What makes a watch good?

Channeling my inner MKBHD here, so pretend I just walked into frame and sat down. What makes a watch good? That’s an interesting question that can’t be answered easily. With so many styles of watches, so many price points, and even just the difference between fashion watches and more traditional watches makes this question all the more difficult to answer. As usual all photos are from the brands featured unless its a wrist shot, this is not a review of any watch, and take my opinions with a grain of salt because I don’t own any enthusiast watches.

First let’s get the big one out of the way, fashion watches vs. traditional watches. A good rule of thumb is avoiding fashion watches, if you want something that’s good quality at least. Buy what you want, but don’t expect a Tommy Hilfiger watch to be as good as any Seiko. And I already got ahead of myself, what even is a fashion watch? Pretty self explanatory, these watches are designed and built to be fashion forward first, usually these come from brands like Diesel, who aren’t watchmakers but they want to cash in on the watch market, but now we have brand like Daniel Wellington, who are technically watch brands but they don’t design their own watches, they buy them in bulk off of websites like Aliexpress. (As ugly as Diesel watches are at least they are unique, for better and for worse.) But did you know Cartier wasn’t a watchmaker at first? They have so many great watches, but they are a jeweler without gears first and foremost. And Chanel, while they don’t make that many good watches, the J12 is pretty good, and made out of ceramic an innovative material in the watchmaking world. So you should avoid fashion first companies, but that’s not all encompassing.

Is it the heritage then? Chanel is still a fairly old brand, and don’t get me started on Cartier. No, I don’t think so, some of my favorite watches, and some of the best watches according to people with too much money to spend agree that microbrands are pushing the industry forward. Nomos and Farer make absolutely incredible modern watches, and Nomos dates back only to the fall of the Berlin wall, in watch terms they’ve barely gone through puberty. Farer is even younger, only launched n 2015. Thes two are my favorite from the indie-microbrand scene, but there are smaller brands like Anordain, Studio Underd0g, and Boldr who are making incredible watches. But unless you’re like me and spend too much time thinking about your first nice watch purchase, you might not have ever heard of them.

Okay, so it must be price right? Surely a fifty dollar Casio isn’t as good quality as a Rolex. Well, you’re right in this case, but Casio’s analog models are so well built for the price, when you buy one you can expect a perfectly aligned quartz movement, something I have only seen in Grand Seiko’s, interesting how there is absolutely no in between. But I can say from my minimal experience, comparing the Tissot PRX to an Omega Seamaster, there honestly didn’t feel like much of a difference to me. Yeah there’s a huge difference in price between those watches, and the Omega’s are like artfully produced and whatever. But the Tissot PRX still felt incredible to me, to the point that I’m saving up for one right now and it’s going to be my first nicer watch purchase. There’s a specific feeling that luxury watches give compared to the infamous PRX or Seiko 5, but you can get incredible watches for good prices f you know what you want.

And there’s your answer, if you know what you want you are getting a good watch, I have my opinions on what makes a good watch, but as I try on more and more watches I need to rethink that definition. I HATED the PRX, then I tried it on, meanwhile the Omega Seamaster No Time To Die was a little underwhelming, I mean, I liked the Oris Bg Crown I tried on, but it wasn’t the most expensive watch and it genuinely felt nicer than the other watches five times the price, maybe it was the relative affordability, maybe it was just diminishing returns. I have been equally disappointed and pleasantly surprised in my watch journey, but most importantly I have discovered that quality is relative to what you need from your watch, so an Omega will always be bad value for me, too flashy and too expensive, but a Nomos will always be the best value for me. So what makes a watch good quality? sure maybe good materials, but mostly if you like how it feels in person.