November 04, 2013 / The Josh Sway Watch Guide: Part 2, Watch Types
In Part 2 of the Josh Sway Watch Guide we cover the various types of watches in more detail.
If you missed part 1 of our watch guide, read it here.
In part 1, I talked about the three main types of watches out there: functional watches, fashion watches, and timepieces. In Part 2, I want to cover these three types in greater detail. Let’s start with the functional watch.
The functional watch
The main purpose of a functional watch is, obviously, functionality. Think a digital watch with a stop watch, a watch that measures your heart rate, or some of these new phone/watch (smart Watch) concoctions we expect to become more common soon. There isn’t a whole lot to be said about this genre of watches; your main criterion should be whether or not the watch you are looking at offers the features you would like in a watch.
Some features you can find in a ‘functional watch’ are:
1. stop watch
4. heart rate monitor
I have saved the fashion watch for last because the general idea when purchasing a fashion watch is to model your purchase after a time piece that you like. Timepieces are the model for most fashion watches, so let’s cover them here.
Timepieces can crudely be broken down into 3 main types, ‘classic/formal’, ‘sporty’, and ‘complicated’.
Classic / Formal watches
Classic watches are ones of a similar look to the above. They generally have a leather strap, very little to nothing going on the face other than the time and are usually smaller face than other watches. They are most suitable for formal occasions but can be worn in a variety of other settings as well. I generally prefer leaning towards a little bit of complication (other features on the face other than just the time) than the purely traditional example shown. For example, my favorite ‘classic’ watch is pictured below (unfortunately it is also extremely expensive).
The sporty timepieces can generally be broken down into two subtypes: the chronograph and the ‘dive watch’. A chronograph is pictured below.
Hallmark features of the chronograph are multiple dials and some sort of stop watch like functionality. Chronographs make for excellent watches that can be used a variety of casual and even formal settings. Jaeger LeCoultre makes some of my favorite high end chronographs.
The second type of common sporty watch is a ‘diver’ or dive watch. The classic example is the Rolex submariner:
There are many variations (and many chronographs are also ‘dive watches’) but by far the most common is the one pictured above (or similar versions). These watches are also suitable for many different occasions, from formal to casual and even at the pool or on the beach (though I personally think it’s nuts to wear an expensive watch to the beach!)
The last type of timepiece I am going to discuss are ‘complicated pieces’. Complications refer to the amount of dials and gadgets and other "stuff" going on on the face of the watch. Below is an example of a watch with many complications.
Complicated timepieces are the epitome of high end watch making. They are also generally the most expensive. These make for very noticeable pieces that can fit both formal and semi-formal occasions. I personally think it is a bit weird to wear a highly complicated timepiece to a completely casual encounter but some do it anyway. Bottom line, if you want a watch that no one can help but notice (and probably admire), go with a complicated watch.
There are other types of complicated watches including "blingy" watches with large amounts of precious gems embedded in them (for example, the Jacob watch below) But I generally do not recommend these timepieces.
As I mentioned earlier, most fashion watches are heavily modeled after timepieces. If you cannot afford (or think it makes no sense to spend a ton of money on a watch) a high end time piece but like how they look, seek out a similar looking fashion watch. Most high end timepieces have their faces more or less replicated by a variety of fashion watch manufacturers. If you want some ideas of watches to "imitate" look at the collections of the following high end luxury brands:
1. Jaeger LeCoultre
2. Audemars Piguet
4. Ulysse Nardin
6. A. Lange and Sohne
There are a ton more high end brands you can look to for inspiration (see our Luxury Watch Brand Rankings article) but I find that these 6 manufacturers, from a design perspective, cover the widest range of popular faces as concisely as possible. Granted, there is bound to be disagreements about this, but I think they are a start. (Note the above is NOT a ranking of any kind)
I hope you found this guide helpful so far. In Part 3, I am going to cover watch aesthetics in more detail. A lot of the language used in this part (complications, face, strap, etc.) will be covered in greater detail in part 3, along with other important aesthetic criteria such as face size, strap or bracelet, and more.