Monday, December 3, 2018

Watches, Watches, and More Watches - Beginners Guide

The watch that got me started, my Bulova. That's St. Maarten in the background.
I just recently started collecting watches after buying a Bulova when I was on my honeymoon cruise in St. Maarten. I never would have thought buying one automatic watch would lead me to collecting. I'll have to admit, I've had a few watches over the years. Some cheap, the more expensive one's were the Fitbit's and smart watches (still cheap in the watch world).  I thought I'd share my knowledge that I learned about watches in the short time that I've started collecting.

11 watches later I think I have a problem, lol. I know what your thinking, a watch just tells time. But there's more to it than that.  It's kind of like owning a car, a watch can show your personality and tell a lot about you.  Let me start off by going back to what got me into wanting to collect watches. Like I said earlier, I bought my first "expensive" watch in St. Maarten.  It was a quick decision and I didn't have much time to look for anything super specific. I just knew I wanted to get a decent automatic watch since it was my honeymoon. At the time I didn't know anything about watches and didn't know anything about the brand Bulova.  Luckily, Bulova is a great brand with some great history. They are currently owned by Citizen, another great Japanese watch brand. Luckily I didn't fall for any fashion watches or Invicta (we'll get into that later).

So after I came back home from my honeymoon I started doing some more research about some of the different watch brands, what makes a good watch, and what not to buy.  So basically you have two different types of watches, fashion watches and luxury watches.  Luxury watches can even be broken down into several different price points, budget $20-$100, low $100-$500, mid $500-$1000, mid-high $1000-$3000 and high $3000 and up.

Luxury watch prices really depend on several factors. The movement, crystal, and type of watch.  For movements (the part that actually keeps time, in other words the internals) you have quartz (battery and solar), automatic (your wrist movement keeps the spring wound), and mechanical (you have to manually wind them) watches.  For the crystal (the glass portion of the watch) you have acrylic (fancy word for plastic), mineral (more scratch resistant than acrylic, and sapphire (almost as hard as diamonds but they can still scratch).  For the types of watches you have dive, dress, racing, aviation, and field watches. Each of those served a purpose at one point or another, but many people just purchase the specific style they like.

Now I'll break down a few brands that fall in each of the luxury price points (note that each of these brands may have watches above or below these price points).  From $20-$100 we have the Timex and Casio brands. $100-$500 we have Seiko, Orient, Citizens, and Bulova. In the $500-$1000 we have Hamilton, and Glycine. $1000-3000 we have Oris, Longines, and Maurice Lacroix. $3000 and up we have Tudor, Breitling, Omega, and Rolex's.  If you want really expensive just search for some Phillipe Patek watches.

I almost forgot to mention micro brands. Micro brands are small startups that typically use Swiss or Seiko movements.  Many times they will be made in China with the headquarters being outside of China.  Their quality control is usually better than your fashion watches. Some micro brands include Jack Mason, Spinnaker, Dan Henry and many many more. This is one of the quickest watch growing segments. Sometimes you'll see micro brands in crowdfunding campaigns or kick starters.  There's nothing at all wrong with owning a micro brand watch.

The other great part about luxury watches is that most brands have great horology history and have been innovative throughout the years with different features. For example, Rolex was the first to have a waterproof watch in 1926, the first watch with auto changing date in 1945, and the first to show 2 time zones.  The Bulova Accutron watch was the first to use a tuning fork instead of a balance wheel as the timekeeping element in 1960. The Omega Speedmaster was the first watch to go to the moon in 1969.  Seiko was the first to create a quartz watch in 1969 (which almost took out the mechanical and automatic watch industry).  Casio introduced a rugged watch called the G-Shock in 1983.  Timex patented a technology used to light up the watch dial with the touch of a button called Indiglo in 1992. Oh, did I mention luxury watches hold their value?

Fashion watches have many price points as well, the really big difference is price and only price. Fashion watch brands are more about making the most money they can for themselves.  They typically have poor quality control, cheap movements, and are made in China (there are a few decent Chinese watch companies).  A few fashion or designer brands include DW (Daniel Wellington), Guess, Fossil, Diesel, MVMT, Gucci, and Movado and so many more. I'd recommend staying away from these brands. So you wonder how they sell so many you ask? They have a great marketing campaign and are really good at social media.  They get big name persons to promote their products.

Oh, you thought I forgot about the Invicta watches. So what gives Invicta such a bad name? They do have a great history. Well for starters, they really markup their MSRP.  Just go to Amazon.com and search for a Invicta watch. You'll see MSRPs for $1200 and the watch selling for $200.  Don't get me wrong, the $200 watches are probably worth $200.  They also produce some of the largest and gaudiest watches around. Some people are into those types of watches, which is why they don't have a problem selling them.  I think some of their dive watches are pretty good. I did get a good deal on a Invicta Lupah watch on Ebay, what can I say, I like the looks of them. I still think Invicta watches are better than fashion watches.

For me, I buy watches I like.  You have some people that are really into dive watches or dress watches... etc. I've already purchased a couple Citizens, a Seiko, a Hamilton, a Dan Henry, and Jack Mason just to name a few.  Some watches that are on my future list include Oris, Omega, and possibly a Rolex (pretty far out at this point). Each watch has it's own personality.  I have 2 beater watches that I wear most of the time, these are watches that I'm OK with getting a little beat up. One's a Citizen and the other is a Spinnaker.  So get out there and buy you a quartz, automatic, or mechanical watch.  I'll possibly be doing some watch reviews in the near future, so stay tuned.

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