Since 2013, we have hands-on reviewed more than 200 watches. If we don’t see it hands-on, we don’t review it.
Overall Score & Recommendation
Our review guidelines are meant to provide transparency for our readers with respect to how we assess a watch. We make recommendations based on our experiences with a watch, and when possible, compare it to price and category competitive peers.
Price is always factored into a watches assessment and score. This is why we may give both a $50 watch and a $500 watch a 4-star score: because both watches are great examples of what you can buy for that segment and price.
We are always asking:
- Is this watch made well? We look for areas on the watch dial or case where imperfections during the manufacturing process are noticeable. We pay extra attention to hand and indices, both finishing and alignment.
- Are the materials good quality for the price? It’s totally acceptable for a $100 watch to have a mineral crystal; we feel less so about a $500 watch having a mineral crystal.
- Is the movement reliable, significant, or both? At the price range, we are looking at it is uncommon for in-house movements to be used. Outsourced ETA, Miyota, and Seiko movements are very common. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We look at which movement is being used and weigh that against its price-relevant peers.
- Is the watch priced appropriately? Brand equity, materials, finishing, and availability all factor into the price of a timepiece. We are very critical of how a watch is priced.
- Is the watch a good value? More than just its price, a good value is defined by a watch that blends price, materials, and passion together. When a watch is made well, is priced right, and comes from a brand with an interesting story to tell, that is a great value.
A High-Level of Our Review Terms for Watch Brands
A good review is earned and never paid for. When receiving watches for free, such as press samples from watch brands, we are very clear in that we will not shy away from pointing out flaws on a watch.
We do not believe in disposability and will tear a disposable watch to shreds. If a watch isn’t built to last a reasonable period of time, we’ll make sure our readers know about it. There are too many good watches available for people to unknowingly purchase a piece of junk.
However, if a watch is objectively bad to the point where we have very little good to say about it, we simply won’t post the review on our site. This is because we don’t want to showcase a bad-quality watch, ever. The only exception to this is if a watch is being deceptively marketed or heavily promoted despite being objectively a bad watch.
We maintain full editorial control and do not allow watch brands to dictate what we write about in a review. We may compare a watch to other brands and timepieces at our discretion. We do not accept promotional or sample watches from brands that attempt to influence our review, content, or outcome in any way.
The bottom line: we do not and will not ever compromise on our editorial integrity. If we say something it’s because we mean it.
Build quality speaks to the materials used and the overall fit and finish of its construction. We use macro lenses to get close-ups of important areas of the watch, and of any defects in workmanship. While we aren’t watchmakers, we have found that the better a watch is finished, the longer that watch tends to last.
We look for:
- Machining – Are there any defects, scratches/dents/etc., or other imperfections on the watch case, crown, strap, buckle, lugs, dial, hands, indices, and caseback?
- Dust – Is there dust visible inside the dial?
- Finishing – How are the surfaces of the hands, indices, dial, and subdial? Are material and finish types uniform? How does everything look at high-resolution?
- Tolerances – From the case and dial to the strap, lugs, and buckle. How well do things fit together? Is there inappropriate play/movement in joints and connections?
- Water resistance – Can the watch survive a splash? A shower? A soak? How does this fare against price-competitive peers?
Not all watch movements are equal. When reviewing a watch, we assess the make and model of the movement used, as well as how accurate the movement was inside the watch (using toolwatch.io, which is a fantastic tool for this sort of thing).
We do not believe that every watch needs to have a unique, house-made, or otherwise notable movement. In fact, at the price point we typically play in, we find it rare and odd when we see a watch with a notable or house-made movement. Rare/house movements are expensive to produce, especially since few watch brands have the ability to do so at scale.
We look at the type of movement relative to the price point. It’s perfectly appropriate to use an entry-level Miyota automatic for a $250 or $300 watch, for example, and to deride a watch for using such a movement would be unfair.
Value For Money
As good as a watch may be, it has to be price-competitive or we can’t recommend it. We rate the value of a watch based on what it offers in relation to its peers. A bit of leeway is provided for microbrand watches since they may not have the ability to get as price competitive as a larger brand, but this leeway isn’t a license to be a value disaster.
In our opinion, a watch must be a good value in order for us to call it a great watch.
When assessing value, we look at:
- Materials – A $500 watch with a basic quartz movement and mineral crystal is not one we’d consider a good value regardless of who makes it.
- Movement – Seeing a nice automatic in an inexpensive watch is one of our favorite sights 😉
- Price – Bottom line: how much does the watch cost, and is it priced competitively?
- Brand – Companies that invest in their brand can get away charging a bit more than a random no-name with no history and nothing unique about them.
In the Interests of Transparency
About Our Advertisements
We run advertisements on our website to pay for new watches to review, hosting/maintenance costs, development costs, and other costs that come with owning a website. Currently, we run two different types of advertising:
You will see this as links to purchase watches from watch stores, such as Amazon. We receive a small commission – typically about 4% of the value of the item purchased – if you purchase a product through one of our affiliate links. These affiliate links do not change how much you pay for the watch.
If you do not wish to support our website via affiliate links but still wish to purchase the watch from our recommended watch store, simply visit the store directly instead of clicking on the affiliate link.
Where Do We Get the Watches We Review?
One thing we found ourselves asking when we decided to look at how other websites were reviewing products was “where did they get the item they are reviewing?” We believe that the motivations behind a review are important. That’s why we are 100% transparent about our advertising, affiliate relationships with vendors, and on how we obtained a watch that we are reviewing.
We Purchase Over 50% of the Watches We Review
The majority of our reviews are done on watches that we purchased for the purpose of reviewing. We feel that by purchasing a watch to review, we eliminate potential bias or favoritism.
Readers, Vendors, and Brands Send Us the Rest
People just like you occasionally send us watches to review. We love it! Otherwise, we occasionally receive a watch from a brand or vendor to review. Whenever a watch has been provided to us we will disclose this in the review.