What to look for in a quality timepiece - Best tips for finding a great watch

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cartier jaeger lecoultre rolex audemars piguet patek philippe

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Watches can be a tool for some, others appreciate the aesthetics, the enginuity, or the craftsmanship, and many will use a watch as an extension of their personal style. Honestly, none of that really matters if you’re not paying attention to the details that make a quality timepiece. Afterall, you’re spending your hard earned money on a watch that will hopefully last a very long time and accomplish all the goals you set out for it. We will outline some of the things you might want to look out for and that point to quality, if you’re planning on buying yourself a nice watch.

Case Material

black ceramic audemars piguet royal oak perpetual calendar

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The first is the main case material of the watch. At the minimum, a watch made of stainless steel is a first sign that you’re entering quality territory. More expensive watches may be made of titanium or have large ceramic components on the exterior, which provide durability and weight benefits compared to stainless steel. Notches above these, you will find watches many high-end watches made from rose, yellow, or white gold, and in some cases platinum, full sapphire, ceramic or carbon fiber. Generally the latter are extremely expensive and produced in very limited quantities by some of the most reputable luxury watch brands.

Quality Glass

A quality timepiece will have a very good glass. Sapphire glass is the golden standard for quality due to its resistance to scratches, strength under pressure, and visibility characteristics. If your search has you looking at watches with mineral glass or crystal, you may want to look at upping your budget. Just a small investment in the glass will result in years of additional life and you won’t have to worry as much about wearing your timepiece in everyday situations. 


view from the back of an A. Lange & Söhne watch showing the movment

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The movement within a watch is also an indicator of the quality of watch in terms of durability, accuracy of time. A watch with a quality movement will require less maintenance over the years due to the quality of materials used for the hundreds of individual gears, screws, springs etc. It will be able to  withstand more general wear and tear as a result of the build and the skilled workers that assemble them. Quality movements will also maintain time according to higher standards over time without having to be reset. As a general rule of thumb, if you have a certified COSC movement, you already know that you are in good territory for a quality movement. 

Water Resistance

rolex submariner laying underwater on coral

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Water resistance rating is an important characteristic of a quality watch, especially if you plan on wearing your watch in or around water (even if its just in the shower!). Water is the most damaging element a watch can be in contact with, especially if it manages to find any weakness in the build of the watch. It will, with 100% certainty, damage the watch, the movement, dial, markers, etc. if it finds a way in. Just like different case materials can indicate quality in a watch, the water resistance of a watch is also a good indicator for having a quality timepiece. If you have a watch that is certified to 10 ATM water resistance, you are in good company, and can assume it is safe up to 100 meters.

Quality of the Finish

The finish of a watch can tell a lot about the quality of the watch. A brand that takes their time on all the small details, like the polish on various elements, the uniformity of any small print, and the sharpness of all the components visible and not visible, will result in a watch with a quality appeal. Quality finish is very hard to fake and looking at a timepiece up close will often point to whether or not you should consider even looking at some of the other indicators of a quality watch. If the quality of the finish isn't there, you can already move on to look at other options. If it does look good to the naked eye, then you can move on to consider all the other points previously mentioned.

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