by Marcus Leach
There comes a time (no pun intended, honest) in a man's life when he decides to buy himself a watch, a classic timepiece that will last him for life. But, given the huge variety in both actual watches and cost, how does one go about this?
First up you need to answer a few basic questions, as this will automatically narrow your choices down and help point you in the right direction.
• When will you be wearing your watch?
• Is this an everyday watch, or more for special occasions, or maybe even for sporting activities?
• What is your budget?
Once you have the answers to these you task will be a little easier, after all you're not about to wear a Patek Phillipe scuba diving, or a classic Cassio sports watch with your dinner jacket. Now you need to have an idea of the main types of watches, and what you get with each type.
• Do you want an analog, digital or combination of the two?
The classic and more formal analog watch will display a 12-hour day on its face and uses 'hands' to determine the time. In contrast to that the digital, and less formal watch, will use either an LCD (liquid crystal display) or LED (light emitting diode) face to display the time in numeric form.
• How is your watch powered?
This isn't so much a choice as useful knowledge - as depending on what type of watch you go for, analog or digital, this will determine how it is powered. Your standard digital watch will be battery powered, with quartz analog watches running courtesy of a tiny vibrating, electrified quartz crystal. The main benefit here is just how accurate they are - you can rest assured within the space of a year they will keep to within a minute of the actual time you first set.
Finally you have mechanical watches which, due to their intricate design and craftsmanship, tend to go for the highest prices. They are powered by a complex array of gears and springs, but the downside is that they need to be wound regularly as they can loose up to an hour a year.
Now it is on to what might seem like less important details, but in fact, as with everything, it is the detail that matters most. If you are buying a sports watch, which are very durable and made from high-quality plastic composites, a lot of the following will not apply. However, if it is a more classic watch that you are plumping for then take note.
• What case will my watch have?
This is not the box it comes in but rather the frame of the watch itself. Analog watch cases can be all manner of shapes - round, square, rectangular and polygonal - and will usually be made of metal. Due to the high cost of precious metals like silver and gold they will often be mixed with less valuable metals to keep costs down. That said good watchmakers will still turn out a top quality product, despite this dilution of the metal.
• What is the best watch crystal?
Unless your name is Snoop Dogg this does not mean the jewels and gems set into your watch, but rather the cover that protects your watch face. Depending on how much you are spending you will get one of a few different types of crystal. So what do you go for? Well, the most scratch resistant, and therefore most expensive, is synthetic sapphire, with the cheapest option, and thus most likely to scratch, is plexiglass. Be warned, synthetic sapphire can break easily. Your best bet, for both cost and over all quality, is to go with the middle of the road mineral glass option.
• What strap shall I have?
This is simply down to personal choice. You can either go for leather or metal, which will be in the form of links. No matter which option you prefer make sure that the watch fits on your wrist comfortably, and without sliding up and down your arm with the slightest movement.
So, there you have it, now all you need to do is go and buy your dream watch. Prices will vary based on all of the above variables so go with what you can afford and enjoy wearing it.