A watch is a combination of many different parts that facilitate its function and protection. Each of them varies in size, shape, and role in the functioning of a timepiece. One of them that influences what people look for in a watch is the case because it affects how it looks.
However, what goes unnoticed is the part in between movement, dial, and the case is the watch crystal. The watch crystal protects the dial and movement while also enhancing design. It also makes a difference to dial legibility, which refers to how clearly you can see the time.
Watchmakers use different types of watch crystals on their products. Each of them has different characteristics that affect the quality and price of the watch you get. Read about the three of them and discern whether they’re worth your money or not.
Acrylic crystal is a specialized form of plastic that can be shaped easily to fit over a watch dial. Its affordability made it popular to use on inexpensive watches or vintage-style ones. It’s also easy to manipulate because of its flexibility, allowing watchmakers to create any shape they want with it easily.
Its flexibility also makes it durable. Acrylic glass doesn’t easily shatter; instead, it bends and cracks, thus, enhancing its resistance to impact. This is also why you’ll see it on most rugged watches, such as military wristwatches.
On the other hand, this crystal’s main drawback is its low resistance to scratches. As a result, it can get marked or scratched easily. However, they’re also the easiest to buff out, meaning owners of a watch with acrylic crystals can remove the scratches themselves.
Acrylic crystal is also known as Perspex or Plexiglass.
This one is the hardest watch crystal watchmakers use. But, because of that, it’s hugely resistant to scratches, making it a favorite of luxury watchmakers. For instance, the sapphire crystal for Seiko is prominent on most of their high-end timepieces.
A diamond is the only stone that has a chance to scratch a sapphire crystal. But although it’s highly resistant to scratches, it’s not as strong against hard impact compared to acrylic glass. However, sapphire is much more reflective and shiny, making the dial underneath look sharper.
In addition, it’s doesn’t have the flexibility that acrylic crystal has. Due to its hardness, watchmakers can’t turn them to shapes they desire. However, sapphire is the most expensive watch crystal because of its toughness.
Mineral watch crystal, also known as Hardlex, is often an alternative to acrylic and is often used for fashion timepieces. It’s made from silica, making it similar in properties to windowpanes and affordable for watch brands to source and manufacture. Hence, it’s mostly used for affordable watches or brands that want to keep production and sales costs low.
Besides its affordability, mineral watch crystal also has more scratch resistance than acrylic crystal. However, when they’re scratched, you can’t simply remove them by buffing them compared to acrylic.
A watch’s crystal is an important part of the whole timepiece. These different crystals each have pros and cons that affect a watch’s price, along with the protection and clarity of its dial and movement. Whichever watch you purchase, ensure that it’s made with a material that will lengthen its life so you can use it longer.