What Makes a Watch Good? 11 Features of a Good-Quality Watch

"This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links."

Buying a good watch is a tiny bit more complicated these days, but it’s for a good reason. Watches today do far more than just tell time, which is why you can now find watches that do all sorts of things, including tracking your fitness activity and letting you know when you have an email or text.

But if you’ve ever wondered what makes a good watch, it’s a lot easier than you think. Once you review the many features that are now available and decide which ones are right for you, choosing your next watch is a piece of cake. Below are some of the features of a high-quality watch that you can look for.

1. Automatic Movement

Watches usually operate via quartz or automatic movement. While both are very reliable, automatic watches are classier and have certain advantages over quartz movements. Quartz watches use batteries and automatic watches do not. In addition, quartz watches “tick” as the hands move along each second, whereas automatic watches run much smoother and quieter. Finally, automatic watches never need winding; you simply put them on your wrist and the watch does the rest!

Often, the words “quartz” or “automatic” are found on the face of the watch, meaning you’ll immediately know what type it is. While quartz watches are good watches, automatic watches are even better, and they show the world that you can afford a higher quality of wristwatch!

2. A Chronometer Rating

Some of the more -expensive watches will have chronometer ratings. The companies that test the watches for this rating will test the watch over a two- to three-day period in various conditions and in different temperatures. If the watch meets their requirements, a chronometer rating certificate will be issued and the rating will be mentioned on the dial of the watch. While not all expensive watches do this, many of them do. If this is important to you, just look for information regarding the certificate somewhere on the watch.

One word of caution, though. As you can imagine, watches with chronometer ratings are not cheap. They usually start at around $1400 and go up from there. Nevertheless, the rating means that they are dependable, very high-quality watches that you should be able to enjoy for many years to come.

3. Weight of the Watch

When you put a quality watch on your wrist, the last thing you want is for it to feel like a toy, or like one of those $10 watches that you buy at a discount store. Keep in mind that good watches have a lot of different components and parts inside of them that take up both space and weight. In other words, a good watch is going to be heavy — not too heavy, but heavy enough so that it feels as though it’s “real.” You want a quality watch to feel like a quality watch, and this means that it’s going to weigh more than other watches.

Heavier watches also tend to last longer than standard watches do, so if you choose the right one, you’ll be able to pass it down to the generation that comes after you.

4. Provenance in Switzerland

Switzerland has a reputation for making some of the best watches in the world, but you have to be careful when reading the labels. If the watch says “Swiss movement,” this usually means that it has Swiss movements but was assembled elsewhere. Legally, if a watch is assembled, cased, and inspected in Switzerland, it can carry the prestigious phrase “Swiss made,” which is the phrase that you want to see when shopping for a true Swiss watch. Because of the stringent standards these watches have to meet to carry that phrase, you’ll know that you’re getting a top-notch watch every time.

Globalization and even counterfeiting have hurt the market because they use different phrases to mean different things, but choosing a “Swiss made” watch will never disappoint.

5. Accuracy

Sure, accuracy is important in a watch, but how will you know if the watch you’re looking at is truly accurate? Both quartz and automatic watches are tested for accuracy, but the quartz watches are actually a tad more accurate than the automatic ones. Quartz watches are extremely accurate, while automatic watches usually lose seconds every day. The most accurate watches are the chronometers mentioned earlier, and most Swiss watches are accurate to within 10 seconds per day.

Again, if you look for the chronometer rating certificate, you are getting the most accurate watch on the market, which is why so many people look for one of these.

6. High Water-Resistance Level

If you’re one of these people who likes leaving your watch on regardless of what you’re doing, you might want to consider buying a “diving” watch. The specifications regarding how many feet/meters under water that you can use the watch with are very detailed and mentioned in the paperwork provided with the watch itself. As a general rule, if you’re planning to go diving with it, you should buy a watch that can accommodate 656 feet under the water, or 200 meters. For regular swimming and showering, you’ll want a water-resistance level of 328 feet (100 meters).

If you read the instructions carefully, you’ll learn what you can and cannot do when it comes to getting your watch anywhere near water. It is highly recommended that you follow those instructions so that your watch isn’t ruined.

7. Cases and Straps Made of Either Metal or Leather

The case and strap on your watch directly affect how long that watch will last, so spending a little more to get a good-quality metal or leather is a smart thing to do. Unless absolutely necessary, you shouldn’t buy a watch made out of stainless steel, either hollow or solid. Instead, choose one made with precious metals such as gold (9- or 18-carat gold is best) or even platinum. The heavier your watch is, the more likely it is that it is made out of one of these types of metals.

If you don’t like this option, you can choose a watch that has a strap and case made out of real leather — but again, no fake leather or vinyl.

8. Reflective Coatings

Reflective coatings are great because they reflect the sun instead of letting the glare make it difficult to tell what time it is. More expensive watches will have a reflective coating on either the front side of the front of the watch (the crystal), or on both sides. If you find a watch that has no reflective coating at all, this is usually a sign that it’s not a high-end watch. If you live in a very sunny area, this is a great feature to have; therefore, you should specifically look at this feature when shopping for a high-quality watch.

9. Where the Watch Is Made

Switzerland was mentioned earlier as being a top maker of super high-quality watches, but there are a few other countries that also make great watches, and they include Japan and Germany. Watches made in Switzerland include Rolex, Tag Heuer, Breitling, and Omega. Japanese watches include brands such as Citizen and Seiko, and German watch companies make brands such as Sohne and A. Lange. When you’re learning what to look for in a watch that stands out among the others, choosing one from one of these countries won’t steer you wrong.

And if you’re curious about price, here’s a bit of information for you: Japanese watches tend to be lower in price than Swiss or German watches, and the German watches mentioned above can be as high as $14,000 or more.

10. The Manufacturer of the Watch

Naturally, when you’re looking for a quality watch, certain names will pop up in your mind. But if the watch isn’t made by a brand that you associate with high quality, don’t worry because there are lots of watch makers that make excellent watches. If you find a watch made by a company that you’ve never heard of, you can check them out online and see what real-life customers think of them. Just keep in mind that just because you haven’t heard of a particular company, this doesn’t mean that they aren’t making great watches. Make sure to do your due diligence and research them, but know that you can get a great watch even if it isn’t made by Rolex, Seiko, or Citizen.

11. The Type of Crystal Used

The transparent “window” in the front of the watch is called a crystal, and you can find them made of either synthetic sapphire or mineral glass. The type directly affects how much abuse your watch can take and keep on going. If you’re one of those people who is rough on your watch and it gets banged up a lot, you’ll want to go with a synthetic sapphire crystal because this offers excellent scratch resistance. While they are a bit more expensive than mineral glass crystals, they are always worth it in the end.

In fact, this feature shouldn’t be considered a luxury but a need, since anyone can end up banging their watch against a hard surface at one time or another.