Watch Glossary: What To Know Before Buying Your First Watch

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You may still be rocking that Baby-G from middle school -- and no one’s saying there’s anything wrong with that, bro -- but if you're looking to step up your wristwatch game a little, you'll need some info first. These are the basics terms of watch-buying, an entry-level glossary of sorts, that will guarantee you know exactly what you’re in for.

What time is it!? TIME TO GET A WATCH.

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Watches come in two modes of display.


1. Analog: Regardless of the timekeeping mechanics within it, an analog watch uses hands to show time in a twelve-hour format.

2. Digital: Simply put, digital shows the time as a number. It's composed of an LCD (liquid crystal display) or LED (light emitting diode) face.
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The internal movement is what measures and displays the passage of time. 


MECHANICAL
Manual: Composed of gears and springs, a manual movement must be wound regularly and is not entirely accurate all the time. However, these types of timepieces are typically more pricey because of the superior craftsmanship that goes into making them.
Automatic: This “self-winding”option has a rotor that winds with the natural motions of the wearer's body. Sometimes, an automatic watch will also allow you to wind it, if you're feeling fancy.

ELECTRONIC
Quartz: More accurate but less mechanically impressive, electronic watches are often referred to as "quartz" because of the tiny electrified quartz crystals that keep these things ticking. 
Swiss quartz: These guys are prized for exceptional quality in this category. A watch is considered a Swiss movement if the movement has been assembled in Switzerland and inspected by the manufacturer there, and at least 50 percent of the parts' total value is of Swiss manufacturing. So, basically, "Swiss" refers to where and how it was produced, meaning mechanical watches can also be considered Swiss-made.
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Other terms to know:


Chronometer: A Swiss watch that has been tested and certified to reach a certain standard of precision determined by the COSC (Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres).
Chronograph: This means the timepiece has stopwatch capabilities. Be sure to not mix it up with chronometer!
Tachymeter: The scale that's sometimes around the rim of an analog watch, which converts elapsed time in seconds per unit to units per hour.


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There are lots of terms used to describe the aesthetics of a watch.


Band: Metal bracelet bands are suitable for more formal occasions; leather can go either way; and nylon and silicone are straight casual. Many "weekend" watches let you change up the band (called NATO straps), which means you can switch your look to match your mood.

Size: Modern watches trend towards larger sizes, but a typical mid-size men's watch will be about 40-44 mm in diameter. That number indicates the face length of the watch side to side, not up and down.

Case: Can be round, square, or angular -- this is where the watch's parts are housed.

Luminescence: Self-illuminating paint allows the hands to light up, so you can see the time in the dark.

Pilot: These were originally specifically tailored to the needs of a pilot and are usually chronographs.

Dive: As the name implies... these are designed for diving. Watches marked with the word "diver's" indicate that they're capable of actual deep-sea diving

Dress: Usually with a gold or silver case, dress watches are appropriate for more traditional business settings, and semi-formal & formal attire. 

Sports: More durable and rugged than their dress counterparts, these are meant for active wear with features that are often specific to a sport.
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And water resistance makes all the difference.


If it doesn’t say it’s water resistant, you better not let that new Swiss quartz anywhere near H20. ATM, or “atmospheres”, indicate the amount of water pressure a watch can withstand before leaking. But if you're looking for something more in-depth (!), the team over at Supercompressor has this one locked down.

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