Difference Between Cheap and Expensive Watches

Posted by Alexander on


The price ranges available for watches can be remarkable at times. With both cheap and expensive options available, the price of a watch can vary from $50 and under to several thousands.


In fact, the most luxurious timepieces can exceed several thousand dollars, often reaching into the tens of thousands area in some cases. On the flip side, you have watches available for under $10, so it is clear there can be a significant difference in prices.


This makes buying a watch that bit more challenging. Granted there are noticeable differences between expensive and cheap watches, but at the same time there isn’t much you can innovate in terms of functionality – all watches will tell the time after all.


However, there are key differences that not everyone is aware of, and it may make it more understandable why the price range can seem so vast.




Perhaps the more prominent difference between an expensive and cheap watch is the overall craftsmanship. An expensive watch will be meticulously crafted by artisan watchmakers that have spent years perfecting their craft.


Watches are a remarkable engineering feat, involving hundreds of intricate parts that are carefully constructed to create a functioning timepiece. The attention to detail should be incredible on an expensive watch, while cheaper options will have nowhere near the same level of craftsmanship.


Cheap watches are easily manufactured, taking almost no time to produce massive numbers of products, hence their low price. The craftsmanship will be noticeably lower in various areas, such as in the casing, band/bracelet, and the watch hands.


Conversely, an expensive watch will look and feel better. It should be heavier yet more robust, while featuring all manner of small, intricate details.


The Movement


A watches movement is the inner mechanics that literally power the watch. Very much the heart of a timepiece, a watches quality can often be easily identified by the type of movement.


Watches will have one of two options for a movement – mechanical and quartz.




Quartz movements are typically found in cheaper watches as they are more affordable to manufacture, taking nowhere near the time and effort to make when compared to a mechanical movement.


A quartz crystal is powered by electricity to produce small vibrations at a desired frequency, which are then measured to help establish the time that has elapsed, allowing it to continually keep track of the time.


While cheaper to make, they still have high accuracy in terms of determining the time and are also very durable so can last many years without breaking. Funnily enough, the more affordable quartz movement produces a more accurate time than a mechanical movement.




A watch with a mechanical movement means that it is powered solely by mechanical mechanisms rather than electricity and a quartz crystal. All the mechanisms are powered by a spring, while an oscillating balance wheel regulates the time.


There are prominently used in luxury watches that are rather expensive, and they will always have a much higher level of craftsmanship that a quartz movement.


Additionally, a mechanical movement will consist of many small parts that must be carefully constructed to together in unison for the watch to function. It is one of the main reasons why collectors appreciate them, as there is a very high level of skill necessary to create them.


Mechanical movements can also come with additional features, such as being self-winding or automatic. This refers to the fact that the movements gather energy from the wearer using the watch, storing the energy to help wind the watch automatically.




Another clear sign of the differences between a cheap and expensive watch is the materials used in each.


For instance, the glass or crystal used to cover the watch face can vary quite significantly depending on the price. Cheaper watches will use cheaper crystal materials, often made form mineral glass, meaning that they are more prone to scratches and superficial damage.


This is quite difference when compared to more expensive crystals found on luxury watches. Materials such as sapphire are used in most cases, with the high-quality material being scratch-resistant.


In fact, sapphire crystal will be near impossible to break, so they boast a much longer life-expectancy that cheaper alternatives. This allows an expensive watch to last years and even decades without losing aesthetics.


Materials used inside of the watch are also costlier with expensive watches, usually being a large contributing factor behind their price. They use a variety of precious metals, but more important also feature various jewels to help prevent parts from deteriorating.




A specific term that refers to the additional features of a watch, complications can make another clear indicator of whether a watch is cheap or expensive.


As you may expect, cheaper watches feature very few, if any, complications. They usually tell the time and not much more, although some cheap options will have a couple of features, such as the day and date.


Expensive watches tend to have much more in the way of complications. For instance, a chronograph is a highly accurate stopwatch feature on many luxury watches, while water resistant features are popular among divers watches.


The time and effort needed to produce additional functional complications usually results in an increase price tag, which is why it’s mostly exclusive in expensive watches.


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