What is the difference between cheap and expensive watches?

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When you are in the market for a new watch, you’ll likely be surprised by how many of them are out there. Watches today range from basic wind-up watches to fancier watches that seem to do everything except clean your kitchen for you. Along with the many differences, they also differ quite a bit when it comes to price. The thing is, you don’t have to buy a Rolex to get a great watch, and you don’t have to go with the least expensive watch to buy something that disappoints you. If you’re curious about why inexpensive and expensive watches are different from one another, below are five factors that may explain it for you.

1. The Materials

One of the first things to consider when shopping around for watches is what the case is made of. The case is the outer covering of the watch and can be made out of stainless steel, titanium, solid gold, platinum, and even ceramic. The case is important because this is what protects all of the inner workings of the watch, so it has to be sturdy. Some of these materials are much more expensive than others, and they directly affect the final price of the watch itself.

Stainless steel cases won’t discolor or tarnish and are actually reasonably priced as well. Platinum watches, on the other hand, can cost you $20,000 or more. Somewhere in between are materials such as titanium, solid gold (not gold-plated, which aren’t very expensive), and ceramic, which is fairly new in the world of watches. The higher the quality is, the more you’ll end up paying for the watch, which is something to consider when you’re shopping for watches.

2. The Crystal

Crystals on watches are the coverings for the front of the watch, and they can be made out of plastic, glass, or synthetic sapphire, which is usually colorless. If you’ve ever asked yourself, are expensive watches worth it, the answer will depend on how important parts such as the crystal are to you. Acrylic crystals are a type of plastic and are often included on sport watches. While they are sturdy, they can still get scratched, and if the scratch is too deep, water can seep into the watch and damage it.

Watches over $500 generally have crystals that are made out of synthetic, colorless sapphire. While these types of crystal shatter more than the acrylic crystals do, they are also nearly impossible to scratch. In fact, only another sapphire or a diamond can scratch this type of crystal. Mineral glass crystals are treated to make them strong, making them resistant to most scratches. While they can crack or shatter, they usually only do this under extreme circumstances.

3. The Band

The band of a watch usually comes in two main types: a bracelet type, and a strap. Just like other features on a watch, the higher the quality of the strap or band, the more expensive it will be. The bracelet types are made out of metal links that interlock, and you can add or remove links to make it fit your wrist. These are perfect for people who have wrists that are smaller or larger than average. Straps can be made out of nearly anything, including rubber, nylon, plastic, fabric, and leather, with the latter being included on many of the more expensive watches on the market.

Sport watches often have bands made out of rubber or nylon because those materials can take a lot of abuse and keep on going. Some women’s watches come with fabric bands available in many different colors, in case you want to change the look of your watch to match your outfit or the occasion. Bands also come in dozens of colors, so regardless of what color you’re looking for, you are certain to find it. There are other types of straps as well, with each type affecting the final price of the watch.

4. The Movement

Movement means how the watch actually works, and there are three main types: mechanical, quartz, and automatic. Mechanical watches have to be wound by hand. They are durable but they can also lose up to 10 seconds per day. This might not sound like a lot, but if you are traveling and have to be at the airport by a certain time, it’s something to consider. Quartz watches, sometimes called Swiss quartz watches, are powered by batteries that usually need to be replaced about once a year. Some of the most affordable watches are quartz watches, although you have to be careful with the “Swiss” label because a Swiss quartz doesn’t necessarily mean that the entire watch is made in Switzerland.

Finally, there is the automatic watch, which is wound through the motions your arm makes. Also called self-winding watches, they should be reset every month or so because they tend to lose a few minutes each month. You can also purchase a watch winder, but these are pretty pricey so most people don’t want them. When it comes to price, the more intricate and complex the movement is, which includes more than just the type of movement included, the more expensive the watch will be.

5. The Number of Features

The more fancy features the watch has, the more it’s going to cost – period. While some watches are basic and have no extra features, others have it all, which can include day and date, stopwatch, 24-hour time, temperature and barometric pressure indicators, weather warnings, direction displays, and even sunrise and sunset times. These days, watches can even be synced with your smartphone so that you can check your email, use GPS when you’re traveling, and even take your pulse if you use it to exercise.

Other fancy features include water-resistance, in which the company usually tells you how deep in the water it can go without being damaged, compass capabilities, and lights you can press so that you can see what time it is even in the dark. When it comes to fancy features on a watch, the sky is the limit, so if you can think up a specific feature in your head, it likely exists on a watch somewhere.