Swiss Watches Buying Guide
Watches are commonly seen as a functional need in everyday life. However, they are appreciated as forms of jewelry and collectible works of art. As a result, there are many different types and prices of watches. Here is a guide to helping you select your dream watch!
Band: The strap, band or bracelet that holds your watch to your wrist. Watches are typically sized to fit wrists from 8 to 10 inches.
Bezel: The area outside the face, which secures the crystal to the watch. Many watches have a uni- or multi-directional bezel that can twist one or both ways around the watch face. This type of bezel can be used to twist around to the minute hand to measure elapsed time. For divers who need to measure elapsed time underwater, a unidirectional bezel is useful because it is less likely to be accidentally hit and moved.
Case: The metal encasing the bezel and face. Watch cases are usually made of stainless steel. For a durable, ultra-light case, choose a watch with a titanium case.
Chronograph: A watch with timing functions that are displayed in sub dials on the face of the watch. Most chronographs are comprised of three sub dials and measure fractions of seconds, minutes in increments other than 60, and hours in other than one-hour increments. Chronograph should not be confused with chronometer, which is a device which has accuracy so exact that it has met special time standards set by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (C.O.S.C.).
Clasp: The latching mechanism that closes to secure the watch band to your wrist. There are different types of watch clasps: Buckle, Deployment Buckle, Bracelet Clasp, Folding Clasp, Hidden Watch Clasp to name a few.
Crown: A knob that is usually found on the middle right side of a watch. Pull the knob to set the watch time then push it back in for the watch to begin keeping time again. Some watch knobs allow you to control other special watch functions, too.
Date Window: A window on the watch face that displays the day of the month and sometimes the day of the week.
Face: This refers to the area within the watch bezel, usually underneath the watch hands.
Markers: Visual marks on the watch that indicates minutes or hours.
Second Hand: This is the thinnest hand anchored in the center of the watch face. On quartz watches, this hand moves every second. On an automatic watch, this hand moves smoothly, sweeping by each second marker in second increments.
Sub dial: A small dial on the watch face that displays elapsed durations of time. Sub dials usually display the functions of the chronograph. Chronographs usually have three sub dials on a watch face.
Tachymeter: A function of a watch chronograph similar to a stop watch feature that can measure the rate of speed traveled over a measured distance in a particular length of time. This is usually used to measure high rates of speed. For example, the user can start a timer, drive or fly a mile, and then stop the timer and the timer hand will point to the MPH traveled.
Automatic Movement: Type of watch movement that uses energy created by the action of the personâ€™s arm who is wearing the watch. Arm movement makes a weight (rotor) oscillate and triggers the mainspring to â€œwindâ€ the watch. No battery is needed. Many automatic watches will tell time for up to 36 hours off the wrist, after which time the watch will stop working and must be either wound by hand or rocked for a minute or two to begin keeping time again. Automatic movement is typically found only in fine watches.
Battery: Quartz watches use a battery that is powered using silver oxide, which provides 1.5 volts of energy for anywhere from one to five years. Lithium batteries can last as long as ten years and deliver three volts of energy. Always make sure that your replacement battery is the same type as the original.
Chronograph: A watch with timing functions that are displayed in sub dials on the face of the watch. Most chronographs are comprised of three sub dials and can measure fractions of seconds, minutes in increments other than 60, and hours in other than one-hour increments. Chronographs should not be confused with chronometers, which are devices with accuracy so exact that they have met special time standards set by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (C.O.S.C.).
Chronometer: A less common and more expensive form of timepiece. A chronometer achieves accuracy so exact that it has met special time standards set by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (C.O.S.C.).
Complication: This defines any function besides hours, minutes and seconds. A Grand Complication is a timepiece with at least three complications from groups of specific functions: usually a chronograph, perpetual calendar (which usually includes a moon phase indicator) and a minute repeater or alarm.
Crystal: The protective clear cover that fits over the watch dial. It can be made of mineral, synthetic sapphire, plastic, or acrylic material. The sapphire crystal is the most durable, as only a diamond can scratch its surface.
Tourbillon: Invented in 1801 to regulate deviations in timekeeping in pocket watches due to the effects of gravity. There is no more coveted (or expensive) work of horology (the art or science of measuring time) and none more difficult to execute. The convention is to open a window on the dial to expose the beautiful escapement mechanism – consisting of the hairspring and pivoting balance wheel mounted inside a rotating carriage.
Perpetual Calendar: This is a watch with the day/date/year indicators and is called perpetual because it automatically adjusts to months with 30 days and to the 28 or 29 days in February. Unless it takes into account century years that are not leap years, it will need adjusting in 2100, 2200 and 2300 (because of a glitch in the Gregorian calendar), so when you bequeath the watch to your heirs be sure to leave instructions.
Water Resistance: This is the ability of a watch to resist penetration by water. On most watches, you can find the water resistance level on the back of the watch case listed in ATM (atmospheres), Meters or Bar. One ATM is equivalent to 33 feet. Most watches are water resistant; meaning that they resist but are not impenetrable by water when washing your hands. Some watches are resistant to higher pressures experienced at underwater depths. Meters, used by some companies to indicate water-resistance cannot be equated with the dive depth of a dive because of the test procedures that are frequently used. Meters also do not permit any conclusions to be drawn about the actual uses in the presence of moisture or wetness in or under the water.
Water resistant watches are usually tested for water-resistance on the basis of international standard ISO 2281 and diver’s watches (watches that are water-resistant to at least 10 bar) on the basis of international standard ISO 6425.
Please remember that even though a watch case may be water-resistant to an adequate depth, the watch strap may not be suitable for use underwater because of the materials used in its construction. Also bear in mind that, with the exception of diverâ€™s watches, the external moving parts of a watch (crown, buttons, etc.) should not be operated under water. Before wearing the timepiece in or under water you should make sure that all of its external moving parts are in their rest position.
It’s also wise to note that water-resistance is not a permanent thing and that parts and seals can and do wear out with aging and wear. These should be inspected periodically by an authorized service center.