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4 Questions You Ask If You Don’t Know Watches

Questions are, contrary to popular belief, rarely a bad thing. Certain questions, however, are clear tells that you might not know what you’re talking about.

This is especially true in the watch world where, to be perfectly frank, one factor for even purchasing a luxury timepiece is to show it off—so asking a question that hints at your lack of knowledge pretty much defeats the purpose of having that gorgeous timepiece on your arm, if your purpose was to come off as a connoisseur,  doesn’t it?

To be clear, we’re not here to judge. In fact, we’re here to acknowledge that, yes, before we knew what chronometers and bezels were, we asked some of these questions too. Out loud, in some cases. And because we’ve asked them, they’ve been answered.

Question 1: “What’s the best watch in the world?”

Many people automatically equate “best” with “most expensive”, “best-selling”, or “most sought-after”, and that often really isn’t the case. The question just can’t be answered without going into the minutiae of watchmaking, or into the inquirer’s preferences. Determining what the best watch in the world is depends on a variety of factors: quality, aesthetics, functionality, complication, rarity, collectibility, as well as a person’s tastes. One brand might do one thing better than another brand. A watch someone considers great might be missing functionalities that are important to you. A limited edition watch owned by your favorite celebrity might not be a fit for what you need.  Trying to narrow the literally hundreds of thousands timepieces available in the world down to one is fighting a losing battle.

Question 2: “Is this watch accurate?”

To answer this demands that one become slightly philosophical, because, in truth, no watch is 100 percent accurate, and yet, some come close. Getting to that point is the horological world’s Olympic gold medal, Peace Prize, Pulitzer, and EGOT, all rolled into one.

There’s no getting around the fact that even the most accurate watch in the world (a designation that changes with each passing day), will lose a few seconds every year due to wear, magnetism, the drying of oils, and just simple aging. Typically, even the best mechanical watches might lose a few seconds a day, because even the greatest group of engineers in the world (again with the superlatives) cannot create a piece that syncs perfectly with universal time.

It’s a matter then, of how close a watch can get, at any given point, to complete and total precision. If accuracy is your biggest consideration, you can rely on the various certifications that have been established to show that a watch is well built, namely the Chronometer Certification, the Geneva Seal, the Patek Philippe Seal, and the Master Chronometer certification.

Question 3: “Which is better: a square watch or a round watch?”

You’ll have noticed by now that we’re not the biggest fans of the word “best” and its iterations when doing watch comparisons. Again, it all depends on certain factors; there simply is no single answer.

In this case, it all boils down to aesthetics, and aesthetics are a very personal thing. Round watches are more commercially popular, and most experts chalk it up to a combination of association (pocket watches are round, wall clocks are round… you get the idea), and simple ergonomics (the hands’ circular motion). This isn’t to say that rectangular watches have no place in a serious collection; watch lovers with an eye towards a vintage style that most explicitly harks back to the golden age of Hollywood are vocal in their love for the quadrilateral shape, as do those whose tastes are more inclined to the super-modern.

Question 4: “Why would anyone still, in this day and age, buy a hand-winding watch?”

You mean aside from the feeling of getting up in the morning, winding your watch, and feeling every bit like a modern day Don Draper, Clark Gable, Cary Grant, or any one of those stylish icons of yesteryear? Because that’s enough of a reason for us.

A hand-wound also has several practical aspects to it,  namely the options of slimming down the watch, and the possibility of design minimalism, thanks to the lack of the mechanisms that make an automatic watch, having fewer parts, making it easier to service and less susceptible to defects. A smaller production number also means that hand-wound watches are generally rarer and more collectible. Chances are, though, it’s the ritual of it that is so enjoyable that for some that to completely forego it is almost unimaginable. Sure, the convenience of an automatic watch might save you a few minutes every day, but the hand-wound piece brings emotional satisfaction and pleasure that an automatic model might not offer.

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