The following is an explanation of the condition statements used for watches.


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Chatelaine's Antiques & Appraisals Magazine > Jewelry > Expert Tip: All About Watches

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All About Watches

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 Mechanical Watches
 Electronic Crystal Watches
 Quartz Crystal Watches
 Water Resistance
 Gray-Market or Unauthorized Watches
 Watch Care

Mechanical Watches
Mechanical watches are the traditional "wind-up" or analog watches with numbers or marked dials and moving hands. They are powered by a mainspring and operate via a series of interlocking wheels and gears. To set the gears in motion, mechanical watches must either be wound automatically or by hand. The automatic watch is wound continuously as the owner wears it: when the wrist moves, a rotor, or weight, inside the watch drops by the force of gravity, causing the mainspring to be wound. Since the mainspring of an automatic watch maintains full tension for a longer period of time than a hand-wound watch, it has greater consistency of power and, therefore, greater accuracy.

The moving parts or bearings of better-quality watches are usually called "jewels." Because the gears and wheels are subject to wear, the bearings are made of hard synthetic sapphires or rubies. Mechanical watches tend to be more expensive than electronic quartz watches due to the high-quality bearings, smaller production rates, and distribution.


Electronic Crystal Watches
An electronic quartz watch is a battery-powered watch that contains a tiny quartz crystal that vibrates to measure time. Usually the crystal is synthetic quartz and vibrates over 32,000 times per second. This high number of vibrations gives quartz watches extraordinary precision--many are capable of accuracy to within one minute a year. Quartz watches have fewer moving parts than mechanical watches and are less likely to break down over time.


Quartz Crystal Watches
The quartz digital watch displays time using numerical digits in an LCD (liquid crystal display) instead of moving hands. A battery causes the quartz to vibrate and a computer chip translates these vibrations into the display. These operate with the same accuracy as electronic quartz watches.


Water Resistance
Most watches on the market are water resistant. A watch should be marked "water resist" to confirm its level of resistance to moisture, as there are several degrees of resistance. This information is called out in the product specifications on the detail page of every watch that sells.

Water resistant: It is wearable if water is being splashed, but it should not be exposed to any water pressure. It is protected from perspiration or accidental immersion in water.

Water resistance 50 meters (150 feet): It is wearable around household sinks, while playing sports, and in shallow water. It should not be worn while scuba diving.

Water resistance 100 meters (333 feet): It is wearable around household sinks, while playing sports, and while swimming or poolside diving. It should not be worn while scuba diving.

Water resistance 300 meters (990 feet): It is wearable around household sinks and while playing sports, swimming, and scuba diving at depths not requiring helium gas.


Gray-Market or Unauthorized Watches
Gray-market watches are genuine watches from the original manufacturer that were acquired from an unauthorized dealer or reseller prior to customer purchase. Manufacturer warranties are not valid for these watches.


Watch Care
Watches can easily be soiled by sweat or dirt. To keep them clean, wipe the face, case, or band regularly with a soft cloth, paying special attention to the back of the case. Leather bands should be wiped with a soft cloth, but metal bands can be cleaned with soapy water and a soft brush. Watches should not be left in extreme temperatures, as this could damage the watch or shorten the lifespan of its battery. If your watch is an analog quartz watch, do not expose it to magnetism--it may temporarily stop working or show a time loss or gain. To sustain water resistance, have your watch checked regularly and maintained according to manufacturer instructions.


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