What to Look for in Your First Watch

Purchasing a watch can signify a couple of things: you’re looking for your first “real watch”, you want to stop checking your phone so much, or you’re in need of a simple, reliable timepiece. Regardless, purchasing a watch (let alone a mechanical one) may seem a bit daunting, especially considering how many options there are at various price points. After several years, we’re providing an update to one of our most-read blog articles on what to consider when you’re in the market for a new watch.

Quartz or Mechanical? A quick primer.

Commonly, there are two types of watches: mechanical and quartz. This refers to the mechanism that makes the watch run. What distinguishes mechanical from quartz watches are the power source: a quartz watch uses a battery, while a mechanical watch has its power stored in a mainspring. With a quartz watch you’ll see the very pronounced tick of the seconds hand, and with a mechanical watch you’ll see a smooth sweep.

For mechanical watches there are two types: automatic and hand-winding. A high majority of the Orient catalog has both capabilities. How the mainspring is wound is what differentiates an automatic from a hand-wound watch. An automatic watch is wound by an oscillating weight, often referred to as a rotor. The rotor spins and powers the mainspring via natural wrist movement, like from your swinging arms when you’re walking. A high majority of Orient watches are automatic, and have proven to be more efficient at winding than other movements in the market. An automatic watch is really a “grab and go” kind of timepiece. A hand-wound watch is powered by the turning of the crown—they do not have spinning rotors. Watches were traditionally manufactured this way before the time of automatics.

In terms of timing, quartz watches are more accurate and on average are significantly lower in cost. However, mechanical watches are desired not only for their novelty, but the amount of craftsmanship that is required to create the mechanism.

Functionality and Design

It’s no secret that the design of a watch can be the deciding factor. Watches come in all different shapes and forms, from round cases, to square and tonneau shapes. The customization of watches has grown in popularity, especially in swapping the bracelet or strap to fit one’s look and/or personality. The size of the watch also matters, but only in the way that you feel looks right. After all, you’re the one wearing the watch.

The intended use of a watch may influence the functionality and design that you’re looking for. Watch features are derived from movement complications, such as day, date, power reserve and GMT, and components, such as a sapphire crystal and case structure. For example, if you were looking for an everyday watch to wear to the office, a watch with a date and lower water resistance (30m) would do the trick. The RA-AC00 Version 5 is a great example. Contrast that with a watch to wear outdooring, where you’d probably look for a scratch resistant sapphire crystal and more robust water resistance (100m).


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