Watches Buying Guide: How to Buy Your First Watch in 4 Steps

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Written by Ryan Miller

At the end of the day, buying a watch mostly boils down to preference.

It might seem complicated, but the only challenge that exists is the sheer number of watches available in the market.

So here’s what we’re going to do.

We’ll take you on a 4-step 5-minute tour so you can strap on a timepiece in time for your next event and spend your money where it belongs.

Ready? Be prepared for some wrist action! Every man should.

watches buying guide

Watch Buying Guide: 4 Steps to Find the Best Watch That Suits Your Needs

Step 1: Look at Function, Budget, and Brand First

Function – Why Do You Need a Watch?

Before you start naming fancy, sophisticated brand names and talk about accuracy and movement, you have to ask yourself why.

Yes why.

Buying a watch starts by asking yourself why you need one in the first place. What functions will it serve?

Below, you’ll find a list of different styles of watches:

  1. Field
  2. Dive
  3. Aviation
  4. Dress
  5. Luxury
  6. Fashion
  7. Casual
Luminox Quartz Navy Seal Dive Watch

Luminox Navy Seal Dive Watch

Hamilton Intra-matic

Hamilton Intra-Matic Dress Watch

Are you looking for a daily beater watch to wear outdoors? Then a field watch might be your best bet.

What about a timepiece to impress everyone in the room that pairs with your suit and tie? Dress or fashion watches would suit you the most.

And if you’re willing to spend big bucks, then go for a luxury watch.

If you plan to buy a watch as a long-term investment, this serves a different purpose than simply buying a watch that looks good.

Overall, before you can choose a quality watch, the first step of this watch buying guide is to define your priorities and needs first.

Budget – How Much Are You Willing to Spend?

You can buy many watches for under $1000, $500, $300, and even $100!

Decide how much you’re willing to spend and what you can afford. Once you set a range, you’ll find thousands of timepieces online.

If you’re buying your first watch, be cautious. You may stumble into fake versions of prestigious watch brands.

Don’t let the jewels, gold plate, or fancy bling fool you.

Remember: A cheap watch from a trustworthy brand carries more worth than a fake prestigious model.

Brand – How Important is Brand to You?

Best affordable watch brands

If you’re brand conscious of what you spend your money on, this will help you nail down the best watch for you.

Are you a Tag Heuer fan? Patek Philippe? Rolex? Seiko? or Casio?

Brands place considerable weight on the quality and price range of your watch. If a certain brand is important to you, make sure to get exactly what you want.

Step 2: Dive Into Technicalities

Movement – Quartz, Mechanical, or Automatic

Mechanical movements are the oldest movement powered by springs and cogs.

If you see yourself as an old-fashioned guy, mechanical watches are a classic choice that will complete your wardrobe.

The tradeoff? A mechanical movement is not as accurate as quartz and, in fact, more expensive. Not to mention, a mechanical watch’s maintenance also requires more effort on your part.

But when you buy a mechanical watch, you’re also buying a piece of history since mechanical watches are, after all, produced by the first watchmakers.

On the other hand, automatic movement types are similar to mechanical types; only that automatic watches don’t require you to wind them yourself, which is one of the main selling points of automatic watches.

Your wrist motion allows the watch to wind itself. However, in some cases, you might need watch winders to wind your watch when it’s not being used.

Quartz watches are inexpensive, easy to maintain, and accurate.

Investing in quartz movement won’t require you a hefty amount. If you’re buying your first timepiece, quartz is a great choice.

You’ll find thousands of quartz-type watches nowadays. Thanks to solar technology, some brands even offer quartz-type watches with a solar-powered battery like the Citizen Eco-Drive (one of our favorites). Solar watches can therefore eliminate the need to hand-wind.

Analog, Digital, or Hybrid

Casio G-Shock Rangeman

G-Shock Rangeman GW-9400

Tissot gentleman black dial

Tissot Gentleman Black Dial

Choosing between analog, digital, or hybrid timepieces define your preferred style.

Watches are symbolic tools men wear but also, the watch you wear is a statement piece of who you are and who you aspire to be.

Both digital and analog watches are stylish options. The question is, where do you plan to wear your watch?

If you want a watch you can wear for formal, dress, and smart occasions, an analog watch suits you better.

For certain activities like running, hiking, diving, or if you need something you can wear casually, a digital watch is just right.

Hybrid watches aren’t so different from analog types but more flexible than digital watches. If you want the best of both worlds strapped on your wrist, be our guest.

Just be careful since hybrid watches tend to be bulky.

Strap Type: Rubber, Leather, or Metal

Choose your watch strap carefully.

watch strap

Going for a leather strap is great for smart and dress occasions. Just be sure to choose the slim, sleek types over the chunky, matte ones and summer season.

The sweat caused by the heat can damage the leather so if you wear a watch with a leather strap, make sure you swap it out with a nylon or mesh strap.

Hands down, metal is versatile and shows a lot of masculinity when worn with any formal attire. You can even wear it all-year-round if you want to.

Stainless steel is an excellent option and even classy when paired with a polo shirt.

As for rubber, these strap types are designed to add toughness to your strap. Although it may not look as appealing as metal, for casual occasions meant to be worn every day, rubber straps are perfect.

Material

mens-luxury-gold-wrist-watch-PCZNJT6

The material used to cover the inner workings of your watch are just as important.

In this case, choose materials that have both durability and style.

The most prevalent case materials used for watches include:

  • Stainless steel
  • Platinum
  • Gold
  • Ceramic
  • Titanium

Steel is the most common material used and the best choice if you’re looking for a balance of price, durability, and value. In addition, stainless steel resists discoloration and tarnishing, so its style will look great forever.

Gold and platinum are good options if you want a flashy timepiece. If you’re not too concerned about durability and prefer aesthetics over build, gold and platinum work best for you.

But take note! Gold and platinum are the heaviest among all materials and, quite frankly, the most expensive.

Ceramic and titanium are lightweight options with high durability. Among all materials, ceramic has the highest scratch-resistance.

Crystal: Acrylic, Sapphire, or Mineral

Acrylic or plastic crystal is mostly used in vintage timepieces and the least expensive among all three.

If you’re looking for an entry-level watch with good scratchproof ratings, mineral crystal has great value for money.

It’s quite obvious that sapphire crystal is the most premium, very clear, and has the highest scratchproof rating.

One thing to note about sapphire crystal though, is their brittleness, which means they can shatter if you aren’t careful.

Finally, don’t forget to include one or two coatings of anti-reflective treatment. Watches with good anti-glare treatment make a huge difference when reading your watch under the sun.

Features

Are you looking for a watch with water-resistance? If so, a diving watch with at least 200m water-resistance should be adequate for diving capabilities. Some have a water-resistance of 300m and up.

Alternatively, a watch with a good alarm feature is useful if you don’t want to keep your phone beside you when you sleep.

Workout often? Then perhaps a watch with a countdown timer and stopwatch features can be useful. Similarly, you can use the countdown timer feature, so you always arrive at meetings on time.

Watches come with a wide range of features and aren’t limited to its basic function of telling time.

Technology has given rise to advanced functions such as perpetual calendar, dual-time zone, split-second chronograph, compass, pressure gauge, and even text message features found on smartwatches.

Ultimately, the features a watch can provide depends on what you’ll be needing these features for.

Step 3: How Good Does It Look?

Case Size & Caseback

Case size isn’t so much about how your watch will look. Case size contributes to your comfort overall.

A watch with a large diameter may allow its other features shine; however, if the diameter is too big, it would be uncomfortable to wear throughout the day.

Take note that everyone’s wrists have different sizes, so it’s always best to fit the watch personally.

In cases where you are unable to do so, the average case size for men would be at least 40mm. Some men even wear case sizes as big as 55mm!

For women, the average size would be 34mm or even smaller.

What about the caseback? This is where the design functions come in, or rather, how stylish it will look on your watch.

Most casebacks have a solid design, while other watches specifically, mechanical watches, will have a sapphire crystal with a clear caseback.

Weight

Weight is largely related to the size of your watch case. The larger your case size, the heavier your watch will be.

Don’t be too focused on the look of your watch. This is something to remember when buying a watch.

Although your watch’s design and aesthetics are important for matching your style, don’t compromise your watch’s functionality either.

Quality Seal

Some watch enthusiasts prefer to buy timepieces with a quality mark or seal to signify a certification of the watch’s quality.

A quality seal can reflect a watch’s movements, design, or meeting certain standards. Among other things, there are two quality seals worth noting:

  1. Seal of Geneva
  2. Chronometer Rating

The Seal of Geneva certifies the watch of its quality and origin. Specifically, the Geneva seal means a watch’s movements satisfy the stringent rules applied by Swiss law. Swiss watches all need to be a certain quality – so you’ll almost never go wrong with the watches from the swiss.

Furthermore, only 24,000 watches among the 30 million watches produced bear this seal, making only a fraction of the world’s watches rare items indeed.

Chronometer Rating certifies that the watch’s movements are made using the highest-quality components and were treated under special care by the finest watchmakers.

Bring this on a date or any event with your friends, and it’s definitely something you’ll be able to impress anyone with.

Illumination

Illumination isn’t as important if you plan to buy a dress or luxury watch.

But if you need an outdoor watch or sports watches in any case, the quality of your luminant matters greatly.

Imagine taking a hike, and as soon as it gets dark, you can’t tell the time because your watch’s luminescence is too weak. This could spell trouble.

In fact, it’s even more crucial for a military watch to have a bright illumination/glow. When you’re active on duty, every second counts!

New or Secondhand?

Believe it or not, some don’t mind buying a used or secondhand watch.

If you’re wondering why, we have two good reasons why someone would:

  1. It’s cheaper
  2. You enjoy collecting vintage timepieces

However, if you buy a secondhand watch, make sure you can trust the seller as well. Buying a secondhand watch is risky, so make sure you consider these 3 factors:

  • Price Point – If it’s as expensive as buying a new watch, you might as well go with a new one instead.
  • Watch Condition – Remember what we said about fake versions? Make sure the quality isn’t mediocre or subpar.
  • Dealer’s Reputation – Always read customer reviews. You won’t regret it.

Step 4: Before You Buy

Can You Trust Your Seller?

The final step of this watch buying guide is to do proper research about your seller.

Everyone knows ads don’t always tell the truth.

Even by following all the steps listed in each section, you could be losing thousands of dollars if you buy from a fake dealer.

Would your risk that when buying a Rolex?

Apart from reading user reviews, check if your dealer offers a money-back guarantee. If you still have questions and doubts about the dealer, it may be best to look somewhere else.

Final Words

We hope this watch buying guide was able to help you choose the right watch for you.

Reading other watch reviews online will also help inform your decisions on how to choose the perfect timepiece for you.

Be sure to use all this knowledge here to find the answers you seek in buying a watch.