Are you thinking of buying a wristwatch online? Join the crowd! Watches have become one of the most popular online purchases. But as you may have already discovered, the enormous variety of styles and brands can be a bit confusing. Here are some guidelines that hopefully will help you to narrow your choice.
First there is the issue of size. Watches have gotten much large over the past few years. While a typical men’s watch may have measured 32-35mm a few years ago, newer men’s watches average 38-42mm with some as large as 55mm. Rectangular watches of course tend to be narrower than round watches. Average case width for a mens’ rectangular watch is 28-34mm. Bigger watches look great in pictures, but unless you’ve tried one on, and like it – a big watch can be a great conversation piece – you should probably stay in that 40mm range.
Ladies’ watches have gotten larger as well, although many women opt to wear men’s watches these days. A large watch on a woman’s wrist can make a bold fashion statement. But if you are shopping for an average size ladies’ watch, anything under 24mm would be considered “petite”, 24-28mm “average”, and 28mm and up large. An average size ladies’ rectangular watch would be 18-22mm.
Quartz v. Mechanical. You may have heard the terms “quartz” watch and “mechanical” or “automatic” watch, but don’t really know what is the difference, or which is better. A quartz watch is simply an electronic watch, usually powered by a battery, although some are solar, and others are powered by kinetic enery. A good quality quartz watch is extremely accurate and reliable. They are also relatively less expensive than mechanical watches. The only maintenance they require is an occasional battery change. A quartz watch is the best choice for most people who just want an inexpensive, reliable watch to tell the time.
Most Citizen Watches have a technology called “Eco-Drive” which is really just a fancy way of saying solar-powered quartz watch. Solar powered watches don’t have a battery that you need to change, but an internal capacitor that will power the watch for several months when fully charged. Casio, and a number of other manufacturers also offer solar powered watches.
A mechanical watch, is a wind-up watch powered by a spring that turns a series of gears and eventually the hands. It is a more traditional technology that goes back several hundred years. “Automatic” mechanical watches are self-winding. The way this works is that a small rotor on the back of the watch’s movement spins around with any movement as you wear your watch. As it spins, it winds a spring, which provides power to the watch. When the spring is fully wound, it will typically power the watch for about 42 hours before it needs to be wound again.
Mechanical watches are popular with collectors and watch enthusiasts. Properly maintained, a good quality mechanical watch can last a lifetime and even become an heirloom.
Analog v. Digital. Analog watches are simply watches with moving hands. A digital watch is a watch with a small LED or LCD screen that displays the time in a digital format. Analog watches are considered to be somewhat more elegant and dressy, as well as traditional. The function of an analog watch is usually limited to time, day, date and maybe a stopwatch or an alarm. Digital watches frequently provide much more functionality than analog watches. Some of the newer digital watches are equipped with functions such as electronic compasses, altimeters, barometers, thermometers, timers and multiple alarms.
Another factor to consider is the “crystal”. The crystal is the glass that covers the dial. Crystals are usually made of acrylic, mineral glass, or cultured sapphire crystal. Acrylic scratches very easily, but can also be polished to remove minor abrasions.
Mineral glass is more resistant to scratching than acrylic, but cannot be polished once it gets scratched, although it is relatively inexpensive to replace. A watch with a good quality mineral crystal should hold up pretty well if you are gentle with your watches.
A sapphire crystal is virtually impossible to scratch, and theoretically can only be scratches by a diamond, or another sapphire. Watches with sapphire crystals are usually more expensive, but stay looking great for longer.
If you are looking for a “work horse” watch that you plan to wear most days, for a long time, the case material is important. Solid stainless steel, titanium or gold watches will last much longer than watches which are constructed of a base metal, and plated with another material. They also will not rust, and are less likely to provoke allergic reactions on your skin.
Swiss v. Japanese. The best watches in the world are made in either Switzerland or in Japan. The Japanese are perhaps best know for the quartz watch. Seiko, Citizen and Casio are the largest Japanese watch manufacturers and are highly respected for their quality. When you buy a Swiss watch, look for the small label on the dial that says “Swiss Made”. This guarantees the watch was constructed in Switzerland and meets a minimal standard of quality required by the Swiss government. The Swiss are best known for mechanical watches, but also produce high quality quartz watches as well.
Leather v. Metal Bracelet. This is mostly a matter of taste, but there are other factors to consider as well. Leather straps are very comfortable, lightweight and more dressy, but must be replaced periodically because sweat and dirt from your wrist causes them to wear out over time. Metal bracelets are more popular in the United States than in other places and are very durable, although some people consider them to be less comfortable. Rubber straps combine some of the durability of metal bracelets, with the comfort of leather. Rubber straps are becoming more acceptable in dressy situations and are sometimes seen on quite expensive watches.
When you buy a watch online, make sure you are comfortable with the vendor’s return policy so that you can return the watch you purchased if it isn’t quite what you expected. As with anything purchased online, you should also carefully inspect your watch as soon as you receive it, so that you can immediately report any problem to the vendor. The larger vendors are generally very good at quality control.
If you have a large wrist – over 8 inches for a man and over 7 inches for a woman – you should be aware that not every watch will fit you out of the box. Online watch dealers usually have great customer service department that can help you find a watch that will fit.
The final tip to buying a watch online is look for a vendor that has daily deals. In addition to convenience and outstanding selections, most online watch dealers have daily specials that can save you hundreds if not thousands on the watch of your choice. If you find a watch dealer that has daily deals but your favorite watch never seems to go on sale, call them directly and ask for a deal. You would be surprised on how often they will offer you a discount right on the spot.