How to Buy a Watch
A watch movement is the internal mechanism of a watch that allows it to keep time and perform functions. There are different types of movements from battery operated to solar. Here is a detailed guide on the different movements to help you choose the right watch for you or your loved one.
A watch with a quartz movement is very accurate and uses a battery as its main source of power. The power produced from the battery causes the quartz crystal to vibrate at a precise frequency of 32,768 times per second. This frequency is broken down into one impulse per second through an integrated circuit to a stepping motor which releases power that causes the hands on the face of the watch to tick or the digits to change.
Watches with a mechanical movement are comprised of moving parts that need to be manually wound up. The stem, which can be found at the side of the outer casing of the watch, is wound by hand and powers the mainspring which gradually winds up and transmits energy that produces impulses that create a ticking noise and causes the hands on the face of the watch to move. The frequency of winding can vary between once every 24 hours to once every 7 days. The instruction booklet which comes with each watch will advise the optimum frequency.
A watch with an automatic movement is similar to that of a mechanical movement however it does not need to be manually wound up. Watches with an automatic movement contain a weight or a rotor which spins as the watch is worn, this motion winds the mainspring which releases the energy necessary to power the watch. As the watch is wound as it is worn, it can store enough energy to run for seven days when it is fully powered. An automatic movement is beneficial to the wearer because it does not rely on a battery for and it does not need to be manually wound.
Watches can be powered by solar energy and still maintain the same accuracy as quartz movement watches. When exposed to both artificial and natural light, the light energy is converted into a charge which is stored in a capacitor that works like a battery. This capacitor charges constantly and does not need regular replacement unlike a normal battery.
A Kinetic watch is similar to that of an automatic. The watch is powered by the movement of the wearer’s arm which causes a rotor to spin creating an electrical energy which is stored in a capacitor. This energy is stored and released as necessary. When fully charged can keep time for up to 6 months even when not being worn. The fact a Kinetic watch does not need a battery replacement or to be wound is of great advantage.
-How Water Resistance Works:
When viewing a watch you will notice, on the back of the casing or also in the face of the watch, a rating of water resistance. This can read “Water Resistant 10 metres/1 ATM”. This is informing the wearer that they can submerge the watch in up to 10 metres of water without causing it any damage. The water resistancy for each watch can vary. If a watch simply reads “Water Resistant” but does not give an indication as to the depth the watch can be submerged, this simply means the watch is “Splash Proof” i.e. the watch won’t be damaged by coming into contact with any accidental light splashes of water but should be dried immediately should it come in contact with any water.
The correct water resistancy for a watch is determined during labatory tests where the watch is held static at levels of different depths and pressures for different periods of time. This series of testing results in a rating based on the watch being held still in water at a particular depth and pressure which may challenge the accuracy of the protection rating given if the wearer is taking part in activities involving movement such as swimming.
As mentioned above, water resistancy can be denoted as metres, ATM and Bar. When metres is used it simply means what it says, the watch is protected if it is submerged in up to 10 metres of water, after that you risk damage to the watch itself. ATM is an abbreviation for Atmosphere and 1 ATM is equal to 10 metres, 3 ATM is equal to 30 metres and so on. Similarly Bar can be used and 1 Bar is equal to 10 metres, 3 Bar is equal to 30 metres and so on.
-What Makes a Watch Water Resistant:
A seal is placed behind the casing of each watch protecting its movement from water damage. When your watch needs a battery replacement it should be brought back to a Fields store where a member of staff can determine if it can be changed in store or sent to have its seal assessed by a trained watch repairer and replaced if necessary with the battery. Care should be taken if the watch is worn in hot water as intense heat can cause seals to enlarge and weaken their strength.
Watches can have many features with different functions incorporated into their design in addition to timekeeping. You may choose a watch with these functions that you will use in your everyday life or simply like their design. Whatever your decision, here is an informative guide to help you with your buying decision.
A chronograph watch functions as a stopwatch which can measure intervals of time using a second hand. While traditionally used in sports watches, they are becoming popular with fashion brands for both ladies and gents watches. Featuring two or three sub-dials, Chronograph watches allow the wearer to time themselves for an assortment of activities. It works by pressing a start button, usually located above the stem of the watch, to begin, this button is pressed again to stop and a reset button, usually located below the stem of the watch, is used to bring the dial back to the beginning. Each watch comes with its own set of instructions or you can ask a member of our staff for more details on how to use a chronograph watch.
A perpetual calendar function keeps the correct date all year round. It will automatically change its day, date, month and year regardless of how many days are in each month or if it falls on a leap year meaning the wearer will never have to manually change it. Perpetual calendars can be powered by quartz or automatic movements.
A tachymeter is located around the bezel of a watch. It is used with the second hand to calculate speed over a known distance. Tachymeters are usually featured on sports watches with a chronograph function.
Some watches are made with a water resistancy feature that will allow the wearer to use it in water. Watches with water resistancy are not designed for prolonged use in water unless it is a specific diving watch with many brands offer. For more information on Water Resistancy and its different ratings explained, see our Water Resistancy page.
Watch crystal covers and protects the face, dial and workings of watches from any dust, dirt and damage that could be caused from every day wear. Transparent materials are used to allow the wearer to read the time. Three different types of crystal are used in the making of watches.
Acrylic crystal is an inexpensive plastic that is light and durable. It is mainly used in sports and children’s watches because it does not shatter or crack like other crystal can. However, it can be prone to scratches and while light scratches can be buffed, deep scratches can ruin the appearance of a watch and can can allow moisture escape into the dial and possibly damage the movement of the watch. For this reason replacement crystal is recommended when the wearer notices any deep marks.
The most common crystal used in watchmaking is mineral crystal. It is regular glass that has been treated with heat to create a harder crystal than acrylic that will be less prone to scratches from every day wear. It is however less flexible than acrylic and can shatter if it should be involved with a hard clash with another object or surface.
Undoubtedly the best, Sapphire Crystal is the most durable of these three crystals. Sapphire crystal is not made from an actual sapphire but from a synthetic compound similar to sapphire. While it is not unbreakable, it is much harder wearing and better at resisting scratches and cracks. It is so durable that only diamonds and sapphires can cut it and special diamond or sapphire tipped cutters are used to shape the glass to fit watches. Most luxurious and expensive brands use sapphire in their glass due to its strength and reliability.
All you need to know about watches;
Alarm – A function that will cause the watch to make a noise at a time pre-set by the wearer.
Altimeter – Measures altitude i.e. height above sea level.
Ana-digi – Same as duo-display. Shows both analogue and digital time.
Analogue – A watch using a dial, hands and numbers/symbols to denote a twelve- hour time frame.
Atmosphere (ATM) – Used to rate water resistancy. 1 ATM = 10 metres = 1 Bar.
Automatic Watch – A watch that winds itself using energy created and stored from the movement of the wearers hand. See Watch Movements for more information.
Bezel – Refers to the rim around the crystal on the face of the watch. Can be set with stones or inscribed with calibrated markings. Rotating bezels can be moved left and right.
Casing – A metal housing that holds the workings of the watch. Generally made out of stainless steel but other metals such as titanium, silver and gold can be used.
Ceramic – A strong, durable, hypo-allergic and virtually scratch-resistant material used for watch casing and bracelets. See Jewellery Materials for more information.
Chronograph – A watch which tells the time and has a stopwatch function. Generally feature in sports watches. See Watch Functions for more information.
Compass – Used to determine a geographic location that is built into some watch models.
Crown – Also known as a winder. This is used to set the hands of a watch to the correct time/date. Some watches have a screw crown which must be screwed out to release the crown to ensure water resistancy.
Crystal - Watch crystal covers and protects the face, dial and workings of the watch. Acrylic, Mineral and Sapphire crystal can be used with sapphire crystal being the most durable. See Watch Crystal for more information.
Cyclops – A section of the crystal covering the face of the watch that magnifies the date function so it is easier to read.
Date Function – Displays the date for the wearer and changes daily. Some watches feature day, date, month and year.
Dial – This is the face of watch where the current time is displayed for the wearer to read.
Digital – A digital watch displays the time in digits instead of hands and dials. These numbers appear in a Liquid Crystal Display or Light Emitting Diode.
Divers Watch - Most divers’ watches will have a unidirectional rotating bezel, screw down winding crown and case back. They must be water resistant to at least 200 meters.
Dual Time – Watches featuring dual time measures current local time and time from at least one other time zone.
Gold-Plating - Gold plated metal is created through a top layer of gold being plated over a base metal. Generally when Gold-plating is used in watches the base metal is Stainless Steel. See Jewellery Material for more information.
Kinetic - A Kinetic watch is similar to that of an Automatic. The watch is powered by the movement of the wearer’s arm. See Watch movements for more information.
Liquid Crystal Display (LCD): Watches using LCD display digits continuously by means of a liquid held between two thin transparent plates. It uses less power than LED and is powered by an electric current. Used by most digital watches.
Mainspring – A spiral springs that powers mechanical and automatic watches. As the watch is wound, the mainspring is twisted tighter and it stores this energy. As it unwinds, the power of the mainspring causes the workings to move.
Mechanical Movement - Watches with a mechanical movement are made up of moving parts that need to be manually wound up in order for the watch to keep time. See Watch Movements for more information.
Meteo – Watches with a Meteo function can determine, from atmospheric pressure, a trend in the weather.
Mineral Crystal – Most common crystal used in watches. It is treated with heat to make it more durable and less prone to scratching. See Watch Crystal for more information.
Movement – Is the internal mechanism of a watch that makes it keep time and perform functions.
Perpetual Calendar - A perpetual calendar function keeps the correct date all year round and will automatically change for different day months, leap years etc. See Watch Functions for more information.
Physical Vapour Deposition (PVD) - The PVD is a coating which leaves metal with a semi-matte, black finish which resists friction and heat. See Jewellery Materials for more information.
Quartz Movement – Watches with Quartz movement use frequencies from a quartz crystal to keep accurate timing. Generally they use a battery as their main power source. See Watch movements for more information.
Rotor – Is like a weight and with movement it winds up the mainspring in automatic watches.
Sapphire Crystal - Is a virtually scratch-resistant synthetic material and the best of the watch glasses available. See Watch Crystal for more information.
Solar - Watches that are powered by solar energy and maintain the same accuracy as quartz movement watches. See Watch Movements for more information.
Stainless Steel – A silver-coloured hard-wearing metal that won’t tarnish or discolour. See Jewellery Materials for more information.
Sub-Dial – A sub-dial is small dial within the dial of the watch that can be used for different purposes such as displaying the date, day and time elapsed in chronograph watches.
Tachymeter – Located around the bezel of the watch, a tachymeter us used to calculate speed over distance. See Watch Functions for more information.
Titanium – A silver-coloured metal which is one of the strongest used in watches and very light. See Jewellery Materials for more information.
Uni-directional Rotating Bezel – A rotating bezel that can only move one direction instead of being able to be moved back and forth.
Winding – Is the tightening of the watches mainspring which can be done manually or by a rotor.