Sep 07, 2013

How to keep up in a watch conversation

You recently decided that you want to get serious about...

You recently decided that you want to get serious about watches and invest in one that will reflect on your taste and status, and impress all your peers – much like showing off your Hugo Boss trainers to those wearing normal sneakers.

But wait. You know nothing about luxury watches except that it cost a hell of a lot of money. My best advise to you is to start reading up and engaging with discussions with watch enthusiasts who will be eager to give their opinion on the different brands and makes of watches. The world of horology can be intimidating but many men get hooked onto it once they started their mini collection.

Now before you head out to talk to these ‘watch collectors’ – not wanting you to sound like a fool – here’s a crash course that will help you engage (or keep up) in a basic watch conversation.

Watch Anatomy

First and foremost, you need to understand the key parts of a watch as you will hear a lot of reference to things like bezel, dial, casing etc…

Crown (Button): A small metal protrusion from the watch’s case, typically found at the three o’clock mark, which is used to wind the watch as well as set the time.

Dial: It’s the face of the watch. The dial sits inside the watchcase and acts as the main focal point of the watch. You will normally see the brand,  hour markers and depth rating  printed or applied directly to the dial.

Bezel: Most bezels reside on the outside of the case and circle the dial of the watch. For sporty or diving watches, the metal bezel will be marked with numbers and can be rotated to allow the wearer to read elapsed time quickly.

Case: The main component that house the dial and the movement.

Watch Movement: Quartz, Automatic or Mechanical?

The movement is the mechanical device that powers the watch – it’s the engine that drives the watch.  The movement consists of a winding mechanism, a balance wheel, mainspring, and escapement. These combine to create power and then accurately release it to push the hands of the watch around the face. Watches have one of two kinds of movements: quartz or mechanical.

A quartz movement is an electronic movement. It is called a quartz movement, because a small quartz crystal is actually integrated into the electronics. It is incredible accurate, less expensive and because they don’t have a lot of moving parts, more durable than mechanical watches. Most quartz watches are battery powered. Batteries generally last two to five years before they need to be changed, otherwise quartz watches are very low maintenance.

Mechanical watches, include automatic (or self-winding) and manual-wind mechanicals, after having been rendered obsolete by quartz watches when they were introduced in the late 1960s, have found it’s space in the luxury horology world today.  Mechanical watches employ old technology, several-hundred-years-old technology, they are powered by springs, which turn gears, a regulating mechanism and eventually the hands. A mechanical movement will have somewhere between 50 and 300 parts, depending on the movement, and are somewhat delicate compared to quartz movements. They will however last a long, long time if properly maintained and cared for. People who buy mechanical watches are often fascinated by their amazing micro mechanics and ancient technology. In fact, mechanical watches usually have a window on the case back to allow you to observe the movement. Quartz watches are sometimes viewed as throwaway watches, while someone might hang onto a mechanical watch for a lifetime.

Watch complications

Moving on, you will learn a bit more about the different watch complications – refers to any feature in a timepiece beyond the simple display of hours, minutes, and seconds.

Chronograph: A chronograph allows the watch to display elapsed time, in addition to the time of day, in an organized manner. This includes a second hand that may be started and stopped at will as well as sub-dials to make for easy viewing.

Power reserve: A power reserve is a visual indication of how much power remains in the watch’s movement. These are very useful in manually wound watches, as no rotor exists to automatically wind the movement. Many watches now have power reserve displays,  a good example would be the Panerai’s Luminor 150.

GMT: A GMT complication is now known as a tool that displays a second time zone or a 24-hour scale on a mechanical wristwatch.

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