A luxury watch does more than tell time. It reveals your personality, conveys an appreciation for technology and enhances your appearance. Today’s premier timepieces rely on the ingenious inventions of the past while incorporating space-age materials and eco-friendly manufacturing processes.
But do you understand your luxury watch as well as you’d like to? Timepiece enthusiasts agree that the more you learn, the more you love. From mechanics to complications, let’s look at the basics of your luxury watch.
A day at Baselworld is enough to make your head spin. With so many intricate complications and designs, it seems as if there’s no end to the variety of luxury watches. But every watch can be categorised into one of the following categories:
As you might guess, mechanical movements have been around the longest, followed by automatic movements and then, more recently, quartz. Although quartz movements may seem most practical, automatic watches hold the spot for most popular in today’s market.
In 1969, Japanese-based Seiko introduced the revolutionary quartz movement, which kick-started an era of battery-powered wristwatches. From utilitarian to luxury, battery-powered watches were everywhere in the 1970s and 80s.
Here’s how the quartz movement works. The battery sends an electrical signal through a piece of crystal quartz, causing it to vibrate 32,768 times per second. The vibrations create a precise frequency, which is measured by the circuit and converted into a single pulse each second. This pulse moves the watch hands with precision.
The mechanical movement seems incredibly intricate. Still, if you strip away the complications, you’ll find the same basic structure in every mechanical watch: a mainspring powering a going gear train, which is regulated by an escapement.
Instead of being powered by a battery, mechanical watches use energy from the wound mainspring. As it slowly unwinds, the spring transfers energy to various gears and springs, powering functions such as the watch hands and complications.
Automatic watches work much like mechanical watches, but they have a metal part called a rotor, which rotates freely and is connected to the movement. With every action of the wearer’s wrist, the rotor spins and transfers energy to the mainspring. As a result, the mainspring is automatically wound.
As you learn about luxury watches, you may encounter new terms. Here are a few of the most common and helpful.
Bezel - The bezel holds the dial-side crystal in place. It may be screwed or snapped onto the watch’s case. Some luxury watches feature bezels that rotate to record elapsed time.
Bracelet - A bracelet is a flexible metal band that keeps the watch strapped to the wearer’s wrist.
Chronometer - Today, this term applies to watches that satisfy the requirements of the international standard ISO 3159/DIN 8319. Most enthusiasts agree that the name is only used for watches that have been evaluated by independent testing organisations, such as the Swiss Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres (COSC).
Crown - The crown protrudes from the side of the case and is used to wind the watch, set complications and protect the movement.
Crystal - The crystal is the clear covering over the dial. Crystals are often made from scratch-resistant sapphire, but they may also be made from mineral glass or even plastic.
Dial - The dial is the visual interface to the watch. It may display a variety of information, including time and date.
Lugs - These metal bars connect the case to the bracelet or strap.
Strap - A strap is a thin band of leather, rubber or fabric that keeps the watch strapped to the wearer’s wrist.
Subdial - A subdial is a smaller dial on the main dial that displays additional information, such as a chronograph’s recorded time.
When you purchase your first luxury watch, ask plenty of questions. Your jeweller or watchmaker should be happy to answer queries and help you find the perfect watch for you.
Like any mechanical object, a luxury watch requires maintenance from time to time. Ask your jeweller about the specific needs of your timepiece. As a general rule, take your watch in for a check-up every three to five years for upkeep. If you notice something wrong at any time, don’t hesitate to get it checked. In many cases, a simple adjustment can return it to its former glory.
Protect your luxury watches with Q Report watch insurance. If the unexpected happens, you’ll be able to repair or replace it, even if you were travelling outside the country when the incident occurred.
We love luxury watches as you do, and we aim to keep yours safe.