In a recent episode of Hodinkee Radio, podcast guest Sarah Miller, who writes a column on being a newbie to the watch scene, recounted how surprised she was about how good it felt to have a Rolex on the wrist. The feeling is key to our perception of quality when it comes to watches. Other publications have written on this topic, but we our own take on the fundamentals.
Image by Rolex
What makes a watch feel nice? We didn't mention movements and focused more on factors that contribute the the immediate feel.
Photo by @watchesofwales
Heft: There is a certain heft to a nice watch (unless it’s made from a lighter material such as titanium) that makes the wearer feel like he or she has something of higher quality on the wrist. This isn’t just the actual weight, but rather a feeling that the object is indeed solid. This can be a misleading factor, however, as some really inexpensive watches, such as the entry-level classic Seiko SKX007/9, have a solid feel to them. This quality is exactly why watch collectors put that under $300 watch in the high value category.
Photo by @tourbillonorologi
Crown interface: How the crown feels is another indicator of quality. Rolex watches in my experience have the best crown action in the business. The threads feel silky smooth and I never feel as if I’m going to make a mistake by cross threading the crown. With the crown pulled out, setting the time and date feels firm and confident.
Photo by @tokeiwatchandbag
Endlink to case fit: Most higher-end watches have a very exact fit from the bracelet endlink to the case. That’s why our Everest straps also have a factory-like fit to the case. It’s a sign of quality. As much as I like Grand Seiko, this is one area that isn’t up to par at the price point they play in.
Photo by @kallistewatch
Bezel feel: If a watch has a rotating bezel, it should feel either firm or smooth (different styles), but there should be little no slop between the markers. Modern Rolex sport watches are hard to beat in this category. German brand Damasko is also noteworthy for its solid bezel rotation feel.
Bracelet or strap: What holds the watch head to your wrist is one of the most tangible aspects of determining quality. Good bracelets feel solid and can be adjusted to fit your particular wrist well. Again, modern Rolex models are known for some of the best bracelets in the industry. Once you put one one, you immediately sense that security with that audible click locking in your bracelet. If a watch comes with a leather strap, it should feel very comfortable right away and be pliable enough to take on the shape of your wrist over time.
Finishing: This category encompasses many elements, including the aforementioned endlink to case fit. Finishing is all about the details. Is the brushing and polishing refined? Are the indices, dial text and hands finished to a high standard? This is where you can really tell the difference between Rolex and Tudor. The finishing on a Tudor is pretty nice, but not close to Rolex standards in our experience.Experience straps for your Rolex that feel on par with the quality of the watch.