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The Unofficial Watch Buying Reference Thread

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    The Unofficial Watch Buying Reference Thread

    Hi all! One of the more interesting ways to declare our individual style aesthetic is through the timepiece we choose to wear. Pratyk suggested we start a timepiece deals thread, and I decided to give it a go. This thread is intended to provide some introductory sites to begin a search for a good, reliable, and stylish timepiece.

    I'm a recovering watchaholic who has scoured the watch forums for quite some time before I discovered the menswear blogging world and Dappered in particular. I have bought the majority of my wristwatches from other forum members - always with great results.

    Below is some fundamental information and good practices for those interested in increasing the dent in their wallets...ahem, I mean, acquiring some quality timepieces!

    Please see this thread's sister thread in the Deals Forum (The Official Timepiece Deals Thread: Open Thread at


    Common Timepiece Terminology

    Horology: from the Greek “hour/time” and “study” - the art and science of keeping time.

    There are three general categories of timepieces:

    1) Mechanical watches – Watches that require manual winding to operate

    2) Automatic – Watches that have sophisticated mechanisms utilizing a wearer’s kinetic motion to keep the watch running. If the watch has not been worn in a while, it may require winding or startup motions to set.

    3) Quartz and battery operated digital watches – The arrival of the quartz watch was a major upheaval in the world of wristwatches, as the masses could afford an inexpensive, reliable way of keeping time. Thus, many manufacturers went out of business or were absorbed into conglomerates as a way of streamlining business operations and protecting the watchmaking tradition. Today, three major conglomerates are the big players in the world of watches: the Richemont Group which owns Vacheron Constantin, Baume & Mercier, Jaeger-LeCoutre, Lange & Sohne, Cartier, IWC, Piaget, Officine Panerai, etc.; Swatch, which owns brnads like Tissot, Hamilton, and Longines, Omega, Breguet ,and Glashutte Original; and LVMH, which owns TAG Heuer, Hublot, Dior Montres, Chaumet, Bulgari, Zenith, etc.

    WIS: Watch Idiot Savant – playful, tongue-in-cheek reference to amateur watch enthusiasts who often have amassed a broad and shallow body of knowledge or deep but narrow study of the arcane details of a particular watch, brand, or manufacturer.

    WRUW: What aRe yoU Wearing - Like their sartorially-minded cousins, many watch forum members used this thread for showing off the timepiece that will serve as their companion for the day. Also a great way to develop your personal style aesthetic- what you like, what you don't like, and how to wear the same watch in a slightly different way.

    Flieger: German for "flyer" or "pilot" watches. Characterized with a dark dial, easy to read numerals, large case diameter. See more here:

    Mineral: More prone to scratches through normal wear and tear, but more shatter resistant than sapphire crystal.

    Sapphire crystal: A synthetic industrial crystal popular due to its scratch resistant properties. More susceptible to shattering than mineral though.

    Acrylic/Plexiglass: Has some characteristics of mineral and some of sapphire: very prone to scratching but also somewhat shatter resistant.

    COSC – Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres, the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute, which is the institute responsible for certifying the accuracy and precision of wristwatches in Switzerland. When a seller lists a watch as “COSC certified”, it denotes that the timepiece is made to reliably pass a rigorous regimen of criteria for accuracy. From a layman’s perspective, this is a nice thing to have, but most watches worth their salt will not be more than +/- 5seconds off at any given time. If it is, you need to get it regulated.

    Strap: a leather, canvas, sailcloth, or other fabric type of non-metallic method of attaching a watch to your wrist.

    Bracelet: a metallic, non-fabric method of attaching a watch to your wrist.

    Lugs: the two entry points for a watch strap or for attaching a bracelet to your watch head. Lugs typically hold springbars to accommodate a strap (thread through lugs) or bracelet (snap onto lugs).

    NATO strap: typically characterized by a thicker stainless steel buckles, thicker nylon, and two strap receivers. Most common type of watch retention mechanism.

    Zulu strap (3-ring or 5-ring buckle): typically characterized by a thinner, shiny stainless steel buckles, thinner nylon, and a way to fold the nylon strap back through the buckles to hold the extra material. Prevents watch from falling off wrist, even if one part of the nylon strap fails.



      Watch Maintenance

      Unlike clothing, which will tend to wear out or can go out of style (unless it is a classic like the peacoat or navy suit), a well-cared for, quality timepiece is timeless (pun intended). It will hold its value (or even appreciate depending on the model- though one should never purchase a watch for investment purposes). However, while a properly fitting set of clothing will not likely need to be tailored or altered (except for the weight gain or loss of its owner), a mechanical or automatic watch will require regular maintenance every 5 or so years. The cost of the maintenance can range from $20 for a simple battery change (for quartz) to $500 for higher end mechanical and automatic watches (e.g. waterproof gasket change, accuracy adjustments, oiling gears, mainspring or flywheel replacements, tourbillon adjustments). The bottom line is, make sure you know what you’re getting and take care of it. This is akin to resoling a quality shoe. Lastly, there is a higher probability that you can pass your watch down to your kids or grandkids than with shoes or clothing if you’re so inclined.

      For everyday maintenance, it is recommended to use a damp cloth to clean the area of the watch that touches your wrist. If your watch is worn on a metallic bracelet, it is a good idea to lightly brush the caseback with a damp cloth and perhaps a little soap. Make sure your watch is waterproof or water resistant before cleaning around the pushers or crown though. If your watch is worn on a NATO or Zulu strap, periodically clean your strap with a little soap and water. Care for your leather straps as you would similar leather products.

      "I scratched my watch! What do I do?"

      Minor scratches can be buffed out or polished, but deeper ones will likely require a crystal replacement to be installed by a certified watchmaker. Brasso polish has been recommended for mineral glass scratch removal by a lot of watch forum members ( Another good general guide:

      The good news is replacement mineral or sapphire crystals can be found relatively inexpensively. The bad news is you might be without your beloved timepiece for a little bit!



        Now for everyone's favorite part: BUYING THAT WATCH!

        There are a few ways to purchase a watch.

        From an authorized dealer.

        Pros: Brand new watch to make it your own, full manufacturer warranty available, dealer perks (e.g. discounts on maintenance, bracelet re-sizings). Cons: Cost will be much more than purchasing secondhand off forums.

        From a forum member.

        Pros: Cost will be a fraction of full retail. You can often get a fantastic price on a lightly used watch! This has been my primary mode of acquisition. Cons: Condition will vary, manufacturer warranty may not be available or honored, vetting the seller is more important than a dealer since this will likely not be a face-to-face transaction.

        From a commercial website that is not an authorized dealer

        Companies like and are what are termed as "grey market" sellers since the watches they offer typically do not come with the original manufacturer's warranty. Why is this? Well, there is a reason that shops like Torneau charge what they do to stay in business- being an authorized dealer means you can offer the warranty and obtain certain inventory to be sold. Grey market dealers do not pay the royalties or licensing fees to the original manufacturer, but offer their own warranty service (quality varies) instead of the manufacturer warranty. I purchased my Tissot from Jomashop before I knew what I was really doing, but since it is quartz I haven't had any trouble with it. The key is to use caution here. There are deals to be had on brand new watches from grey market dealers, but ensure you have done your research before pulling the trigger.

        Pawn shop/Estate sale/garage sale

        Success rate varies here. Only recommended for people who really know what they're doing.

        The Purchasing Process (Most applicable for transactions that are not directly with an authorized watch dealer)

        I) "Buy the seller, not the product." Everybody likes a good deal, but just as with menswear, price is often only the preliminary consideration we look at before evaluating a purchase. It gets us in the conversation, but always remember to research the competition, ask lots of questions, and evaluate whether the seller is someone who has good feedback from other sellers and buyers.

        Research the seller’s other posts (see if all they do is post sales or if they actually contribute to the discussion as well), seek out other forum members’ opinions on the seller, and ask to get actual pictures of the watch with a dated newspaper or handwritten placard to ensure you get photographs of the actual watch you’re purchasing. These are just a handful of tips to make sure you’re not dropping serious dough for an empty box or a broken timepiece that is beyond repair (or prohibitively expensive). Check to see if the seller is a "good guy" or not- typically a forum thread offered in the Buying/Selling area of a forum. Examine the posted pictures for defects or damage.

        Advice on Things to Ask a Seller

        1) If you want more pictures or clearer pictures of a watch from a particular angle, always ask! Most folks are watch enthusiasts and not professional photographers, so most people will willingly oblige your requests.

        2) Ask for service history on a mechanical or automatic watch - especially if it's an older model. A lot of sellers will disclose this as an advantage (recently regulated watches will have the watchmaker's feedback on its accuracy and performance).

        3) I like to ask someone why they're selling a watch if it's not already posted in the description. They don't have to answer, but I'll throw it in a private message since I like to know (e.g. did they just fall out of love with it, need to sell to fund another purchase, or didn't like a particular aspect of it).

        4) Feel free to negotiate a bit but don't insult them by lowballing. These encounters can risk your reputation in the forums, and since a lot of members are knowledgeable people in a small community, lowballing with unrealistic prices can hurt your credibility and future inquiries to other buyers.

        II) Ask “why”? Do you need this watch to complete your collection, or are you buying more of the same? Are you buying something for the short run (fashion) or does this watch add something special to enhance or broaden the versatility of your collection?

        It’s often tempting to impulse buy something- especially when it’s offered at a significant discount compared to retail price. Watches are a more timeless (no pun intended) since they represent a particular aesthetic (e.g. vintage, military, sport). Thus, they are somewhat less susceptible to fashion trends than the rest of a man’s wardrobe. However, this also means that a watch is going to look the same today as it will 10 years from now, so if you don’t like it now, it is very unlikely your impression will change over time (though it can happen).

        It is important to pay attention to your first impressions, because they tell you if a watch is “you” or not. Forum members often ask if a watch “speaks” to you. By this they mean if a watch captures your aesthetic, or attracts you on a lasting personal basis. I personally take a cooling off period of 3 days to determine if a particular watch is something I need to have, or if I can simply admire it from afar (save the picture of it on my desktop and call it a day).

        III) Product Research Ok, now that you’ve determined that the seller can be trusted and decided you want to proceed, you need to examine the actual product offered for sale. What is the pedigree of the manufacturer? Have they been around for a while? If it is a mechanical or automatic watch, what movement powers the watch? It is generally regarded as reliable?

        Where to Buy:

        Forums (WUS): The most visited watch site in the world, WUS is a wonderful resource for starting your watch buying journey. Members can learn about, discuss, and purchase a wide variety of watches here (from sub-$100 to well over $10,000). I have nothing but good things to say about the vigilance of this community to ensuring a safe, trusted place to buy, sell, and trade watches. Similar to: (for accuracy of information), (for collegiality, community spirit, and helpfulness).
 (TZ): Another great site – like I find the website format is simpler but a little less appealing than Watchuseek, but you can find some great deals here as well. Similar to: and Ask Andy About Clothes.

        Poor Man’s Watch Forum (PMWF): - Great place for starting out with inexpensive ($100-$500) to mid-priced ($500-1000) watches. Similar to: in purpose and pricepoint.

        TimeKeeper Forum: - Have not visited much, but another good place to seek out deals.

        Websites: - Lots of great gems here. WUS forum sponsor.



          Ways to Jazz up a Watch

          One of the best parts of owning a versatile, classic timepiece is switching out a bracelet for a strap to change the entire look of your watch. Accentuate a spring/summer look with a striped NATO or Zulu strap for a nautical look. For the fall, I plan on going with a brown leather strap on some of my watches for a natural, lived-in look.

          Note: I'm not affiliated with these companies.

          Wood & Faulk Cordovan #8 Watchstrap:

          Description -

          Using genuine Horween Shell Cordovan in the classic No.8 shade, this is the finest quality watchstrap we make. The amazingly smooth grain and finish of this leather, the hand stitching and stainless steel hardware, all set for your finest compatible watch body. 10.75 inches overall length and 20mm wide. Pictured watch is not included with purchase. Marginally thicker weight, and recommended for medium to heavy watch bodies with plenty of room to accomodate a 2mm strap thickness.

          Because of the expensive nature of this leather, please be mindful when attaching to your watch. I pulled the spring pins off to install the strap instead of just feeding though. Also note that no returns will be accepted if the band has been installed or marred in any way.

          Leather products are made as ordered, please allow 10-14 days before shipping in most cases.

          Wood & Faulk Leather Watchstrap

          A robust, rustic looking watchstrap not for the faint of heart. The white stitching doesn't do a whole lot for me, but the strap would look great on a rugged mil/diver watch. Available in tan, olive, and navy. Olive shown here:


          Introducing the Wood&Faulk Passthrough 20mm strap. Hand stitched details, fine leather and stainless steel hardware will elevate the look of any compatible watch body. 10.75 inches overall length and 20mm wide. Pictured on a Timex Weekender, watch is not included with purchase. Using what is called "pull-up" leather, it changes colors with creases and marks. Thicker weight, and recommended for medium to heavy watch bodies with plenty of room to accomodate a 2mm strap thickness.

          Leather products are made as ordered, please allow 10-14 days before shipping in most cases.

          Form, Function, Form

          I like Form, Function, Form's unique take on the watch strap. Their button-stud shell watchband ( is understated and casual. $110. Available in natural shell, whiskey, brandy, and cordovan #8).


          Mating a low-profile button stud to Horween's absolute top-grade leather, Shell Cordovan, and custom-made to your specific wrist size, this watchband is as unique as it is beautiful. Wear the stud on the outside of your wrist to display the unique simplicity, or on the inside for maximum comfort while writing or typing–unlike traditional bands, there are no buckles or bulky strap folds between your wrist and your desk.



            Since I can't edit posts once an hour has passed from the time of their creation, I am adding an addendum to the "Where to Buy" information above.

            As a way of saying "Thank You" to great forums, it's good practice to consider visiting forum sponsors' websites for your purchasing needs. For example, WatchUSeek's sponsor page: PMWF sponsors: (at bottom of page).

            Note: I am not affiliated with any forum in a financial capacity. I am a member of many forums and wanted to share this nugget out of appreciation to these communities.



              guiltybystander, Are you a madman?



                Dappered isn't really a hardcore watch community although threads do occasionally appear. We don't focus on trends here either. I'm pretty sure everyone knows the difference between a quartz, automatic, and a mechanical watch. I know i'm raining on your parade but this seems like a wikipedia article copy and pasted and is worth no more than the chinese counterfeit clothing ads we get late night..



                  I have no idea what an automatic watch is. If he wants to devote time to sharing this, more power to him!



                    @Ryan87, now I wish I could re-title these threads "A Consolidated Watch Reference Guide Kindly Submitted for Your Consideration But Feel Free to Ignore It If You Are So Inclined". Too bad we can't edit threads/posts after a certain time has expired!

                    I merely intended to start a few threads to provide a baseline of knowledge. I certainly did not know a fraction of the few fundamentals I posted recently when I first started out, so I figured that more people might benefit if I provided some basics. I thought Pratyk's suggestion to start a watch deals thread was pretty good and that it might be helpful, so I went ahead and ran with it. The reference thread was an offshoot of that effort to provide a few basic tidbits.

                    We're all at different stages in the journey to define and refine our personal aesthetic. I know some people will not be interested in this topic. I for one have no interest in bracelets that are so trendy nowadays, so I would probably ignore a thread on Miansai and their ilk. To each their own.

                    I'm a little obsessive-compulsive, so I can tell you that I spent about an hour and a half compiling my thoughts and consolidating, editing, and finally posting the results. I did not merely copy and paste, as that would be against my personal ethics, my legal training, and would probably have taken all of 30 minutes. I am sorry you have such a low opinion of my efforts, but I would hope that anyone reading this would determine the value of my contributions by the accuracy and informativeness of its content.

                    Opinions are like bellybuttons- everyone's got one. Thank you for expressing yours.



                      guiltybystander, I believe that my original post, meant to be a humorous commentary on the sheer length of your posts, has gained a rather ugly new meaning in the context of recent replies. I don't want to inadvertently discourage you from posting. The length of your posts is unusual, but the content is helpful. Please don't be put off by what was originally intended to be a flippant reply.



                        @Bruschetta, no offense taken. This is a hobby of mine, so I don't mind if people think I'm a little ... obsessive about the detail I go into. My penchant for long emails is well-known among my friends, but I'll work on being a bit more concise in future posts!



                          Thanks for the primer. The problem with forums like watchuseek is that sometimes, it could be intimidating for newbies and it's of immense help if someone like guiltybystander posts such info.. Watches are an expensive hobby and it's good to have some info like this to start with..



                            Not a watch, but might be useful if you have a few valuable timepieces :




                              Another good article on building a watch collection: