Your Guide to Luxury Watch Types

Your Guide to Luxury Watch Types

A new watch is an exciting purchase. Whether you are celebrating a significant accomplishment or picking a gift for a loved one, a designer timepiece is a valuable and beautiful piece of jewelry that will be treasured for years to come. Learn about the three different types of watches, from mechanical watches to quartz watches and beyond, and feel confident when you make your choice.


How Watches Work

Part of finding your ideal timepiece includes understanding the inner workings of watches. Once you understand how a watch works, you can decide which features and automations are most important to you.

The primary watch parts and components are the:

Movement, also known as the caliber

  • Dial
  • Hands
  • Crystal
  • Case
  • Bezel
  • Lug
  • Crown
  • Strap


Watches harness energy to move small gears, mainsprings, and more in order to accurately reflect the time. Different watches accomplish this in different ways, and it is helpful to know the inner workings of your specific watch while you are considering a timepiece purchase.


3 Common Types of Watches

The three primary types of watches — mechanical watches, automatic watches, and quartz watches — have distinct mechanical operations, but all three are perfect options for a reliable watch.

Knowing how a specific watch works helps you make a sound investment in yourself or a gift for someone else. Understanding the “how” behind your timepiece will give you confidence in the accuracy of your luxury Grand Seiko, Hamilton, or Longines watch.


1. Mechanical Watches

Mechanical watches are the original wrist timepieces, and they are still manufactured and used today. These watches use a clockwork mechanism to keep track of time and do not require batteries as they work on kinetic energy derived from movement.

The mainspring in mechanical watches drives the whole device. When it is tightly wound, the mainspring activates all the other components in mechanical watches in order to mark the passage of time. Making sure the mainspring is wound properly and has not lost tension is one of the most important watch-care tips with mechanical watches.

Many people like the technical feel of mechanical watches. The Hamilton Khaki Aviation Pilot Pioneer watch is inspired by pocket watches used by U.S. soldiers during World War II, and the hand-winding mechanical movements help pay tribute to that history.


History of Mechanical Watches

Wearable timepieces can be traced back to 1510 when clockmaker Peter Henlein invented the Nuremberg Egg, a small spring-driven clock that was made to be worn around the neck. These timepieces, however, were not very accurate and were worn mainly as a fashion statement.

The accuracy of mechanical watches improved in 1657 when British scientist Robert Hooke and Dutch physicist Christiaan Huygens invented the balance spring, and then again in 1760 when John Harrison invented the marine chronometer, used for sea navigation.

Until World War I, almost all personal mechanical watches were pocket watches, but the wristwatch became essential to soldiers in the trenches as timekeeping was an important part of battle strategy. Soon after the war, mechanical watches became a common accessory for every man and woman to wear on their wrists.


Modern Mechanical Watches

Today’s mechanical watches are more accurate than ever before. Mechanical watches are some of the more popular luxury watches in today’s market. Guides to luxury watches often name mechanical watches as the preference in the designer watch case, but they are sometimes more expensive on the front end and slightly more costly to maintain than other options, like quartz watches.

Mechanical watches are perfect for the more tactile or history-loving watch-wearer. A literal piece of history that you can wear and then participate in its functionality could be the perfect gift for your special someone.

Many people like the ability to hand-wind their watches. The Hamilton Khaki Pilot Pioneer Mechanical Chronograph is one example of a luxury watch that marks the return of hand-wound chronograph movement.


2. Automatic Watches

In the next iteration of watch history, automatic watches are similar to mechanical watches, but automatic watches have a self-winding mechanism. Instead of the wearer keeping the mainspring wound, automatic watches do the work themselves.

After World War I, when wristwatches became popular among the masses, advances in manufacturing made way for the production of watches with automatic winding. Inventors and watchmakers continued to make improvements until we got the watches we have today.

Currently, most wristwatches use automatic winding as opposed to manual winding. Modern automatic watches feature self-winding mechanical movements beating at extraordinary rates, like the 25’200 vibrations per hour on the Longines Master Collection 38.5mm watch. Flip this watch over to see the inner workings of the timepiece with its transparent case back, a delightful feature for the mechanically-minded watch lover.


How Automatic Watches Work

Automatic watches work basically the same way as mechanical watches, but there is one important difference. In automatic watches, a freely rotating metal weight called a rotor spins and automatically coils the mainspring instead of someone having to wind the watch themselves.

The rotor spins in response to the wearer’s movement. While many see this as an improvement to mechanical watches, this function means automatic watches can lose power if not worn regularly. If automatic watches are left in a drawer for too long, they need to be manually wound to get powered back up.

Because power to automatic watches depends on regular use, these are great options for someone who wants to wear the same watch on a daily basis. Fortunately, many automatic watches are stylish and desirable, making them easy to show off every day.


Popular Automatic Watches

Many luxury watch designers have automatic watches in their collections. It is not difficult to find an automatic watch that can serve your needs and fit your style. If you are shopping for a woman’s designer watch, for example, automatic watches can be found in almost any color and shape.

The Oris Aquis Date automatic watches come in multiple colors and styles, like the pink mother of pearl and the stainless steel with multicolored dial. Find proof of the mechanics by looking through the mineral glass backing to watch the timepiece’s mechanics in action.

The stunning Grand Seiko Heritage Watch is a popular masculine automatic watch. This timepiece’s mechanical movement has been adapted to tell the time in two places at once — one time zone with a 24-hour hand and then another with the conventional hands. This automatic watch is perfect for the traveling businessman who wants to keep track of different deals or offices while staying stylish.


3. Quartz Watches

Currently, the most popular and most affordable watches are quartz watches. These timepieces work completely differently than mechanical or automatic watches, using a battery instead of intricate mechanics to produce power.

On Christmas Day in 1969, the watch world was turned upside-down when Seiko unveiled the first quartz wristwatch. A watch had arrived that did not require winding and did not lose track of time when left off for several days. The new watch technology that included battery power was revolutionary.

Grand Seiko continues to produce show-stopping quartz watches, like the Grand Seiko Sport Watch, which is both classic and stunning. It’s accurate to +10 seconds per year, giving wearers confidence their time is always right without winding or constant wearing.


How Quartz Watches Work

With the use of quartz and lithium batteries, quartz watches are unmatched when it comes to timekeeping accuracy. Because there are fewer small parts needed to produce movement, quartz watches are often less expensive than mechanical and automatic watches.

Quartz crystals vibrate at a constant frequency when met with an electric current. In quartz watches, a lithium battery sends electricity to the quartz, and then the quartz’s precise vibrations echo in the watch back to the crystal, most often at a frequency of 32,768 times per second. The microchip inside the watch divides that frequency to 60 pulses per minute, thus accurately moving the second hand to keep time.

Because of the unique vibrating attributes of quartz crystals, quartz watches are incredibly accurate. The accuracy, mechanical simplicity, and affordability make quartz watches attractive to many.


What Makes Quartz Watches Affordable

In stark contrast to mechanical and automatic watches, quartz watches have very few parts, lending to their affordability. Standard mechanical watches have around 130 components, and the intricacy of manufacturing and assembling these components takes time, skill, and materials that add up. When combining the manufacturing cost with the increased accuracy, many people find quartz watches worth the investment.

Quartz watches need their batteries changed every few years, but many higher-end quartz watches have the capability to recharge their batteries with sunlight. This adds to the longevity of the watches and gives the wearer confidence that their timepiece will work for a long time without needed maintenance.


Trendy Quartz Watches

It is not hard to find stunning quartz watches for any style or price range. Luxury quartz watches from designers like OMEGA and TAG Heuer will turn heads as soon as you lift your wrist to check the time.

The Breitling Aerospace B70 Orbiter, for example, combines class and functionality for an eye-catching timepiece. Not only does this watch tell time, but it also features a 1/100th of a second chronograph, countdown timer, second time zone, two alarms, lap function, and perpetual calendar. This watch even contains a piece of the Aerospace B70 Orbiter, the first balloon to circumnavigate the globe.

Quartz watches make great gifts for the graduate, new mom, or sweetheart in your life. Give the gift of style and timeliness with a luxury quartz watch.


Types of Watch Displays

Aside from the inner workings of your watch, it is imperative you find the perfect watch face for your needs. The clarity of information displayed by your watch is important, and you need to be able to catch the time with a quick glance.

Watch displays come in several forms, including:

  • Analog
  • Digital
  • Dial with luminous hands
  • Tactile
  • Touchscreen

Each has its pros and cons, and ultimately, it is up to each individual’s style. Many luxury brands like Breitling and Hamilton produce watches with analog faces, digital faces, or a hybrid between the two. Even so, there are classy watches with any display imaginable to fit the needs of the consumer.


Why Should You Invest in a High-Quality Watch?

Everyone needs a good watch. Whether you are a professional in an office or a stay-at-home parent, a reliable timepiece is an important accessory. More than just the function of keeping the time, a watch can be a beautiful and classic piece of jewelry that shows you care about your appearance.

High-quality luxury watches are a step above the typical timepiece. When you purchase a designer watch from a trusted brand like Cartier, Breitling, or TUDOR, you invest in a watch that will stand the test of time and make a statement wherever you go.

Consider purchasing a luxury timepiece if you value:

  • Reliability
  • Accuracy
  • Durability
  • Style

The variety of luxury watches is as vast as any other jewelry. Because these watches are a worthwhile investment, finding one that you love is important. Visiting a jeweler and knowing what to look for are essential steps in choosing the right watch. Don’t rely on brand name alone — do your research to find the perfect designer watch for you.


Getting Your Watch Repaired

While each kind of watch — mechanical, automatic, and quartz watches— have their own interior functions, no watch is immune to the occasional maintenance or repairs. When the time comes for upkeep or addressing issues, it is essential you visit a quality jeweler to protect your timekeeping investment.

Regardless of your watch’s performance, it is important to get it serviced every three to five years. This keeps your timepiece in top working condition while identifying problematic components before they cause issues.

At Fink’s Jewelers, our watch repair services include changing batteries, adding or removing watch links, full service for mechanical watches, and other watch repair services as needed. Whether your watch was purchased at Fink’s or another jewelry store, bring it to our trained and certified watchmakers to ensure your timepiece is well taken care of.

There are many decisions to make when picking out a luxury watch. Once you have an idea of how you want your watch to work, enjoy the process of trying on timepieces and finding the perfect one for you. There is a watch to match your needs and style, and you will be thankful for a timepiece that will last a lifetime.