How To Spot A Quality Watch
Not all watches are created equal. A watch is an extension of personal style and everyone’s tastes are different. There is no bad watch, but there are features that make a quality watch and there are things to consider when purchasing your next timepiece.
WHAT DETERMINES A QUALITY WATCH: CHARACTERISTICS TO LOOK FOR
The most important factor when deciding on a quality watch is staying away from the black market, or fakes. Not only are these products illegal, by purchasing one you contribute to the continuation of poor working conditions, child labor and the stealing of intellectual property from the brand. Read more abouit this fake rolex.
Now that we got that out of the way, what makes a quality watch? Here are our top considerations when identifying watch quality:
- Case Material – Proprietary materials and luxury metals can often add to a watch’s value.
- Movement – How is the movement finished? What type of movement is it?
- Accuracy – Certification testing, and how much time is acceptable to gain or lose?
- Weight – Does weight still mean a watch is better?
- Strap Material – Different luxury strap materials can add to a watch’s value.
1. MATERIAL OF THE WATCH
Luxury case materials such as platinum, gold or even titanium are found in watches alongside steel and bronze. Some watch manufacturers create their own proprietary materials such as the Hublot King Gold or Rolex Everose. Other luxury brands combine materials to create a new alloy adding strength and scratch resistance. Learn more about the proprietary materials Rolex creates.
For brands using stainless steel, there are different levels of the metal that can be used. Higher quality watch brands use 316L or 904L. There is also 304 steel, which is commonly found in inexpensive watches. The 304 is more prone to corrosion and also appears darker than 316L and 904L because of the carbon content. Rolex is well known to use 904L steel, boasting a high resistance to corrosion. It is also a more difficult steel alloy to manipulate.
When looking at precious metals, higher quality brands will use solid metals instead of plating steel.
2. MOVEMENT OF THE WATCH
Moving inside the watch, the movement is another important factor to consider when looking at a quality luxury watch. Quartz watches are quite common in less expensive watches, but being quartz doesn’t make a watch any less desirable or quality. The quartz movement will provide the “ticking” of the seconds hand rather than a smooth sweeping seconds. Luxury brands like Breitling, Grand Seiko and even F.P. Journe all have quartz in their collection.
When looking at a mechanical movement, luxury brands will submit the movement for COSC certification. Learn more about the difference between mechanical watches in our latest guide.
Higher quality watch movements are also going to typically be hand-made or hand finished and polished. There are some movements that are mass produced still featuring high quality finishing. Lower quality movements will not typically feature the same beveling, Côtes de Geneve, or Guilloché polishing. This master finishing can be seen through exhibition casebacks on models from A. Lange and Sohne and Patek Philippe. Grand Seiko produces their own style of high polish, Zaratsu, designed to remove distortion for a mirror polish.
4. ACCURACY OF THE WATCH
High quality watches are designed to have an accuracy of +6 / -4 seconds per day. Brands will submit their watches for chronometer certification (COSC) where the movement is tested to these standards over 10 days. Omega takes this a step further and has their Master chronometer Certification (METAS) testing their watches in 8 tests over 10 days ensuring precision in addition to the normal COSC testing.