People buy watches for many reasons. Maybe it’s your daughters graduation, or maybe your son has made the local football team or maybe it’s your partners birthday.
Maybe you’re going on an expedition or holiday and your current watch is not up to it. Or maybe your watch has just plain died and its time to get a new one.
Well you’ve come to the right place!
The internet has become a huge part of peoples lives these days. Its a great way to research the options and a great place to buy.
You’ll want to decide on the main purpose of the watch. Just telling the time? Just telling someone that you love and appreciate them? Or being able to measure your race car’s performance. There a 101 reasons to buy. Yours will boil down to a few.
Once the purpose is decided you’ll want to think about the image. Big Brand watches have a no nonsense story to tell. But you dont want to be attacked by someone who wants your watch! There’s a good case for owning a number of watches. A beautiful, top brand watch, for those special occasions when you need to impress, a cheapo for touring 3rd world countries and a daily for the office or school campus.
If the watch is a gift you want to be remembered by, consider a mechanical watch. Its likely to retain its value, certainly if its a big name and one day, it may be handed on to another generation, with the words, “my father gave me this watch, when I went to my Prom. Its always been very special to me. I want you to have it now.”
Watches are jewellery too and can have a lot of meaning to those who receive and own them.
Who knows, you may be remembered one day by the watch you buy today.
What is a, Sport Chronograph Watch?
Basically a, Sport chronograph watch, is a watch with additional timing functions. Many sports have the competitor completing a task in a set time. Any watch can tell you roughly how fast the competitor is going. A chronograph watch has separate functions to precisely measure the elapsed time. Check how many timing features your watch has. One additional dial means you can start, stop and cancel a sequence. Two additional dials usually means you can stop and zero one timer, while the other continues. This gives you elapsed time and individual lap times.
Many waterproof watches have a screw down winder function. Like divers watches. This improves their waterproofness. If you want a watch to go diving with, you must check whether the watch is just “splash proof” or is OK to dive as deep as you can. Manufacturers are careful to specify what conditions their watches will perform in. Always check these figures, before plunging your watch. Jumping into the water can considerably increase the pressure on your timepiece. Be sure it can handle it.
What is a “Flyback Function?”
This means that the timer part of your watch can be zero’d after a timing event. i.e. the timer hand “flys” back to zero. Different watches have different functions. If this is important to you, check before you buy.
The “movement” is the driving component inside your watch case. You can get basically 3 types of movement.
These date back 100’s of years to when timepieces were first made. Huge strides have been made in the manufacture of mechanical watches. The metals used, the techniques and the functions of mechanical watches are amazing and delicate. Mechanical watches, are the most collectible. Clearly demonstrating the makers skill. Check that the watch you are buying is “mechanical”. If it is, you will need to have it serviced every 3 or 4 years, more important with the better quality ones. They do wear and get dirty. They are also more prone to sudden shock. Like mountain biking etc. But they are the most fascinating. Early watches had to be wound every day. It is a daily ritual. Create a “habit” by stopping to wind it, every time you put it on. Modern watches are often “auto winding”. If you have one of these, they should be removed during vigorous exercise.
Quartz and Electronic
Many modern chronograph watches now have no moving parts. Except for a vibrating crystal. A battery powers the crystal, which oscillates at a constant frequency. This gives the watch its amazing time keeping qualities. They are easy to own and manufacture. So you can often get very good value, with a lot of functionality and good looks. They dont need winding, but its a good idea to replace the batteries every three years. Sometimes the batteries will corrode and leak. This can damage the function of your watch.
Timekeeping is accurate and maintenance almost zero. So you will always know the time, without any effort.
New methods of driving a watch have recently come on the market.
Seiko, produced a kinetic watch that is powered by your movement.
Citizen have created a light powered watch called an “Eco-Drive.” This uses sunlight to run it and can store as much power as is needed to run the watch for up to 5 years.
How to care for your watch
Firstly wear your watch only where it is appropriate. If you are going rock climbing or mixing concrete, its a good idea to not wear your watch. They are not indestructible and despite their “rugged” good looks they do need looking after.
Never leave your watch in direct sunlight. The sun can overheat your watch and damage its function.
Thermal shock can also damage a watch. Heating in the sun then plunging into cold water can affect your watch. Best to avoid.
The battery in your quartz watch is affected by extreme heat and extreme cold. Keep your watch at temperatures you live in. Dont expose to extremes.
Leather straps can be damaged with household cleaners or any chemicals. Keep your watch away from chemicals. Clean your watch strap, as per the manufacturers instructions. Metal straps can be affected by sand and grit. Keep them clean or clean after exposure.
If your glass “fogs” take the watch immediately to a watch repair agent, to avoid movement damage.
If your watch is exposed to sea water and is waterproof, rinse it off with fresh water. Otherwise wipe with a damp cloth to remove any corrosive salt.
How much to Pay?
Always a tough question. Just remember the old adage. “A cheap price is great on the day, but quality rewards you, over time.” 2 years down the track, the few extra dollars you spent on buying quality, will be valued far more than the “price paid” on the day. Buy the best your budget will allow.
Take your time looking for your next, sport chronograph watch. You will get many years of faithful service from the big name watches. They have a substantial reputation to live up to. People rely on the brand and the merchant to deliver a quality product more than capable of delivering excellent service and satisfaction.
John Franzis is a watch collector and historian.