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Today one can buy a watch for any purpose and intent that literally hundreds of brands and models are available. A watch is a general use item or special purpose device or prestige symbol or something you buy as a heirloom for your family. Besides telling time ,it can do many things for you . Here is a brief list of different kinds of watches: 1 Dress watches--designer watches 2 Casual watches 3 Sports watches- chronographs 4 Luxury watches --like Rolex costing $40,000 or more 5 Military watches --Army watches- 6 Aviator watches 7 Kids watches- 8 Talking watches [for the visually challenged--tells time when you press a button.] 9 Diamond /Jewelry watches 10 Divers watches 11 World Time watches We are talking about wrist watches. These grew out of pocket watches, widely used in 18th and 19th centuries. Pocket watches were miniature versions of wall clocks.
using springs. gears and levers. These are not 'jewels ' as such. The automatic watches were machines of great precision and often hundreds of parts were assembled carefully by hand. This was done using a screw operated by hand. The most notable American watch makers were Elgin. watch makers introduced synthetic gems or jewels.which stores the energy should be wound. Thus one finds mechanical watches with 18 jewels or 21 jewels or higher with most watches. Look at any automatic skeleton watch--you will observe their movements. Technical Aspects Watches were mechanical devices. operated by a tiny battery and having a quartz crystal to regulate the frequency of vibration or ticking of the watch. The automatic watches were pretty expensive [upward of $200 at that time] and outside the reach of many men and women. Quartz watches are easy to .big and small.]] To reduce friction and wear between the moving parts. Hamilton and Waltham. [Some companies in Germany and USA also made automatic watches in small numbers. Japanese firms introduced 'quartz' or 'electronic' watches. a craft industry. The main spring . The main place went to two firms in Japan-- Seiko and Citizen. But in early 1970's. Both were making mechanical watches earlier. The original companies stopped producing the watch movements and started importing the components from other countries at low cost. Jewelry watches had diamonds studded on the dial or the bezel. who wore only hand-wound watches. It was .indeed . Hand-wound watches were soon replaced by 'automatic watches' in which a rotor rotated or oscillated with our wrist/hand movements during normal work and this wound the main spring . Automatic watches were the main stay of Swiss companies.thus providing the energy.
In 1980s. assemble--like one assembles a radio-- requiring less skill and less time. A small voltage difference is applied over it. a digital watch. Incidentally this effect was discovered by Pierre Curie in Paris. while digital watches cater to the needs of kids and school children for around $10. does not change with time . CASIO in Japan was the pioneer in digital watches and have remained the main leader in this line. A quartz watch may slip only a few seconds in a month while an automatic watch may lose or gain even 10 seconds in a day. Thus the Japanese watch industry overtook the mechanical watch based Swiss industry.! . At present the largest number of watches are quartz watches. [Quartz watches are based on 'piezo-electric effect'-- the crystal vibrates with a definite frequency based on its property and dimensions and once set. Quartz watches are more accurate than mechanical/automatic watches. There is no friction between the gears and levers to contend with. Some of them revived again in the 1980's and 1990's making quartz watches in large numbers. LCD display [Liquid crystal display] became the face of the watch. the husband of Marie Curie of Radium fame. like a tiny computer . Automatic mechanical watches are items bought by watch fans and special groups like sports persons or aviaitors. replacing a dial with needles moving over it. Along with this. Many Swiss companies closed. The joy of seeing the moving parts in a skeleton automatic watch is irresistable for watch lovers.] Quartz watches were not only less expensive but can also be mass produced in millions in a assembly line. There are expensive digital watches too. Even an inexpensive quartz watch costing about $10 you may buy in a supermarket will be more accurate in time-keeping than a expensive automatic watch. with a microprocessor or 'chip' inside appeared.
Thailand . Even many Swiss companies and fashion designers started buying the Japanese quartz movements and assemble their own watches in Asia or in Europe or USA. notably in Asia. The other parts like the bezel. The watch makers may mark on the watches some details of manufacture. The Japanese firm. Both sold their movements to several other brand name makers who would assemble their watches in different styles. the dial and the needles and crown are locally made or bought from China at low cost. This movement can be of two kinds: 1 Quartz movement 2 Automatic mechanical movement Both are produced in large numbers by Swiss companies or Japanese companies. Hongkong and India besides the PRC-China mainland. The watch may carry a prestige brand name or high . Watch movements You will hear the term 'watch movement' all the time. Thus watch assembly plants came up in Malayasia. which runs the watch. Many American firms and fashion designers design only the dial and other parts and get the parts made elsewhere. Citizen made their own movements under the name "Miyota" movement. Seiko introduced a famous movement ' 7 s26' widely used in their lower end watches [Seiko 5 series] thus eroding the Swiss watch industry. Swiss companies like ETA and Ronda make excellent automatic movements.like the heart. Meanwhile quartz movements were also made by these Japanese firms in large numbers at low cost. such as 'china manufacture' or 'cased in China' and 'japanese quartz movement'. Phillippines. At the same time . The watch movement is the central unit . the back.
Hugo Boss. sounding Swiss name of great history. Globalisation Today one finds that the movements . Donna Karen. Now one finds even famous Swiss makers assembling their watches with Chinese movements or Chinese made parts . There are several American fashion brand makers buying their watches from China or Japan . Thus Kenneth Cole. but for the most part they are assembled in China or in another Asian country. Even established Japanese firms have manufacturing plants in other Asian countries because of low labor costs and overheads. but made or assembled elsewhere. either completely assembled in one country or partly made in one country and assembled elsewhere. Some brands like Skagen.. reliability and features. with gradual improvement in quality.. Fossil. Lucien Paccard and August Steiner with some heritage from Europe are essentially American firms with design . Thus the watch industry has been truly gloablised in the last thirty years. partly made in Asia. may come from Swiss or Japan or China . Michael Kors and others with their brand of watches designed in USA. with their design. The Chinese automatic movements The chinese government sponsored manufature of mechanical 'automatic' watch movements from 1950's when Chou En Lai was the premier.with additional parts made in Switzerland or elsewhere. By fits and starts their companies produced the automatic movements . The Sea-Gull firm produced high quality movements while several low cost movements have also been produced in China.quartz or automatic.
such as that 50% or more parts of value must be made in Swiss and other regulations.] 'Kinetic " watches are improved mechanical automatic watches. watches to cater to the mass market . often with Chinese or Japanese movements. Watch Crystals The term "crystal" refers to the transparent glass like window over the dial on the . though digital watches last for about 5 years for a single battery. One day's exposure to sunlight may power the watch for a year! Even artificial light can charge the battery inside...Thus they are a 'hybrid' design of mechanical and quartz watches. These watches have a built-in small solar panel like your solar pocket calculator. there are some restrictions imposed by the Federation of watch makers in Switzerland. Recent developments--"solar" and "kinetic" A major development is the introduction of 'solar' cells for quartz watches so that you need not buy batteries. This power is stored in a battery and operates the quartz movement.particularly for women's line. Citizen's Eco-drive watches and Casio's solar watches are increasingly popular. These watches would cost anywhere from $50 to $ 500. It is. The credit goes to Seiko for this novel development. [But the consumer need not buy a battery and replace every year or two in analogue quartz watches. too early to say how long they will last. however. They generate electrical power with the hand movement with the rotor inside. This ensures a certain level of authenticity to "Swiss Made" watches. because solar cells may degrade in their performance over time. Thus Seiko's solar watches. If a watch carries the two words " Swiss Made" on the dial .
In fact this process heralded the synthetic gem or artificial diamond industry. like 'toughened glass' you find in car side windows. just as you may find such coatings over camera lenses. Many are good in scratch resistance with rough usage. They are expensive and are the best material one would find in many high end watches.over minerals-- are much simpler ones compared to several layers you find on camera lenses. Mineral or glass crystals are more common since the days of pocket watches. Some watch makers apply anti-reflective coatings on glass. A glass may crack easily . The best of all is the truly crystalline Sapphire. They are usually made of one of three materials: plastic [or acrylic. a French chemist sometime in 1902. a form of plastic] or glass as such called 'mineral' in the watch industry and sapphire. The glass material has been substantially improved to improve toughness and scratch resistance by toughening the glass surface. Sapphire for watch crystals are cut from crystals or boules made by this process. mainly to attract the buyer. watch. I find that some watch makers seem to have modified an ordinary mineral or glass material with a thin layer of Sapphire over it. Cheap watches almost always carry a plastic crystal. Several fancy names or proprietary brands have come up for this glass. Sapphire is corundum or alumina which is made into a single crystal by the well known ''flame fusion" or Vernueil process --invented by Dr Vernuel. The cost of the crystal and its value goes up for these special glass 'minerals'. These coatings over the glass crystals --sorry . . a truly crystalline substance. Such flame fused saphhires may be durable and bring down the cost of regular Sapphire crystals. This scratches easily but can be easily polished to remove the scratches.
Some do not like the dull grey finish of titanium bezels. Water should not seep in to a dial face or into the movement inside. If you swim or dive into a lake or ocean. But note that the gold plating may not last long and shows the ugly copper tint beneath after a few years.usually forged into shape and polished well. There are expensive watches with gold bezel. The choice is yours! Water Resistance Water resistance is an important requirement for any watch. plated with brass. A thin layer of gold can be plated over this copper material. Most watches were made of copper alloy bezel. like gun metal. There are some nice watches with aluminum bezels too. These can be polished easily but may tarnish .] In recent times one finds titanium bezel which would be very light and also highly corrosion resistant. This property . Even inexpensive watches' you can buy in a supermarket for $20 may have water resistance upto 30 meters or 30 M. Bezel material A bezel is the ring like material which holds the crystals and watch movement and other inner parts. again your watch should be water resisitant.WR . . in meters. carry a stainless steel bezel . is measured as the depth to which your watch can be immersed or the water pressure due to the depth of water. They would last a lifetime with good shine. [ My presonal preference is always a stainless steel bezel. when you are drenched in a rain or take a shower wearing a watch. which are light weight and can be polished well. Most watches however. For cheap watches. the bezel is a plastic or resin material.
which is adequate for most watch users. thus frustrating the sales assistant in the store. There is always the possibility that the watch received from an online store may be defective or damaged in transit. Summary I have given the salient features of watches. say upward of $5000. Increasingly more people are buying from on-line stores these days. Note that on-line stores like Amazon have been responsible for the great discounts on watches that the prices have been slashed 50% or more from list prices. buy the same watch later at a lower price from on-line stores.say in the price range of $100 to $1000. Check for the specification of any watch. ] In most bigger stores . have very little resale value. [You can .. handling the watches with your hand .it is not the same as seeing the watch first before .. Yet. Even today some of the best watches come from Switzerland . based on the description and picture of the watch.. some technical information about movements and the globalisation of watch industry.however.. again there are several brands/models to choose from . But if you are a diver. Expensive watches have a WR of 50 M or 100 M. using Japanese or Chinese movements. Such watches for your daily use or occasional wear . you may look for a watch with 100M or 300 M water resistance. wearing them on your wrist and then deciding to buy one. there is some pleasure in walking into a bright watch store. But plenty of good quality watches with high reliability are produced in the price range of $ 50 to $500. the price is comparable to on-line stores. since the initial dominance of Swiss watch industry.of course . which would mean that you have to return it back. If you are fashion-conscious and wish to have diamonds studded on the watch.
. especially for classic or antique watches. Good Luck! ------------------------------------------------------. there are plenty of websites and blogs and forums to guide them and get the details of watches. [ I have bought watches from online stores. Macy's and one from Walmart.. original factory outlets. .It all depends on which kind of watch you buy!] Fortunately for watch lovers and buyers. buying. For some this has become a hobby of watch hunting.
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