'Tis the Season for Watches – Expert Shares Valuable Tips on Watch Shopping

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Have a headache-free watch shopping experience this holiday season. Watch expert offers tips from choosing your perfect watch to choosing a reliable vendor.

Wristwatches are some of the most popular gifts for the Christmas season. And how can people resist? They are both stylish and practical.

Watch purchases done via the Internet are growing in numbers due largely to the lower prices found online and the convenience of doing your shopping 24/7 in the comfort of your home. The disadvantages with online shopping are that you miss out on the chance to see and inspect the watches before making the purchase and the face to face interaction with a vendor. It becomes harder to determine the legitimacy of a watch dealer. However, a few helpful tips can help you have a headache-free watch shopping experience during this holiday season.

Use common sense.

Know what you are looking for before starting your search can save you a lot of precious time. Know the type/style of watch he/she likes. What will be the primary use of the watch? Will it be an everyday watch or a formal occasion watch? Is a metal band or a leather strap preferred? How much water resistance is needed? Does he/she enjoy quartz or mechanical watches?

Watch 101

Regardless of how expensive or inexpensive a watch is, all watches can be divided into two categories: mechanical and quartz.

Mechanical watches, as the name indicates, are watches consisting of only mechanical components. They derive their energy from the mainspring (no battery needed) and are regulated by the escapement mechanism, including the balance wheel and the hairspring. Mechanical watches can further be broken down into automatic wind and manual wind watches. The mainspring in an automatic watch is wound by the wrist motions of the wearer through the use of a rotor. Some automatic watches have transparent case backs allowing you to see this mechanism clearly. With a manual wind watch, the mainspring has to be hand wound.

Quartz watches got their name from the piece of quartz crystal used for time regulation inside the watch. Quartz watches are powered by electricity via the use of a battery.

In recent year, significant technological improvements have been made to quartz watches. Some quartz watches now do not require the use of a battery. Citizen Eco-Drive watches for example employ solar cells to convert light energy into electricity to keep their watches running without ever needing a battery change.

To learn more about watches, visit http://www.discountwatchstore.com/education.

A common mistake - size does matter!

A common mistake that many people make when shopping for a watch online is not paying attention to the size of the watch. Watch sizes are commonly listed in millimeters (mm). It is helpful to remember that 1 inch is equivalent to 25.4mm. Buying a watch is like buying a shirt. It is important to get the right size for a comfortable fit. Find out the wrist size of the person whom you are buying the watch for prior to your shopping. Knowledgeable watch vendors can guide you to the correct size watches for him/her. Knowing your wrist size is also helpful in determining whether or not the band on a particular watch is too short, too long, or just right.

Currently, there is a trend toward larger watches. Watch companies such as Invicta are coming out with watches with unprecedented sizes, so it is increasingly importantly to know the wrist size of the person who will eventually wear the watch in order to avoid having to return the watch after the holiday simply because it was too big. Imagine the kind of disappointment that would be.

What is hot? What are people buying?

Large watches are in. Why are people so obsessed with large watches? The popularity of big watches continues in 2005 largely because they offer certain advantages that smaller watches do not. Large watches allow watch designers more room on the watch face to express their creativity. They also allow any texture the dials may have to display more clearly. Lastly, larger dials usually mean larger hands and markers, and this in turn helps with seeing the time. From a technical perspective, at least for mechanical watches, larger watch cases allow watch manufacturers to use larger movements, which are generally more accurate than comparable smaller movements. However, few manufacturers are really doing that and have resort to using spacers to fill up the gap. So for the moment, large watches are popular primarily for the look. While large watches may look good, if you have a small wrist, they may not be for you, so be sure to measure your wrist size before acquiring one of these giants.

For the last several years, consumers are becoming increasingly interested in mechanical and chronograph watches. After the quartz watch invasion in the 1970's, many watch companies that specialized in mechanical watches went bankrupt due to the mechanical watches’ inability to compete with the less expensive quartz watches. However, in recent years, as quartz watches continued to flood the market, they have become so common that they are down-right boring. Watch manufacturers are also making mechanical watches available at lower and lower prices. With enough disposable income on their hands, collectors and average consumers are once again intrigued by the intricacy and beauty of mechanical watches. They are more than timepieces; they are pieces of art. Watch companies are bringing out more and more mechanical watches in different styles. You will have little difficulty in finding a mechanical watch that fits your style, be it formal or casual.

Chronograph watches are also gaining popularity. Chronograph watches are wristwatches with a build-in stop watch function. Although the stop watch function is useful, the reality is that most people never use it (but like knowing that it’s there in case they ever need it). They buy chronograph watches for the look. The sub-registers give these watches a sophisticated look.

Choosing a vendor

This is the hardest part and the most important part of your research. Working with a reputable vendor greatly increases your chance of a pleasant shopping experience. I am sure everyone has experienced or has heard stories of others getting "burned" on an Internet purchase. One similar trait these people share is that their only determining factor for choosing one vendor over another is price. If most vendors are selling the same watch at comparable prices and you find one vendor selling it for a lot less, you had better do your homework before purchasing from that vendor. If the price is too good to be true, then it probably is.

Authorized dealers vs. gray market dealers?

As the name implies, authorized watch dealers are dealers authorized by the manufacturer of a particular watch brand. Their watches can come either directly from the manufacturers or from authorized distributors (Note: Distributors are not dealers. Distributors sell to dealers.). Whenever possible, you want to deal with an authorized dealer because he/she can guarantee the authenticity of their watches. Also, the manufacturer will honor the warranty on watches purchased from authorized dealers.

Gray market dealers are vendors whose supply source is murky. They usually claim that they get their watches from other legitimate vendors, but there is really no guarantee that is the case. For some high end watches, it is a common practice for gray market vendors to scratch the serial number off the watch in order to avoid being pursuit by the watch manufacturers of their respective brands. Gray market vendors should be avoided because they cannot guarantee the authenticity of their watches, or have anybody to back up the authenticity of their watches. Additionally, manufacturers often do not honor their warranty on watches purchased from these gray market vendors.

How can you tell if a vendor is legitimate?

1. Read the information about the company on its website. Reputable vendors will have an abundance of information about their companies.

2. Determine whether or not he/she is an authorized dealer for the watches he/she carries.

3. Contact the sellers via both email and phone. Believe it or not, some website do not even have a phone number listed - these sites should be avoided. See how long it takes before your email gets responded to. Call and see if you can actually talk to someone live. Ask questions about their company, about their watches, and where their watches are shipped. Most legitimate vendors maintain an inventory and ship directly from their warehouse. Some use dropshippers (ie: a third party vendor shipping the watch for them.) These should be avoided. Simply contacting the seller can provide valuable insight into the seller and the kind of customer service you can expect to receive before and after your purchase.

4. Get third party validation. The Better Business Bureau is a good place to start. Visit http://www.bbb.org for company profiles on different watch vendors. Check to see if there were any complaints filed against the company and if there were, how were they resolved.

Guarantees are good.

Before you give your credit card information to the seller, ask what kind of guarantee he/she offers. Many vendors offer 30 day return or exchange. Other more established vendors such as the Discount Watch Store offer a 61 day money back guarantee. Note: Some vendors charge a restocking fee (typically 15% of the purchase price) so they make money either way. Beware of these sellers.

Knowledge is power. Follow the tips here and do your research and you will have a pleasant and joyous shopping experience.

For more shopping tips, visit http://www.DiscountWatchStore.com.

About Discount Watch Store: Own and operated by IC-Mart, Discount Watch Store is an online watch superstore. Established in 2002 and located in Milford, Connecticut, Discount Watch Store is an authorized dealer for the following brands: Citizen watch, Invicta watch, Luminox watch, Mido watch, Orient watch, and Vanceur watch. Current collection consists of over 700 different styles of watches and over 100 watch accessories. Visit http://www.discountwatchstore.com for all your watch needs.

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Zai Zhu
IC-MART
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