Watch Buyers Guide

Welcome to the Fine Watches of China watch buyers guide.

Chinese watches offer excellent value for money.  The brands presented on this website, Sea-Gull, FIYTA and Beijing Watch Factory, represent only the upper echelon of watch manufacturers from mainland China so you can be confident you are purchasing a high-quality timepiece.  When cared for properly, it should afford you many years of enjoyment and reliable service.

However before making your purchase it is important that you select your new watch carefully to ensure that it meets your unique requirements and tastes.  If you are not sure what kind of watch to buy or what kind of functions and features to consider, this guide is intended to assist you.

Remember, a wristwatch is not just a useful tool to tell us the time quickly and easily, it is also a beautiful piece of jewellery and an enjoyable fashion accessory.  It stands as the ultimate extension of your individuality, personality and style.  So it is important that you choose carefully.

Girl pointing to watch

 

Unless you have some experience with watches and watchmaking, it can be easy to become overwhelmed by all the terminology, information and options that are available to you.  This watch buyer’s guide is designed to step you through the selection process so that you can confidently make your choice.

We recommend you spend some time reviewing this guide, along with the other tools available on this website such as the brand information, our watch term glossary, and our Blog pages, as necessary, to further refine your selection.

Before you start however, it is important to ask yourself a few essential questions, such as:

  1. When do you intend to wear your watch?

    Do you intend to wear it for work, while playing sport, at formal occasions or for casual weekend wear?

    The style and features of the watch will determine which situation it is best suited for.

  2. How much money do you want to spend?

    While all watches on this site are all of high quality, the various manufacturing materials and different functions and features of a watch can greatly affect the price of a watch.

  3. Are there any particular features that you like?

    Things such as the shape or size of the watch may be important to you.  Or you have a preference for a particular dial colour or feature, or a particular case material.

    You may prefer a genuine leather strap as opposed to a steel bracelet.

    Then again you may want some ‘bling’ like a jewelled bezel or hour markers.

    Maybe you would like to show-off your watches’ mechanical movement, so a skeleton watch or open-heart feature may be what you are after.

    Do you prefer Arabic or Roman numbers on the dial or baton index markers?

    Maybe a special series watch such as a space or aeronautics watch may appeal to you?

  4. Are there any particular functions that are important to you?

    You may prefer a simple date function or have you a preference for a multi-function calendar with the date, day and month?

    What about a chronograph, a moon-phase display or a power-reserve indicator?

    How water-proof do you need the watch to be?

  5. Are there any distinct brand or brands that appeal to you the most or that you particularly like?

    Each watch brand has its own unique styles and features.  Maybe there is one that best suits your individual tastes and desires.

You should also become familiar with the idiosyncrasies of the two major watch types, quartz and mechanical.  The careful selection of which may greatly impact your satisfaction with your new watch.

We recommend you use our ‘shop by category’ watch finder facility to progressively refine your selection.  You should begin with broad categories, working down to more specific features as you go.  Start from the features and functions that are most important to you.  For example, you may work through the selection process as follows – Gender, Price, Style, Watch size range, Dial colour, Band or strap material.

When you have isolated your selection down to a manageable number of watches, review each watch down the Category page for something that appeals to you.

Use the ‘Quick View’ feature for a brief overview of the watches’ specifications and use the magnify feature to take a closer look at the dial.

You can also use the ‘Compare’ feature to compare the specifications of various models, or click to the specific product page for further images of the watch and to obtain the detailed specifications.

What is particularly important when you purchase a watch on the internet is to pay close attention to the things that are not obvious from looking at the pictures.  Things such as the size of the watch and the type of movement (mechanism) used in the watch are not readily obvious from the images but will greatly influence your overall satisfaction with your purchase.  Most of these can be found by looking at the watch specifications provided on the product page for the watch.

Once you are happy with your selection, add the watch to the Shopping Cart.

When checking out, opening an account with us is the best way to use the site as it will allow you to track your purchases and avoid you having to re-enter your details if you wish to make another purchase in the future.  Remember, your details will remain private and are perfectly safe with us, (please feel free to read our Privacy Policy).

Alternatively you can use the Quick Checkout function to proceed straight away with the purchase.

Remember, you can always contact us to ask any questions about watches in general or to obtain clarification on the features of our watches.

The following information provides information on the main attributes and features of a watch.  We recommend you use this as a checklist, noting as you work through it what factors you either like or dislike.  You do not want to receive your new watch only to see that there are particular features you do not like….or that you would have liked….because you forgot to check for them before placing your order.


  1. Gender

    Watches are commonly classified as either men’s or ladies.  However this is merely because of the primary target market for which the watch was designed.

    It is important to remember that this is only a guide.  If you like the look of a watch specified for the opposite gender, then do not be put off by this.  It is perfectly acceptable for you to wear any watch that you like.


  2. Watch face and dial

    The watches dial is the face of the watch that is visible through the watch glass on the front of the watch.  The dial includes the dial face itself, the watch hands and associated indices or markers for showing the hours, minutes and seconds, along with any other indicators for other functions of the watch.

    You should observe carefully the dial to make sure it has the look and features that you like.

    Specific aspects of the watch dial to note are:

    1. Hour index or marker type

    Common variations include Arabic (e.g., 3, 6, 9, 12), Roman (e.g. III, VI, IX, XII), baton or stick markers, jewelled or gem markers or any combination of these.  Many different typefaces (font styles) are used.

    1. Watch face color

    Typical colors include white, black, gold, silver and blue, however many other colors can be found.  Others can have various finishes such as mother-of-pearl.

    1. Other distinguishing features

    Watch dials often have special finishes or effects such as a guilloche effect or other distinctive patterns.

    1. Open-heart and Skeleton watches

    Some mechanical watches have an open-heart viewing window or a completely transparent dial so you can admire your watch’s mechanical movement in action.  This can be quite beautiful and mesmerising.

    1. Brand logos

    What is the placement of the watches branding? Are there any other words printed on the dial such as ‘Automatic’, the number of Jewels or its waterproof rating?

    1. Watch hands

    The hands on a watch typically include the hour, minute and (sometimes) a seconds hand.

    What length, shape or style do they have?

    Watch hand shapes can be sword, breguet, squelette, plume, stick, dauphine, baton or other shapes.

    Note carefully their style and see if they appeal to you.

    1. Style and placement of function displays or sub-dials

    A sub-dial is a small auxiliary dial set within the main watch dial.  Sub-dials can be used to display certain functions such as a seconds hand, the counters of a chronograph, the day or date, or a power reserve indicator etc.

    Note the style, placement and legibility of any functions or sub-dials used on the watch (if there are any) to see if you like to look of them.

    1. Day time legibility

    How legible is the watch? Are the hands, indices and function displays large enough and contrasting enough against the dial for you to read easily at a glance?

    1. Night time legibility (Lume)

    Lume refers to the luminous material that is sometimes applied to the watch hands and other parts of the dial to allow the time to be read in the dark.

    Think about whether you will need to read the time in the dark.

    Note however that lume is typically only applied to sports and diver’s type watches so you would not expect to see this on any dress, executive or business watches as it often distracts from the appearance of these styles.


  3. Watch Crystal

    A watch’s crystal is the clear ‘glass’ substance that covers the dial of the watch.

    Common crystal types include:

    1. Sapphire

    Sapphire crystal is generally the most preferable to use and is usually found on more upmarket and luxury watches as it is extremely scratch resistant.

    1. Mineral glass

    Mineral glass is mostly found on mid-priced watches.  Mineral glass is essentially ordinary glass that has been treated to increase its hardness.

    Mineral glass is not as superior as sapphire crystal but is often a better choice than acrylic plastic.

    1. Acrylic Plastic – also called plexiglass or hesalite

    Acrylic is the least expensive alternative to use in the production of watches and thus tends to be found on lower-end models.

    While it typically will not shatter it does scratch easily.  It can be easily polished to remove light scuffs however.


  4. Watch Case

    The watch’s case is the outer covering that protects it and houses the mechanism inside.

    The features of a watch case that you should pay close attention to are its material (what it is made of), its color and its shape.

    1. Material

    Common case materials include stainless steel, ceramic, gold, platinum and titanium.

    Watches can also have a PVD or DLC coating for enhanced hardness and to add coloring.

    1. Color

    Watches typically come in silver, gold (yellow, white or rose) or two-tone, however other colors are also available.

    1. Shape

    While the vast majority of watches have a traditional round dial, there are other shapes such as rectangular, square, oval and tonneau.


  5. Watch Band

    Watch bands can come in leather, rubber, canvas or nylon (usually called a ‘Strap’) or can be made of steel or some other metallic material (called a ‘Bracelet’).

    Think about what material you like the look of or what you believe may be most comfortable for you to wear.  Look closely at the strap or bracelet to see if it has any styles, patterns or features you like.  For example if it is leather, does it have a ‘crocodile’ type pattern or is it smooth, or does it have any distinctive stitching? If it is a metal bracelet how many links does it have (across its width)? Three, five and seven link bracelets are common.  Three link bracelets usually have a more ‘sporty’ look, whereas a seven link bracelet usually have a more ‘executive’ or ‘dressy’ type look.

    Practical implications include how easy the band is to readjust its size, its hypoallergenic properties, how comfortable it is to wear, or if you need to wear the watch in the shower or while swimming (leather straps are not recommended for use in water).


  6. Buckle or Clasp

    A buckle or clasp is the latch or catch used to fasten the two ends of the watch bracelet around the wrist and to open and close the watch bracelet.

    There are many types and styles of buckles and clasps.  Metal bracelets will commonly have a single or double fold-over clasp.  Clasps sometimes include safety release buttons or use a safety latch to ensure they cannot be released by accident.

    A butterfly clasp is a special style of clasp which folds inwards so that only the bracelet is showing.

    Leather or rubber straps usually have a buckle or have a buckle/clasp combination.

    You should use the description and pictures in the product specification pages to see what type of buckle or clasp is used on the watch.


  7. Bezel

    The watch bezel is the outer part of the watch’s case that surrounds the watch crystal on the front of the dial.  The bezel can be either functional, as is used on diving watches, or can be purely aesthetic.

    Watch bezels can either match the color and material of the watch case or it may be made of a different material and have a different color.

    To add a little ‘bling’ a watch’s bezel may include diamonds (real or imitation) or have other gems or decoration.

    You should look carefully at the bezel to see if it has the features you like.


  8. Crown

    The crown is the knob on the side of the case that is turned to wind the watch's mainspring (on mechanical watches) and is used to set the hands and other functions of the watch.

    On diving and sports watches the crown may be a "screw-down" type, whereby it screws onto a threaded tube which protrudes from the case of the watch with the intention of increasing its degree of waterproofing.

    You should use the description and pictures of the watch to see if has the look or features that you like.


  9. Exhibition Case-back

    The case-back is the cover on the back of a watch.  An exhibition case-back is a special type that is transparent to allow the watch's movement to be seen.

    Some mechanical watches (manual wind or automatic) include a transparent case-back.   An exhibition case-back displays the mechanical workings of a watch, ideal for those who appreciate the craftsmanship and intricate inner-workings of a mechanical watch.


  10. The watch’s Movement (inner mechanism)

    The movement is the “engine” of the watch.  It makes the watch work.  There are two predominant watch movement types - quartz and mechanical.  In addition, mechanical watches can be either manual winding (wound by the watch crown) or automatic (self-winding).

    Quartz watches use electronic circuitry to keep time and to power the functions of the watch.  They are regulated by the oscillations of a quartz crystal (hence their name) and require a battery to power them.  Quartz watches can be either digital, that show the time on a digital display, or they can be analogue, that show the time using traditional watch hands.

    Manual winding and automatic watches on the other hand use an all-mechanical mechanism.  To power them they use a windable spring that is either wound by the watch crown (manual winding watches) or by an automatic, self-winding mechanism (which is why they are called ‘automatic’).  Mechanical watches thus do not need a battery.

    Automatic, self-winding mechanical watches use the natural motion of the wearer’s arm to keep them continually wound, whereas a manual wound watch needs to be manually wound using the watch’s crown periodically to keep them running.

    Mechanical watches are made up of hundreds of individual parts and are assembled by hand.  They use know-how developed and refined over hundreds of years.  Because of this, they are generally more expensive than quartz watches, both to buy and maintain.  Many watch lovers feel mechanical movements are more interesting and appealing because of the skill and craftsmanship necessary to design and build them.

    While not always the case, quartz watches generally comprise the low to mid end of the watch market, whereas mechanical watches largely dominate the mid to high and luxury end of the watch market.

    Quartz watches currently enjoy a much larger market share, however mechanical watches are now seeing a significant increase in popularity.

    Quartz watches are however generally more accurate than a mechanical watch.

    You will find the majority of watches listed on our website are of the automatic (mechanical) variety, however some quartz watches are also available.

    Refer to our Blog articles on further information on the history, composition and comparative features of each.


  11. Watch Size

    The size of the watch is a matter of personal preference.  The size of your wrist and the intended purpose for the watch will also very likely influence your preference on watch size.

    It is a good idea to measure some other watches you like to get an idea about the range of sizes you prefer.

    Note: you should measure horizontally across the face of the watch from one edge to the other. Do not include the crown in the measurement.

    The current trends in contemporary watches are for larger sizes as compared to more classical era watches.

    You can use the following table as a guide to watch sizes:

    Note: Size is the diameter of the watch not including the crown

    Men’s

    Ladies

    Small

    36mm and below

    28mm and below

    Medium

    37mm to 40mm

    29mm to 33mm

    Large

    41mm to 45mm

    34mm to 40mm

    Extra Large

    46mm and above

    41mm and above

    A common man’s size watch is 35mm to 44mm.

    A common ladies size watch is 29mm to 40mm

    The thickness of the watch may also affect how comfortable you find the watch to wear.

    Remember….don’t be put off by the gender description of the watch.  It is perfectly acceptable for you to wear any watch of any size that you like.


  12. Functions and features

    In addition to the hour, minute and (usually) seconds hands that are used to tell the time, many watches include other additional functions.  These functions, also called ‘complications’, add functional features to the watch.

    Some typical functions include:

    • Date
    • Date and day
    • Date, day and month
    • Sub-dial seconds
    • Chronograph
    • Moon phase display
    • Power reserve Indicator
    • Dual time/world time displays

    Make sure the watch has the functions that you prefer.  The functions the watch can be found by looking at the watch specifications provided on its specific product page.

    (Definitions for these functions can be found in our Watch Term Glossary)


  13. Water resistance

    No watch is 100% waterproof.  A watch that is "water resistant" however means it has 'some degree' of protection from water damage.

    The following is a guide to an appropriate level of usage:

    • 30 meters (3 ATM/3 BAR) — can withstand light splashes of water.  Not suitable for showering, bathing, swimming, snorkelling, water related work, diving or fishing.
    • 50 meters (5 ATM/5 BAR) — suitable for showering or swimming in very shallow water only
    • 100 meters (10 ATM/10 BAR) — suitable for recreational swimming or snorkelling
    • 200 meters (20 ATM/20 BAR) — suitable for swimming and amateur scuba diving
    • 300 meters (30 ATM/30 BAR) or more — professional or deep-sea diving

    You should make sure the watch you are considering purchasing has a water resistance specification appropriate for your intended use.

    It may also not be a good idea to select a watch with a leather strap if you intend to wear it in the water as this causes it to deteriorate.

    The degree of water resistance protection can be found by looking at the watch specifications provided on its product page.


  14. Warranty period

    All watches purchased on this website come with a full 2-year manufactures international warranty.

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