Watch Guide: Types of Watches & Watch Movements

inside of a watch

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Movements | Types | Conclusion

Nothing dresses up a formal outfit or makes a casual one complete like a stunning wristwatch. Some folks wear watches simply for the fact that they accentuate an outfit; others wear them for more utilitarian reasons. Luckily, there are types of watches with features to serve just about everyone’s needs.

Watch Movements

Before covering the different types of watches, is first necessary to discuss watch movements, or what makes the watch hands tick.

Understanding the various types will help readers understand that these movements can be found across many different types of watches. In some cases, the movement is also the watch type, as you’ll notice with mechanical and quartz watches.

Mechanical

A mechanical watch works, quite literally, mechanically. It is powered internally by a spring which, through a series of gears, makes the minute and second hands move to measure time. These can be either manual or automatic--a manual mechanical watch requires periodic rewinding of the spring. Automatic watches are wound by a metal weight that moves in accordance with the wearer’s movements.

  • Pros: You don’t have to worry about recharging a battery because mechanical watches don’t need batteries. The second hand on mechanical watches also moves around the watch face in one smooth motion, rather than ticking repeatedly.
  • Cons: You’ll need to be careful wearing this watch because any dirt, dust, or water can interfere with the gears inside that keep it working. Because of their intricate design, they’re on the more expensive side.

Quartz

Some watches operate by a quartz movement, and these are called “quartz” watches. They are powered electronically by an electric current generated by a battery; this current causes quartz crystal to vibrate and release power to move the watch hands.

  • Pros: Quartz watches are typically more accurate than others. These are also less a bit more durable and require less care because they aren’t as intricate as mechanical watches. They’re also more affordable.
  • Cons: Some may not like the fact that these are battery powered; the second hand also moves in a ticking motion, which may be less visually pleasing for some wearers.

Digital

A digital watch is contrary to both the aforementioned styles; it is powered by an internal battery that must be recharged or replaced periodically. It records hours and minutes with digits rather than using moving hands.

  • Pros: Digital watches are easy to read and usually very affordable.
  • Cons: Some may lament the less-than-classic look of a digital watch, and the fact that they are battery-powered.

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Watch Types

Consider the following different types of watches; keep in mind that some types of watches – such as dress, casual, and pilot watches – can be either quartz or mechanical.

mens chronograph watch

Men's Chronograph Watch

Chronograph

A chronograph is another name for a stopwatch; sometimes these are contained within pilot watches or dress watches in the shape of three smaller round dials in the middle of the main dial.

The watch will have a start and stop button, which will start and stop the recording of time. Some include tachymeters, which measure speed; or a bezel that allows one to calculate speed based on their distance and the time it takes them to travel that distance.

The case is usually round and can vary in diameter, depending on whether it’s a dress or pilot watch; bands can vary in type and width also, with some chronographs having leather straps, and others having stainless steel bands with a fastening buckle.

Dress

Dress watches are usually simple but classy as they were made for business and formal wear. They are elegant enough for use with one’s professional work attire but also something like a tuxedo. The case is usually thin, fitting comfortably under a shirt cuff. The dials are usually quite simple, having simple numerals marking each hour.

These can have either quartz or mechanical movement, and typically do not feature any luminosity unless it’s a subtle glow-in-the-dark feature of the numerals. The case shape is often round, but unique styles offer square or rectangular options. The key with dress watches is class and simplicity.

casual womens watch

Casual Women's Watch

Casual

Casual watches usually offer a bit more flexibility in all areas. These are watches you’d wear day to day, whether it’s to the gym, to work, or to cut the grass. That said, they’re often digital or at least very durable analog watches with slim cases, having water and shock proof abilities.

Many digital watches are very durable; further, these watches are more likely to have a specific luminosity feature that will light the watch face when pressed.

Bands can vary on these more casual watches; some may have durable leather, but others may have either cloth, plastic or silicone bands with a metal buckle or clasp.

Pilot

Pilot watches are especially unique and were originally made for aviators. These usually have large numerals that can be read at a distance. Sometimes these watches will have chronographs and tachymeters in the form of smaller dials within the main watch dial.

In terms of size, these are a bit larger than dress or casual watches. These are often most likely to come with a rotating bezel – or a circular piece that moves around the watch face – that can be used for taking measurements.

These, too, can vary in terms of band, luminosity, and water/shock resistance. However, many of these will have metal bands with buckles or clasps, as these look a bit more “heavy duty” and are built to be used for very specific purposes. So they’re less likely to be simply a fashion statement compared to other types of watches, although they certainly can be.

mens chronograph watch

Smart Watch

Smart Watch

Smart Watches are a unique and relatively new category of watch; the most popular category of the Smart Watch is the Apple Watch. These have touch screens that act similar to a Smart Phone – they not only tell the time, but also provide access to text messages and apps. Users can also make and receive phone calls from them if connected to the correct phone and account.

The touch screen is naturally rather fragile and won’t withstand a heavy beating; and only certain models are waterproof. But the screens display is naturally luminescent, making it easy to see even in the dark.

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Conclusion

There can be a great deal of overlap when it comes to watch movement and type. As noted above, these can all vary in terms of bands, water resistance, and luminosity.

The digital watch is likely to have the best water resistance and luminosity because these are often made of silicones and plastics, which are naturally more durable than leather and the gears within a watch like a mechanical watch. Quartz and mechanical watches may, however, have a subtle light feature, or some features like hour numerals may have glow in the dark properties.

No matter what your reasons are for buying a wristwatch, there’s certainly a style out there that will fit your needs. Consider the reasons you have for buying a watch – whether it’s for the sake of style, convenience, or professional need--and then you’ll be able to determine what movement, type, and additional features will best suit your needs.

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