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How to buy men’s watches: A beginner’s guide

Almost a staple in the world of men’s accessories, the watch serves as an extension of the wearer’s personality and even identity at times. It is truly a personal item that has remained relevant despite technological advancements passing the industry by. If you are looking to find the perfect timepiece that represents you - here is a beginner’s guide to buying watches for men.

How to Buy a Men’s Watch

Precious metals and meticulously engineered movements are traditional values that watches have upheld over many decades. With each year, brands have upped the quality of the craft to ensure every aspect of the timepiece shines through with quality and detail. Even with smartwatches and phones functioning as timekeepers with far more utility, a watch embodies far more than just presenting the time. There are few things to consider before choosing a men’s watch.

The Mechanism

At its very core, the watch’s movement plays an important role in determining the quality and style of the timepiece selected. Quartz is a manually wound, precise movement that is one the more generously priced - being mass-produced at an affordable range. It is the most basic of all movements and certainly one to keep an eye on if you aren’t keen on spending too much. It is also one of the oldest types of movements and is also suited for fans of vintage.

Automatic has taken over the watch market as the “gold standard” of quality manufacturing and is synonymous with luxury brands such as Patek Phillippes, Rolex, and Breitling. Cleverly built to harness kinetic energy, automatic watches stay functional for a long time by using vibrations to keep itself ticking. This mechanic takes far more precision and commonly requires in-house talents to prepare, rather than outsourcing to third-party contributors. It is the more sophisticated approach but must be worn regularly, or manual winding will be needed.

The Dial

Complications is the term used to describe the type of dial found in different types of watches. Diver watches for example commonly have a 12-hour display with different hour markers and date/day indicators. The chronograph is a slightly more complex dial variation that introduces subdials - most commonly in threes (day, date, and month).  Chronographs come with a stopwatch function and even separate subdials that can track other timezones if you are looking for high utility in your piece. Granted, having subdials is a type of look that isn’t for everyone; but it does imbue sophistication and complexity.

The moon phase design is more of an aesthetic statement rather than serving a contemporary purpose. It is presented as a crescent-shaped aperture that reflects the current cycle of the moon. It’s a neat engineering marvel within the industry but runs the risk of overcrowding the dial with an “obsolete” purpose. Many moon phase watches boast extraordinary detail that is both distinguishable and stylish. There are many other dials in the market that have far more complexity, but the aforementioned dial types are the most straightforward, but also the most common.

The Type

The dial type and mechanic are crucial, but it all comes together when finally selecting your watch type. Diver watches for example boast boldness with its bulky demeanor, lengthy lugs, and luminous markers. The diver’s watch is a masculine pick that is versatile and renowned for its water resistance. The dress watch can share the diver’s simplicity with a plain dial and understated hour markers but is the best fit for formal occasions. The case is often thin and basic in shape (circular or rectangular for example) to make it easy to slip under shirt cuffs. The strap is most commonly leather and is arguably one of the best pieces to sport a moonphase. This is the piece to go for if you catch yourself on more formal occasions than not.

Pilot watches were designed to function in high altitudes back in the early 1900s but were popularised into a lasting fashion trend. This archetype varies in design and has no signature feature of its own. Common additions on pilot watches include chronograph designs, leather straps and can come with more elaborate numerical indicators on the dial and bezel. It is best suited for smart casual or casual settings.

Best Watch Brands in the World

What can be considered the “best” watch brands in the world is completely subjective to the watch community and each individual who has specific preferences? Notable icons that embody the pinnacle of watch quality include Rolex, Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippes, and Hublot. These pieces aren’t cheap and certainly not advised for casual watch enthusiasts.

Seiko, Tissot, and Citizen are examples of mid-tier watch options that shine with class, while still being affordable. Despite not using the most premium materials in the market, these timepieces don’t shy away from delivering quality and can offer precise timekeeping and longevity.

There are tons of mechanisms, designs, and archetypes that have been mixed and matched as the watch market developed, but ultimately, the best design is what you identify with personally. Your timepiece is a subtle reflection of your personality and stylistic preferences.

  • Best Watch Brands in the World
  • Patek Phillippes, Rolex, and Breitling

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