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A Watch Brief Buying Guide.

Fifty eight watches

All watches are the same.

A sweeping statement, but stay with us. Whether it is a quartz, manual, automatic or something far more complex. They all tell the time. They’re instruments and tools and status symbols. Unique or common, everyday wearers or rare once in a while. Fun accessories or even heirlooms. Sentimental or a gimmick. The list goes on.

For those of us interested in these mechanical marvels, have found our passion and reason for wearing them in our own way. And whether we’re new to the world of watches or a veteran, buying a new watch should feel comfortable and informed. We’ll go through the very basics and keep it casual.

How does a watch work?

Good question. Another question worth asking would be why does that matter?

You more or less have three types to choose from. Quartz or commonly known as battery-powered watches and mechanical. Mechanical watches fall into two groups. Manual wind and automatic/self-winding. So that’s quartz, manual wind and automatic.

Quartz Movement

Powered by a battery without much need for upkeep and hands-on adjusting, battery watches are the most affordable option, first introduced in the late 1960s. They do maintain more accurate timekeeping too. A great option for someone not wanting to invest or have a watch that’s easily replaceable. Usually, with quartz watches, they are made to a far less rigorous specification and so often aren’t considered a ‘proper’ watch. They feel robotic and have no life in them when comparing to their mechanical counterparts.

Manual Wind Movement

A timepiece made entirely of mechanical invention. The original timekeepers have manually wound pocket watches, then being introduced to the wrist. They have been at the centre point of the most influential moments in watchmaking history, considered to collectors as the crème de la crème, although to many a hassle at times as they need regular winding to maintain working. Until that is, you enter into the world of power reserves. A term used to describe the period a watch will keep working, 3+ days is best (not to mention even longer power reserves!), and with that, the need to wind will feel less like the hassle and more of a ritual. The feeling of bringing your timepiece to life is peaceful and somewhat bonding.

Automatic/Self-Winding Movement

A mechanical feat first introduced in the early 1920s, manual wind by nature and now with a few innovative components, something more user friendly. Consequently, this form of a watch is the most popular due to this ease of use. An oscillating rotor revolving throughout the day while worn maintains the life and power within. As a result, this creates a certain sense of carefree and reassurance to wearing your timepiece. Knowing that taking it off overnight to find it ready when you are the next day is remarkably satisfying. And even automatic watches have power reserves, most often up to 42 hours, in some cases over many days too. They really are the most reliable, most intricate and most accessible in terms of mechanical artworks.

What types of watches are there to choose from?

Having a clearer idea of what kind of watch you’re interested in is a good start, next up, is the type or style. These break down, traditionally into; Dress, Sport, Dive and Pilot. Although nowadays these ranges blend together and although some models adhere to their intended use, many of us just buy and wear watches because we love doing so. Out of those ranges, dress, sport, dive and pilot we’ll outline what these terms mean for the watches made for them.

Dress Watches

A dress watch is quite often simple but elegant, speaking in a classical sense, they tend to be time only pieces or, time and date. Leather strap, usually matching belt and shoes, is always a great way to style the look alongside the watch. A slim profile timepiece not ostentatious or flashy, instead, respectful and stylistic.

Sport Watches

Quite simply put, a sport watch is your casual everyday wearer. Well built and functional, whether that’s a time and date piece or time, date and chronograph. A fit for anything and ready when you are, suiting metal, rubber and fabric straps.

Dive Watches

Here we have a watch built for a purpose. A timepiece relied upon in extreme environments, the depths of our oceans. Able to withstand extreme pressures that come with diving in the deep and with clear faces to read during a dive or just day and nightwear. Case construction on these watches is robust and sturdy.

Pilot Watches

A tool watch in many ways. The Pilot’s watch is durable, well constructed and famous for its legible dial. Beautifully clear hour markers/Arabic numerals and larger faces. Something pilots needed when navigating their journeys. These watches are classic in style, useful in their nature and make for a great smart casual wearer.


It’s great to have a further understanding of these timepieces and where their design differences stem from. Although most wear them for different reasons, knowing what their original use brought a romance to them, a reflection of history standing the test of time. Timekeeping is in all of us and our timepieces are symbolic of our past, our present and our future.

Thanks for reading,

T. G.

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