how to choose the correct watch for you.)

It is due to this that AD stores are generally easier to be trusted as compared to online stores, as you know you will be getting the real stuffs and not some cheap imitation. The store keepers are more well-versed with the warranties and this will definitely help you especially if you’re new to buying watches.

Speaking of warranties, buying from AD stores have the biggest advantage of brand-backed warranties as you’re essentially buying from an official channel (as compared from gray-market in online stores, but more on that later). Again, this will be very comforting to those that is buying their first hundred dollars automatic watch.

But AD stores do have a big disadvantage as their prices are always on the high side due to the structured pricing set by the brands. But in response, you’re buying from a trusted seller with the full warranty that the brand will give you. Not to mention that you can walk from the store while wearing your new watch as no waiting time is needed (as with buying online) which will be a big plus for those needing a watch urgently.

The last advantage that I’ve personally experienced from buying a watch from an AD store is the store keeper will let you inspect the watch before buying as well as help to resize the metal bracelet for you.

If you’ve had a watch with metal bracelet, you’ll know that it isn’t a walk in the park to resize (don’t trust me? Check out what you have to do here). Thus, getting the store keeper to meticulously do it for you when you bought it is one of the advantages that you can get.

Pros:

  • Official channel for the watch brand ensuring the watch is original and not fake
  • You can inspect the watch before buying it
  • Carries many models making it easier to survey watches in one place
  • Will get the original warranty from the brand
  • Knowledgeable store keepers will be able to assist you better
  • Easy to buy a watch (if you’re living in a big city)
  • You can get the watch instantly after payment
  • Store keeper can help to resize the watch strap/bracelet for your

Cons:

  • Higher prices compared to other places
  • Not all models can be carried by a store (depends on its size)

Buy from Authorized Dealer Store if:

  • You’re new with automatic watches and would like to get face-to-face explanation about how to use it
  • You want to get the watch from an official channel to ensure its origin and get official warranty

2- Department Store In Malls

The next place where you can buy automatic watch easily is at department stores in malls. I’m pretty sure you’ve stumbled across some booths showcasing automatic watches while shopping in the malls, usually in the fashion section.

I personally am not a fan of buying from department stores as I often found that the selections are lesser than a dedicated AD store. Moreover, they often stock normal quartz watches that are easier to sell, though some higher-end department stores do sell more expensive automatic watches though not luxury or high end watches.

In addition to that, the hustle and bustle of department stores are not the perfect environment to view and appreciate the beauty of these machines. I mean, you can’t exactly look closely over that Tissot Visodate when there’s a noisy women’s clothes section right behind you lol!

The knowledge of store keepers in the department stores are also not up to par with an AD store. Usually, I found that department store’s employees are rotating around the various sections and they don’t have much knowledge about the watches under their care. At worst, you might be getting conflicting info about any particular watch that you inquire (which is why I always emphasize on researching for yourselves about any watch before deciding to buy it).

Despite these drawbacks, department stores are some of the easiest places to buy a watch as it can be more numerous located compared to AD stores that can be hard to find everywhere (again, this will depend on where you live). If you’re shopping for the holiday season for your family, getting a watch will be easier as you can buy everything in one store. In addition, the generous discount offers will usually apply to the watches as well.

First timer will be more comfortable to view the watches at department stores as it’s less intimidating to view watches there. You’re basically under the same store which is not the case with AD store as you’ll need to go into the store. Depending on the store, you will also get the same original warranty from the brand too.

Pros:

  • Widely available and accessible even for those living outside big city
  • Ease of buying at the same time as you’re shopping for other stuffs
  • Carries many models making it easier to survey watches in one place
  • Will get the original warranty from the brand
  • You can inspect the watch before buying it
  • You can get the watch instantly after payment
  • Can take advantage of the generous discounts that department stores usually offer

Cons:

  • Not all department stores carry higher-end automatic watch
  • Shop assistants are not really well-versed with the watches

Buy from Department Store if:

  • You want to buy watches with the convenience of while shopping for other stuffs

3- Buy Directly From Brand/Manufacturer

Sometimes, the watch that you like might not be available in a store – it could be the watch was quite expensive that your local watch shop don’t think they can sell it. Or it could simply be that particular watch model is not made available in your country, for whatever reasons the brand might have. In these instances, you can buy the watch directly from the manufacturer through their websites.

Although online stores were usually associated with gray market watches (more on that later in the next section), watch brands had embraced online stores. Well, they would be nuts not going for online as that’s where most people shop nowadays. Till date, I noticed that some brands such as Tissot, Citizen and Swatch, just to name a few, have included a buy option from their official website.

By having an official online store, watch brands can ensure their buyer of authentic watches, which is one of the biggest concern whenever buying online. You’ll get the real thing, alongside with the official packaging, boxes and warranty – all without taking a step from your home. The brands will be able to maximize profit and ensure their stocks can be cleared in time.

However, there are some disadvantages with this method.

Firstly, the price that you’ll get from buying online with the official website is almost the same as what you will pay at a store. In addition, you still have to pay for additional shipping charges that will wildly vary depending on where you live. And then you’ll have to wait for your watch to come to your doorstep.

Another major disadvantage is something inherent when you’re buying online – you can only inspect the watch when it arrives and if there’s some issue with it, you’ll have to claim warranty, post it back and wait for few more days to receive the replacement. Because of this risk, buying online is not something that I’d recommend if you need to get your watch as soon as possible.

Pros:

  • Easy way to buy watches without going out of your home
  • Ensure you’ll get the authentic watches
  • Can browse and compare prices of various models easily
  • Can buy rarer models that are not available at your local watch stores

Cons:

  • Prices can be higher after including shipping charges
  • Will need to wait for few days before the watch is delivered
  • Possibility of getting a lemon/malfunction unit and have to go through hassles to get replacement

Buy from Department Store if:

  • You would like to get that exact watch that is not being sold in stores anywhere near you.

4- Online retailer

Last but not least, online retailers, one of my favorite way to buy a watch. There are various types of online retailers that can be segregated into groups such as e-commerce sites (e.g jomashop.com, longislandwatch.com), online stores (such as Amazon, Ebay, etc.), forums and even Facebook groups.

The similarity between all of these online channels? Most will sell many watches at huge discounts and they can really help to get you the watch that you want with huge savings. But then again, how did they do that? Well, basically these watches are called gray market watches.

Watches sold on these online channels are often called gray market watches because their are not the official channel. The thing is the brands control the pricing of the watches as they want to ensure that there is enough profit for them and their authorized distributors. Having watch shops cutting prices is a sin as it will distort the field making it unfair to their other distributors.

Gray market sellers get their watches from the other countries and then sell it elsewhere. It’s definitely legal to do so (though the brands will say otherwise) but the fact is the watch is totally legit and you’ll get the real thing, at 20% to 30% off the MSRP prices, even after adding shipping costs!

The downside with this is you won’t get the official warranty coming from the brands so you’re on your own if something happens to the watch after you buy it. Luckily, most retailers have their own warranty or replacement policy so you’re covered in that regards.

Now, I’m not saying that all online retailers sell legit gray watches, even the sites that I’ve mentioned above. Some do sell fake watches disguised as real ones (which are scums of the lowest level!) and there are cases like that happening. Thus, do your due diligence on which sellers would you buy from. Comb through online reviews for red flags and such prior to buying from them.

Ensure the sellers has a clear warranty/replacement policy that will replace your watch like-for-like or full refund in case of lemons. Inspecting the watch when you get them is then more crucial so that you can act as fast as you can. Do compare the watch with known pictures of it online from other owners to get a real feel of how it should be.

All of this means that buying from an online retailer carries the highest risk of all the places where you can buy an automatic watch. However, it comes with the high reward of huge discounts off it, which can be cumulative to the tune of thousands of dollars if you’re an avid watch collector.

Another rule that I always use is to not buy an expensive watch from these online retailers and stick to official channels. This threshold can vary from person to person, though I’m using a $1,000 mark personally. As there is a huge risk with buying these watches from online, you really want to reduce the risk as much as possible. Besides, anything below $1,000 means the watch does not use any complicated in-house movement so I can always get it fixed from my local watchmaker.

Pros:

  • Easy way to buy watches without going out of your home
  • You can get the huge savings from buying gray market watches
  • Most online retailers stock huge amount of watches, even those already discontinued
  • Easy to compare prices and watch models

Cons:

  • There are some retailers selling fake watches
  • There will be waiting time before the watch arrives
  • No official warranty from the brand so you need to ensure the retailer have their own warranty policy
  • It’s best to limit the value of watch bought from gray market sellers

Buy from Department Store if:

  • You want the best value for money watches and am perfectly fine with the additional risks involved.

Conclusion

There are many ways for one to buy an automatic watch and all of them comes with their own advantages and disadvantages. The choice of where to buy your watch will depend on which buying channel that you prefer the most.

If you want the least risk, then an authorized dealer store will be the best method to buy your watch. However, if you want the cheapest watch, then online is definitely the way to go.

I hope this article will be beneficial to you. Do let me know if there are other things you need to know.

Cheers!

Lifespan of Automatic Watch – How Long Will It Lasts?

Patek philippe Grand Complication Perpetual Calendar

Automatic or mechanical watches are one of the hottest trend nowadays. It’s mechanical-based inner workings are sought after due to its novelty and difference with current digital world. However, what’s the lifespan of these automatic watches? As a fellow owner, I decided to find out and will share it with you in this article.

How long does automatic watch lasts? Automatic watch can last a very long time as long as it’s been taken care of properly and serviced regularly.

In addition, there are some must-do tips to ensure your watch can last for a lifetime. You also need to know the correct way to store your unused watches as it has a huge role to play in maintaining it. Lastly, selecting a good quality watch is also important to get the most out of your watches for the longest time.

Automatic Watches Can Last For A Very Long Time As Long As…

If you take care of your watch properly and service it regularly, you can bet that it will be able to last long. Now, our watches are just like cars in which it can last thousands of miles IF it’s taken care of properly.

One of the biggest enemy for automatic watches is lack of servicing. As with cars, this is a must with watches too. Inside the watch, there are hundreds of small components that continuously move 24/7/365 – all year round. The thing with mechanical stuffs is the movement will generate friction and this friction will eat up some components and this can be handled by regularly servicing your watch.

The next big enemy is improper care of the watch. If you think that automatic watch can be used as rough as normal watch, then you are wrong. Even the toughest marketed automatic dive watch should be used with care and gentler than any ordinary quartz watch.

Servicing Your Watch Is A Must To Keep It In Good Condition

Throughout its lifetime, a watch inner workings (or called movement) is subjected to thousands if not millions of cycles of movement as it ticking away to show you the time. These will create lots of friction inside the watch and its components, hence causing wear and tear in it.

In addition, the oils used as lubricant for the components will generally go bad in few years, and will not be as viscous as it need to be. These factors are the reason why servicing the watch regularly is a good idea to keep its lifespan long. Not to mention a watch that is not serviced will not be accurate as you want it to be – another reason why regular servicing and adjusting its accuracy is a good idea.

So how often should automatic watches be serviced? The rule of thumb is to service automatic watches once every 3 to 5 years. However, do bear in mind that some manufacturers may suggest otherwise (e.g Rolex with its 10 years servicing interval) so I fully recommend checking the small user manual that you get with your watches to confirm on the service interval for your model.

Upon servicing, the watch will be taken apart where the components will be cleaned and re-oil. The parts will also be inspected for any problems and if anything is faulty, it will be replaced. Lastly, the watch will be closed back and you will get yourselves a watch that runs like new. (read more about servicing automatic watches in my previous article here).

Some Useful Tips On How To Take Care Of Your Watches

Actually taking good care of your automatic watch is also another important factor that will determine if your watch can last a lifetime or just a couple of years. As this is a very important topic, I’ve already written an entire post about this (read: 13 Tips On How To Take Care An Automatic Watch So That It Can Last Long) but here are the 3 topmost tips that I religiously share to anyone new with watches:

1- Don’t Drop It!

The first and foremost rule is to never drop it. I don’t think I can stress enough about this and how damaging a drop can be to your watches. The thing is our watch is not a small round object. Instead, it’s actually made up of hundreds of components in the movement – those are the things that cause an automatic watch to tick.

Any sudden fall of the watch onto a hard surface will cause an impact that can shake these small components out of place or worse, damage some of them. Thus, you should always handle your watch as a fragile item, just like a glass jar by carefully taking it, wearing it on your wrist, and putting it down at the end of the day.

Yes, it might seem cool to just throw off your watch onto the bed/table after a long day at work but you never know if it will bounce and fall on the floor. A 3 feet drop is enough to cause havoc on most automatic watches so be very careful when you handle it in future or it will not last long!

2- Moisture Is Your Watch’s Enemy

There are 2 reasons why I’m always be very careful when my watches are in contact with water (even though most watches nowadays have at least 30 m water resistance).

First, watches are made of metal and moisture presence might cause it to corrode, especially if you kept it in a wet place. In addition, water can wet and weaken your expensive leather strap or other cloth base straps which is definitely not something that you want to happen. Even with a metal bracelet, the small links on it will be a place where water can accumulate and wreak havoc in the long run.

Secondly, water intrusion into the watch is one of the most common problems with not just automatic watches, but to normal quartz watches as well. If you see fog inside your watch glass, then that’s the sign of moisture intrusion. For an automatic watch, this is a more critical problem as this means you have to bring it out for service or else the parts will get rusty and can cost you more to get the whole movement replaced.

The watchmaker will have to disassemble the watch, clean it up and re-oil it. He then have to close it again and changed the water proofing gaskets to avoid the same thing happens again. All of this will cost you money and if you neglect this, you can be sure the watch will not lasts long.

However, there’s few easy things that you can do to avoid all of this. Number one, avoid any contact with water when you’re wearing your watch. Number two, in the event that you cannot avoid water, ensure the watch’s crown (the round knob at the side for setting time) is tightly secured and pushed all the way down to the watch body. Number three, don’t use any of the watch’s functions (chronographs, etc.) while in the vicinity of water.

If you do all of these 3 things, you’ll be able to avoid the terrible moisture intrusion into your watch.

3- Avoid Magnets and Electronics

Another important thing that many don’t realize is magnetization of your watch is possible and one of the most common issues on why your automatic watch can have gross inaccuracies.

As you already know, the components inside a watch movement are mostly made of steel and there is a possibility that the steel components will be magnetized by being held close to strong magnets or some electronics.

While being magnetized is not harmful to your watch, but it will severely reduce the accuracy of it and only a trip to a watchmaker can rectify this which will cost you more money to maintain it.

(I’d like to note that you can also rectify magnetization of your watch by yourselves by learning about it from various sources in the internet)

For more tips on how to take care of your watches, check out my previous post where I’ve detailed out the 13 best tips that I’m to keep my automatic watches in good condition (link here).

Keep Any Unused Watches In A Proper Watch Box

For those with more than one watch (I know there are many of you out there lol!) keeping the unused watch should be done properly as it could be the deciding factor on its longevity.

An automatic watch, like any other small appliances, should be stored in a dry and cool place, free from any moisture or sunlight that could degrade it.

The best way that I found is to use a proper watch box to keep your unused watch. It’s more secure and you can see all your watches at the same place, thereby making it easier to spot any missing watch. In addition, some watch box also comes with locking mechanism for protection against theft.

Quality Of The Watch Also Plays A Role

The quality of the watch in question is also a very big aspect in determining if it can lasts for a lifetime or not. While you can do everything in your ability to ensure your watch stays in perfect condition, the inherent quality of the watch plays a big role.

A more sturdily built watch with robust movement will be able to weather the storms without much fuss, hence making maintaining it a much easier effort. On the other side, a watch with cheap movement is like a ticking bomb – it can go faulty with even the slightest knock!

But don’t get me wrong. Although buying a watch from well-known watch brands will undoubtedly serve you well in terms of longevity, such watches are going to be very expensive and can be out of budget for most of us.

If you don’t want to spend too much on a watch but still wants a great degree of dependability, you can also go for the likes of Seiko, Citizen, Tissot, and other famous low-end brands. Although they are more affordable, their automatic watches are still great machines that can last for years of use. (check out this list of the affordable automatic watches that you can buy).

However, beware of the smaller niche brands that you don’t often hear with questionable origin and history, especially if their offerings come at such low prices. Often times, these brands uses low quality China-made parts that won’t last as long as the other automatic watches can. If in doubt, do a quick internet search for any feedback on these watches before forking your money for it.

Conclusion

Automatic watch can have a long lifespan provided the necessary precaution and maintenance were performed on it. It’s not uncommon for automatic watches to go on for decades with some even being passed of as heirloom to the next generation (incidentally that’s what Patek Philippe’s slogan is about).

For me, it’s all about trying to ensure my prized watches are kept in pristine condition. Without a doubt, an automatic watch is not a cheap purchase and I’ve bought my watches after countless web searches, visit to shops and trying it out on my hand.

It is because of this I feel that all of my watches are special with special bonds created between me and my watches that fueled me to try to ensure my watch can lasts for a long time. If you’re the same as me, then don’t let it all go to waste and start taking care of your watches!

Till next time then.

Cheers!

Isaac.

All The Things You Need To Know About Perpetual Calendar Watch

Patek philippe Grand Complication Perpetual Calendar

Perpetual calendar watch is one of the terms that we normally see associated with very expensive automatic/mechanical watches. But then again, what is it actually and what it does? I decided to do a bit of digging and in this article, I will share what I found about perpetual calendar with you.

So what is a perpetual calendar watch? It is a watch with perpetual calendar function, which means the watch will be able to display the correct dates at all time, taking into account the different number of days in a month and even leap years. In terms of calendar, perpetual calendar is the most accurate that you’ll need.

In this article, I’ll be sharing about what exactly is perpetual calendar, its uses and its difference with ordinary calendar. Then I’ll give my take about the perpetual calendar watch, how it could benefit you and whether you should get one or not.

Table of Contents:

  1. Perpetual Calendar Watch – Showing The Correct Dates All The Time On Your Wrist
  2. What Is Perpetual Calendar Watch Used For?
  3. Why The Number Of Days Are Not The Same In Every Month?
  4. Differences Between Annual Calendar And Perpetual Calendar
  5. How Does Perpetual Calendar Watch Work?
  6. How To Set A Perpetual Calendar Watch?
  7. History Of The Perpetual Calendar Watch
  8. The Three Most Important Things To Know About Perpetual Calendar Watch (Before You Buy One)
  9. With Perpetual Calendar Watch, The Longer The Power Reserve, The Better
  10. Is Perpetual Calendar Watch For You?

Perpetual Calendar Watch – Showing The Correct Dates All The Time On Your Wrist

Perpetual calendar watch has one additional function on top of the normal watch and that is to show the correct dates all year round on your wrist watch (but how important that is will depend entirely on individuals.)

Patek philippe Grand Complication Perpetual Calendar

We’re thought from when we’re kids that every month comprises different number of days, either 30 days or 31 days in a month, with February being an exception with 28 days. There’s also the problem of leap years, whereby during that year the month of February will have 29 days instead of the typical 28.

This poses the problem as most normal watches with analog display uses a simple mechanical function to change the date display once 24 hours passed. This default setting will just cycle the dates until 31 and then it will go to 1 – this kind of calendar is called simple calendar.

Thus, this irregularity in the number of days every month will give the hassle of having to change the date manually at least every 1/2 month (depending on what month you first set the watch).

But do note that this problem only exists with analog watches (automatic or quartz movements). For digital watches, most often than not the calendar is programmed inside the chip giving it the ability to display the correct date (much like our computer and phones).

What Is Perpetual Calendar Watch Used For?

Perpetual calendar watch is used to display the correct date every time which is why its called “perpetual” (though actually most of these watches do need to be adjusted after a certain time e.g 100 years, so it’s not really perpetual but correct up to a very long time).

If you’re wearing your watch every day and don’t want to be bothered with tinkering around it because you have more important stuffs going on, then perpetual calendar watch can be a good option. It will help to keep the date displayed on your watch correct while you go about with your busy lives.

Why The Number Of Days Are Not The Same In Every Month?

Throughout mankind’s history, our calendar have gone through many reforms and changes, along with advancement in astronomical knowledge as well as technology.

There are two main types of calendar, lunar calendar (depends on moon’s revolution around earth) and the solar calendar (depends on the earth’s revolution around the sun), with the latter the most formally used nowadays. Both calendars have the same problem: there is simply no easy rule regarding these calendars because the moon and earth does not revolve at an easy predetermined duration.

For the solar calendar, the current set of calendar that we use currently is called Gregorian calendar that after accounting for leap years, averages the year into 365.2425 days long – yes, it’s not exactly 365 days long hence the root cause of the problem at hand.

In a normal year, there are 365 days in a year divided into 12 months. To achieve this, the calendar divides the months into 30 & 31 days alternately though there are some exception here and there such as July and August that both have 31 days and February having 28 days. You can refer to the exact number of days on any calendar or on this page.

But there also exist a leap year whereby the number of days in a year is 366 days. In order to account for this, February is increased by 1 day to be 29 days. These leap years only occurs once every 4 years and is one of the adjustment methods in order to account for the natural revolution of the earth around the sun that is not exactly conforming to our standard days.

Although these rules are quite easy to comprehend, it’s not as easy to implement on a mechanical analog watch that works best on anything linear or uniformly moving. As watchmakers tried to implement the unique, it is the beginning of a perpetual calendar watch.

Differences Between Annual Calendar And Perpetual Calendar

There’s also the annual calendar watch, the sibling to the perpetual calendar. The difference between these two types of calendar is in leap year adjustment : this makes the two watch types very different and is something that you must be able to tell as perpetual calendar do command higher price than annual calendar.

A normal calendar watch has a day/date display (shown above is the gorgeous Tissot Visodate. Read more about the watch in my review here)

With an annual calendar, the watch needs minimal intervention to show the correct date as it’s designed to take into account day differences (30 or 31 days) for different months. February is a bit of an issue with some annual calendar watches able to display correctly display 28 days in February.

Do take note that there are some watches that cannot do this so it’s best if you find out about it before buying.

What is the difference between annual calendar and perpetual calendar then? A perpetual calendar is a step up in which it can correctly display the dates whilst considering leap years. This makes the watch require little intervention while in your possession as you don’t have to change its date.

This poses a slight problem when shopping for watches. While most watch dealers are good, some of them can be quite new in watches and can be misleading in explaining the features of their watches.

Thus, I recommend doing some due diligence on the particular watch model that you want to buy to be sure that it has the correct annual or perpetual mechanism that you’d like. A quick internet search would do well and I’ve found that internet forums can be very helpful too e.g watchuseek.com (treasure trove for helpful stuffs about watches), facebook groups (for lots of pictures) or even quora (for straight forward answers).

How Does Perpetual Calendar Watch Work?

So how does a perpetual calendar watch work? Perpetual calendar watch works through the use of multiple additional components in the form of gears and levers that act as mechanical memory to display the correct date – even considering different days in a month and leap years.

Most perpetual calendar watch will be able to show the date, day, month and even years on its dial

So in short, while a normal analog watch calendar has a simple disc with 31 days, a perpetual calendar watch will has a more complicated discs storing 4 years worth of day information!

Certainly this device is one of the hardest to do in mechanical/automatic watchmaking as it not only has the mechanical difficulty to map out the components, one also need profound knowledge of how perpetual calendar works and lastly, exquisite craftsmanship to manufacture the tiny components to exact dimensions and fit it in to work.

Fortunately things are much easier with advancement in technology. Nowadays digital watches can be easily configured to follow perpetual calendar and accommodate the leap years in their date display. The chip inside the watch is so advanced now that this can be easily done from the factory.

Just keep in mind that some cheaper digital watches might not have perpetual calendars built inside it. One way to spot this is if the watch does not have the ability to store or show month & year information. These infos are crucial for it to follow perpetual calendar and if you can’t find it, most often than not your digital watch does not have this built in it.

How To Set A Perpetual Calendar Watch?

Setting a perpetual calendar watch differs depending on the movement and how the watchmaker designed it. The simplest one is of course the digital watch type whereas inputting the correct day, date, month and year is all you need to do and the watch will take care of itself. In addition, such digital display is intuitive for us as most appliances nowadays have digital display.

But for an automatic/mechanical watch or for quartz watch with analog display, setting a perpetual calendar varies widely from model to model due to the basic difference in how the movement was designed. For example, the IWC Portugieser Perpetual Calendar (a great automatic watch with 7 days power reserve) is one of the easier watch to set up as you only have to set the date, month and year correctly.

However, it also has a flaw in which you can’t reverse the date if you’ve accidentally set it up few days ahead of the current date – the only way to reverse it is by sending the watch to a watchmaker (an official IWC watchmaker would be most preferable in this case…). Check out how the watch can be set up in the video below:

Above: a video about the beautiful (and USD 40k expensive!) IWC Portugieser Perpetual Calendar

Other perpetual calendar watches can be quite hard set up. If the watch is not intuitively designed (the IWC Portugieser above is a good one at that with day, date, month and year easily seen and understood), you’ll either have to figure it out by yourselves or better yet, refer to the user manual accompanied by it.

For instance, the Seiko Chronograph Perpetual calendar watch (a quartz) dial is quite complicated as the calendar display has to share the real estate with the chronograph displays. Hence, Seiko included a button function that can be used to display the date, month and leap year by the seconds hand needle. The way to set it is by setting the dates into one of the 14-variations that a perpetual calendar has.

Obviously, this is not as easy as the IWC but I’d say this set up is great for those that want a chronograph watch with a perpetual calendar as secondary function. Have a look at the Seiko watch in this informative below:

Above: Mark from Longislandwatch shows how the quartz Seiko Chronograph Perpetual watch works and how to set it (Note: even if you don’t buy from his website, he does have a great youtube channel with lots of info. check it out!)

History Of The Perpetual Calendar Watch

Perpetual calendar watches have been around since the 1700s, although it was mainly in the form of big and pocket watches mainly used for astronomical purposes. English watchmaker Thomas Mudge, was credited with inventing the first perpetual calendar watch way back in the 1762 in the form of a pocket watch.

Over the years, perpetual calendar watch remained in pocket watch form due to its bulky movement making it hard to fit a typical wristwatch. It was not until 1925 when Patek Philippe created the first perpetual calendar wristwatch for Thomas Emery, an American connoisseur of their watches.

Since then, numerous watchmakers such as Breguet, Jaeger-LeCoultre and IWC, just to name a few, jumped into the bandwagon and created their own perpetual calendar movement. It was and still is considered one of the noblest complications in automatic/mechanical watches due to its complexity and craftsmanship involves in making one.

With the advent of quartz and digital watches, perpetual calendar has become much cheaper due to the reduction in its manufacturing costs and has made it possible for normal people to buy and own a perpetual calendar =)

(If you want to know more about the history of these great watch brands, head over to my previous post about watch brands here)

The Three Most Important Things To Know About Perpetual Calendar Watch (Before You Buy One)

1) Perpetual calendar watch is more expensive than ordinary watch, and this difference can be thousands of dollars in the case of mechanical movement versions

With more features, the price of a watch will increase and this is certainly the case with perpetual calendar watches. Analog watches with perpetual calendar (either mechanical or quartz movements) will command a higher price than their ordinary counterparts due to the increase in numbers of parts and craftsmanship.

And if the perpetual calendar watch that you fancy has a mechanical/automatic movement, then be ready to spend thousands of dollars as it’s one of the hardest thing to do in mechanical watchmaking. One the plus side though, you’ll own one of the coolest watch around =)

2) Perpetual calendar watch needs to be always running for it to work

The second thing to understand is perpetual calendar watch is only perpetual if the watch is still running. This is logical because if the watch stops, the internal movement will stop counting the days and it won’t be perpetual anymore and you have to reset it again (which is quite cumbersome to do).

Mechanical/automatic watches require more attention as it has short power reserves, typically 40 to 50 hours. You’ll then need to ensure you’re always wearing them or putting it on a watch winder for it to always run.

Another thing that you can do is to get an automatic movement with higher power reserves up to few days or even a week thereby reducing the possibility of the watch stopped.

For quartz watches, this issue is not very big as the battery inside it can last at least a year or so, thus you’re looking at the possibility of resetting the date annually at least when you’re changing the battery.

But if you truly want a fuss free perpetual calendar watch, then you can get a solar powered one. Solar watch is a quartz watch but has photovoltaic cells on it to convert light into electricity, thus charging the watch effortlessly. What this means is that this watch will not require any battery change for a long time. Due to this huge advantage, solar watch is about my favorite type of watch movement. You should consider getting one especially if you want watch with battery draining complications such as chronograph as battery depletion will be the last thing to worry about with solar watches =)

3) It’s more complicated to set

As I’ve elaborated above, setting a perpetual calendar watch is not as easy as we think it is. If you have trouble trying to set a normal day & date watch, then a perpetual calendar watch will be a nightmare for you. While it will not be a walk in the park, setting it is still very much possible if you follow the correct instruction. My advice is to not lose the watch’s instruction manual or you’ll be in for some trouble down the road lol!

With Perpetual Calendar Watch, The Longer The Power Reserve, The Better

For a mechanical watch, longer power reserve is definitely better. Usually, those owning a mechanical watch will like watches, so much so they will own few watches (I know because I’m one of these guys lol!). Thus, having longer power reserve is a great way to ensure that you can rotate between your watches without the need of having to set the time all too often.

And because of the difficulty in setting the perpetual calendar, having longer power reserve in a perpetual calendar watch is almost a must. The typical 40-50 hours of power reserve is too small as you’ll undoubtedly will have to set the calendar once or twice in any given month, which is just too much to do (unless you really like to do the date setting as a hobby…).

Fortunately, advancement in watchmaking technology, materials and movement design have made longer power reserves not a rarity anymore. We can now get longer power reserves in a mechanical watch, with some up to 65 days for a perpetual calendar watch (by Vacheron Constantin in its Traditionnelle Twin Beat Perpetual Calendar). Check out some of them in this great article here.

In addition, a power reserve indicator is a good accompanying complication that will make your life much easier. With it, you will be able to know when the power reserve will run out instead of just guessing so that you can take it out for a walk, do some manual hand winding or put it on a watch winder.

Is Perpetual Calendar Watch For You?

Should you get a perpetual calendar watch? Is it for you? Well, to be honest, this question can only be answered by yourself as you are the only one who knows whether you need it or not, and after going through its characteristics.

Without a doubt, perpetual calendars are very useful and will ensure you’re always aware of the actual dates at all time. But then again, automatic/mechanical movement version of the perpetual calendar watch is much more expensive and it might be difficult to justify such purchase, especially when the much superior and cheaper quartz/digital watches (which almost always have perpetual calendar programmed in it) are available at large.

Taking this into account, I just cannot recommend anyone, especially those with average income levels, to buy an automatic/mechanical perpetual calendar watch. True, it’s movement is very intricate and beautiful but in terms of practicality, it will definitely lose out to its better digital watch siblings.

Even then, there is nothing wrong if you want to buy it if you have the money. You can also get a used one at a heavily discounted price too. It is, in my personal opinion, a more aesthetically pleasing watch rather than the ubiquitous digital displays around us. If you got the money and would like to add a perpetual calendar watch into your collection, then go for it. Just be prepared to pay extra money and do the extra works involved with the watch =)

I hope this article will answer all your questions about perpetual calendar watches. Do let me know if you need further info about it by commenting below. Till next time.

Cheers!

10-Steps Guide On How To Choose The Correct Watch For You

how to choose the correct watch

Choosing a wrist watch can be one of the hardest things to do. Unlike clothing, a watch will be used daily and you need to pick the correct watch or you might end up with a watch that you don’t like. Using my personal experience of buying watches for my collection, I’ve written this article to give the proper steps and guideline on how to choose the correct watch for you.

So how to choose a watch that suits you? Choosing the correct watch is not hard if you follow these 10 easy steps below:

  1. Know the purpose/use of the watch
  2. Choose the appropriate watch type
  3. Find out any required functions and features (or complications)
  4. Choose the watch movement
  5. Select the design and color
  6. Figure out the intended quality of the watch
  7. Set your budget
  8. Survey!
  9. Purchase the watch
  10. Compile and save documentations properly

A 10 steps guide on how to purchase something might seems intimidating and unnecessary but you have to remember that a watch purchase can be an expensive and costly purchase and I really believe that we have to get it right. Well, let’s get on to it! Read below explanations to know how best you can use these steps to pick the right watch for you.

1. Know The Purpose or Intended Use Of The Watch

I can’t stress how important this first step is. Figuring out why you would want to buy a watch is very important. Choosing the correct watch ultimately boils down to knowing what exactly will you use the watch for (unless you like to throw in money only to figure out that you don’t want or need that watch..).

Even for those having a good volume of watch collection, finding out the purpose of your next watch is vital so that this latest watch will be able to complement your existing collection.

The way to do this is to think hard about what is the usage of this new watch that you want to buy. To me, this can be better explored through the use of questions. For example, someone that wants to buy a watch (either first watch or second/third watch) might ask these questions:

  • I’m in need of a watch that looks classy and beautiful for formal functions (yep, this happened to me and I bought my beautiful Tissot Visodate as the result)
  • I’m going to the beach and needs an affordable but dependable watch that I can wear around (such as something like the robust Seiko SKX013 that’s also very light on wrist)
  • Going to watch a race next week and need a watch with chronograph to time the laps
  • My son is preparing for a full marathon in next few months and he needs a watch to keep track of his training and vital stats
  • Going for a business trip to another continent for a few days and want to keep track of my hometown’s timezone effortlessly using a watch
  • I already have a few dive watches. Maybe it’s time to get a dress watch to expand my watch collection?
  • Having few quartz watches is good but I really want to try my hands on an automatic watch to complement my watch collection.

When you already have these questions in mind, finding the watch that you really need becomes much easier. Think about it, previously you only know that you need a watch but don’t really know what kind of watch you should get. Now, you have a better understanding about what you need and can then focus on finding the best suited watch for your unique needs. The next steps will guide you on how to focus on the exact type of watch that you need.

2. Choose The Appropriate Watch Type

The second step is to choose the appropriate watch type. As I’ve written before, there are about 20 types of watches currently. Due to this, choosing a watch is becoming harder – things are much easier back in the 1800s when only pocket watches are available. But as we’re spoil for choice, picking a watch becomes more difficult. But fortunately you’ve already figured out why you need a wristwatch. From this, choosing a watch type is becoming easier.

For example, suppose you need a watch to go with your formal attire, then it becomes obvious that you will need a dress watch which is a watch that looks sleek and classy. This means that no matter how cool a dive watch is, you cannot pick them because it will deviate from the purpose of buying your watch – that is to wear a classy watch for formal events.

Now suppose you want a watch that you can use for outdoor activities, and perhaps some swimming in the pool. From this, you can rule out the beautiful dress watch as it will be out of place at outdoor. A sports/dive oriented watch is needed then for this case. You can also pick a casual type of watch but you need to put the requirement of a good water resistance (I’d suggest more than 100 m water resistance) for the time when you want to take the dip in the pool.

Things are a bit tricky when your purpose of getting the watch is not very clear like above examples. For example, suppose a father wants to gift a watch to his graduating son. Now in this instance, any type of watch would be a good choice. But personally, I always feel that sports oriented watches have an edge in this kind of scenario as they are more flexible to be used in any situation.

For instance, a beautiful sports/dive watch (that is more towards classy than being very edgy) can be worn for casual wear, going to class, offices and perhaps formal functions (again, this depends on how sleek the sports watch is). This is another reason why these kinds of watches are very popular. Thus, if you’re unsure about what kind of watch should you get, choosing a sporty watch can do the trick.

3. Find Out Any Required Functions And Features (or Complications)

Now, from the first 2 steps, you will be able to know if your watch need to have any other functions (or complications) in addition to just simply telling time.

But what kind of extra functionalities are there in a watch?

There are a lot of functions available in a watch currently. In addition to just telling time, a watch can also have:

  1. chronograph or stopwatch to track time
  2. dual time zone
  3. alarm
  4. a diving watch with water resistance
  5. being anti-magnetic so that it won’t go haywire near strong magnets
  6. being very accurate (only applicable to automatic/mechanical watches as quartz are much more accurate)
  7. have long power reserve
  8. can be recharged using solar energy or other types of energy e.g kinetic
  9. being a fitness tracker to track steps
  10. can take phone/app notifications
  11. call using your watch
  12. and so on

As you can see, the sky is the limit with watches nowadays thanks to the advent of smartwatch technology. A small timepiece that we strap on our wrists have the ability to do numerous things that we never dream of before. But still, not everyone requires these extra functions and while it seems tempting to get a watch with these, you do have to go back to your purpose of getting the watch.

Do you really need a watch that has an functionality? Have you ever need to use it in your life before? If your answer is no, then chances are you don’t need that function in your next watch. Try to focus on the watch functions that you really need and you know will make your life better, as what you’ve set upon in the previous steps above. That way, you’ll be able to focus on choosing the best watch for you.

4. Choose The Watch Movement

What is watch movement? Watch movement is the engine inside the watch that is responsible for keeping it running. Now, most people will only recognize “quartz watch movement” which is battery operated and is basically in most watches on earth. However, there are other types of watch movements (about 8 types actually. Read my previous article here to know all about them) currently present that you can also consider.

For most people, I’d say that quartz movement is good enough. It’s accurate, can be equipped with lots of functions and comes at the most affordable cost. Perhaps the only flaw of quartz movement is it’s battery need to be changed every few years and it’s very common (so you won’t have that feeling of wearing a special watch lol!)

Automatic/mechanical movement is another type that have becoming more popular nowadays due to its novelty and characteristics of being truly mechanical driven without using any electricity. Besides, if you want to get a taste of the best of watchmaking from the Swiss luxurious brands, then most often than not such watches will be equipped with automatic movement by default. I personally love automatic watches because of its unique character.

However, do note that automatic watch is more expensive than quartz. In addition, it’s functions is limited to only chronographs, diving watches, and day/date display. If you require any other functions (e.g alarm, etc), then a quartz watch is a better choice.

You should also consider solar watches as it has all the benefits of quartz watch in addition to being constantly recharged by light. This will take care of the need to change the battery every few years, making your watch truly effortless to maintain.

And yes, how can I not mention about the smartwatch. Smartwatch is basically a quartz watch with technologies dumped into it, so much so it can function as a mini smartphone – all on your wrist. From Apple to Samsung to numerous Chinese firms, smartwatch has become more and more feature packed, all the while having its prices reduced over the years. With all the advancements and cost reduction with smartwatches, it’s what you should get if you want a full-packed features on your watch.

5. Select The Design And Color

The next step is selecting the design and color. To me, this is very subjective as everyone has his/her own taste. Sometimes, a popular watch might not be something that you would like. For example, the Seiko SKX007 is a very popular watch from Seiko. But then, it does have a somewhat old fashion dial design that some people don’t like. This is the same with all the other popular watches out there.

What I can recommend is for you to browse through few watches and see the one that you like. As that would be quite confusing for first-timers, below is my general guidelines on what you should pay attention to with the design/style of the watch that you want to buy:

  • Case size: How big is the size of the watch case? This is usually measured in diameter of the watch in mm. Currently, a 44 mm size is the most popular with men’s watches as it looks tough and manly, though if you have a slim wrist, you should try it out to see if it’s not too big on you. Lesser than 40 mm (37-38mm) is considered classic size and would look really good for a dress watch, with women sizes even going smaller than that. Another advantage of smaller watch? It will weight less hence would be more comfortable.
  • Dial color: The color of the dial/watch face is another important aspect that you need to choose carefully as it’s an integral part of the watch. There are lots of colors nowadays to be chosen from depending on your taste. But if you’re buying the watch for formal events, I’d suggest to stick to basic colors such as black or white/silver as it will make your watch more presentable. Reserve striking colors (such as orange, red, etc.) for your sporty or casual watches.
  • Strap selection: Generally, there are 2 main types of straps for a watch: metal bracelet or a normal strap. The normal strap can then be divided into many segments such as leather, PVC, rubber, or cloth based straps. Naturally, the selection of the strap will depends on what you want your watch for. For example, a dive/sporty watch could do well with a rubber strap or metal bracelet as both can be drenched in water without any issue. A formal dress watch would look stunning with a leather strap.
  • Watch material: This one will relate with the budget of the watch which we will come to next. If you think plastic is the only material to make a watch, then you’re wrong. There are many other materials to make a watch besides plastic such as stainless steel, titanium, gold, and even carbon fiber. Without a doubt, a higher quality material will cause the watch to command a higher price. For most people, stainless steel would serve us well though you can also get a PVC/rubber case in sports watches such as G-Shock.
  • Gemstone: Now, not many are able to afford to buy a watch with gemstones but for those who can, the watch will be a spectacle and a sign of the ultimate luxurious possession.

6. Figure Out The Intended Quality Of The Watch

There are various levels of quality for watches. The best analogy would be with cars: luxurious models such as Rolls Royce will be much better built than good cars such as Mercedes or BMW and will be much better than the typical Ford/Toyota. The same concept is true with watches. Basically, the more expensive the watch, the higher it’s quality going to be.

The best way to illustrate this is by comparing different models from the same brand which comes at different price point. Among the various watch brands out there, Seiko has the largest offering covering all range of spectrum from the cheapest quartz, to affordable automatics, to mid solar quartz watches, to mid/high end automatics, all the way up to the most luxurious haute horlogerie timepieces.

Along the way, you’ll notice that although the prices increase, the Seiko watch’s built quality, material and finishing also increase. In the world of watches, price will usually indicate quality hence you will need to know what kind of quality you want from your watch and then put a rough estimate of how much you will want pay for your watch. Which leads us to…

7. Set Your Budget

Setting the budget is a very important step in the process of buying a new watch. Not many people are fortunate to be able to buy a watch on the fly thus a proper planning and budgeting is important. After all, a watch is not as important as your and your family’s livelihood. Keep that in mind and you’ll surely be able to figure out a good budget that won’t overstretch your financial capability.

So what’s a good budget for your watch? Your watch price will depend on what criteria you’ve selected in the steps above. For example:

  • Movement type: While a quartz watch is the cheapest around, an automatic watch will always cost more than $100 (for an acceptable quality watch from Japanese or Chinese brands). If you want a Swiss automatic, then do expect it to cost more than $500.
  • Features: Additional features such as chronograph or dive capability will command a higher price. The same goes for other complications such as moon phase, perpetual calendar etc.
  • Watch material: Stainless steel is cheap and can be expected for most watch nowadays. But of course, a plastic based watch will cost lower. Other materials such as titanium, gold or platinum will cost more.
  • Brand: There are huge amounts of watch brands currently. Even for automatic watch, which is about the smallest segment in the watch market, there are about 50 brands vying for your attention (read my post about these watch brands). While many are affordable, there are also more luxurious brands that will cost more. If you already set your sight on a particular brand or watch model, you can easily know what kind of budget you need based on simple internet search for that watch’s price.
  • New or used?: A new watch will almost always have a higher price than used watch.

For first time watch buyer, I’d suggest keeping your budget low and go for the cheaper watch/brands especially if you’re young and just starting out working after college. I understand how tempting it is to go for that popular high end watch but those watches will cost more than what you can afford right now. Sure, you can get a used one but do remember the cost of maintenance for a high end watch will be quite high.

Getting a cheaper watch when you’re just starting out is logical as you can test the waters on what kind of watch that you really need and like. Relax, once you already climbed the corporate ladder, there’s plenty of time (and money!) to comfortably buy that grail watch you’ve been eyeing before =)

8. Survey!

Now for the hard part: surveying for a watch to buy. This is the most time-consuming part and one that you should do it right so that you can buy the correct watch based on the criteria that you’ve laid in the above steps AND within the budget that you’ve set.

In my opinion, there are 2 ways that you can approach surveying for a watch depending on your needs:

a) For those in a hurry to buy a watch:

Suppose you have a formal business event tomorrow and you need a great looking dress watch in short notice. So what is the best way to survey for a watch?

Without a doubt, surveying watch in stores is the best way. Normally, online retailers will have a cheaper price but when you need your watch very soon, you don’t have time to wait for it being shipped. Not to mention buying online also comes with the risk of the watch damaged when you received it or worse, straight up fraud. Hence, if you’re in a hurry, buying from a store is the best way to get your watch fast and safe.

You will want to have a look at the watches on display and then try out the ones that tick almost all the boxes in your selection criteria above. Hold the watch and fave a feel of it on your hand. Try wearing it and see if you like the way it’s worn on your wrist. Often times, a watch that looks great on picture might not look that stunning in real life – and vice versa.

In addition, you will be able to feel anything wrong while wearing the watch – is it too big, too heavy, too flashy? My guideline is simple – if the watch does not feel perfect on your wrist i.e you feel it has major flaw/s, then it’s best to just move on with the next watch. A watch is an expensive purchase so it’s best if you buy the one that you feel is the best (within the constraints that we’ve discussed above, of course).

The downside with only surveying stores is you’re limited to the number of stores that you can walk into. Things are great if you live in the middle of the city whereby you have access to lots of watch boutiques so you have many watches that you can survey. But if you’re living in a small city/town, then your options will be fairly limited. Plus, stores usually only stock up limited amounts of watches so you might not find the ones that you really want.

b) For those NOT in a hurry to buy a watch (aka you’re patient enough to wait to get the best watch deals):

If you’re not in a hurry, then the advantage of online survey is with you. There are many online stores selling watches (such as Amazon, Ebay, Jomashop, Longislandwatches, Seiyajapan, Hodinkeeshop, etc.) that have huge amounts of watches on their platform. There are almost all variations of watches online with various colors and models from almost all watch brands in the world. Seriously, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to online shopping.

But the downside is you cannot try it out on your hand which means the watch can be a hit or miss. In addition, you need to be very careful when ordering online to avoid the risk of being fraud. In addition, buying from online stores will mean you’re getting the watch from gray market, hence you won’t have the official warranty from the brand itself as it’s not bought from their authorized seller. Which is why a common guideline with buying watches online is to only buy a watch costing less than $1,000. If you want to buy a more expensive watch, it’s best to get it from an authorized seller.

With that being said, online stores gives huge advantage in purchasing a watch as you’ll usually can get a 20%-30% discount off the MSRP – which is a lot of money! Since they don’t have to rent a store space and not having to register with the brands, online stores are able to cut their costs which translate into savings for you and me =)

True enough, you won’t get the official warranty but some online stores do offer their own money back guarantee plan which can provide some peace of mind when you first get the watch. With the kind of savings that online stores give, it’s definitely something that you should look into especially if your target watch is below $1,000.

The way I usually do my survey is by combining online and offline survey. It roughly goes like this:

  1. I think of what kind of watch that I need and what’s the budget will be (all the above steps). The purpose of the steps above is to zero in on what watches you should look into, thereby making this survey process much simpler and focused.
  2. Going to the brick and mortar store and do some window shopping. I’ll be keeping mental notes of the watches that I like and its prices. I’ll also have the opportunity to touch it and try wearing it.
  3. I’ll check FB groups and forums related to watches (I’m always on them lol!) and take note of the popular watches. These are great sources to find some great watches outside of the ones that I already know. Plus, the contributors usually post real life photos so you’ll be able to judge it better. In addition, you can also read some reviews about the watches from users.
  4. I’ll then look into online stores and find the watches that I fancy from above steps 2 & 3 and compare prices. Don’t forget to check out the “related items section” as usually I’ll found more gorgeous watches often times related to the models that I like. Take note about condition of the watch (new/used), any warranty and feedback/review from past buyers.
  5. I’ll usually use the information from FB groups/forums / online stores and then go back and check the brick and mortar stores and try out the ones that I’ve just found out. It’s basically a loop from here on until I’ve settled with a watch that I truly like and fulfill all my expectations.

After going through many watches, you’re bound to want to change some of the criteria that you’ve set earlier. While this is fine (it’s your money after all), do remember that frequent & major changes to the criteria is not a good thing as then your survey process will just drag on and on. I’d suggest to only do small change in the criteria (e.g increasing budget by 10-20%, add features) instead of huge changes.

9. Purchase The Watch

The most nerve-wrecking step, purchasing the watch. There’s so much emotional things going on here: will this watch be the correct watch for me, am I paying the fair price for it, will it break, etc. etc. My only advice is to relax. If you’ve done the steps above and survey it correctly, then you’re on the right track.

You will know what watch you need, you will know the exact detail, specification, movement, features, even color & style of the watch that you want. Then you’ve set the budget and survey various places (online & offline) for the watch. Most importantly, you’ve tested it out on your wrist and read reviews about it in the internet. Now, you’re almost certain that the watch you’ve selected is the best one for you.

But before you purchase the watch, do compare prices between vendors (brick and mortar stores vs Amazon/Ebay vs specialized online watch stores) While it’s true that online stores usually have cheaper prices, normal stores aren’t that shabby either. Some will have discounts and when you compare the discounted price with online store’s prices (do add postage and tax charges if you’re buying from overseas), the savings from online stores might not be that much.

In this situation, I normally would just buy the watch from the local store as: a) I can get the watch faster and wear it even the same day lol!, b) the warranty is good and if anything happen, I can take the watch to the store easily, and c) I can contribute my money to the local economy instead of sending it to a vendor thousands of miles away. But of course, if the online price is significantly cheaper, then I’ll buy it from there and wait out for couple of days =)

10. Compile And Save Documentations Properly

Last but not least, compile and save documentations properly. This is an important step because if you need to do any warranty claim, those documents will come in handy. Chronometers will come with their certificates and this is very important to be stored properly. After all, you’ve paid premium prices for it!

In addition, the original box need to be stored properly because if you want to sell the watch later, the box can be reused to store and post or handover the watch to the buyer. Besides, it will make your watch look more authentic and you might be able to command higher price.

The easiest way to do this is to scan or take picture of any receipts and store it in your computer or cloud storage. The physical document can then be stored inside the watch box. Then, store the watch box in a dry area free from any moisture. Then, get ready to rock your new watch!

Which Watch Brand Is The Best?

There is no such thing as the best brand watch. One might argue the holy trinity of horology: Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin and Audemars Piguet are the best brands. But you know what, those three don’t matter much to us normal people. If I’m a multi-millionaire/billionaire, then yes I’d have to rack my brain in thinking of which one should I get. But for us normal people with normal income levels, it’s unlikely that we will ever consider buying their very expensive watches as they are just too out of reach!

There are many watch brands in the world (check out my list of the 50 automatic watch brands if you’re interested) and all of them can be the best for you. Everyone has their own taste and style preference which means these brands can be the best for you. Now, I’m not saying that brands are not important. It is an important thing to consider especially when it comes to build quality and longevity of the watches – some brands do produce cheap watches that can break easily and these are the brands that you want to avoid.

But with that being said, it’s more important to know what kind of watch that you need or want. For this, you can refer back to the steps outlined above and then focus in on what brands have that kind of particular watch. This way, you’re widening your survey range to many brands instead of just a single brand.

Are Expensive Watches Worth It?

Let’s be real here. This really depends on your financial situation.

Is an expensive watch worth it? Expensive watch might be worth it if it’s for a special purpose or to commemorate a special event in your life. Reaching 40 years old? Then that new shiny Rolex Submariner that you’ve been drooling at for the last couple of years might be the perfect gift for your. Or perhaps you’ve just been promoted to a high corporate position in your company.

The question is how expensive is expensive? $1,000? $10,000? $100,000? It’s truly subjective and depends on your financial capability. A $1,000 watch might be expensive for a normal wage earner but a small change for a millionaire.

But regardless of that, you will need to see if your wallet can take the hit. There is no point in spending thousands of dollars on your expensive watch only to find out your livelihood will take a massive hit. In addition, taking on a loan to buy a watch is also not a good idea as it means that you’re not yet ready to purchase the watch.

In my opinion, the best way to finance your expensive watch is to slowly save some money every month until you can afford it. This will ensure the money used to purchase the watch is not affecting your livelihood and you’re not depending on credit to buy the watch (hint: what happens if you somehow got sick and lose your job?). Just be warned that an expensive watch will also require an expensive maintenance cost!

Related Questions

Should I wear a watch? You definitely should! Wearing a wristwatch is the best way to track and tell time easily, even though you must already have a smartphone. It’s much more convenient to tell time with a wristwatch rather than having to fumble around with your phone (further read: 13 top reasons why you should wear a wristwatch).

What wrist do you wear a watch on? In general, it’s best to wear your watch on your left or non-dominant hand. This will ensure that your watch won’t get in the way of whatever you’re doing with your dominant hand.

Are watches out of style? Watches are not out of style but in fact, it’s coming back stronger. Recent years have shown that interest for automatic/mechanical watches have increased in addition with the smartwatch & wearable boom – all proofs that watches are still in demand. The reason is simple: watches are very convenient and people know that and will keep on wearing them.

How do I know if my watch is too big? If your watch overhangs from the edges of your wrist, then your watch is too big for you. The ideal case is the watch sits firmly on your wrist without its case covering the whole width of your wrist.

I hope this article will help you to choose the perfect watch for you. Just follow the 10-steps guide and I’m sure you will be fine. If there’s anything you want to ask, feel free to drop a comment below and I’ll get back to you soon.

Till next time,

Cheers!

50 Automatic Watch Brands That All Watch Fans Should Know

Patek Philippe

Automatic watch has been around for centuries, and there is no indication it will go away even with the advent of smartwatches. It’s a truly unique piece of device devoid from any electric/electronic elements. If you want to own one of these, then brands are very important. The question then is what automatic watch brands are around?

So what are some good automatic watch brands? Below is the list of the 50 top automatic watch brands currently:

  1. Seiko
  2. Orient
  3. Fossil
  4. Citizen
  5. Stuhrling
  6. Seagull
  7. Invicta
  8. Tissot
  9. Victorinox
  10. Hamilton
  11. Alpina
  12. Junghans
  13. Oris
  14. Raymond Weil
  15. Sinn
  16. Rado
  17. Zodiac
  18. Nomos Glashütte
  19. Frédérique Constant
  20. Longines
  21. Breitling
  22. Montblanc
  23. Zenith
  24. Blancpain
  25. Tudor
  26. TAG Heuer
  27. Bell & Ross
  28. Omega
  29. Arnold & Son
  30. Bvlgari
  31. Girard-Perregaux
  32. Graham
  33. Jaquet Droz
  34. International Watch Company (IWC)
  35. Ulysse Nardin
  36. Grand Seiko
  37. Rolex
  38. Chopard
  39. Panerai
  40. Credor
  41. Baume & Mercier
  42. Jaeger-LeCoultre
  43. Cartier
  44. Breguet
  45. Hublot
  46. Piaget
  47. A. Lange & Söhne
  48. Audemars Piguet
  49. Vacheron Constantin
  50. Patek Philippe

Let’s have a look at each of them and see what have made them who they are today. I will also try to list down some popular models of the brands for your information. Do bear in mind that the price range listed is an indicative and can vary from what’s stated here, depending on where and what model you’re buying.

1) Seiko

Link to website: www.seikowatches.com

Origin: Tokyo, Japan

Price range: $80 to $3,000

The Seiko brand is a watch brand that I don’t think I need to introduce further. For those new to watches, you might think that Seiko is only producing normal quartz watches and wall clocks – and this is where you’re wrong. Seiko is one of the most versatile watch company in the world with products ranging from the cheapest quartz watch to luxurious watches (Grand Seiko and Credor brands. I’ll touch on these separately).

The company started way back in 1881 in Tokyo, selling watches and jewelry. It was one of the earliest and still surviving watch companies in Japan. What’s interesting is that Seiko is not just focusing on watches like what we thought all this while. Under its Seiko Group, it has numerous companies under it manufacturing various consumer products, electronics, jewelry and even printers (the Epson company is apparently under Seiko as well).

For automatic watch, they have lots of models starting from the most affordable (such as the less than $100 Seiko 5s), more refined Presage and Premier line ups and its sports models under its popular Prospex line.

Another kicker is they also produced almost all of their parts in-house including the movements – this is something that put it in a special position amongst watch brands as most brands will outsource the movement as it’s quite hard and not economical to design and manufacture it in-house.

Early fans will recognize Seiko’s models of the SKX007, SKX013, Monster, Samurai, Sumo, etc. as some of the most value for money automatic watches. These are highly popular automatic watches with ISO 6425 dive watch compliant that is not just affordable, but also looks cool with robust movement.

If you’re just getting started with automatic watches, you just can’t go wrong with a Seiko. In-house movement & parts, reputable brand name, long rich history – all in an affordable price point.

2) Orient

Link to website: www.orient-watch.com

Origin: Tokyo, Japan

Price range: $80 to $700

Another Japanese watchmaker on this list is Orient. Just like Seiko, if you think they only produce wall clocks then you’re wrong. Orient is also another full fledged watchmaker making their own movements and parts in-house. Unlike Seiko, they came a bit late to the game in 1950, being founded in Tokyo. One interesting thing about Orient is it’s actually a subsidiary of Seiko.

Many watch fans love how Orient bring to the industry an alternative to Seiko’s dive/sports watches with their Mako/Ray designs. Although being the same company, Orient managed to bring forward their own distinct design language, much to the liking of watch fans. They also have another sub-brand called Orient Star that uses better quality material and movement.

I personally love how Orient like to implement complications such as power reserve indicator and AM/PM indicator on their watches – all for just less than $500! If you search around, you’ll see that no other watch brands do this as usually for less than $500, you’ll just be getting a vanilla 3-hands analog automatic watch.

3) Fossil

Link to website: www.fossil.com

Origin: Texas, US

Price range: $100 to $300

The next affordable automatic watch brand is Fossil. Unlike the 2 brands above, Fossil is relatively new in horology having been founded in 1984 in Texas, US. Even though it’s widely known as fashion watches (quartz-based) and leather items brand, Fossil also produced automatic watches, some of the cheapest in the market right now.

Their design theme is in the use of open dial whereby you can actually see the inner workings of the movement from a cut on its watch face, with various combinations of subdials for date, day, seconds resulting in many cool watch designs. In addition, as it’s a leather accessories brand, you’re guaranteed to have various handsome leather watch bands for picking.

4) Citizen

Link to website: www.citizenwatch.com

Origin: Tokyo, Japan.

Price range: $100 to $1,000

The next Japanese watch brand in this list is Citizen. Like other Japanese brands, most people only know it by being a wall clock maker. But that is not the case as Citizen is a watchmaker with a rich history. Founded in 1918 in Tokyo, it has over 100 years of experience in watchmaking, encompassing mechanical, automatic, quartz and solar watches – its most popular product right now.

In terms of automatic watches, Citizen seems to be taking a step back, presumably due to stiff competition from its competitors (both local Japan – Seiko & Orient – and overseas). Instead, they have been making great progress in terms of their solar watches with the very popular Eco-Drive line up. They are one of the market leaders in solar watches with some of the most cool looking and affordable models out there.

5) Stuhrling

Link to website: www.stuhrling.com

Origin: New York, US.

Price range: $100 to $1,500

As relatively new watch brand, Stuhrling is quite popular as a cheap and affordable automatic watchmaker. Established in 1999 in New York, the American brand was actually based on the name of a Swiss watchmaker, Max Stührling. Their watches are adventurous, with open/skeleton dials showing its internal movements. Without a doubt, their affordable automatic watches are quite enticing, with most going below $400.

What’s interesting with Stuhrling is they also have tourbillon collection, even though they are a small brand. For those that don’t know, tourbillon is a complication devised to negate the effects of gravity to increase accuracy. The balance wheel and escapement assembly are placed in a cage that will continuously rotate and averages out the positional errors (watch this video to see how it works).

Say what you might want about this Chinese-based tourbillon movement, but such effort is highly commendable. At around $1,500, their tourbillon is one of the cheapest that anyone can get (though you might want to look out for their used toubillons which can be had for way less than that price…).

6) Seagull

Link to website: www.seagullwatchcompany.com

Origin: Tianjin, China

Price range: $100 to $1,500

It’s no secret that there is a Chinese manufacturer for almost everything on earth, and automatic watch industry is not an exception. For watch fans, you’ll surely be aware of the Chinese company called Seagull that manufacturers affordable automatic watches for the masses.

But one thing that impressed me is the history of this company. If you think that the brand is a new brand, then you’re wrong as the company Tianjin Seagull Watch Group Co. Ltd. (yes that’s its full company) was founded way back in 1955 on the order of the People’s Republic of China to have a Chinese watchmaking company in their country. In its 74 years of existence, Seagull have grown to be the biggest manufacturer of mechanical movements in the world, supplying to various brands.

Like Stuhrling, Seagull also sells automatic watches in quite a large price range – from the cheapest $100 watch up to $1,500 automatic watch with tourbillon. But unlike Stuhrling, Seagull actually manufactures their movements which is definitely something that we should give credit to.

In terms of design aesthetic, I personally think it’s a hit or miss. While many of their watches are good looking, some of them can be quite off-putting to say the least. In addition, the brand is also infamous for using other popular watches as inspiration. Some people love this as they can purchase a homage with a good movement at cheaper price but some (especially those that own the original watches) abhors this practice.

7) Invicta

Link to website: www.invictawatch.com

Origin: La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland

Price range: $80 to $400

If you’re a Rolex Submariner fan, then you should be aware of a brand called Invicta which produced a very similar watch to the Submariner. Indeed, their diver watches such as the 8926 model looks just like the famous Rolex watch, but with slight change on the dial and of course, huge changes in overall material, quality and internal movement).

Love it or hate it, there’s no mistake that their Rolex homage watches had propelled them to more exposure among watch fans. What I like is that Invicta does not just sit on their laurels but instead try to come up with their own designs, which is definitely a good thing for the industry.

But perhaps, the most shocking is about the company’s history. Initially, I thought it to be a company recently established judging from their use of popular watch designs. But I was mistaken as the company was actually founded in 1837 in Switzerland! Bet you also don’t know about this lol!

8) Tissot

Link to website: www.tissotwatches.com

Origin: Le Locle, Switzerland

Price range: $400 to $2,500

Tissot is a brand that I’d say as among the most affordable “real” Swiss watch brands in the market right now. Starting at $400, you can get a good quality automatic watch with Swiss famed quality and craftsmanship from the brand (in fact, I’m owning and very pleased with their Visodate watch – read what I think about the watch here).

Founded in 1853 in Le Locle Switzerland, the brand is definitely rich in history and is one of the few Swiss watchmakers that had successfully endured the Quartz crisis in 1970s. The brand is currently nestled inside the Swatch Group right now – where all brands have their own place and target demographic- and for Tissot, it’s the middle range price of watches.

But what’s special about the brand is it’s wide array of products, numbering over hundreds of current models. Of course, there’s the mechanical and automatic watches that were its origin and they are very proud of that. In addition to that, there’s also sports-centric watches using quartz movement. And to top it off, they also have a touch-based watch with their T-Touch collection. With such a wide range of watches, you’re sure to find something that you like with Tissot.

9) Victorinox

Link to website: www.swissarmy.com

Origin: Ibach, Switzerland

Price range: $500 to $2,000

Victorinox is more widely known as a Swiss knife manufacturer but do you know it also produces automatic watches? Founded in 1884 in Ibach, Switzerland, the company was initially focused on manufacturing utility knives for the use of the Swiss army. It was only in recent times that it ventured into other products such as cutlery, travel gear and even fragrances. I kinda like their travel gears as it was manufactured by the same guys that produced the famed army knives (see the marketing there?).

The brand ventured into timepieces around 30 years ago and have been going strong till now. Their watches uses ETA’s robust movement and looks primarily utilatarian to complement their brand image as a producer of the indestructible army knives. In other words, it looks cool as hell! But I feel that there’s a lack of dressy options in their inventory, as they only produced a small number of collections as compared to Tissot which is a dedicated watch brand. If you want something more obscure but still affordable with Swiss quality, Victorinox might be the one for you.

10) Hamilton

Link to website: www.hamiltonwatch.com

Origin: Lancaster, Pennsylvania, US.

Price range: $500 to $3,000

The next watch brand is a popular brand that was featured in my movies, the brand Hamilton. Just by looking at its name, we can infer that it’s an American brand, which is correct as it was founded in 1892 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, US. Unfortunately, the brand was sold off to the Swiss Swatch Group a few decades ago, thus ended the american ownership of one of its most illustrious watchmaker.

Putting that aside, Hamilton has grown into a global watch brand making beautiful watches for the mid-range of prices. And if you’re a fan of Hollywood movies, then you might have glimpsed over their watches in many a feature films. For example, their watches were used in the box office films Interstellar, The Martian and even Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

And for fans of the late King of Rock n’ Roll, surely you must remember the iconic V-shaped Ventura watch worn by Elvis (of which Hamilton had created a homage for that with modern movement). With such a rich history and culture, a Hamilton watch is definitely a good choice for watch & film fans.

11) Alpina

Link to website: alpinawatches.com

Origin: Switzerland

Price range: $700 to $4,000

Alpina is another watch brand with a rich history, having been established way back in 1883 in Switzerland. I like how their watches have their “Alpina” signature and logo at the center of its dial. Coupled with their distinct design which is kind of minimalist but practical with frequently over-sized numerals, their watches are definitely a good choice for those preferring more tool-like timepiece. There’s also more trendy designs but I don’t think I’ve seen a dressy Alpina.

One interesting bit about the brand is it not just designs and manufactures the watch case/dial, it also tinker with their movement, placing them on an exclusive group of watchmakers that produce an in-house movement for their watches. With this being said, some of their cheaper watches still use other famous movements such as Sellita SW200 or Valjoux 7750 chronograph. This effort in movement technology firmly places Alpina on a different level than the other watch brands.

12) Junghans

Link to website: www.junghans.de

Origin: Schramberg, Germany

Price range: $800 to $2,000

The first German watchmaker in this list is Junghans, famed for their simple and clean watches. Seriously, if you want to find an automatic watch with a sleek look, and built with such great craftsmanship, then Junghans should be one of the brands that you look for.

The brand was conceived by Erhard Junghans, a German watchmaker, in the year 1861. From then on, it grew to be one of the largest German firm in watchmaking. Itching for a clean minimalist watch? Then a Junghans watch would really fit the description. Some of their popular models are the Max Bill and Meister line ups.

13) Oris

Link to website: www.oris.ch

Origin: Hölstein, Switzerland

Price range: $700 to $7,000

Next we have Oris, which was founded in 1904 in Switzerland by a duo of watchmakers, Paul Cattin and Georges Christian. The brand was quite successful since its inception and was one of the largest watchmakers in the 1960s-1970s. But due to the quartz crisis, it hit rock bottom, so much so it had to resort to be part of the Allgemeine Schweizer Uhrenindustrie AG (ASUAG), the former name of the Swatch Group.

But being part of a group meant that they would have to cooperate and focus on areas that might not be suitable for them. Some say they were forced to produced low-mid range quartz movement, something that not really part of their DNA. Thus, in 1982, Oris, lead by the duo Dr Rolf Portmann and Ulrich W. Herzog became independent again through a management buyout.

Since then, the brand had been focusing solely on automatic/mechanical watches. While most of their lower priced watches use movements re-branded/upgraded from Sellita, their higher priced timepieces usually feature an in-house movement, such as the 10-days power reserve handwound Caliber 110. Some of the Oris models that I really love to own are the Aquis (dive watch), Big Crown (aviation) and the dressy Artelier models.

14) Raymond Weil

Link to website: www.raymond-weil.com

Origin: Geneva, Switzerland

Price range: $700 to $2,000

Being one of the more famous watch brands from Swiss, one can’t never guess that Raymond Weil is actually a family owned company, instead of one of the brands in a huge watch groups. It’s actually a wonder how the brand could’ve such serious progress even after only being established in 1976 (short of 50 years ago!), all the while being an independent brand without the backing of a watch group.

Being an independent and comparatively new brand means their styling can be quite different than what the other older Swiss brands have. Their watches mostly fall to the classy simplistic styling, with little over-the-top decorations and designs. And at their price point, it’s easily one of the more accessible Swiss automatic watches in this list. Perhaps their most “outrageous” models were their music icons line ups, where they paid homage to The Beatles, ACDC and Bob Marley – If you’re a fan of these legends you definitely should check it out.

Movement wise, Raymond Weil usually use an ETA or Sellita movements in their watches – well, can’t expect much from an independent brand with a small size such as them. What I like about them is they also did some improvement over the base movements such as adding a moonphase module on a stock ETA 2824.

Such endeavors are proofs of their technological effort, that culminated with their first proprietary automatic movement, the Freelancer 1212 that was released in 2017. Although Sellita was the manufacturer for the movement, the design was entirely by Raymond Weil and is a testament of the brand’s pursuit of technical know-hows. Frankly speaking, I’ve been rooting for them since the day that I learned about this =)

15) Sinn

Link to website: www.sinn.de/en

Origin: Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Price range: $1,000 to $15,000

The next German watchmaker firm in this list is Sinn, which is more widely known as the maker of functional chronograph watches for pilots. But they also produce some classic/dressy and dive timepieces but in my honest opinion, their strengths lies in their chronographs.

Compared to typical 3-hands watch, a chronograph is much harder to do it right: you’ll need the technical knowledge, more fine parts as well as the ability to make it those busy dial elements with lots of subdials, needles, scales (tachymeter, telemeter, slide bezel rule) look presentable and cool. And Sinn have managed to balance this all out to create some of the best automatic chronographs around.

Founded in Frankfurt am Main, Germany in 1961, its founder, Helmut Sinn, was a pilot which kinda explained the brands emphasize on aviation watches.

16) Rado

Link to website: www.rado.com

Origin: Lengnau, Switzerland

Price range: $700 to $2,000

Next automatic watch brand is Rado, which hailed from Lengnau, Switzerland and was founded in 1917. Well, actually, its watchmaking company Schlup & Co. was founded in 1917 by the brothers Fritz, Ernst and Werner Schlup. Rado, as a brand that we know today, was first used by the company to market its watches in the 1950s.

While other watchmakers strive to innovate the movement, Rado instead focuses in watchmaking material, moving away from the typical stainless steel to more novel materials such as high strength ceramics and sapphire crystals. Their watch designs are distinctive, with many pieces using a simplistic design while some have unique shapes.

17) Zodiac

Link to website: www.zodiacwatches.com

Origin: Le Locle, Switzerland

Price range: $1,000 to $3,000

Zodiac’s brand name is not as popular as other watch brands, despite being founded in 1882 (137 years ago) by watchmaker Ariste Calame in Le Locle, Switzerland. It was a popular sports automatic watch brand back in the early to mid of last century with their Sea Wolf and Autographic watches.

However, the company went bankrupt in 1990s after an acquisition of it by private investors went awry. It was largely not present for at least a decade until Fossil Group purchased the company and released new Zodiac models in 2002. However, their Sea Wolf watches were only re-released in 2015, much to the delight of their fans. The current Sea Wolf line up have very distinct retro look to it but within a modern case and movement. It’s not really my cup of tea but then again, tastes will vary from person to person.

The Zodiac watch that catches my eyes are the Olympos watches with unique unsymmetrical case which kinda look like a shield. It looks superbly stunning especially with the highly polished multi-faceted case. It’s quite funny that Zodiac might have been popular with their sports watches, but the watch that I adore from their collection is this dressy model LOL!

18) Nomos Glashütte

Link to website: nomos-glashuette.co

Origin: Glashütte, Germany

Price range: $2,000 to $8,000

Tired with the same old automatic watch design and yearn for a modern, simplistic look? Then Nomos might be the watch for you. With thin bezel, short profile and huge watch face in mono-colour, Nomos watches are very modern looking, just like those watches from Daniel Wellington. But unlike the former brand, Nomos is a watchmaking company hailed from Germany with only either automatic or manual watch movement in it.

Unlike most watchmakers, Nomos is one of the few brands that actually design and manufacture their movements in-house. And to make it more impressive, the brand was founded in 1990, which is just 29 years ago! That’s like a toddler’s age in horology! The fact that they can achieve so much in just a short span of time is nothing but exemplary!

One thing that I love about Nomos watches is how they never want to copy other watchmakers and stick to their DNA in watch design: almost bezel-less, thin profile, thin hands & markers and monotonic color pallet. These are the recipes for a very modern, clean and simplistic design. I can say that I’m a classic dive watch’s guy but their watches are refreshing and cool to look at. Definitely a handsome piece that will grab attention to your wrist =)

19) Frédérique Constant

Link to website: frederiqueconstant.com

Origin: Geneva, Switzerland

Price range: $800 to $30,000

Another “new” watchmaker in the game is Frederique Constant, having been founded in 1988 in Switzerland. And yet, the brand had grown into one of the bigger Swiss brands currently. With the motto of “Accessible Luxury”, the brand had some of the value for money Swiss automatic watches around, with prices starting at lower than $1,000 for their entry level pieces. It goes all the way up to $30,000 for their finer pieces with precious metals and gemstone embedded watches.

In terms of movement, Frederique Constant was seen to be quite ambitious in developing their own calibers with some new movements coming up since they started doing research and design in 2001. With that being said, their own calibers are only available in their pricier watches as the entry level stuffs are mostly equipped with either ETA or Sellita movements (presumably to keep costs down).

20) Longines

Link to website: www.longines.com

Origin: Saint-Imier, Switzerland

Price range: $1,000 to $10,000

Longines and its winged logo might need little introduction to watch fans. Founded in 1832 in the Swiss, the brand is one of the oldest watchmakers in this list, so yeah, it definitely have lots of history in its over hundred years of existence. Currently, it’s one of the brands under Swatch Group and is marketed at the luxury level of watches.

One thing that I’ve noticed is that a watch brand with long history typically have huge amount of watch models and collections in its stable. And that is certainly the case with Longines: it has everything from classic to dressy to sports/divers to chronographs. For a watch brand that put elegance at its fore, it’s collection is mostly in the form of classical and dressy watches although their sporty watches (such as the popular Hydroconquest dive watch) are definitely worth checking out too.

A cool trivia about Longines is that the world renowned scientist, Albert Einstein, actually owned one of its watches during his lifetime. And what’s more interesting is the watch was auctioned in 2008 for a cool USD 596,000, hundreds times over the price that the auction house expected for.

21) Breitling

Link to website: www.breitling.com

Origin:  Saint-Imier, Switzerland

Price range: $3,000 to $20,000

Breitling Navitimer

The name Breitling is so synonymous with chronograph watch, even though they were not the one who invented it first (that prestige went to the Frenchmen Louis Moinet who invented it in 1816. It all started by its founder, the Swiss watchmaker Léon Breitling that focused on chronographs as it was very popular for timekeeping uses in the industry. It also had contributed to the development of automatic chronographs in the 1960s, further cementing their name in the hallmarks of watchmaking.

Founded in 1884 in the Swiss, Breitling is one of the brands that is famed for aviator watches. Their Navitimer models, for instance, is one of the iconic watches for pilots and those that love functional chronographs with cool dials, slide bezel rule and the like. From there, the brand has many other line ups consisting not only of chronographs but also diver watches and some classic dressy timepieces.

22) Montblanc

Link to website: www.montblanc.com

Origin: Hamburg, Germany

Price range: $2,000 to $8,000

The next brand is Montblanc, which is more widely known as an fountain pen brand. But just as Victorinox, it had ventured into other things apart from its original product and now, Montblanc has a wide range of luxury products from leather goods, bags, accessories, and yes, watches.

Founded in 1906 in Hamburg, the brand’s watches are more towards classical design: simple, sleek and handsome without any out of norm styling. The movements are usually either normal watches or chronographs.

23) Zenith

Link to website: www.zenith-watches.com

Origin: Le Locle, Switzerland

Price range: $3,000 to $20,000

Just like Breitling, this next brand is also famous for its chronograph movement. Zenith was founded in 1865 in Le Locle, Swiss, and is currently one of the sought after brand if you’re thinking of getting a great Swiss automatic chronograph. It was founded by young Georges Favre-Jacot, and is now one of the brands under LVMH Group.

Zenith watches mostly consists of clean & cool chronographs though there’s also the dressy Elite line up featuring normal dial or moon phase complication. Without a doubt, the legendary El Primero automatic chronograph movement is one of the defining element of the brand, so much so it’s still popular till today, 50 years after it was first launched in 1969.

24) Blancpain

Link to website: www.blancpain.com

Origin: Villeret, Switzerland

Price range: $6,000 to $80,000

If the brand’s history is of importance to you, then you will definitely like this next brand. Blancpain, is one of the oldest surviving watch brands in the world, having been founded in 1735, about 284 years ago. So yeah, the brand is about as old as you can possibly get. Currently, it is one of the top tier brands in the Swatch Group.

To me and most watch fans, Blancpain was well regarded as the first to introduce a real working dive watch to the world. It’s Fifty Fathoms watch (so called because it has water resistance rating up to 50 fathoms or 91 meters) was developed in 1953 with input from the French Navy unit. It’s design elements continue to be used by other dive watches from then on.

Another important watch line up for the brand is the Villeret Collection, which was named after Blancpain’s original site (the brand is now headquartered at Paudex/Le Brassus, Switzerland). Unlike the Fifty Fathoms, the Villeret collection is a huge line up of classical/dressy watches with almost all complications such as normal automatic, chronograph, tourbillon, moon phase, etc.

25) Tudor

Link to website: www.tudorwatch.com

Origin: Geneva, Switzerland

Price range: $2,000 to $10,000

If you’re thinking about what is Tudor and its relationship with Rolex, then rest assured that you’re not the only one having this question. The fact of the matter is Tudor is currently a subsidiary of Rolex, although historically this is not the case. You see, Tudor was founded in 1926 in Geneva by Veuve de Philippe Hüther on paper. The thing is Hans Wildorf, Rolex’s founder, intended to use Tudor as a sister brand to market watches with Rolex-like quality but at more accessible prices.

It was not until 1936 when Hans Wildorf took over the brand entirely under him and went on to found the Tudor company as it will be known right now. In the beginning, Tudor watches were usually parts sourced from Rolex when sometimes Rolex signature can be seen on the watch’s parts. But as the brand matured, it began to become independent from its older sibling and is now one of the respectable watch brands in the world.

Actually, the story of Tudor and Rolex is quite an interesting one as not many watch brands will venture into a lower price range. The marketing tactic by Hans Wildorf was a genius move as it will enables Rolex to sell good watches at lesser prices without jeopardizing the good name of Rolex – which truly paid off as Rolex is one of the most sought after watch brand in the world right now. Fancy having a Rolex but can’t / don’t want to pay huge amount of money for it? Then a Tudor is a really good substitute then =)

26) TAG Heuer

Link to website: www.tagheuer.com

Origin: Saint-Imier, Switzerland

Price range: $2,000 to $15,000

Tag Heuer is a brand that is iconic and synonymous with motorsports, having sponsored many superstar drivers from around the world. Their watches such as the Carrera, Monaco and Aquaracer are some of the coolest sporty automatic watches that you can find.

But do you know that the brand Tag Heuer is not what it was originally?

Actually, Tag Heuer was a combination of the brand “Tag” and “Heuer”. Heuer (or its full name Uhrenmanufaktur Heuer AG) was the watchmaking company founded in 1860 by Edouard Heuer. Over the century, Heuer was one of sports oriented watchmaker with specialization in chronographs. After WWII when motorsports become popular, it was naturally roped into that scene and soon become a favorite among drivers and fans alike.

It was not until 1985 that Tag Heuer was formed after Heuer was purchased by the company TAG (Techniques d’Avant Garde). Tag was a parts manufacturer for Formula One cars and it inserted its name into the watchmaking company after the purchase and the name sticks until now even after Tag Heuer was bought by the luxury goods maker LVMH Group in 1991.

So now you know the history of the brand, I’d appreciate if you’ll stop calling the brand “Tag” as its totally not respectful to the founders of the watchmaker i.e Heuer. Consider referring them with their full brand name “Tag Heuer” or just “Heuer” =)

27) Bell & Ross

Link to website: www.bellross.com

Origin:  Paris, France

Price range: $2,000 to $20,000

The next brand is a newcomer to the industry, having just set up shop in 1992 (27 years ago!). Now that’s a very short time for a watchmaker but Bell & Ross had shown that with tenacity and business acumen (and of course, great watches) they were able to flourish in a very competitive industry.

The brand name is actually a combination of the names of its founders: Bruno Belamich (“Bell”) and Carlos Rosillo (“Ross”). Bruno was an intern at Sinn, and it was due to this connection they managed to secure some Sinn watches to be repackaged into their own watches. This initial arrangement lasted for a decade or so, before Bell & Ross proceeded to manufacture their own watches in the beginning of this century.

Bell & Ross watches most popular watches are the utilitarian military and aviation watches with distinctive square shaped case and perfectly legible hands and markers.

28) Omega

Link to website: www.omegawatches.com

Origin:  La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland

Price range: $3,000 to $20,000

Omega is a watch brand that I’m sure most of you will know of. It’s one of the quintessential modern watch with cool and beautiful designs. And add to that their huge marketing efforts (featured in James Bond films, lunar landings and numerous public figures) and you get a legendary watch brand that not many can compete with in terms of brand name and popularity.

Founded in 1848 in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland by Louis Brandt, Omega has many popular models so much so even someone new to watches can recognise. In part, this is due to the heavy product placement of the brand in various industries such as movies, golf masters, yachting and the olympics.

But without a doubt, their most prized and coolest (at least, according to me) is the Speedmaster chronograph watch, the watch that was chosen to be used by US astronauts to land on the moon. I mean, how much more street cred you’ll need from a watch that actually was used to go to outer space, being used on the moon, and get back down to earth? In addition to that, the watch is beautifully designed and looks seriously good!

Omega also have a very successful marketing campaign by promoting their watches in the James Bond movies starting from the 1990s. Their sports oriented watches such as Seamaster, Planet Ocean and Aqua Terra benefited greatly from being associated with a dashing super spy. And yes, having great design and movement do help to sell those watches!

29) Arnold & Son

Link to website: www.arnoldandson.com

Origin: London, England

Price range: $3,000 to $20,000

Although Switzerland,Germany and France were some of the biggest watchmakers in the early years of horology, England also has it’s fair share of legacy in Arnold & Son. It was founded in 1787 – 232 years ago, much earlier than most of the brands in this list! The technological advancement brought by the company was astonishing and can be tributed to John Arnold, the brands’ founder.

John Arnold was a celebrated watchmaker in the early days of horology and had been instrumental in improving the mechanical movements as we know it. But his most well-known contribution would be to invent a reliable and robust chronometer which was used extensively by the seafaring community for their expeditions.

The brand suffered a setback as it was discontinued in the 1850s when John Roger Arnold (the founder’s son) dies and the ownership of it were purchased by Charles Frodsham. Perhaps due to little know-how, the firm cannot continue on and closed shop. It was not until 1995 when the brand was resurrected and relaunched nearly 140 years later.

Arnold & Son current watch line up features classical dress watches, either in simple movement or with complications. I particularly love their moon phase watch (Tourbillon Chronometer No.36) – those deep blue dial looks majestic with beautiful finishing. But of course, the star of the show will go to their Tourbillon Chronometer No.36, a tribute to John Arnold’s original Chronometer No. 1/36, his first chronometer watch. With an open dial, the watch showcases the chronometer and tourbillon movement in all its glory!

30) Bvlgari

Link to website: www.bulgari.com

Origin: Rome, Italy

Price range: $5,000 to $40,000

Bulgari (or popularly spelled as Bvlgari) is an italian brand founded in Rome, Italy in 1884. It started as a jeweler, and have been involved in everything luxurious – from leather goods, accessories, fragrances, and even hotels! Since a few decades ago, it was also involved in watchmaking, another case of a jeweler turned into making watches.

One of their best known invention is the Serpenti ladies watch that features a very unique circling body to hold the watch in your wrist instead of the traditional watch band (watch this video to look at it). Truthfully, this is a really novel design which looks really great. Of course, I don’t think I will wear one but I was just astounded at how sleek and beautiful the watch is.

In terms of men’s watches, Bulgari line up comprises of Octo (with octagonal shape case), Bvlgari Bvlgari (a line up with call back to its Italian roots) and Haute Horlogerie (as the name suggests, a line up of luxury watches with fine craftsmanship and advanced movements).

31) Girard-Perregaux

Link to website: www.girard-perregaux.com

Origin: La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland

Price range: $5,000 to $200,000

Girard-Perregaux is another Swiss luxury watchmaker hailed from La Chaux-de-Fonds. It was founded in 1852 by Constant Girard, initially as Girard & Cie. The watchmaker then married Marie Perregaux and the manufacture changed it’s name into Girard-Perregaux Manufacture in 1856. In 1906, it acquired the Bautte Watchmaking House which interestingly had a longer history having been founded in 1791 by watchmaker Jean-François Bautte. The brand had been going strong since then and is currently under the Kering Group.

The brand is one of a vertically integrated watchmaker from its roots since the 1800s. One of its achievements is the creation of the first mechanical movement with 36,000 vibrations per hour, the highest in the world at that time. This enables the watch to be theoretically more accurate than the usual 28,000 vibrations per hour movements and also have a more sublime sweeping seconds hand action. The Gyromatic HF movement paved the way for hi-beat movements from other watchmakers to do the same.

Perhaps their most notable design is the tourbillon with three golden bridges, which was first unveiled in their pocket watch in 1884. The thing is tourbillon and bridges are not uncommon in watches. But what Girard-Perregaux did was to align the three bridges holding the barrel, gears and tourbillon in a parallel direction across the watch, creating a unique and symmetrical design that is technically as well as aesthetically pleasing (the dial is open, hence showcasing the movement in all its glory)

Currently, the tourbillon with three golden bridges are also available in their wristwatches in various designs. In addition, there’s also the 1966 collection (classic dressy watches), Laureato (octagonal shaped case), Cat’s eye (beautiful timepieces embedded with diamonds and gemstones) and the Vintage 1945 collection (squared shaped classic watches).

32) Graham

Link to website: graham1695.com

Origin: London, England

Price range: $5,000 to $30,000

The Graham watch brand was named after celebrated English watchmaker, George Graham. He was the partner of Thomas Tompion, widely regarded as the “Father of English Clockmaking“. The Graham watch brand was started in 1695 (324 years ago!) which is definitely one of the oldest in this list. But unfortunately the brand was closed sometime in the 1700s. The current Graham watch brand is restarted by The British Masters company in 1990s.

Due to its short life, the current Graham watch brand does not have much models in its name. There are currently three collections in its stable: the big sized chronograph “Chronofighter” with (gaudy?) crown protection, sporty racing inspired chronographs “Silverstone” and novelties Geo.Graham which features tourbillon and moon phase models.

33) Jaquet Droz

Link to website: www.jaquet-droz.com

Origin: La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland

Price range: $10,000 to $200,000

Jaquet Droz is a watch brand named after the genius Swiss watchmaker Pierre Jaquet Droz. The current watch brand was resurrected by the Swatch Group in the 2000s and focuses on haute horlogerie. Now, one very interesting thing about Pierre Jaquet Droz is he was not only a master watchmaker (he lived in the 1700s) but instead of turning into jewelries like other watchmakers, he has a penchant for mechanical engineering, creation of robots (or automaton as it was called then).

Pierre Jaquet Droz, with the help of his son (Henri-Louis) and adopted son (Jean-Frederic Leschot) built many interesting engineering pieces, building from his watchmaking endeavor. For instance, there was the repeater watch using bird chimes! Now that is something entirely different than whatever every other watchmakers were doing at that time.

Jaquet Droz Automaton The Writer
Jaquet Droz Automaton The Writer

But perhaps their most popular work is their humanoid automatons (yep, this was in the 1700s!). There are 3 variations of the automaton dolls: The Draughtsman (a boy doll which can draw 4 different images beautifully), The Musician (a girl doll that can play a custom made organ) and The Writer (a boy doll that can write some 40 letters long sentences, using real ink!). The degree of automation in these dolls were enormous and is one of the earlier effort by mankind in the realm of robots.

(Check out this video to see the dolls in action)

 

Currently, Swatch Group tried to capture the prestige of the Jaquet Droz’ great watchmaking history by making novel watches. There is the Automaton watch lineup with novelties such as a bird repeater watch, a watch that can show lotus flower opening and my personal favorite, the Magic Lotus Automaton watch that showcase beautiful scenery of a lotus pond (watch this video to see it!).

Jaquet Droz Magic Lotus Automaton Watch
Jaquet Droz Magic Lotus Automaton Watch

34) International Watch Company (IWC)

Link to website: www.iwc.com

Origin: Schaffhausen, Switzerland

Price range: $5,000 to $80,000

This next watch brand is interesting as it’s history is a bit different than the other Swiss watch brands in this list. For a start, IWC (or International Watch Company) originated from Schaffhausen, which is the North Eastern part of Switzerland, in fact, the only watchmaking company in this part of the country. This is interesting as most of the other Swiss watch brands originated from the Western part of Switzerland (Tissot & Zenith at Le Locle, Omega at La Chaux-de-Fonds, Blancpain at Villeret, Breitling, Longines & TAG Heuer at Saint-Imier).

Due to this, IWC are usually said to have more in common with German’s brands (due to its location proximity with Germany) than with other Swiss brands. The second interesting thing about it is its founder is an American (watchmaker Florentine Ariosto Jones) rather than a Swiss or a European. Mr Jones actually wanted to capitalize on Swiss low wage workforce to manufacture watches for the American market (which could explain the reason why the brand’s name is as such).

Like other watch brands at this price range, IWC watches use a combination of modified base movements (from ETA/Sellita etc.) for their lower priced watches and in-house developed movements for their higher end pieces. Their watches usually have clean and crisp dials. There are also chronograph models to be chosen from.

Some of IWC’s popular collections are the Portugieser (the classic IWC watch), Pilot (watches designed for the physical and functional needs of aviators) and the Ingenieur (rugged watches with high technical specs).

35) Ulysse Nardin

Link to website: www.ulysse-nardin.com

Origin:  Le Locle, Switzerland

Price range: $5,000 to $100,000

Ulysse Nardin is one of the older watch brands in this list. Being founded in 1846 in Le Locle by the watchmaker Ulysse Nardin (yes, the brand’s name is taken after its founder), it played an instrumental role in advancement of chronometers which indirectly helped making automatic watches more accurate for us. Currently, it resides under the Kering Group, alongside other luxury brands such as Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Balenciaga and others.

The brand has a long history with marine/navy so much so at one point of time, they were one of the main suppliers of marine chronometers to many of Western Navies. Due to this, it does have a long collection of great chronometers with impressive performance and craftsmanship. In addition, they also produced beautiful timepieces such as the Genghis Khan, Moonstruck and Sonata watches – which is just like an art on a watch.

But perhaps their most interesting watch currently would be Freak watches, born in 2001 under the leadership of the duo  Rolf Schnyder and Ludwig Oechslin. The Freak watch was and still is one of the more futuristic watch around, even if compared with the swathes of smartwatches in this days. It does not have a dedicated hands but instead the time is indicated by the movement as it moves! Yes it’s quite hard to imagine so you can just check out this video to see it for yourselves. In addition, the watch also uses silicon in its movement, one of the first brands to do it.

36) Grand Seiko

Link to website: www.grand-seiko.com

Origin: Tokyo, Japan

Price range: $5,000 to $70,000

Grand Seiko – this is the Japanese’s answer to luxury Swiss and Germany watches. Any Seiko fans would instantly know that Grand Seiko is not just your normal Seiko watch. It’s usually considered to be at par or some might say even exceeds the quality in most luxury watch brands in this list. And yes, since it’s a Seiko, you do get that value for money proposition with Grand Seiko pieces.

Although Seiko is an old company founded in 1881, it was not until 1960 when Grand Seiko was conceived as a way to showcase that the brand’s craftsmanship and watchmaking is at par with the Western brands. What I like about their watches is how it’s not over the top aesthetically. Grand Seiko’s design language remains fairly the same over the decades – crisp and simple designs – and this actually makes their watches such good everyday beater watches.

Movement wise, Grand Seiko has the best that the large company has to offer such as hi-beat movements with long power reserves. But one thing that makes the brand sticks out is it also houses Seiko’s spring drive movement, one of the revolutionary movements right now. Spring drive combines the best of automatic and quartz technology, creating an entirely new type of movement that is truly astonishing (If you want to learn more about spring drive movement, read about it further on my article here).

37) Rolex

Link to website: www.rolex.com

Origin: London, UK

Price range: $6,000 to $100,000

Rolex Submariner
Rolex Submariner

The quintessential Swiss automatic watch brand, Rolex. Almost anyone would instantly recognized the brand with its pointed crown logo. Most people would associate Rolex with being the pinnacle of luxury even though that’s not truly the case – for instance, many watchmakers in this list have more expensive watches than Rolex. They do make ultra-luxury watches, but they also have many watches at the entry level luxury with practical design such as the Oyster Perpetual and Submariner stainless steel models.

Who would have thought that Swiss watch poster boy was actually founded in London, UK in 1905 by the duo Hans Wilsdorf and Alfred Davis. At that point of time, the company was called Wilsdorf and Davis and was actually an importer of watch movements and then putting it into their own case (kinda like the fashion watch brands nowadays). It was not until 1920 when the company moved to Geneva, Switzerland in 1920 right after the WWI to avoid the higher taxes imposed by the UK to fund its post-war recovery. At this point of time, the company adopted the Rolex officially.

Another interesting thing is the brand name “Rolex” is not named after anything, anyone nor it even has any meaning. It was reported that they chose “Rolex” because it’s easy to be pronounced in any language, which is quite far-sighted I would say. In addition, having a short brand name also makes it easy to fit it on the dial instead of a long name taken after the founders’, like some of the other brands.

Currently, Rolex is one of the most well-known watch brand around the world. Just like the other well-established brands, you can see the distinct Rolex styling on their watches: the clean dial with immaculate craftsmanship. Although you can never get it wrong with a Rolex, do note that it’s also one of the most counterfeited watch – so tread carefully especially if you find a great discounted deal that just too good to be true =)

38) Chopard

Link to website: www.chopard.com

Origin: Sonvilier, Switzerland

Price range: $7,000 to $80,000

Jewelry and watches often goes together and it was said that back in the early days, a watch is a form of jewelry for the well-to-do. This fact is certainly true to Chopard, which in addition to being a watchmaker, is also selling luxury jewelries. Chopard was founded in 1860 in Sonvilier, Switzerland by Louis-Ulysse Chopard. It is currently owned by the German family Scheufele since the middle of last century.

Coming from a firm that also make luxury jewelries, you can expect that their watches to be stylish, but not overbearing. You can also expect rare materials and gemstones on their watches. Movement wise, they usually use base ETA/Sellita movements in their lower priced watches but equipped their higher priced timepieces with in-house movements.

39) Panerai

Link to website: www.panerai.com

Origin: Florence, Italy

Price range: $5,000 to $30,000

Although it is the first Italian watch brand in this list, Panerai is not uncommon among watch fans. While other luxury watchmakers have sleek, classic watches, Panerai watches are distinguished by its huge pillow shaped large cases (42 to 44 mm in diameter on average) and its distinct crown protecting bridge. Without a doubt, their unique design language is going to be quite polarizing – you’ll either love it or hate it. But for those that has big enough wrist that can wear such big watches, it’s definitely going to look great on them.

Having deep history roots with the Italian Navy, Panerai is also one of the watchmakers that first utilized radioisotope as watch lumes, specifically the substances Radiomir (Radium-based) and Luminor (Tritium-based). Both of these had great impact on watchmaking and paved the way to the use of safer lume paints nowadays.

40) Credor

Link to website: www.credor.com

Origin: Tokyo, Japan

Price range: $6,000 to $200,000

At the pinnacle of Japanese watchmaking, sits Credor, a sub brand of Seiko. In a way, Credor and Grand Seiko are cut from the same cloth as both will use the same Seiko movements (either mechanical or spring drive) and some of them actually come from the same factory.

But perhaps the biggest difference between these two that I can see is their design language is different. While Grand Seiko has a distinctively Seiko’s design format (e.g sharp sides, clean cool look), Credor watches typically is less pronounced and not as Seiko-like. Perhaps it’s their intention after all to make their watches different to please different markets – which will fit well into the reason why they created a totally different sub-brand in the first place.

Which one is better? Honestly it will really depend on the watch. For example, the Credor Eichi II and Grand Seiko 8 Day are 2 similar watches. Of course, they are different in terms of looks but are actually made from the same factory and have the same price range. Without a doubt, getting any one of these 2 watches will be a good deal but then again, it will depend on which watch’s look/design that you like the most (for me, it’s the Eichi II with gorgeous white dial and blued hands).

In terms of pricing, Credor and Grand Seiko watches are usually priced within the same range – but do bear in mind Credor are not readily available outside of Japan so it will cost you more to buy it. It seems that Seiko only wants to push Grand Seiko as their representative in the luxury watch department. But in terms of the most luxurious Japanese watch, Credor will take the lead. For instance, their Credor Node Minute Repeater cost a whopping $200,000!

41) Baume & Mercier

Link to website: www.baume-et-mercier.com

Origin: Jura, Switzerland

Price range: $2,000 to $20,000

The next Swiss automatic watch brand in this list is Baume & Mercier. It’s one of the older brands, having been founded in 1830 – a good 189 years ago. The brand was originally called “Frères Baume” as it was the brothers Louis-Victor and Célestin Baume that founded the brand in Jura. It was not until 1918 that the brand name changed into Baume & Mercier as Baume’s successor, William Baume partnered with Paul Mercier and relocated the company to Geneva.

Currently, the brand is one of the luxury watch brands under Richemont Group, and targets the middle luxury space. In terms of design, Baume & Mercier gravitates towards the normal classical dressy watches that you just can’t go wrong in choosing them. Their watch line ups such as Classima, Clifton and Linea have the basic designs, the Capeland watches is sportier with chronographs/worldtimer/GMT and Hampton with square shaped cases.

42) Jaeger-LeCoultre

Link to website: www.jaeger-lecoultre.com

Origin: Le Sentier, Switzerland

Price range: $7,000 to $200,000

Considered one of the important watchmakers in history, Jaeger-LeCoultre is definitely one of the watch brands that fans need to know about. Like many watch brands nowadays, the brand historically was a combination of 2 different entities, that of the LeCoultre & Cie watchmaking workshop founded by the Swiss Antoine LeCoultre in 1833 and Edmond Jaeger, a French watchmaker. The official union of both parties were done in 1937, giving birth to the current Jaeger-LeCoultre. As of now, the brand is under the Richemont Group.

Jaeger-LeCoultre has been credited with being a watchmaker’s watchmaker, having been a movement supplier for many brands, including the holy trinity of Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet and Vacheron Constantin – now that’s quite a resume, mind you. In addition to that, the brand also has a huge amount of calibers under their archive (more than 1200 calibers as claimed by them) and various important horological inventions that made them an important figure in watchmaking.

The brand has many popular and beautiful watches in its stable such as the Master, Rendez-Vous, Polaris but one watch will always be associated with them: the Reverso, created in 1931. The Reverso is a rectangular shaped wrist watch that has one very unique feature: it can be rotated to hide the dial. As the story goes, Jaeger-LeCoultre was asked to produce a watch that is able to withstand hard impacts during a game of polo.

Rather than making the dial and case stronger, Jaeger-LeCoultre designed a watch that the wearer can flip the dial 180 degrees via a hinge design. This will make the glass surface of the watch facing the inside backing, and the caseback of the watch on the top – protecting the watch from impacts. In addition, the caseback can be personalized making it an even unique watch. Till today, it’s novel feature is still one of the most interesting concepts in an automatic watch.

43) Cartier

Link to website: www.cartier.com

Origin: Paris, France

Price range: $5,000 to $200,000

Perhaps to most, this next watch brand is more popular for being a jewelry maker instead of a watchmaker. However, in addition to jewelry, Cartier do have a rich history in watchmaking, having been involved in it since its founding in 1847 by Louis-François Cartier in Paris, France. It currently resides under the Richemont Group.

Cartier is one of the most prestigious jewelry manufacturers in the world, having had hundreds, if not thousands of customers from the rich, famous and royalties throughout its long 172 years of history. In fact, King Edward VII of Great Britain once called Cartier as “the jeweler of kings and the king of jewelers” do to its huge swathes of innovative and beautiful jewelry pieces.

As a watchmaker, Cartier traditionally outsources watch movements from movement makers such as Jaeger-LeCoultre (and formerly the LeCoultre workshop), Piaget, etc and fitted it into their case. This changed during the 2000s as Cartier invested into in-house movement making and successfully with various innovative mechanical movements coming out from them every year. However, these movements are usually reserved for their higher end watches while their entry level ones usually were fitted with movements based on ETA/Sellita.

Some popular models from them are the Tank, Santos de Cartier and Mysterious watches. The Tank is a rectangular shaped watch that looks really sleek with small width (so called Tank due to its similarity with actual tank..). This is different than the more squarish Santos de Cartier watch, which has a rich history being one of the first wristwatches made for men in 1904 for aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont.

But the model that I’m personally most fascinated at? That should be the Mysterious watch. Originally invented in the early 1900s in the form of a clock, the Mysterious watch evolved into a wristwatch, and what a watch it is (look at it for yourselves here). It’s fascinating how Cartier managed to make a watch with transparent movement (though the secret is the “hands” were actually part of transparent sapphire discs that are rotated by the movement). Although other watchmakers did manged to recreate the same thing, none of it can compare with the original Mysterious watch.

44) Breguet

Link to website: www.breguet.com

Origin: Paris, France

Price range: $10,000 to $150,000

The top echelon of fine watchmaking is usually filled with brands with rich history, and Breguet is no exception. Founded in 1775 (244 years ago!), Breguet is as old a watch brand that you could have. It was founded by Abraham-Louis Breguet in Paris and remained the Breguet’s family company until the end of the 19th century when it’s ownership changed to the Brown family. Turbulence during the modern era saw the company’s ownership to change a few times until it settled into the Swatch Group in 1999 till today.

Breguet

From its inception, Breguet had been at the forefront of horological inventions, most notably credited with creating the tourbillon in 1795. It was a novel invention then, and is still today. In a tourbillon, the balance wheel and escapement are located in a cage that will slowly rotate over time. The idea is with a rotating balance wheel, the effect of gravity pull will be cancelled out hence improving the accuracy of the watch. The fact that Abraham-Louis Breguet thought about this in 1795 is mind-blowing as it’s so much ahead of its time!

Although current watchmakers had been able to create accurate watches without tourbillon with the help of technology, tourbillon is still one of the centerpiece of automatic/mechanical watchmaking. I mean, who wouldn’t fell in love when your watch can show a rotating balance wheel right? It’s also a sign of watchmaking expertise, hence the reason why many brands love to showcase their tourbillon movements.

Breguet watches have some of the most distinctive character from a brand, thanks to its long running tradition and being a very old watchmaker. For instance, hands with open circular tip are called Breguet hands due to the fact that it was Breguet who used and popularized it first. This hand is currently used on almost all current Breguet models (the Classique, Tradition, Heritage) except for the Type XX/XXI/XXII military/aviator watches. Other elements such as Breguet numerals and case fluting can also be found regularly on their watches.

45) Hublot

Link to website: www.hublot.com

Origin: Nyon, Switzerland

Price range: $8,000 to $150,000

What do you say to an expensive watch with 18k gold case but having a rubber strap? Totally illogical right? What if I say such a watch do exist and it also has a garish looking, totally not in coherence with the traditional classic dress watch look? You might say that I’m a fool but I kid you not – Hublot watches are all like that, with the caveat that they did it so well so much so the watch is really cool to look at.

Founded in 1980 by  industry veteran Carlo Crocco, Hublot design language is one of the weirdest in horology. I mean why would someone make a gold watch only to pair it up with rubber straps? Turns out Crocco was behind all this as he wanted the strap for his watches to be black. But of course, Hublot’s rubber strap is not your run of the mill strap – it’s a high end strap with various finishing ranging from simple matte black to leather cover even to jeans, all can be had in various colors!

Hublot’s watches are also distinctive. The use of octagonal shaped case with exposed screws on it bring a very industrial look to it, which I admit is very cool to look at. Fun fact: Crocco actually wanted his watches to look like a porthole (the windows of a ship with exposed screws) which is why he named his brand Hublot (or porthole in French). This peculiar combination of watch design and rubber strap are coined as the art of fusion, something that Hublot had build up till today with their newer watches such as the Fusion and Big Bang.

Indeed, Hublot is definitely not the brand for those that want an understated elegance and sleekness usually associated with luxury watches. I mean, those big watches with fancy color schemes will definitely attract attention. But then again, the brand never intends to make watches like the older brands of horology – they were only conceived just 39 years ago after all! Hublot is a young watch brand, and their watches showcases that perfectly. After all, it would be quite boring if all watches look the same right?

46) Piaget

Link to website: int.piaget.com

Origin: Jura, Switzerland

Price range: $10,000 to $100,000

Piaget originally was a movement manufacture, from its inception in 1874 by its founder, Georges Edouard Piaget. Its movements were sought after by many luxury watch brands. But just like Jaeger-LeCoultre, it began to venture into making whole watches starting from the 1940s, which undoubtedly helped to raise its status as one of the few vertically integrated watch company in the world.

Currently residing under the Richemont Group, Piaget is well-known for its ultra-thin automatic & mechanical watches, with 2 to 3 mm movement thickness, making the actual watch about 3 to 4 mm! Such an effort is extraordinary especially considering they invented these movements (Calibre 12P and 9P respectively) in the 1960s – without the help of accurate steel cutting technology that we have today.

Till today, their ultra-thin watches are at the forefront of Piaget’s collection within their Altiplano watches, with various designs and complications. For those that want something different, there’s the majestic Emperador in either rectangular or squarish cases with jeweled case and dial.

47) A. Lange & Söhne

Link to website: www.alange-soehne.com

Origin: Glashütte, Germany

Price range: $10,000 to $500,000

One of the most sought after Germany watch brand is A. Lange & Söhne, which literally means A. Lange and Sons. The brand was founded in 1845 by Ferdinand Adolph Lange (hence the “A. Lange”) in Glashutte as A. Lange & Cie. It was not until 1868 when Lange’s sons (Emil and Richard) joined the watchmaking company and the brand name changed into A. Lange & Söhne.

It’s history is not as smooth sailing as other watch brands though. In 1945 during the WWII, Lange headquarters were bombed by the Soviet and completely destroying it. In 1948, Lange and several other watchmakers were nationalized and merged into the VEB Glashütter Uhrenbetriebe, and wiping out Lange’s name on their watches since then.

Fortunately, the brand came back into existence after the reunification of Germany. Walter Lange (A.Lange’s gread-grandson) and Günter Blümlein re-established the brand in 1990. From then on, the watch brand changed ownership and become part of the Richemont Group till today.

A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1
A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1

Like other top watchmakers, Lange’s history is filled with outstanding innovations and creations that helped furthering watchmaking technology over the years.

Since their re-establishment, their watch lineups are rather small and concentrated, which can be attributed to its low number of production per year.

Among their current lineups, my attention were squarely on the Lange 1 models, featuring very distinct asymmetrical dial layout. There’s the main minute and hour dial, then you have the seconds hand subdial, a subdial for power reserve/moon phase/AM-PM and there’s the date indicator. This watch is as unique as it can be, all the while being well placed and outstandingly good looking.

Want to get more fancy watch? Then perhaps the Zeitwerk might get your attention. Long before digital watches came about, Lange had been producing watches with watches with digital numeral display with the Zeitwerk. In actuality, the watch is still a mechanical watch but instead of normal hour and minute hands, they placed counters to show time (much like the typical day/date displays nowadays).

48) Audemars Piguet

Link to website: www.audemarspiguet.com

Origin:  Le Brassus, Switzerland

Price range: $20,000 to $1,500,000

Audemars Piguet is one of the rarer watch brands. Having been founded in 1875 by the duo Jules Louis Audemars and Edward Auguste Piguet, the company is still being owned by both families, making it independent of the few luxury groups that control most of the watch brand nowadays. Well, being a very sought after watchmaker certainly did helped with them being independent.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak

Throughout history, Audermars Piguet have many inventions worth mentioning. For instance, the first minute repeater (a watch that can chime to tell time) was created by them in 1892. Since then, the brand had been releasing more breakthroughs in the form of complex watch movement making.

This article won’t be complete if I didn’t mention about Audemars Piguet’s best selling watch, the Royal Oak. Originally conceived in 1972, the Royal Oak was one of the modern era luxury sports watch. It has a unique octagonal shaped case that was inspired by diving helmets. The case is the most interesting as it defies all the norms about a watch.

In addition to the non-circular case, there are no lugs with this watch. The watch has a unique case-strap/bracelet integration method in lieu of the usual lugs. The dial uses beautiful tapisserie guilloche design and can be had in many variation and colors.

Although they also have some other watches such as the Millenary, Jules Audemars and CODE 11.59, the industrious Royal Oak and Royal Oak Offshore (the bigger version with 42 mm diameter.The original has 39 mm diameter) both can be said to completely define Audemars Piguet watches in this modern era.

49) Vacheron Constantin

Link to website: www.vacheron-constantin.com

Origin: Geneva, Switzerland

Price range: $20,000 to $1,000,000

The next automatic watch brand is a name that might not need to be mentioned: Vacheron Constantin. Founded in 1755 by Swiss watchmaker Jean-Marc Vacheron, the brand only became Vacheron Constantin after François Constantin became partner in the company in 1819. It has the prestige of being the oldest continuously operating Swiss watch company. Currently, it resides under the Richemont Group.

Vachron Constantin Reference 57260
Vachron Constantin Reference 57260

Vacheron Constantin’s motto “Faire mieux si possible, ce qui est toujours possible (Do better if possible, and that is always possible)” strikes a chord within me. I personally love it as it give the strong implication that we can always do better, always improving in all aspects of our lives. Perhaps that’s what propelled the brand to push forward and giving us beautiful timepieces. This is exemplifies with their Reference 57260, which is currently holding the record as the most complicated watch in the world.

Now, the Reference 57260 is not a wristwatch but is a pocket watch, so it has more space to hold those complications. But then again, putting 57 complications (time measurements, tourbillons, perpetual calendars, Hebrew calendars astronomical calendars, chronograph, alarm, minute repeater and others) into the small footprint is no joke. To put things into perspective, the previous record holder is Patek Philippe Calibre 89 with 33 complications, 24 less than the 57260. Price? Undisclosed but some sources say it’s around USD $10 Million.

Of course, they don’t just make highly technical pocket watches. Vacheron Constantin has many wristwatch models that are popular such as the very sleek dress watch Patrimony, the highly technical Traditionnelle with complications, hybrid modern-traditional FiftySix, and the Métiers d’Art watches with gorgeous colorful art displayed on its dials.

50) Patek Philippe

Link to website: www.patek.com

Origin: Geneva, Switzerland

Price range: $10,000 to $1,000,000

And last but not least, Patek Philippe. Together with Audemars Piguet and Vacheron Constantin, they made up the 3 best Swiss watchmakers currently (the so-called “holy trinity”). One might argue to put in other watchmaker such as A. Lange & Sohne and Jaeger LeCoultre in there, but if you ask most watch fans which are the top 3 brands, the holy trinity names will be mentioned most often. And out of these 3, Patek Phillippe is usually going to be at the top. (again, opinion varies..)

There are many reasons for this high regard for the brand. For a start, they make really really great watches. Their craftsmanship are one of the best in the industry and they will not cut corners in any step of the process. Their designs are quite understated and not as flashy as other brands, but that’s the Patek DNA for you.

Patek Philippe

In addition to the technicality of watchmaking, Patek Philippe is one of the watch brands that is investment grade i.e your watches will only go up in value. The reason for this is its high demand for its watches. As the world prosper, more and more billionaires were created and these high-net individuals would want the very best in watchmaking (association with various personalities and royalties certainly do contribute to this). To make things worse, it’s manufacturing is quite constricted, at just around 62,000 pieces in 2018. That’s the problem with luxurious products like this – you will need skilled craftsmen which will take years to be trained. No machine can do these kind of detailed workmanship.

Adding to the brand’s glory, it also have the honor of having the most expensive watch ever in its Henry Graves Supercomplication. The watch is actually a pocket watch with 33 numbers of complications in it. It fetched a whopping $24 million in 2014 to an anonymous collector. It is a super-complication watch originally commissioned by Henry Graves Jr in 1933. With a huge amount of complications, it sets the high standard for a super-complication, no less due to the fact that it was manufactured without the aid of computer (CAD) such as nowadays.

Patek Philippe current watches are subdued and exemplifies the notion of discreet style. Without a doubt, there are some artsy models in their collection with colorful dials and jewels, but in general, their watches are sleek in appearance. At the center of their watch collection is the Calatrava, their basic dress watch. It’s usually features a typical 3-hands dial but such simplicity is certainly outstanding – without a doubt a great choice as the basic foundation in any fan’s watch collections.

Then they have the Nautilus, which kinda look like Audemars Piguet’s Royak Oak and Hublot’s watches, albeit with a cleaner aesthetics (it does not have the screws like others and have a sleeker design). Fun fact: the Nautilus was designed by famed Swiss designer Gérald Genta, who was also responsible for the design of the Royal Oak. Huh, no wonder both watches look alike!

Related Questions

What are the top 3 watch brands? The top 3 watch brands are Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet and Vacheron Constantin – the so-called holy trinity of horology.

Why are automatic watches so expensive? Automatic watches are expensive due to the amount of material and workmanship needed to manufacture it, as compared to the mass-produced quartz watches. For luxury watches, the brands will employ high art watchmaking (or haute horlogerie) whereby precious materials and exceptional craftsmanship will be used causing its price to go way above our imagination.

Is buying a watch a good investment? In general, buying a watch as investment is not a good idea except you’re buying a watch with very high scarcity value such as Rolex or Patek Philippe. A novelty is almost always a good fit for investment – the rarer the watch, the higher the price will increase in future.

Conclusion

There are lots of watch brands that you can choose from. Most of the brands in this list have a wealth of history, having been founded decades ago and have produced countless watches. But which one should you choose will depend entirely on your taste and price range.

My advice for those new with automatic watches is to buy cheaper ones first and see if you like it or not. Bear in mind that automatic watches are not as maintenance-free as some other bloggers would like you to believe. In fact, it will take more money and time to own one, because you need to pay close attention to it and maintain/service it, just like how you own other mechanical items such as cars (read more about automatic watch’s characteristics in my post here). Thus, buying a cheaper one at first will help you to test the waters before making up your mind to buy more expensive ones.

I hope you like this article about automatic watch brands. Do let me know in the comments below what you think about it, and if I missed any brand.

Till next time. Cheers!

The Complete Automatic Watch Guide: All You Need To Know About It

automatic-watch-guide-what-is

Automatic watch has become more popular over the years, despite it being a higher priced type of watch out there. I was introduced to it few years ago and was hooked. From then on, I tried to learn everything that I can about automatic watch, which I will write about in this post.

So what is an automatic watch? Automatic watch is a type of watch that doesn’t need a battery to function and is instead powered by wrist motions of the wearer (so called self-winding) that is stored as potential energy inside it.

In this post, I’m going to share all the important information about automatic watch that you should know before getting one yourselves.

Table of Content:

  1. Automatic Watch: The Self-Winding Watch Movement
  2. How Does Automatic Watch Works?
  3. Automatic Watch vs Mechanical Watch: A Look Into History
  4. How Is Automatic Watch Different From Normal Watch?
  5. How Can You Tell If A Watch Is Automatic?
  6. Is Automatic Watch Accurate?
  7. Automatic Watch Durability
  8. Servicing Your Automatic Watch
  9. Is Automatic Watch Water Resistant?
  10. Can You Wear It For Sports?
  11. The Very Important Power Reserve
  12. Automatic Watch Will Be Heavier From Normal Watch
  13. Automatic Watch Price: Why Is It So Expensive?
  14. Where To Buy Automatic Watch?
  15. Some Common Automatic Watch Brands
  16. Taking Care Of Your Automatic Watch So That It Will Last Long
  17. Is Automatic Watch Worth It?

Automatic Watch: The Self-Winding Watch Movement

Automatic watch is defined as a watch that uses mechanical movement for its timekeeping. If you’re not aware, “movement” in horology refers to the device responsible to keep track of time inside a watch. Hence, an automatic/mechanical movement relies solely on the mechanical parts to do its job and is different from quartz movement which relies on the electric/electronic parts (which we will see later).

One thing that make automatic watch stands out is its ability to recharge itself just by being used by its owner. Inside the watch, there is a weighted rotor which will rotates following the motion of the wrist as the watch is being used. This rotor will recharge the watch hence why automatic watch movement is also referred to as the self-winding movement.

How Does Automatic Watch Works?

The inner workings of an automatic watch can be broken down into 5 major systems which are:

  1. Energy source and storage
  2. Gear train or wheels
  3. Escapement
  4. Balance wheel
  5. Time indicator

automatic watch movement

1) Energy source and storage

The energy source of the watch comes from the weighted rotor. This half-circular rotor, that you can see on a watch with transparent caseback, will move freely with any movement of the watch. It’s part of the self-winding mechanism which will tighten the mainspring. The mainspring is a very long spring with the purpose of storing the energy for the watch.

Wearing the watch will cause this rotor to move and spin, hence effectively tightening the mainspring in the process. Thus, we can say that the energy generation for any automatic watch is from kinetic energy (weighted rotor moving) to be stored as potential energy in its mainspring.

Depending on the watchmaker, the feel of the self-winding mechanism will differ. Some watches have a very pronounced self-winding characteristics that you can easily feel the rotor winding as you move your watch. Some are quite subtle so much so you don’t the rotor moving (even though it is!). As this is very much a personal preference, I’d suggest to try wearing the watch to see if you like the feedback from the self-winding rotor or not.

By the way, some automatic watch is also equipped with manual winding capability which you can use to directly recharge the mainspring’s potential energy by rotating the crown and winding it (just like on a toy car). This is very useful if you don’t have time to wear your watch sufficiently so that it will have ample power reserve to last to the next day.

2) Gear train or wheels

The mainspring is directly attached to a set of gear train or wheels which main purpose is to transfer the potential energy throughout the watch movement. As the mainspring seeks to elongate and retract, the gears will be forced to rotate. Gears are used so that just a small elongation of the mainspring will cause a huge movement of the gears. This is very important so that the watch has sufficient power reserve – there’s only so much mainspring that can be fitted into the tiny movement after all!

3) Escapement

Escapement consists of an escape wheel (a wheel with odd looking teeth) and a forked lever, which have the purpose of regulating the movement of the watch’s timekeeping, based on the input from balance wheel. Without escapement assembly, the watch will freely move and its power reserve will deplete in no time!

The escapement and balance wheel works in tandem to keep the movement of the watch in check.

4) Balance wheel

The balance wheel is responsible for the timekeeping of the watch i.e to determine how fast is one second – which is the whole basis of timekeeping. It might seem easy in this current world of digital watches but centuries ago, determination of one second is very hard to do for the lack of advanced equipment.

The balance wheel consists of a thin hairspring in a round enclosure. As energy was supplied to it, it will bounce back and forth in a regular interval. This interval (usually 6 or 8 times per second), form the basis of timekeeping in an automatic watch. Due to its importance, the balance wheel can be said to be the heart of an automatic watch (both literally and figuratively).

5) Time indicator

The last component is the time indicator i.e the needles that you see on a watch face/dial. The seconds hand is directly connected to the balance wheel/escapement. From there, the minute and hour hands are connected via gears. It is these gears with its fine teeth that will do the conversion from one second to one minute and one hour respectively.

(If you want to learn more about how automatic watch works, then you can read this post where I’ve delved deeper into this topic)

All of these systems must work in unison to make the watch work. If any of it is faulty (either due to damage or wear & tear), then the watch will not work as smoothly and that’s when you will notice issues with the watch such as bad timekeeping (lack of accuracy), watch keep on stopping etc.

Automatic Watch vs Mechanical Watch: A Look Into History

The ONLY difference between automatic and mechanical movement is the self-winding mechanism. An automatic movement is the same as mechanical movement but with the additional self-winding mechanism to “automatically” wind its mainspring with each watch-wrist movement. That is its main difference while the other timekeeping components (gears, escapement, balance wheel, etc.) remain the same.

As of now, mechanical watches are not as easily found in the market due to it being a less popular choice: you need to manual wind it daily or else it won’t work. This is a huge inconvenience with mechanical watch and it seems not many watchmakers are willing to design and market one, at least not for the lower end market (I do know that Hamilton has one affordable mechanical watch in their line up though).

But the lack of self-winding mechanism means that mechanical watch uses less parts so it is less expensive that an automatic watch. It’s also lighter, has thinner profile and will be easier to service which corresponds to lower service fee down the line.

Because of these advantages, mechanical movement is often incorporated by higher end watchmakers for their more adventurous movements with many complications in it (case in point, the Vacheron Constantin Ref. 57260). At that price point, usability is less of a concern – artistic, engineering and craftsmanship are the main driving factor.

It’s incomplete to talk about automatic and mechanical watches without looking at their history. Below are a few major milestones in the development of these watches:

  1. Peter Henlein, a Germany watchmaker, was credited with creating the first watch that can be carried by people (a pocket watch) in 1510.
  2. Swiss watchmaker, Abraham-Louis Perrelet, invented the first self-winding watch (also a pocket watch) in 1776.
  3. An automatic wrist watch was only created in 1922 by John Harwood, a British watchmaker.
  4. Electric watch was invented in the 1950s.
  5. Seiko invented the quartz watch in 1969, which revolutionized the watch industry thanks to its accuracy and ability to be mass-produced.

How Is Automatic Watch Different From Normal Watch?

Although an automatic watch looks the same with other watches (see the next section on how to spot them), there is a huge difference in its movement or the driving mechanism for the watch.

Currently, quartz watch is the most common watch around, which can be said to be the “normal watch” nowadays. Quartz watch is based on electronics and that’s why you will notice that it requires battery to work. Inside it, there is a quartz crystal that acts as the oscillator for timekeeping (basically the job of balance wheel in an automatic watch).

A microchip is used to control everything in the watch, based on the input from the quartz crystal. There is also a motor to move the hands to display its time (in analog watch). Thanks to these elements, quartz watch can be mass-produced, hence lowering its price to very affordable levels. (Read more about how quartz watch works in my previous article here).

This is where the difference with automatic watch lies. Instead of relying on electronics like the common watch, automatic watch is fully mechanical powered. It uses the concept of energy conservation to top up its power reserve, drive the timekeeping and show the time on its dial.

And since the movement is quite complex, a full mass-production for automatic watch is not feasible. Some, especially the higher-end brands, will utilize manual labor to assemble and finish the watch. Without a doubt, this increases its cost of production. In fact, most automatic watches starts from $150 (with $500 mark is the starting point for most Swiss brands). You can get one cheaper than this but it’s usually from less established brands.

For that price, an automatic watch has something that a quartz watch don’t, that is character. The automatic movement requires some attention from the user to wind the watch (either through manual or self-winding), set the time and keep it in good condition.

Although the same need to be done with a quartz watch, its very different on an automatic because the whole thing revolves on mechanical parts. You need to be gentler and cannot force things or else it will break. I also love the faint grinding sound of the watch whenever I manual wind or change its time – its like the watch is alive!

Another advantage of automatic watch is it does not need a battery to operate, unlike quartz watch. This is an advantage especially for those that don’t want to have surprises such as a quartz watch drop dead due to having no battery. I personally like this because there is no concern on the battery leeches when I least expect it.

How Can You Tell If A Watch Is Automatic?

The easiest giveaway to tell if a watch is automatic is by looking at its dial/watch face. Generally, there is the word “Automatic” inscribed on the dial of most automatic watches. This is done so that people will easily know that the watch is an automatic watch, hence the reason for it being priced higher that other watches. Likewise, if you see the word “Quartz”, then that watch is a quartz watch.

But sometimes, the watch might not have the “Automatic” word inscribed on it. So in order to verify if its automatic or not, we can do these:

  1. See if its seconds hand is sweeping or not. Automatic and mechanical watches have sweeping seconds hand which looks to be gliding instead of jumping every second like a normal/quartz watch. The sweeping seconds hand is actually jumping very fast (6 to 8 times per second) due to the characteristic of the movement.
  2. If it has a transparent caseback, check if you can spot a half-circular rotor on it that will moves even with a small motion of the watch. The rotor is the best way to spot an automatic watch but not all automatic watches have a transparent caseback.
  3. When you’re holding a watch that is completely stopped, try to give it a few shakes and see if this will bring the watch to life. Automatic watch will only need some motion to move the rotor and convert it into potential energy inside the watch to start it. While doing this, try to sense if you can feel the rotor moving (especially if the watch doesn’t have a transparent caseback).
  4. Additionally, you can also try to manual wind it just to see if the watch is manual windable. This is done by rotating the crown upwards (on most common movements. Other watches might need to be rotated downwards to wind it). If you feel a faint gear noise and the watch springs back to life, it is an indication that the watch is manual windable. (I personally prefer my automatic watch to has this feature. Read my article here to find out why this is a good thing to have).

Is Automatic Watch Accurate?

So is automatic watch accurate? Accuracy of automatic watch varies depending on the movement maker, design and grade. In general, we can expect, at most, a +/-30 seconds per day variation for most automatic watches. What this entails is the watch will lose or gain time of up to 3.5 minutes every week – not really a big issue right?

But as I’ve mentioned above, the actual accuracy of an automatic watch will depend on the movement itself and can be referred to in their published specification. For example, I notice that Japanese movements (from Seiko, Orient) have a bigger limit up to +45/-35 seconds per day while Swiss movements (such as ETA) has a tighter accuracy range of +/-12 seconds per day.

And based on my personal record of my watches, the actual accuracy will usually fall within the published specification. So if a good accuracy is what you need (say, +/-10 seconds per day is a good number), then paying premium for a Swiss movement is definitely a good idea.

In addition, to this, there is also a type of automatic watch with the distinction of being “chronometer”, which is only conferred to the most accurate automatic watches out there. For an automatic watch to be labeled as a chronometer, it has to pass a stringent test from the certification body COSC which limits its gain/lose time to just +/-6 seconds per day.

To top it off, this accuracy needs to be adhered to in all possible positions the watch might be and various temperatures. Most chronometers can be found upwards of $1,000 but Tissot did design one of the cheapest Swiss chronometers in the market right now, the Tissot Powermatic 80 Chronometer for less that $1,000 (check out my review of the watch here).

(If you want to know more about accuracy of automatic watches click on the link to read my previous post on the topic)

Automatic Watch Durability

Durability of automatic watches is usually good, as long as you are keeping a good care of the watch. One good thing that I’ve noticed is most automatic watches on the marker nowadays are encased in a stainless steel case which can last for a very long time, as compared to cheap quartz watches that are mainly made of plastic.

Stainless steel is frequently used because the automatic watch movement is heavier that normal because (surprised!) the movement parts are also mainly made of steel or metal. With a steel part and case, we can be assured that our automatic watches will stand the test of time.

There are some good reasons for this. Firstly, steel is tough and does not break as easily as plastic, another common watch material. I mean, if its good enough to be used to build buildings and ships, I’m pretty sure it will be a good material for a watch.

Another thing to note is that stainless steel can be easily cleaned with chemicals or some scrubbing if there’s a lot of dirt on it. It also can be polished or refinished again if there’s any dent or scratches on it. These are the usual things to be done on vintage watches, some have been around for decades.

While the exterior of an automatic watch is durable without much effort on the owner’s part, the internal movement is quite tricky and needs regular service for it to last long. I’ll go into detail about servicing an automatic watch in the below section.

Servicing Your Automatic Watch

Most automatic watches need to be serviced every 3 to 5 years, depending on its manufacturer’s recommendation. Some, such as newer Rolexes, can even go up 10 years interval. So its best to check with the brand on your automatic watch’s service interval to know for certain (you can also read up on the user manual supplied with the watch as this info is usually stated inside it).

But why do we need to service our automatic watches? It’s just a watch right?

The reason is automatic watch is not like normal quartz watch. It has hundreds of small parts that are constantly moving. Like changing the engine oil for your motor vehicle, the same need to be done for the lubricants in the watch movement (lubricants are used to reduce the friction inside the various moving parts). In addition, some parts do experience wear and tear even along the years and might need to be changed.

All of this can only be done by servicing the watch, whereby a watchmaker will open up the watch, take it apart, clean it, change the parts, re-oil it and then put it all back together. In addition, the watchmaker will regulate the watch so that it will achieve a good accuracy.

And yes, all of this will involve some cost, often times about 10 to 30% of the watch price. And this is one of the things that most people often overlook with their automatic watch purchase and (gasp!) collections!

Often times I see my friends buying their higher-end “grail” watches after saving for months, without knowing that watch will need outrageous amount of money to be maintained every 3-5 years. To make matters worse, some of them even buy new watches to add up to their collection – while still oblivious that these watches will need to be maintained in the future!

Although its not wrong to chase after your dream watch, I’m a proponent of sustainability in owning a watch. I personally calculate in advance the total cost of ownership of the watch, i.e initial buy cost plus maintenance costs in the future, before deciding on purchasing one. That way, I will always be able to service my watch in time and increase its lifespan.

Another thing to think about is the cost of service will increase depending on your location vs the brand’s service center. For example, if the country you’re living in does not have the service center for that particular brand, you might have to post it to another country and this will increase the maintenance cost.

Is Automatic Watch Water Resistant?

Almost all of the automatic watches that I’ve seen nowadays have water resistance to some degree. You can easily check on this by looking on its dial or caseback for water resistance indication such as “30 m water resistance” or “3 ATM” which means the watch can be dropped into 30 m water depth, in theory.

In real life, I don’t dare to use any of these watches to go into water unless it has a high water resistance rating (200 m or more) and is designed to be used for dive watch and tested based on ISO 6425. The reason is not all of these water resistance rating is tested and some small issue during manufacturing can render its water resistance rating not valid.

That’s why I’ve always used a dedicated dive watch for outdoor and swimming because its been designed for that. It will be tested for it with better material used. In addition, I always like the screw-down crown used in dive watches as it gives a higher degree of protection from water ingress into the watch.

A good practice to ensure your watch is well protected from water ingress is in keeping it always dry. That means don’t put it near to water source and always wipe it off if some accidental water splashes on it. In addition, always keep the crown pushed down tight to avoid water seeping through the small clearances around the crown stem. Lastly, don’t operate the chronograph function when you’re inside or near water. With all of these best practices, you will be able to keep your watch away from water problems.

Can You Wear It For Sports?

Can we wear automatic watch for sports? Yes we can. I, myself, have worn my automatic watches to gym, swimming, jogging and other outdoor sports/activities – but I only wear my dive watches for these.

The reason is automatic watch is a more delicate device that your normal quartz watch and its more prone to breaking. While the exterior case will be fine, some damage might be picked up by the internal movement during all the fast swinging of the watch following your hand.

And that’s why a dive watch is a good choice for sports because its designed for swimming and diving. Inside most dive watches, there are usually some shock resistant bearings/jewels that will act as shock absorbers to soak all the impacts.

But with that being said, its usually better to leave your automatic watch when it comes to sports and pick up a fitness tracker instead. Firstly, even on the best dive watches, there will be some impacts on it, so much so the watch do have a possibility to be damaged internally. And even if its not damaged, there could be some effect on its accuracy (read about my experience with my Seiko Sumo dive watch on this issue here).

Another thing that I want to add is an automatic watch is heavier that normal watch and might go in the way of your sporting activities. For instance, while you can golf while wearing an automatic watch, it will feel a bit weird and can disrupt your swing due to the added weight. In addition, it usually has a high profile/thickness and this can dig into your hands when doing activities.

So although you can wear an automatic watch for sports, I’d advised to wear a dedicated fitness tracker instead to protect the watch and also improve your sports performance (as well as giving the peace of mind that you won’t break your expensive watch during the activity LOL!).

The Very Important Power Reserve

One very important thing that you need to know about automatic watch is power reserve that will define how you can use your watch.

What is automatic watch power reserve? Power reserve is the remaining power or energy that an automatic watch has before it will stop completely, and this depends on its mainspring design. To be precise, a quartz watch also has power reserve but it will depend on its battery capacity.

what is automatic watch

The main thing that we need to understand is that usually a quartz watch will have much higher power reserve that an automatic watch. A 1-3 years of power reserve per battery is normal for quartz watch while an automatic watch will have a much lower power reserve – at just 38 to 80 hours!

This is because of the mainspring inside an automatic watch is only finite in length, due to the limited space that it has in it. A 38-40 hours power reserve can be expected from most of the entry level automatic watches nowadays. Some watches also has higher power reserve such as Seiko 6R15 movement (50 hours) and ETA/Tissot Powermatic movement (a good 80 hours).

So why is power reserve so important? It’s because that’s the duration that the watch will continue running after you’ve put it down. Do remember that automatic watch’s self-winding mechanism will directly increase its power just by using it on your wrist, so you’re basically topping its power reserve up when wearing it. So once you’ve put the watch down, its power reserve will deplete.

So basically, if you put your watch with 40 hours power reserve down at 9 pm on Friday, then it should last until 1 pm on Sunday. And that’s one issue with automatic watch – most of them will not be able to last an entire weekend on the drawer until the next Monday/work week. (well, its not an issue to me because I usually just pick up another watch in the coming week Lol! Read more about how I use my watches for efficiency here)

A common issue or actually misunderstanding that most people have with their automatic watches is it seems to lack power reserve that what was published. With the same example as above, you noticed that the watch drops dead even before the morning of Sunday, which is less that 40 hours stated. What gives?

The reason for this lack of power reserve lies in how many percentages of power reserve were available when you take off your watch. The 40 hours (or whatever number of power reserve) will be there if your watch has 100% power reserve when you put it down. The problem is most automatic watches don’t usually have that 100% power reserve because the self-winding mechanism needs many rotations for it to work.

In addition, sedentary lifestyle such as working on a desk without much wrist movement means the watch is not winding as much. So if your power reserve is less that 100% when you take it off, the watch will stop working faster that the published power reserve capacity.

If you’re worried that your watch might stop working or you just want it to be always running, you can consider getting a watch winder. Watch winder is a simple motor device that rotates the watch, mimicking wrist movement so that its self-winding mechanism will kicks in. Or another way is to just manual wind the watch. Read my article here to know more about the difference between these 2 techniques.

Automatic Watch Will Be Heavier From Normal Watch

Being made almost entirely out of steel is good for its durability, but there’s one small problem: automatic watch is heavier that normal quartz watch.

It’s a given. When you have hundreds of metal parts packed into the watch, its bound to have some weight, that is heavier that the simplistic quartz movement which consists of only few equipment.

But that’s not necessarily a bad thing though. I, for one, loves the fact that my automatic watch has quite a bit of heft. It just makes wearing it feels different and cooler. And this perception is also shared by some of the watch fans that I know.

A downside with this is the watch can be bothersome to wear with when you’re working as the extra weight will disrupt your hand movement. Often times, I found myself taking out my bulkier dive watches when I need to work or use my laptop as it will be a hindrance when I type. But luckily I don’t have this issue with my smaller (38 mm to 40 mm diameter) automatic watches. But again, that’s just me and this will vary depending on your body and preference.

There’s also titanium watches out there that will be much lighter that a typical stainless steel automatic watch. So if lightweight is your preference, then you can get one of these (for a bit of premium of course).

Thus, my advice is to test out the watches and feel for yourselves if its something that you can wear or not. Do remember that watch diameter will heavily influence its weight, so if you want a light watch, then most often that not, a small diameter is what you need. And as I’ve touched above, watches with a titanium case can also be a good choice for lightweight watch.

Automatic Watch Price: Why Is It So Expensive?

Automatic watch usually can be had for upwards of $150 (for Japanese and non-Western brands) and upwards of $500 for Swiss/Europe/US brands – with very high upper limits, going into hundred of thousands of dollars and some even millions!

So why is this very expensive price for a piece of watch?

Firstly, we need to understand that the automatic watch movement consists of over one hundred of minuscule parts, hence the manufacturing cost of these parts will be much more that what a normal quartz watch has. In addition, the movement will usually need some human intervention in its assembly, thus increasing labor costs associated with its production.

Since that is the case, automatic watchmakers know that they have to give more value to their watch to separate it from the run-of-the-mill quartz watches. Hence, the use of better materials (stainless steel, titanium, even gold) and delicate finishing on it. This will proposition their watch to a higher price bracket to rack in more profit per watch.

And that’s why automatic watches are usually marketed towards the well-to-do people as an exclusive device, something of a higher value that normal quartz watch. After all, nor everyone can pay hundreds of dollars for a watch right?

Where To Buy Automatic Watch?

The easiest way to buy an automatic watch is by walking into a watch store. You can see, feel and try the watches for yourselves and assess if this is the watch that you prefer. Often times I’ve fallen in love with some watches that I saw on internet, only to realize that its not really something that I prefer once I’ve seen it in person. So do have a look at it in store and see the watch for yourselves.

automatic watch guide what is

So yeah, a brick and mortar store is still the easiest way to buy a watch as you can try it out first. These stores are usually the authorized dealers (AD) for that particular watch brand which means you will be buying something that is 100% real with full manufacturer warranty.

But if you want to save some money, especially for buying an automatic watch less that $1,000 mark, buying online is the cheapest way to buy it.

You can easily get 20% to 30% discount off your automatic watch prices if you buy it online. Online stores (either through their own website of through Amazon, EBay, Jomashop, LongIslandWatches etc.) can give cheaper prices because they don’t have to pay for the rental of the physical stores.

But its not the easiest since you do have to compare and choose a good vendor before you purchase it. This is the most important step because there are counterfeits out there but a good & reputable online store will be selling gray market watches – 100% original but since its not sold by an AD, it won’t be getting the manufacturer’s warranty.

That is another important point to understand. With a gray market watch, you will only have the vendor’s warranty (e.g Amazon, etc.) and not the manufacturer’s warranty. So if something goes wrong, you will need to send the watch back to the vendor and that will incur some costs for you and it will be a bit more complicated compared to the official manufacturer warranty.

But from my own experience, I never have any issue with my online purchases and never need to claim any warranty whatsoever. The key here is to select a good and reputable vendor with lots of positive reviews/comments from buyers. With this, you can reduce the likelihood that you’re getting a lemon unit and save time and money from the hassle of claiming warranty.

What I usually did is to scout the watch that I like on physical stores – see it, try it on and check out its prices. Then I do a comparison with online stores and see which one has the best offer. Do note that with online store, you have to add in postal price as well as any insurance or excise duty as an automatic watch purchase is expensive and you might need to pay for it (depending on your country).

Some Common Automatic Watch Brands

Below are some of the common automatic watch brands currently in the market, in order of increasing luxury, price and affordability. Do note that this is just a general guideline and not to be taken as a definite rule. By the way, some brands do produce wide range of watches encompassing many pricing levels (such as Seiko).

  1. Entry Level: Seiko, Citizen, Orient, Invicta, Stuhrling, Fossil, Tissot, Hamilton
  2. Mid Level: Oris, Longines, Sinn, Rado, Laco, Christopher Ward, Raymond Weil
  3. Entry Level Luxury: Tag Heuer, Tudor, Nomos, Bell&Ross;, Grand Seiko
  4. Mid Level Luxury: Rolex, Omega, Breitling, Blancpain, Hublot, Cartier, Panerai
  5. High-End/Ultra Luxury: Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin, Audemars Piguet, A. Lange & Sohne

Taking Care Of Your Automatic Watch So That It Will Last Long


With such a delicate (not to mention expensive) item, you do need to take good care of your automatic watch. Below are some of the top tips on how you should take care of it so that it will last long:

  1. Avoid sudden shock/impact: As the movement consists of lots of small parts, a sudden impact might screw up these parts, causing damage to the movement.
  2. Keep it clean: You need to keep it always clean from dirt or water to ensure it can last long.
  3. Away from magnets and electronics: The various metal parts inside it might get magnetized when being in close proximity with magnets or electronic items. Getting magnetized is bad as it will cause inaccuracy to the watch.
  4. Get it serviced when its time: Without a proper service from time to time, the watch will not run as good as its first day. The same rules with automobiles or any mechanical devices applies to automatic watches.
  5. Store it in a proper place: It’s highly recommended to get a proper watch storage box if you intend to store your watch for long period of time.

If you want to learn more about how to take care of your automatic watches, read my previous post here.

Final Question: Is Automatic Watch Worth It?

So get to the last part of this article: is automatic watch worth it? Should you get one?

And the answer is it depends and varies from person to person.

For me, I personally enjoy having automatic watches because of its unique character. It’s run entirely by mechanical energy without any usage of electric/electronic parts like everything else around us nowadays. For me, that’s very refreshing and I always enjoy my mechanical-based automatic watch compared to my quartz based watch. I also love the fact that it contains a cool piece of engineering and workmanship, all on my wrist.

True enough, its also more expensive but you’re getting a finer watch in that package. My automatic watches all have more refinement and greater finishing that an ordinary watch costing less that $100. So yes, for that premium price, you’re getting a better overall watch in terms of material, fit and finish.

But just be warned, its still an expensive purchase so I always advice those new with automatic watch to buy an affordable one first and see if you like it or not. Automatic watch does has its own flaws and you need to know whether you can live with it. By buying a cheaper automatic watch first, you won’t lose out too much money if you decided that its not suitable to you.

For some of the cheaper automatic watches out there, check out my list of the affordable watches under $200, under $500 and under $1,000 that you can grab today.

I hope with this information, you will be know more about automatic watch, how it works, its advantage and, most importantly, its disadvantage. Without a doubt, an automatic watch is an expensive purchase and that’s the reason why you should know everything about it before you make the decision to buy one.

If you have any doubts, don’t hesitate to contact me by commenting below. Till next time.

Cheers!

The Complete Guide About Chronograph Watch

what-is-chronograph-watch

One of the things that often confuse me in the past is chronograph watch. It has a cool utilitarian look but what exactly does it do? I’ve decided to find out about more about chronograph watch and here is what I found.

So what is a chronograph watch? Chronograph watch is a watch with stopwatch functionality (able to track/record time) added to it. So in essence, a chronograph is a two-in-one device whereby you’re getting a normal watch AND a stopwatch in a single device.

In this article, I’m going to share with you all I know about chronograph watch: how to read it, how do you use it, its history, the different types of chronograph watches, and lastly, how to choose a suitable chronograph watch for you. So if you’re interested, keep on reading!

Table of Content:

  1. How Do You Read Chronograph Watch?
  2. How To Use Chronograph Watch?
  3. What Are The Uses Or Functions Of Chronograph Watch?
  4. Bezel Scales Used On Chronographs
  5. History Of Chronograph Watch. Who Invented It First?
  6. The Different Types Of Chronograph Watch
  7. How Does A Chronograph Work? The Different Movements Used In The Chronograph
  8. What Is The Difference Between Chronograph And Chronometer?
  9. How To Choose The Suitable Chronograph Watch For You

How Do You Read Chronograph Watch?

how to read chronograph watch
An analog chronograph

Chronograph watch can be quite confusing (especially the analog type), but trust me, once you’ve got the hang of it, it will be easy to read. Let’s get into the analog type first as it’s the harder one to read.

First of all, there are many subdials (or the small circles on the dial) that will be used to tell time. I’m sure you’re well aware about the normal 3-hands analog watch (1 hand or needle each to show the hour, minute and second). The subdials are placed on the dial to show/record the time for the chronograph.

There will be a dedicated subdial to show the seconds (placed at the below part of the watch pictured here), a subdial for minutes (left side) and a subdial for hours (right side). If you look closely, you will notice that the seconds and minutes subdials have 60 parts while the hour subdial only has 24 parts (denoted by its markers).

This shows that this particular chronograph can only track time up to 24 hours since that’s the maximum hours that it can display on its chronograph subdial. This is important to know about because some chronographs can only show lower amount of hours while others can go on for longer.

This brings me to another point: there are many chronograph designs out there. For example, the subdials can be positioned elsewhere, there might not be a seconds subdial and instead it will use the main seconds hand for chronograph, there might not even be a subdial for hours, etc.

It’s good to know that many chronograph design exist and you just have to figure it out by yourselves by remembering the basic anatomy of it.

For a digital chronograph, things are much simpler as the tracked time is displayed right there on the screen. There’s not much guess work needed here.

how to read chronograph
A digital chronograph

How To Use Chronograph Watch?

Using a chronograph watch is easy and is similar whether you’re using an analog or digital types. There are 2 different buttons (or pushers, as it’s called in horology) that are normally positioned on the right side of the watch, at 2 and 4 o’clock positions.

Normally, the top pusher is used to control the chronograph. A single push will start the chronograph and you can see the seconds hand starting to move to record time. Pushing this pusher again will pause it, and you can resume the time by pushing it again.

The bottom pusher is used to reset the chronograph. So say you’ve started the time and pause it, you can reset it all back to zero by pushing the bottom pusher.

Now, this is the basic and most common way on how to use a chronograph watch. Certain higher end chronographs will have more functions (more on that later on), and hence it will be more complicated to use it. If in doubt, I highly recommend reading the user manual for your particular chronograph watch so that you will fully understand how to operate it and get the best out of it.

What Are The Uses Or Functions Of Chronograph Watch?

Basically, you can use a chronograph watch as a timer to record the time of anything, such as a racing event, examination time, for cooking (the time for something to finished cooking based on the recipe), swimming – basically anything that requires some timing can be done using a chronograph.

Without a doubt, you can always do these timing mentally by using a normal watch (subtracting the current time with the time you started the activity/event). But of course, it’s not an easy task, especially as you’ve grown older. In addition, some events can last only few seconds making it harder to track using normal watch.

That’s where a chronograph comes in. As a stopwatch, it’s really easy to use and will make tracking the duration of any event much easier, not to mention more accurate. In fact, one of its first wide use is to help officials time horse racing events.

Bezel Scales Used On Chronographs

how to use chronograph

Chronographs have been widely popular among flight pilots due to its ability to help in speeding up calculations for speed and precise timing, and this is thanks to the bezel scales.

In addition to being able to track time, chronographs were also equipped with bezel scales that can be used to help aviators or anyone easily.

So what are the bezel scales used on chronographs? There are about 4 different types of bezel scales mainly used in chronographs nowadays: tachymeter, telemeter, pulsometer and slide bezel rule.

The first is tachymeter, the more popular of the bezel scales (I’m pretty sure you can spot this word on the bezel of many chronographs). Tachymeter scale is used with the stopwatch to do rapid calculations on the speed of an object, provided the event lasts more than 7.2 seconds.

To use the tachymeter, you will need to know the distance of what the object will travel. Start the chronograph once it’s at the starting point and stop it after 1 mile or 1 km (the scale is unit less). The seconds hand will show the elapsed time the object traveled/flew in the 1 mile or km, as well as pointing to a number on the tachymeter scale. This number is the speed of the object in miles per hour or km per hour (depending on the length chosen to do the measurement).

Although tachymeter bezel scale is not really that easy to use (you still need a rough estimate of the travel length of the object), it’s a great little device that can be used easily with ample training. It’s also a real fun device to be used when visiting the race track as you can easily use it to know how fast your favorite racer is going.

The second bezel scale is telemeter and is the less frequently used scale of the two. If the tachymeter helps to find speed, the telemeter helps to find distance between the position of the person holding the watch and somewhere the event takes place.

The scale uses the concept of the speed of sound, whereby you start the chronograph when an event started (artillery fire, lightning bolt, explosion etc.) and stop it once you’ve heard it. The chronograph seconds hand will show the elapsed time and also the duration on the telemeter scale (either in km or mile).

Although its a great scale, it’s use is not fairly useful for most of us. I’d say only those working with artillery and the likes (e.g military men) will find it useful.

The next scale is pulsometer, that can be used to check the number of pulses per minute and is very useful for doctors. So instead of having to do their own calculations mentally on how many pulses/heart beats per minute, the pulsometer scale helps them to do it easily.

The doctor will need to start the chronograph and count the number of pulses to 15 or 30 (depending on the scale) and stop it once the count is done. The number shown on the pulsometer is the pulses per minute.

There’s also another type of bezel scale called the slide bezel rule that is very nifty in making fast calculations. Although you don’t need a chronograph to be able to use the slide rule bezel, it’s usually placed on top of a chronograph alongside the tachymeter scale. (If you want to know more about the slide rule bezel, read my previous post about it).

Another advantage of having these scales on the chronograph is the extra coolness radiating from the very busy dial. Without a doubt, that’s one of the major attraction of the chronograph – it just looks so cool. Yes, it’s very nifty to have around but I bet most of us that like it were attracted due to the very cool, stylish and busy dial in the first place LOL!

History Of Chronograph Watch. Who Invented It First?

It’s hard to talk about chronograph without looking into its history. One cool fact is the term “chronograph” is a combination of the Greek words “chronos” meaning time and “graph” meaning writing. So chronograph literally means writing time in English.

Chronograph Louis Moinet 1816 Compteur de Tierces
Louis Moinet Chronograph “Compteur de Tierces”

The chronograph or stopwatch with the form as we know it now was first invented by the French horologist, Louis Moinet in 1816. Louis Moinet was a genius in watchmaking and he created the chronograph (named as “Compteur de Tierces”) to assist with astronomical equipment.

The first marketable chronograph was invented by Nicolas Mathieu Rieussec in 1821. Nicolas was the Watchmaker to the King of French and invented his chronograph so that the King can timed his horse racing. He was also a businessman and saw the opportunity to market his device to the racing community, and thus spread the use of chronographs.

Chronograph Nicolas Rieussec 1821
Nicolas Rieussec Chronograph

An interesting story is Nicolas’ chronograph was hailed as the first chronograph invented for decades until Louis Moinet’s chronograph was discovered in 2013!

What’s exciting is how Louis’ creation was so ahead of time. First of all, it looks much more like a modern stopwatch (you can just compare the two pictures and tell me which one looks like a stopwatch). It is able to measure up to 60th of a second, thanks to its technologically impressive 216,000 vibrations per hour. This was a big deal as the usual vibrations per hour is around 28,800 times, even to this day!

Louis also incorporated a start, stop and reset function – something that the horology industry only invented in the 1930s. Truthfully, the Compteur de Tierces was groundbreaking and had it been discovered earlier (or had Louis applied for a patent on this), the watchmaking industry will be moving at a greater pace than what it was.

An automatic chronograph (self-winding instead of manual winding) was only conceived in the 1969 by 3 parties: a Heuer-Breitling-Buren/Hamilton partnership with their Chronomatic movement, Zenith with their El Primero and Seiko with Ref. 6139.

The Different Types Of Chronograph Watch

What are the different types of chronograph? There are about 5 types of chronograph currently most known, which are normal chronograph, flyback, rattrapante/split-second, foudroyante and regatta. Each of these have their own functionalities and advantages which I’ll explain below.

1) Normal chronograph:

The normal chronograph is the typical stopwatch with normal functionality. It has the most basic functions which are start, stop and reset functions.

2) Flyback chronograph:

Flyback chronograph (also known as retour-en-vol in french) saves time to restart a timing just by pushing the reset button. So instead of having to push 3 times/buttons to stop, reset and start the timing, a flyback chronograph can simplify these actions into one push of a button to reset the time to zero and immediately start the timing.

This functionality is very useful for those that need quick successions of timing with just a single push of a button.

3) Split second chronograph:

A split-second chronograph (also called as rattrapante in french) has 2 seconds hand/needle that can be used to easily track the time of racing laps. The chronograph will start as usual but as you finished a lap, you can push a dedicated split-second pusher to stop one seconds hand whilst the other hand will continue the timing. You can then use this opportunity to record the time on paper. Once done, pushing the same pusher will bring the stopped hand to align with the continuous hand.

4) Foudroyante chronograph:

Foudroyante chronograph is basically a chronograph with the ability to show time measurements up to fraction of a second. There is usually a dedicated subdial for this, with the markings in various fractions of seconds (6, 8 or 10). While this is very easy to do with a quartz-based chronograph to show the 1/10 second fractions, it can be hard to achieve in automatic movement chronograph as the balance wheel usually only has 6 or 8 beats per second, and hence the 6/8 fractions display.

5) Regatta chronograph:

The last, and arguably the rarest and most complex chronograph is the regatta chronograph, which is invented specifically for yachting race events. In the simplest term, regatta chronograph is basically a timer, in which you can input the specified time and then upon activating it, the watch will count down to zero. This is very important for yachting as the signal to start is usually in the successions of 10/5/1 minutes. Hence, a timer is necessary so that all competitors can prepare for the start.

How Does A Chronograph Work? The Different Movements Used In The Chronograph

There are 2 main movements used for chronographs: automatic and quartz based movements. As you might have known, the quartz based movement is also electronically based, hence there is no real technical challenges in making a chronograph as it can be programmed into it. There will be additional motors and bigger battery required for it to work, but these are not really difficult (I mean if mankind can create a watch to take phone calls, its not a big problem to create a watch that can be a stopwatch right?)

what is chronograph watch

The real technical challenge is in automatic or mechanical movement chronographs. As the movement is mechanical based without any electric/electronic parts, the timekeeping mechanism for a chronograph is much more complex than a normal automatic watch (hence why chronograph is also one of the “complications” in horology).

There are 2 separate systems with an automatic chronograph: the main timekeeping system and the chronograph system. The main timekeeping system will run all the time while the chronograph is only engaged when it’s needed.

To enable the chronograph to start, the connection between the two system/gear trains needed to be done via a coupling. Like any motorized vehicle, this coupling is achieved by a clutch and there are 2 main clutch systems used nowadays which are the horizontal clutch and vertical clutch. Pressing the start button will engage the clutch, couples the chronograph gears to the main gears and starts the stopwatch.

In terms of construction, chronograph movements can be divided into 2 main groups: integrated and modular. The difference between the 2 is the basic design. The integrated design is the best in terms of footprint and volume as the whole watch movement (main timekeeping and chronograph) are designed as one unit.

The other modular design, in comparison, is like Lego in which the chronograph module is added on top of the base timekeeping module. Although it’s not as efficient as the integrated design, modular designs has the ability to make the watchmaking less expensive as different modules or complications can be created and used in conjunction with the base module (which can also be used as a normal vanilla automatic watch in itself!).

What Is The Difference Between Chronograph And Chronometer?

rolex chronometerVery often, people would confuse between chronograph and chronometer – I know about this all too well because I was also one of them.

So what is the difference between chronograph and chronometer? Basically, a chronograph is a function (watch with stopwatch) and a chronometer is refers to a watch that is very accurate and precise.

And yes, a watch can also be a chronograph AND a chronometer.

Confused? Let me explain.

A chronograph is a watch that has a stopwatch function, just like what was explained in the early part of this article. The easiest way to spot a chronograph is by looking at the watch: if it has additional subdials showing second, minutes and hours, it’s most likely a chronograph. In addition, having additional pushers/buttons at the side of the watch is a tell-tale sign of a chronograph watch.

A chronometer, however, is a term affixed to a watch that has outstanding accuracy and precision. A watch can only be called a chronometer once it has been tested by the COSC institute and clears all the requirement for a very accurate watch (you can read about this requirement in my previous post here).

A watch can be a chronograph AND a chronometer if it has the stopwatch function and also has outstanding accuracy, cleared by the COSC institute. I’d have to say this is as good as a chronograph can be with the precision of a chronometer.

How To Choose The Suitable Chronograph Watch For You

Choosing a suitable chronograph can be quite challenging, notwithstanding the many choices around us nowadays. For me, I recommend these 4 criteria (price, movement type, maintenance and style) that you need to assess for yourselves to choose the best chronograph your you.

1) Price

The first factor is price, which is also the main factor whenever you’re choosing a watch. The price of chronographs can vary greatly depending on its movement (automatic is much more expensive than quartz), and material and finishing of the watch (a rose gold chronograph is without a doubt more expensive than a stainless steel one).

But, the biggest factor in watch pricing is the brand. For example, a chronograph from Swiss top brands e.g Patek Philippe is more expensive than normal brands e.g Tissot, Seiko. The reason is simple: a top Swiss brand will utilize the best movement, material, finishing as well as being exclusive – hence the reason why it’s price can shoot up to the roof.

In comparison, normal brands uses cheaper materials and movement, as well as being mass-produced so that their products is more affordable to the normal people.

To this, I’d suggest getting a rough estimate on what is your budget will be for your chronograph. With this budget, you can then focus on certain brands that has watches inside your budget range, thus making it easier for you to make a decision. I’d also want to highlight that you should also have a budget on the maintenance needed to keep your watch in good condition (more on that later).

2) Movement Type

You can choose between automatic or quartz chronographs. Although automatic chronograph is a great device with the highest form of watchmaking, it’s also much more expensive and will be bulky. Not to mention its maintenance will cost a bomb due to the many parts inside it.

In comparison, a quartz chronograph can be very slim thanks to the use of electronics and motors inside it. It’s also much more accurate than an automatic chronograph, at a much lower price point. For an average person, I’d have to say a quartz chronograph is your best bet, because of its technical advantage and the high price tag of what the same automatic chronograph can be.

True enough, you can get a vintage automatic chronograph for an affordable price but how long can you keep maintaining it (which will also cost more money down the road).

Another reason why I prefer quartz chronograph is because you can get a solar powered version, and hence make your life more convenient with the solar recharging feature. With it, you can use your chronographs all day long without having to worry about the battery depleting sooner – a solar chronograph is basically the best watch combo there is!

You should also think of any extra functionality that you would require such as flyback, split-second, foudroyante or regatta. If you’re into motor racing, then the flyback or split-second would be a good choice to accompany you to the track. The regatta is also useful not only to those into yachting but also because of its timer function.

Again, these functions will be very expensive with an automatic chronograph but will only cost a fraction on a quartz chronograph.

3) Maintenance

Maintenance is also another factor that you need to consider when buying a chronograph. Bear in mind that a chronograph is more complicated than a normal watch and there is a higher probability that something will go wrong with a chronograph than a normal watch. In addition, the chronograph will also need to be periodically maintained or serviced later on (more applicable to analog chronographs).

While we cannot control whether a watch will develop some issues down the road, the only thing that we can do is to assess how much it will cost and the efforts associated to maintain or repair the watch. To this, the automatic chronograph will cost much more to service as it has more components inside it. Not to mention you might need to send the watch to a regional service center, or worse, to its headquarters if your watch is exclusive.

Quartz chronographs also need to be maintained but this usually only involves the periodic battery change. Something could also go wrong with a quartz chronograph but the cost of repair is usually not that significant and it might even cheaper to just buy a new one rather than getting it repaired.

4) Style

The last factor in deciding the chronograph for you is the style. There are various styles that you can choose for your chronograph ranging from dressy, sporty, dive and casual. For me, I’d prefer a more sporty chronographs because you can then wear it to outdoor or racing events. Dressy watches looks great and all, but it’s usage is limited and will look out-of-place if used for outdoor activities.

I hope this article about chronographs is beneficial to you. If you have any questions or anything to add, do let me know by commenting below.

Till next time then. Cheers!

Which Wrist Should You Wear Your Watch On?

what-wrist-do-you-wear-watch

I still remember when I got my watch as a kid, I’m not entirely sure how to wear it. I know how to strap it on my wrist but then which wrist should I wear it on? It was only after few years (and some more watches) that I can say how best to wear a watch is.

So what wrist should you wear a watch on? Generally, most people will wear their watch on the left wrist because that’s their non-dominant hand (i.e most people are right-handed). If you’re left-handed, then you can wear your watch on your right hand (your non-dominant hand).

There are a lot of benefits in wearing your watch on your non-dominant hand as it’s basically the best way to achieve greater comfort-ability and operability in your daily lives. The watch industry knows this and this is the reason why watches are traditionally designed to be worn on the left. Of course, there’s nothing wrong if anyone wants to wear their watches on the right.

4 Benefits Of Wearing A Watch On Left (or Non-Dominant) Hand

The reason why most watches are worn on the left hand is because mankind’s most common dominant hand is right hand, so the watch is traditionally worn on the non-dominant hand (i.e left wrist).

But what are the benefits of wearing a watch on your left hand? There are 4 major benefits to wear a watch on your left wrist or non-dominant hand:

1) Easy to tell time without disrupting work.

It’s a fact that we will use our dominant hand the most for complex and stuffs that require precision such as writing, painting, woodwork etc. Our dominant hand is the one that we have most control about and is usually the one we used the most.

Because of this, wearing watch on the non-dominant hand is most beneficial as you can easily tell time without stopping what you’re doing with your right/dominant hand. But if you wear your watch on your dominant hand, you will need to stop whatever you’re doing just to tell time – which is not really effective.

Thus, wearing your watch on your non-dominant hand is the best for those wanting efficiency in their lives. All that’s needed then is a flick on your left wrist and you can still tell time without stopping your work

2) Less weight on dominant hand

Wearing a watch will put on some weight on our hand and this is one of the reason why most people chose to wear it on their non-dominant hand. Your right hand is already occupied with tons of things to do and the last thing that you want is another few hundred grams of weight on it. Although a watch does not weight much but it will definitely affect your wrist movement.

One thing that I wants to highlight is the weight of a watch heavily dependent on what material is used to make it. For example, a watch made from stainless steel can add a substantial weight to your wrist (automatic watches, for instance, is almost always heavier than other types of watches due to this).

This is not the case with plastic based watches (such as most quartz-sports watches, fitness trackers, smartwatches) where it can be very light thanks to lightweight materials used such as plastic, silicon, rubber etc.

3) Easier to do work with dominant hand

For me, I personally feel more liberated if my dominant hand is free of anything i.e watches, bracelet, etc. I’m a right-handed guy and use my right hand by default for almost everything in my life. Because of this, I don’t feel comfortable having anything strapped on my right hand as it will obstruct its movement.

This is particularly the case with doing things such as writing, taking notes, using computer mouse, drawing and other things that require my right hand to be placed near a surface/table. Wearing a watch on my right hand will obstruct its movement so much so my productivity will be reduced. In this case, it’s much better to wear my watch on my left hand instead.

4) Avoid damaging on the watch

what wrist do you wear watchIn addition to the functionality of wearing a watch on the non-dominant hand, this practice can also help to avoid damage on the watch. For example, the dominant hand will usually be used for doing heavy stuffs such as lifting things, chopping wood, repairing machines etc.

Such activities pose more danger of damaging the watch should it is worn on the dominant hand.

Now, I’m not saying that your watch won’t get damaged if you wear it on your non-dominant hand (I’ve personally scratched my watches even though I’m wearing it on my left wrist LOL!) but at least, you will be able to avoid or reduce the risk of it being damaged by doing so.

Another thing to remember is that sometimes a damage to the watch is not just it being crushed to the point it cannot be used. You can always pick up some damages like scratches on the watch surface and crystal mostly from brushing the watch with hard things like steel, concrete or a rock.

While these type of exterior damages are not that severe, it is going to make your watch looks not as beautiful as it originally is, not to mention the heartache associated – for example, I’m always in agony when I look at my $500 Seiko Sumo covered in scratches because I didn’t take good care of it!

Most Watches Are Designed To Be Worn On The Left Wrist

As most people wear their watches on their left hands, this fact was picked up by the watch industry and the design of watches were corresponding to this. For instance, we can find that almost all watches have crowns located on their right side of the watch. Without a doubt, this was designed so that right-handed people (which consists of the majority of people) can operate the crown easily to change its time/day/date.

In addition to this, the pushers are also traditionally put on the right side. As these pushers are used to operate the chronographs or set the watch, it’s important to place it where it will be easily accessible i.e the right side of the watch (at least for most of us right-handed guys!).

We can see even current smartwatch designs seem to follow this concept as most of their interact able physical buttons are on the right side of the watch. Granted, you can use the touchscreen on the smartwatch to operate it but it will not have the same operability as the physical buttons.

While many of these smartwatches use buttons, Apple’s watch use of rotating crown is by far the most right-handed centric as it’s very hard for a left-handed guy to use it. Fortunately, you can set it to be a left-handed device (I just love when they seem to think about everything through). But still, in my opinion, the rotating bezel on the Samsung watch is by far, the easiest way for a left-handed guy to use the watch easily.

Can You Wear Your Watch On The Right Wrist? Definitely!

wear watch on right handSo can you wear your watch on your right wrist? It’s totally okay to wear your watch on your right wrist – it’s your watch after all and you can wear in whatever way you prefer. If the right wrist is better for you, then go on with it.

This is definitely the case with left-handed people as they will not prefer to wear their watches on their dominant hand. In this instance, it’s actually better for them to wear it on their right hand as it will make them easier to do things with their dominant left hands.

But as I’ve mentioned above, most watches are designed to be worn on the left wrist so there’s little choice for those wanting a right-handed watch AND is operatable easily. There are some watch companies that produce left-handed centric watches but it’s too far in between.

If you will only use your watch to tell time and don’t usually need to operate it (i.e a chronograph, etc.), then wearing a typical watch on your right wrist is going to be just fine. But if you wants to use your chronographs often, then it’s better to wear it on your left hand or get a left-handed centric watch should you wants to wear it on your right wrist.

Man vs Woman: Any Difference On Which Hand To Wear The Watch?

While there’s common saying that man and woman should wear their watches on different hands, I don’t find this true. In my observation, I can say that most people (man and woman) wear their watches on their left hands because of the reasons above (non-dominant hand, preference).

There are also some man and woman who wear their watches on their right hand, but these are mostly left-handed people so such a thing is better for them.

But in terms of this gender-specific rule of using a watch, it’s basically a misconception and you should not think too much about it. Just wear the watch on your non-dominant hand and you will be okay (see the 4 benefits of doing so) or you can just follow your preference. Either way, I believe that you should always wear your watch in a way that’s most comfortable and preferable to you.

Hope this article will help you to decide what wrist you should wear your watch on. Although wearing the watch on the non-dominant hand (the left wrist for most of us) is the best, you can always wear it on your dominant hand depending on your preference. After all, you paid for it and you should enjoy your watches as you like it.

Do share your thoughts in this matter by commenting below.

Cheers!