All About the Watch
In 1504, the first portable, timepiece was invented in Nuremberg, Germany by Peter Henlein. The first reported person to actually wear a watch on the wrist was the French mathematician and philosopher, Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) but this was in fact a pocket watch that he attached to his wrist with a piece of string.
The actual wrist watch was invented by the Swiss watch maker, Patek Phillippe in the late 1800s but at first only women wore them.
It was Louis Cartier who created the first men’s wristwatch for his friend Alberto Santos-Dumont, an aircraft engineer who found a pocketwatch inconvenient to look at when in a flight cabin.
Watches have come a long way since then - waterproof, shatterproof, eco-friendly, musical MP3, mobile phone or even spy watches featuring videos and cameras. Who knows what smart watches will be able to do in the future!
Choosing a Watch
For some people, the main purpose of a watch is to tell the time and possibly the date. But at Creative Watch we find that people choose watches for a myriad of reasons – to own a beautiful timepiece that satisfies their aesthetic leanings, as a flamboyant fashion statement or a robust, sports accessory that can join them on extreme adventures.
We have compiled in this section a few things to be aware of when buying a watch.
01. The Glass (Crystal)
This can range from Acrylic-Perspex on mostly older and lower cost watches, such as the original Swatch, to the ultimate sapphire crystal at the luxury end of the market. The most commonly used watch glass is made of mineral which is much harder and more robust than Acrylic-Perspex. Over years of watch wear the mineral glass can start to show scratches and chips if knocked. More modern variations now feature hardened coatings to extend the life of the clarity of the crystal such as Seiko's Hardlex, and even a Sapphire-like coating, Sapphlex, which emulates the scratch-resistant qualities of a true solid sapphire crystal at a more cost-effective price.
Also at the higher end of the market are glasses with anti-reflective coatings on the inside. This helps to reduce some of the background refections when you look at the watch dial, although some intense reflections will remain. The overall clarity and contrast of the dial is enhanced considerably by this method, and can sometimes be identified by a slight blue tinge to the crystal. With all of the above materials, having a crystal with bevelled edges or completely domed will add to the overall cost.
02. The Movement
Things have moved on considerably since the days of the wind-up mechanical movement, with battery powered Quartz now the most common movement used in watches today. Whether digital or analogue, Quartz watches use a battery that should last 18 months to three years but may go even longer.
The key choices in deciding on the movement in a watch are battery changes, time accuracy, winding the watch and cost of maintenance.
For the watch connoiseur there’s the Automatic movement. This is a mechanical design fitted with a self-winding mechanism. The automatic winding feature operates as long as the watch is worn and that the wearer is reasonably active. If left on the side-table, it will keep running for approximately 36 hours before it stops. An electric watch winder can be purchased to keep the watch moving when not worn on the wrist. This will improve the practicality of the watch as the time wont need to be reset if not worn for a few days. Perhaps the most practical, in the affordable ranges, is the Powermatic 80 movement from Swatch Group that has great accuracy and extends the power reserve to 80 hours.
All these mechanical watches are for people that like to appreciate what they are wearing and to posses an item of complex engineering craftsmanship that speaks volumes about their character and individuality. Mechanical watches are generally associated with the higher end of the market. To extend the overall life of mechanical watches we advise that they are serviced every 7 - 9 years. We offer repair and servicing for mechanical wind-up and automatic watch movements.
A large improvement in watch time accuracy and power reserve comes with the Kinetic movement. Developed by Seiko in Japan, this was the first automatic quartz movement (originally named as an automatic generating system - AGS) which needs no battery as it creates its own energy generated by the motion of the wearer and stores it for use later. This is a mixture of a physical mechanical pendulum for energy generation, a power cell for electrical energy storage and Quartz timing technology. One of the limitations being the size of the movement which can only usually be used in larger mens watches.
Solar power movements, again invented by Seiko, but developed and nurtured by Citizen as the Eco Drive. This is the latest eco-friendly watch movement fuelled by light, both natural or artificial, and converting it into usable energy. This energy is then stored in a capacitor (rechargeable battery) to be used later when required to keep the movement running. When fully charged, the power reserve enables the watch to run for six months or in some models years, even in total darkness. As there are no batteries to replace every couple of years its designed for less maintenance, and inturn considered a more eco-friendly movement. This has made it an increasingly popular choice, with Solar watches now available in many other mid price brands such as Seiko, Pulsar, Bering and even the Swiss Tissot.
03. Water Resistance
This is an interesting issue because there are various grades of water resistance which can be a little confusing for the uninitiated. The term Water Proof is not normally used in watch making as its technically impossible to achieve it. Hence the term Water Resistant followed by a unit of measure such as 50 metres. This is technically only a static test of a watch in a laboratory at a depth of 50 metres, and should not be confused with the depth you can dive to. For serious water sports on a regular basis you should always over specify the water resistance designation. For sports watches in particular, the water resistance designation is often used as a guide to establishing the quality of the whole watch.
Based on several decades of experience , we have concluded that water resistance is not a permanent feature of any watch. Poor maintenance or simply just normal use of the watch will reduce its ability to resist water ingress. However, depending on your requirement, here’s a guide to what to look out for:
Watches marked water resistant, WR, 30M, 3BAR, 3 ATM, 50M, 5BAR and 5ATM in our opinion are not really reliable enough to wear when swimming on a regular basis because of possible leakage.
We would only recommend watches marked 100M, 10BAR, 10ATM, and above to be used regularly for swimming or water sports providing they have been properly maintained. Always avoid pressing any buttons on the watch when around water, and always ensure the crown is in its correct position and has not been damaged in anyway. Leaving the crown pulled out is one of the most common reasons for sport watches having warranty claims!
If the watch has a screw in crown, make sure it’s screwed up tight to the case before immersing it in water. To maintain water resistance we would recommend having the watch tested regularly by a competent watch technician or by the watch manufacturer, as the seals can perish over a given amount of time depending on the sort of conditions it is worn in. Our overall recommendation would be to invest in a watch with a screw-in crown for frequent water based activities. Regardless of the water resistancy of the watch, leather straps are not designed for regular use in water, and will rapidly degrade if immersed more than occasionally. Rapid changes in temperature and Saunas should also be avoided due to the expansion and contraction of the watches seals. Please see our Service and Repair section if you require battery replacements and water resistance checking.
Some watches are fitted with push-in crowns and others have screw-in/screw-down crowns. These screwed crowns contribute to the watch’s water resistancy and are typically fitted to watches with 100m and above water resistancy. The advantage of a screw-down crown is that it cannot be pulled out accidentally when immersed in water. Some manufacturers are now fitting push-in crowns with double or even triple seals, giving the movement extra protection from water entering the case. For example if the first seal fails, the protection is provided by the second and so forth. A screw-in crown is generally more widely used and preferred. Brands such as Certina are renowned for all of their watches designated DS for double security. All crowns, buttons and the case back have two seals for security.