Much like any niche interest, people who join the watch community are often looking for luxury brands. Watch collecting is a hobby that many enjoy, but with the knowledge that you pick up along the way, it can be easy to forget that not everyone knows as much about luxury watch brands as you do.

At the same time, if you're new to luxury watch culture, you are probably looking to find the information that can help you decide which pieces to buy as you build your collection.

It pays to understand what you're looking at and what you're looking for, so you can make intelligent and savvy decisions as you buy your first watch. So, keep reading to find out everything you need to know.

1. Movement

Movement deals with mechanical watches and refers to the internal workings of the piece. These components work together to make the watch function and are most often manufactured in Switzerland, China or Japan. This includes the mechanical movement of the watch's arms, which allows you to tell the time by looking at it. These internal mechanisms are protected by the watch face and go into some of the most accurate watches on the market. 

There are a few types of movement to know about when it comes to choosing a watch. Manual and automatic watches are equipped with a mainspring, an escapement, balance wheel, dial train and setting jumper. There's also a second hand that circles the watch in a sweeping motion that is smooth and consistent. Quartz movements work by battery and generally last at least 5 years or more. With this kind of watch, the second-hand moves as the seconds tick by.

The El Primero watch movement is one of the most esteemed on the market. Translated to English, the term means, "The First," and its origins begin in 1969 with the Swiss brand, Zenith. Many decades later, the El Primero is still being manufactured and its specifications have stayed the same, save from a few small tweaks here and there to optimize its house movements.

The El Primero gets its esteem from its precise frequency and accuracy. You can expect 36,000 vibrations per hour, which is much higher than the typical 28,800 vibrations per hour that you see in other mechanical watches. You see the El Primero in many famous brands that use Zenith's movements including Tag Heuer, Rolex, Hublot, Movado and Ebel. 

2. Automatic Watches

Dating back to the 1700s, the automatic style of watch has been around for a long time. This type of watch does not use a battery, but instead harnesses its power from the movement of the wearer's arm. As the wrist moves, the rotor inside moves, which makes the mainspring operate. In turn, this activates the other gears inside the watch, allowing it to both tell the time and wind itself. 

While it's not always necessary, the automatic class of watches can be wound manually. This is done via the watch's crown and winding stem. You won't see an indication that the watch is wound so most experts recommend wearing your watch as much as possible so it stays calibrated and winds automatically. Alternatively, purchase an automatic watch winder. This is a good idea especially for watches that you don't wear often. 

Another factor to keep in mind with automatic watches is their weight. Because there are more internal mechanisms involved, the watch may feel heavier on your wrist than other types. If you use your hands consistently throughout the day, this may make everyday tasks a bit more difficult and could even create an imbalance from one arm to the other. 

Unlike simpler watches, the automatic version can often be much more expensive because of the parts and craftsmanship needed to put the piece together. However, in some cases, buying a pre-owned watch can help you find more affordable prices if you have your heart set on a watch that features automatic movement. 

3. Manual Watches

Manual movements, also referred to as manual-winding movements or hand-wound movements, have similar inner mechanisms to an automatic style of watch, but must be wound manually on a regular basis for proper performance.

This style of watch does not have a battery or movement option for winding. Manual winding involves twisting the crown, which winds the mainspring. This ensures that the springs and gears inside the watch give you an accurate time. This is done via the use of a balance wheel and escapement mechanism. 

Unlike mechanical watches, the crown on a manual watch has a stopping point. This tells the wearer when the watch is fully wound and stops it from being overly wound. Overwinding a manual watch can damage its internal workings and reduce its lifespan and performance. 

Many luxury watches utilize manual power, including those made from white gold, stainless steel, and those that feature precious stones. This is the oldest type of watch movement and allows watchmakers to prove their creativity and craftsmanship. A lot of craftsmanship and expertise is required to create this style of watch, making a manual timepiece a true work of art. 

4. Quartz Watches

Quartz is the most common type of watch movement available today. Not only is it more lightweight than other styles, but it's much more convenient. This kind of movement relies on a battery, using the electrical current it creates to provide energy to the quartz. The quartz then moves at 32,768 hertz per second, which is quite impressive. When the quartz vibrates, it sends the movement to the motor, which makes the dial train operate correctly. This dial train regulates the energy within the quartz, which causes the hands of the watch to move. 

Don't fall under the impression that quartz timepieces are on the lower end of the price range just because their inner workings are not as complicated as other nice watch designs. They might be simpler watches, but they are highly accurate and some of the most dependable watches on the market, even those at modest prices.

Quartz watches are lower maintenance than other styles, making them much easier to take care of. You'll find this style in many fashion watches, sports watches and dress watches, as well as those you find in many mall-type watch store chains.

You'll also find that quartz watches come with a more affordable price tag than other styles. However, unlike the types mentioned above, this style of watch doesn't feature the show-stopping intricacy and creativity, so that's something to keep in mind. 

Many popular brands sell quartz watches so you will have plenty of options to choose from in a wide spectrum when it comes to price range. 

5. Dial Watches

The dial is a physical feature of a watch and is the part of a timepiece you look at to see the time. It is sometimes called the watch face and displays the clock, but might also display the date and day of the week.

The dial is where you might find intricacy in the design. This includes watches that have a dual time feature, a perpetual calendar or a 24-hour hand. You might see a power reserve indicator here or a feature that displays the phases of the moon. 

You will notice that when you shop for watches, the dial is quite diverse among most trend-setting styles and is one of the characteristics in watches that can set them apart from the others. You'll see everything from a black dial to a green dial to a blue dial. You'll also notice different finishes, textures and materials used to create a watch dial. They can be simple or more intricate, with etchings, carvings or precious stones inlaid. You could see Roman numerals or Arabic numerals or a mixture of many markings to denote the time. 

When watch connoisseurs look at watches, the dial is often what makes the first impression, for brand-new timepieces and vintage watches. Along with the watch's features and movement style, the watch dial plays a big part in why a wearer chooses a specific piece. The more unique a watch dial is, the more alluring it is to collectors. 

6. Bezel

The bezel refers to the circular ring that surrounds the watch dial. It also acts as a connection between the watch's case and its lugs. The bezel is typically made from metal or ceramic and aids in keeping the crystal cover in place. A black bezel or one made from stainless steel are common. Any watch has a bezel, regardless of its style or type. 

Some watches have a plain, functional bezel, while others feature elaborate markings and intricate designs. Some are even encrusted with stones or gems, especially those classed as luxury models. If character is important to you, look for a bezel that is octagonal or square-shaped, which sets a watch apart from those with a traditional circular-shaped bezel.

Bezels can be fixed in place or movable. Sometimes they rotate for certain functions on the watch, such as a compass or slide rule. They might also move on watches that feature a pulsometer or telemeter. Movable bezels can work in a single direction or go both ways around the watch face. Dive watches are an example of a watch that has a bi-directional bezel. They are used to record a very precise time period. 

7. Crystal

Crystal refers to the glass that covers the watch's dial. Sometimes the back of the case and the whole case may be made out of crystal. The purpose of the crystal is to protect the timepiece portion of the watch from the elements, including moisture, dirt, dust, impact or other damage. The crystal generally has a coating that is anti-reflective, which helps control glare on the front of the watch.

You may find any of the three most common types of crystal on your watch. That could be acrylic crystal, sapphire crystal or mineral glass. It is generally made from pliable plastic materials (thermoplastic) that can be fit over the dial with ease. It's often used on watches that come with reasonable price tags, but it scratches more easily than other materials, though it is hard to break. 

Mineral glass is a good choice if you're looking for a scratch-resistant watch. That's because it's made from silica, which is the same material used to make windows for your home. You'll see mineral glass on many designer watches. 

Sapphire crystal appears on luxury watches and is the most expensive, most durable material. It's also more scratch resistant than the other two materials listed and is used on most Swiss watches. 

8. Chronograph

If you want an analog watch, but would also like to have a stopwatch feature, a chronograph is the way to go. This type of watch is often used to time events, such as races and they tend to be quite reliable. Like other watches, they require a high level of craftsmanship to be sure they work properly for their designed use. 

Pilot watches, dive watches and watches used by race car drivers are examples of chronograph timepieces. Many such watches can record up to a hundredth of a second, as well as 30 minutes, as well as measuring both 12 and 24 hours. They may be quartz or mechanical, but can also be a combination of the two. Common options might also record two time periods at the same time, which is referred to as a split-second chronograph. A flyback can record the times consecutively for two separate events and a tourbillon reduces gravity, which increases the efficiency and performance of the watch. 

You'll likely see two or three sub-dials on a chronograph enabling you to time seconds, minutes and hours at the same time. The pushers located next to the crown are used to control the watch's functions, including stopping and starting.

9. Style

Style is the term used to separate watches into categories. That might be military watches, dive watches, dress watches or sports watches.

Dive watches, as the name implies, are designed for underwater use and are created to hold up to pressure beneath the water, such as in the ocean. This can range from 100 meters to 15,000 meters. Dive watches tend to come with a movable bezel and many also keep track of dual times and the date. The nature of military watches means they are often very durable and reliable and are favored by all branches of the military. They are often constructed of stainless steel and components that can withstand extreme conditions, such as heat, cold and wind. Most also light up so they can be seen in the dark, if necessary. 

Pilot watches tend to be much larger than other watches and are distinctly masculine in appearance, though that doesn't preclude women from wearing them. Because they are so large, these watches tend to be easier to read since the numerals and other features are also naturally larger to match the design. While they are designed for pilots who spend their time above the ground, the watch is also a reliable and sturdy choice that many people favor. 

If you choose a sports watch, you can expect a very easy-to-read dial and durable materials that can withstand the impact from athletics. Many also boast fancy features like a stopwatch, thermometer and compass, which are useful during numerous sports-related pursuits. 

If you want a watch for a formal affair or high powered office job, a dress watch is the way to go. They look elegant and pair with evening wear. They are often minimal in their design and have more simple watch dials. The aesthetic appeal is a big influence when choosing a dress watch. 

10. GMT

GMT, or Greenwich Mean Time, was created in 1884 and refers to the world's time zones. A GMT watch is simply one that allows you to set the current time in two zones at the same time. They are helpful for people who travel between time zones or who need to keep track of the time in a different time zone than they reside in. 

GMT does not have the same function as a dual-time watch, though they do serve the same purpose. A GMT watch uses a bezel and a 24-hour scale to operate the separate central hand. The watch's rehaut (this fills the space around the edges between the face and crystal of a watch) also plays a role in this process. Some GMT watches can display the time in three zones with a sub-dial and a 12-hour format for the second time zone. 

11. Luminescence

This term refers to the ability of certain parts of the watch to display light. This is usually the dial, the hands and the hour markers on the watch face. Luminescent materials are applied to the components and can give off a range of light, from dim to very bright, based on your needs. 

Radium paint was used in the past, but with research finding a risk to health, most watches now use materials with brand names like LumiBright or LumiNova.

Other watches may utilize LED lights or electricity to create the glow on a watch face. This feature is handy for divers, military personnel and pilots, but can also be helpful for the average watch wearer. 

12. Power Reserve

Power reserve is the amount of time that a watch can run without needing to be wound.  Many mechanical watches have a feature that enables you to track your available power reserve, which is usually indicated by a sub-dial somewhere on the watch face. 

Many watches offer 38 to 50 hours of power reserve, which you're most likely to see on entry-level timepieces. That means having to rewind it every couple of days. Higher-end watches can go even longer without needing to be wound, some for up to 9 days. 

13. Skeleton

Skeleton watches are unique because they are built so you can see their inner workings. This is a fun option for watches with intricate mechanical pieces because you can see how they work with each tick. Some such watches have small peeks through the watch face, while others allow you to see the entire inside behind the hands of the watch. Though they look very expensive, you can find skeleton watches at affordable prices all the way up to premier luxury prices. 

14. Winder

Even an automatic watch needs to be wound from time to time. This occurs when you don't wear the watch every day since movement is needed to set the watch. Anytime a watch loses its power, you will need to wind it to get that power back. Automatic winders as separate devices that perform the otherwise manual task of resetting your timepiece. The function of winders is to keep the crown wound when not in use. This is a handy way to keep your watch continuously wound, even when you aren't wearing it. 

A winder is a smart choice for a watch collector who doesn't wear the same watch every day. It's also ideal for busy people who can't seem to find the time to wind their timepiece each day. Make sure you choose a high-quality winder so that you can rely on it to get the job done without damaging your watch.

15. Chronometer

When a watch passes a list of accuracy standards, it can claim to be a chronometer. The timepiece must be examined to pass the inspection and be certified, and it must be done by a reputable testing organization, which brings prestige to the device. 

The Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres in Switzerland is one such entity and works to test a large number of timekeepers, including stopwatches, clocks, pocket watches, and other kinds of time-telling devices. The process takes 13 to 15 days and involves measuring pressure, humidity and temperature criteria as well as different orientations. Many other countries also have testing facilities, including Japan and others in Europe and Asia. 

16. Complication

Functions of the watch that are used for anything that isn't telling time are referred to as the item's complication. Some watches only have one complication, while others might have many. An individual complication watch has one additional feature, while grand complications are watches that have three more additional features. 

Complications make the watch more intricate and difficult to put together, some taking years to complete. That means that watches with complications often cost more than others. Examples of complications include chronograph, phases of the moon, calendar and day of the week. Time zones, minute repeaters, date, 24-hour display, tourbillon ( a device in a mechanical watch that prevents errors due to changes in gravity) and alarms are other examples. Added to the list can be a compass, thermometer or altimeter. 

17. Frequency

This refers to how quickly the watch ticks (or beats). It's the movement's speed and also the oscillations or turns created by the balancing mechanism in one hour. Vibrations per hour or hertz is the measuring quantity and can be anywhere from 18,000 to 36,000 vibrations per hour. Frequency generally ranges from 21,600 to 28,800 vibrations per hour. The higher the number, the more advanced you can assume the caliber is.

Frequency ties into a watch's precision. Higher frequency means higher accuracy, a detail that is important to many watch collectors. 

18. World Timer

You will love having a world timer on your watch if you travel a lot. It will show you 24 time zones, corresponding to 24 cities around the globe. This enables you to adjust the time, based on what part of the world you're in, which is handy if you spend significant amounts of time away from home.

Dating back to the 1930s, the world timer was introduced by Louis Cottier and features a bezel inside that displays each of the 24 cities and the time in that city's zone. The 24-hour hand makes one rotation per day and must be synced to your home time zone, which can be done via the bezel. World timers come in a variety of styles, from dressy to intricate to sporty, so there's an option for everyone. 

19. Moon Phase

A unique complication on some watches is a feature that tracks the phases of the moon. The lunar cycle dial typically operates via a gear that rotates every 24 hours and it's visible through a peek-through window on the watch face called an aperture. A quick glance at your watch will tell you whether it's a full moon, a new moon or any phase in between. 

A moon phase watch is a coveted item among collectors due to its intricate craftsmanship and the way that it looks. While there's no functional use for a moon phases feature, it adds to the height of engineering and offers a fun conversation piece.

20. In-House Movement

When a watch brand creates its own movement workings for a watch, it's referred to as in-house movement. However, there is some debate about this since many manufacturers use parts from out-of-house suppliers so they cannot claim exclusivity on the movement. Companies use in-house movement as a term to build their reputation and exclusivity.

Rolex, Piguet and Seiko are examples of watch brands that boast in-house movement. 

There is a lot of terminology that goes with watch culture. Knowing these basic terms gives you a head start if you're new to the watch world and want to gain some expertise before you begin buying and/or collecting. 

At Watches and Watches you'll find excellent secondhand watches from major luxury and famous brands including Rolex, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet and Tag Heuer. Every watch has been restored to its original condition by our team of expert watchmakers and is sold at a fair price.