Read these 15 Wristwatch Basic Infoformation Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Watches tips and hundreds of other topics.
A chronograph is a watch that has a stopwatch function. Typically, the top pusher will start and stop the chronograph. The bottom pusher will reset it. The chronograph generally can not reset in the running state. Special Flyback models allow the chrono to be reset at any time.
A chronometer is watch that has passed a series of tests, and is a superior timekeeper. Many watchmakers will put their movements through this test to illustrate their accuracy. The dial will typically have the word "Chronometer" or "Chronometre" on the dial.
To become a chronometer, the watch movement must pass 15 days of severe tests. The accuracy of the movement is checked in 5 different positions at varied temperatures. This simulates conditions under which the watch might be worn. The watch must average between +6 and -4 seconds per day in order to earn the certification.
If a watch is described simply as a "chrono", it is generally safe to assume it is a chronograph.
With a new watch, wear it every day for at least two weeks.
Automatic Watches: A rotor on the movement keeps the watch powered by the motion on your wrist. If worn everyday, an automatic watch will run for life (or until it breaks). Automatic watches generally have 100's of parts inside their small cases. If an automatic watch has stopped, it is best to wind it via the crown 20-30 times to give it a good kick start. If not wound manually, wrist motion is generally not enough to keep it running accurately.
Quartz Watches: The quartz movement became common for watches in the 70's. They are powered by a battery and need little maintenance except for a battery swap every year or so. They are highly accurate compared to mechanical watches.
Manual Wind Watches: A manual wind watch must be wound every one or two days by the crown in order to run. Even with that perceived inconvenience, they are still produced in Switzerland and can even be found on watches well over $5000. Many collectors find them highly desirable. It is easier to make a thinner and lighter watch without the self-winding mechanism. Some unique movements can reserve up to 8 days of power and will usually have a power-reserve indicator on the dial.
Louis Vuitton - Moët - Hennessy
The Movado Group (USA)
Richemont - Vendome Luxury Group
Stelux Holdings Intl. (Hong Kong)
Sapphire, Mineral, and Plexiglass (typically called plastic) are the three main crystals used on watches today.
Plastic is the least expensive and commonly found on vintage watches and many modern watches. These crystals scratch easily, however they are cheap to replace and easy to buff scratches out. Sapphire is the most expensive and the most scratch resistant. It can only be scratched by diamonds and other surfaces with a mineral hardness of 10. They are generally over $100 to replace and basically impossible to buff any scratches out. Since they are so hard, they are more likely to shatter on heavy impacts than a plastic crystal. A mineral crystal is between plastic and sapphire in cost and scratch resistance. It is virtually impossible to tell the difference between mineral and sapphire without taking a steel knife to the crystal to test it (not recommended!).
Most new mechanical watches will go through a short burn-in period. Nothing special needs to be done by the owner, the watch should take care of itself...
Before a watch makes it to your wrist, it has likely been sitting in the jewelers store or a warehouse. Oils and lubricants can pool in certain areas. It takes 1 or 2 months for the oils to be distributed to their proper locations. The moving of the parts will also wear away and microscopic imperfections that most parts have. After a couple of months the watch will be properly broken in and run with more precision.
Jewels are man-made artificial rubies or sapphires that have been drilled, champfered, and polished to serve as bearings for the gears and as stones for the pallet-arms. This reduces the friction of mechanical parts against each other to a minimum. Most Swiss watches today will have 19 or more Jewels. A quality mechanical piece needs at least 15.
The popular ETA 2824 has 25 jewels. It's more presigious sibling, the ETA 2892 only uses 21 jewels.
Many watches today have a "hack seconds" feature. When the crown is pulled out to adjust the time, the seconds will stop. This allows accurate synchronization with another clock. On most hack movements, when the crown is pulled out, a lever is moved which contacts the rim of the balance, which causes the movement to stop.
Water resistance is normally expressed in meters. This rating is only theoretical and refers to the depth that a watch will keep water out if the watch and water are both motionless. These conditions never really exist in real life because the user's arm movement dramatically increases the pressure on the watch, along with the water moving itself. The chart below should help you understand how deep you can really go with your watch.
Measurement Units: 1 meter is about 3.3 feet / 1 ATM (atmosphere) or bar is about 10 meters
Technically, 1 atm = 14.7 psi = 1.03 kilograms per square centimeter = 1 bar
If a watch is labeled only "water-resistant." It can withstand splashes of water but should not be submerged in any water.
50 meters: suitable for brief water exposure
100 meters: suitable for standard swimming pools
200 meters: suitable for recreational scuba diving
1,000 meters: (roughly three-fifths of a mile).
Watches should not be worn in the bath/shower. The soap suds reduce the surface tension of the rubber gasket in the watch, which allows water to get in. The soap can also damage the seal itself. So we highly recommend you do not bathe with your watch.