Men's watches can be considered functional jewelry. In fact, next to a wedding ring, a watch may be the closest thing some men ever get to jewelry. First introduced in the mid 1800s, men's watches now come in a vast array of styles, materials and technologies. If you're thinking about buying a watch, the most important factors to consider are style, budget and what activities you'll be engaged in when you're wearing your new watch.
Parts of a men's watch include the band (used to hold the watch around the wrist), the case (which holds the watch mechanism), the dial (the face of the watch) and the crystal (used to cover the face).
Men's watches tend to be designed with an eye toward functionality. From casual to sports to formal watches—you'll get the most out of a watch that matches your lifestyle.
The mechanism that a watch uses to tell time is called its movement. Movements can be mechanical (requiring winding), automatic (self-winding) and quartz (battery powered).
The band on a man's watch should fit tight enough to limit watch movement on the arm, but not so tight as to leave a mark. Metal bands are adjusted by removing links on either side of the latch.
Some men's watches are rated water resistant by atmospheres (ATM). One ATM is equal to about 10 meters of water. Watches rated to 3 ATM are suitable for light splashes, but you shouldn't immerse a watch in water unless its water resistance rating is 10 ATM or higher.
Men's watches are available in a number of different styles including digital watches with LED and LCD numbers and analog watches with traditional hands. Dive watches, chronographs and bracelet watches are other common styles.
For high style watches, consider products by Bulova and Kenneth Cole. Fossil and Rip Curl produce watches with a youthful and rugged look. Check out Tommy Bahama and Ed Hardy for eye-catching, casual timepieces.
While most men's watchcases are made of steel, you can also find watches made of precious metals like gold and silver. You can even find watches made with exotic materials like ceramic or titanium.
Popular men's watch features include water resistance, self-winding movements and even solar power. Other features include alarms, day/date calendars and time zone clocks.
Successfully buying men's watches is about matching your personality and lifestyle to a piece of technology—and staying within budget. Thankfully, you'll find a world of possibility out there with everything from pricey formal watches to inexpensive sport models available. Whether you're a dyed-in-the-wool traditionalist or a hardcore gadgeteer, you're sure to find the right watch at the right price.
All watches have several parts in common and knowing the details of men's watch construction will help you decide which features, materials and functions are important to you. Here are some of the basics:
Band. The band is what puts the “wrist” in wristwatch. Your options include metal bands, for a sophisticated professional look; leather bands for classic styling or other materials like nylon or rubber that create a sporty or casual look. Metal bands will usually need to be adjusted by a jeweler or other watch professional, but other bands can be easily adjust to fit properly.
Case. The case holds the main watch mechanism and is typically made of metal. The case is accessed by a removable case back, which allows for repairs or battery replacement. The front of the case has a recessed area called the bezel that houses the crystal. Screw in case backs and crystals provide superior water resistance.
Dial. The dial is the face of the watch. Dials can be functional or decorative. Depending on the features of the watch the dial may show more than one time zone or separate the seconds onto a separate face.
Crystal. The crystal covers the dial of the watch. The dial may be made of inexpensive Plexiglas or mineral discs, but sapphire crystal (while expensive) offers better scratch resistance.
The movement of a men's watch is the internal mechanism that keeps time. Movements come in several different styles, including:
Mechanical. Mechanical movements store power in a tightly wound spring and must be hand-wound on a regular basis to keep accurate time. Mechanical movements are long-lasting and lend a watch a traditional feel.
Automatic. While automatic movements also use a main spring to store energy, they feature a rotor that uses the arm's normal movements to keep the spring wound. Automatic movements feature quality construction with the added convenience of self-winding.
Quartz. Quartz movements work by energizing a quartz crystal with electricity. The power causes the crystal to vibrate at a specific frequency that the watch uses to measure time. Quartz movements are inexpensive and accurate, but require a battery replacement at regular intervals.
Men's watches tend to be very function-specific. If you are involved in a sport or other physical activity, chances are there's a watch designed for that activity. Some examples include:
Sports. Sport watches feature rugged construction and additional features that appeal to specific activities. For instance, running or racing watches have built in stopwatch and lap timers. Hiking watches may include a compass or even an altimeter.
Diving. Diving watches tend to be heavily water resistant with ratings of up to 200 meters. Dive watches also have specific functions to monitor breathing time for scuba divers.
Fashion. Fashion watches are perfect for business and formal occasions and are typically constructed of higher end materials like gold, silver and other precious metals.
Gadget. The perfect watch for your inner geek, gadget watches come packed with features like built-in calculators, radios and other gee-whiz functions.
Casual. Casual watches tend to be colorful and feature non-metallic bands. These watches are perfect for outdoor or everyday use.