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Information for When You Want to Buy a Watch

What You Need to Know When Buying a Wrist Watch

When you have made the decision "I want to buy a watch" there are a number of things that you should consider, and it does not matter if you want to make an online purchase and buy a watch with a diamond bezel, a collector's timepiece, an expensive quality watch that makes a statement about the wearer or a low cost replica, here are some suggestions that may help you make a wise choice when you purchase your next watch. An understanding of the different parts or components of a watch will help you understand the terms used in an advertisement and allow you to better make comparisons between different brands and styles that are available. It will also mean that when you have bought your watch it will most likely be suitable for your needs and just what you want.

Web Address or Street Address of the Seller

There are many reputable online retailers where you can buy a watch at a greatly reduced price, who only have a web address, usually a phone number where you can make contact, and who have been giving excellent and reliable service for many years.
But you may prefer to have peace of mind by buying a watch online from a seller who also has a physical street address.

Authorised Dealer

Manufacturers of quality watches normally appoint a network of dealers and there are usually advantages when you buy a watch from one of these authorised agents. An authorisation agent should ensure that you receive an authentic watch, true to the brand that you have chosen, and not a copy or a replica, and guaranteed new and not worn or refurbished. The retailer should also be able to explain the quality and the benefits of the different components that the manufacturer has used.

The Components of a Watch

To be able to select a watch that best meets your needs you would benefit by knowing the names and functions of the main components.
First the watchcase, which is the housing that contains the time keeping mechanism and is made of gold or silver plated brass in lower value watches, or from stainless, gold or platinum in the higher quality and prestige wrist watches.

The time keeping mechanism is called the movement, and this movement may be mechanical and consist of a series of gear wheels and a main spring which provides the power. The main spring can be powered by winding a knob, which is called the crown, and is located on the edge of the watch. In earlier watches the crown was used to "wind" the watch, that is power the mainspring and it could be pulled out to a position where it could be rotated to alter the time indicated by the hands and to carry out many functions such as displaying the day and date, showing the phases of the moon, acting as an altimeter or incorporating an alarm, and these are adjusted by one or multiple crowns.

The transparent covering of the watch face is called the crystal and crystals come in three types, acrylic which is an inexpensive plastic that resists cracking but is easy to scratch, a mineral crystal which is a manufactured glass product and is harder and more scratch resistant than the acrylic but will shatter more easily, and sapphire crystals that are manufactured, are chemically the same as sapphire gems and are nearly as hard as diamond, are very scratch resistant, and are the most expensive.

The bezel is a metallic ring that surrounds the face of the watch and holds the crystal in place. A sports watch may have a bezel that is graduated with minutes or seconds marked on it and can be rotated and so be used to calculate elapsed time. Fashion watches may even have precious stones such as diamonds embedded in the bezel.

The watch face is called the dial and is usually marked in hours and minutes, but sometimes other markings may be used and a certain amount of judgement may be needed to assess the time that is indicated by the moving hands.

A bracelet is a metal band which is usually made up from a series of links that can be added or removed to let the bracelet fit the user's wrist size and the watch is attached to the bracelet. Some bracelets are made from flexible woven metal with length adjusting clips.

A watch strap is similar to a bracelet but is made of a flexible material such as leather or plastic.

Types of Watch Movements

Mechanical watches are watches where the power is obtained from a wound up coil mainspring, and that power is then passed through a balance wheel that ocillates back and forth and then through a series of wheels and gears that measure time and then display that time by rotating pointers, or hands, to point to a time scale marked on the watch face. This method of indicating the time is referred to as an analog display, and is often preferred to a digital display because a referenced time can be visually judged from the position of the hands, whereas a mental calculation is often required if the time is displayed in a digital form. Mechanical watches may lose up to 30 seconds or so every 24 hours, nevertheless traditionalists often prefer mechanical movements and many of the highly priced collector watches are mechanical.

Quartz watches are by far the most common today and quartz movements are found in most analog watches and in all watches showing digital displays. They operate by having an electrical charge which may be from a battery, or a small generator within the movement which is activated by the wearer's arm movement, or even a small solar cell embedded in the watch face, and this charge causes a very thin synthetic quartz crystal to vibrate at a known frequency. If the watch has an analogue display it converts this pulsation into a mechanical pulse which is passed through a system of gear wheels which finally control the hands on the watch to indicate the time. If the watch has a digital display the vibrations of the quartz crystal are passed through an electrical curcuit that is able to reduce the pulse until they vibrate once each second,  and this  pulse is then used to move the digital time forward by one second. The watch then counts these pulses until they reach 60 and the watch then moves the minute display forward by one minute and so on.

Quartz watches have the advantage of being far more accurate time keepers than pure mechanical watches because  the quartz crystal vibrations are much more precise and regular than the back and forth spinning of a balance wheel in a mechanical watch, and they may only gain or lose one or two minutes over a year time span, they do not require the winding of a mainspring, they have no or few moving parts and require little maintenance, they can be built and put into thinner cases, and so are less bulky.

Warranty

One advantage when you buy a watch from an authorised dealer is that you will have access to the manufacturers warranty whereas a non-authorised seller will usually provide their in-house warranty, or use an outside firm that specialises in providing warranty services. Such in-house warranties can be excellent value and match that of the manufacturer, but you may have a preference to use an authorised dealer, if so, add that point to your list. Warranties should be viewed, checked and considered, and may extend for a few months to five years.

Pricing.

Discounted watch prices are common, and are often offered by online retailers who are not authorised agents and so do not have to maintain an agreement or contract requirements with the manufacturer, and this allows flexibility in setting prices. These retailers often have a very big turnover, buy in large quantities from warehouses or resellers, and so buy with large discounts that can be passed on to the customer. However, caution should be taken, and you must be satisfied when you buy a watch at a very large discount that the watch is what you believe it to be. If you buy a watch with a particular brand name you should be sure that what you receive is not a replica, that it is genuine to its brand and has not been used or refurbished. Unless of course you intend to buy a watch that is a replica, has been used, or has been refurbished.

Collector's Timepiece.

A collector's timepiece may be new or used watch and would be best purchased from a reputable seller, preferably one of long standing in the watch industry. You may buy a watch that is new with the hope that it will become a collector's piece because it is from a limited production run, a one-off diamond watch that appeals to you because of its beauty, or of a quirky or unusual design watch that you think may become a collector's item in time because of its uniqueness.
If you want to buy a watch that appeals to you, and you do so irrespective of the price, and you want to keep and wear it, or maybe just admire it, then it is a collector's piece to you, and you place your own value on it.
Used watches of superior brand and quality can sometimes become a most desirable collector's item and they are an entirely different matter. Rolex have achieved this status and businesses have developed around restoring them to their original condition and they can become very expensive to buy.
Mechanical watch movements require periodic maintenance, they are not as accurate as electronic movements and are subject to the effects of magnetism and ambient temperatures, but they are often a most desirable collectable watch because of the care and craftmanship that goes into their manufacture, in fact wearing a quality mechanical watch is often looked upon as a status symbol.


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