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December 22, 2020

The Clues to Finding the Types of Watches Made for You

December 22, 2020

A tale almost as old as time itself: the history of the wristwatch. Over 100 years ago, Americans were baffled by Europeans wearing bracelets with clocks on them. It was one of the first documented instances that time had migrated to the human wrist and was a trend that required some explaining to their western neighbors. These “clock bracelets” over the years have revolutionized not only the way we keep time but also the way we accessorize and express our fashion tastes.

With the rise of wristwatch popularity, watch innovations and style developments grew as well. Today, the many different watch style options can be overwhelming when purchasing a new timepiece for yourself or someone else. If you’re in the market for a new watch but aren’t sure where to begin, we recommend starting with the type of watch. We’ll go into more detail about the main types of watches below and which personalities and styles might best pair with each watch type to help you find the perfect wrist companion that speaks to you.

The Main Types of Watches

There are many different types of watches but most can be grouped into these three categories: display, movement, or functionality. Here are some of the most common watch types in each category.



By Display: Analog or Digital


One of the easiest ways to tell a watch style is by what is displayed on the face of the watch. Analog and digital watches are the two most common displays - a classic modern vs. traditional debate.



Analog Watches


These watches are the ones you most likely picture if you were to close your eyes and think of what a watch looks like. Analog displays have your standard hour hand, minute hand, and sometimes second hand arrangement.


Digital Watches

Digital was a newer addition, first coming out in the 1970s. These watch displays utilize an LCD screen to show the time in digits rather than hands as well as any other information that may be available through the watch.


By Movement: Automatic, Mechanical, or Quartz


This watch style is based on the mechanisms that allow the watch to move and tell time. The behind-the-scenes watch type, if you will.






An automatic watch, also known as a self-winding watch, means just that. It automatically winds itself due to its rotor. The energy from the rotor, a half-disc metal weight, is collected by just daily wear because it spins when you move your arm. This provides enough energy to power the watch throughout the day and night. 





These watches are pretty much the opposite of automatic. Instead of the watch winding itself, mechanical watches require manual winding occasionally. Inside, you’ll find a case of gears and devices powered by the spring. This spring is what needs the manual winding and what is often the result of the classic ticking you hear in mechanical watches.






This watch movement might be the most common among watch types. Quartz is a mineral also known as silicon dioxide or sand. These watches use quartz crystal oscillation with an integrated circuit to tell time. Because of this, these watches can be more reliable and accurate than automatic or mechanical watches, making them a popular choice among watch buyers.



By Functionality: Chronograph, Dive, Luxury, etc.


This category has the most different kinds of watches in it. Watches can hold many different functions besides the all-important telling of time. We’ve picked out a few of our favorites to highlight in this section; otherwise, we could be here all day.





Chronograph watches have the added feature of also being a stopwatch. Inside the watch face, there are usually two or three smaller circles with their own hands. Start/stop and reset buttons for these circles are often found on the side of the watch. This allows you to time races, events, etc. easily on your wrist.





Sometimes also called a Diving or Diver’s watch, a dive watch is designed with a water resistance feature. Your average dive watch will have a water resistance of around 200 to 300 m or 660 to 980 ft below water. They were originally made for divers to bring with them on their sea exploration trips, so they also usually feature a larger watch face and can be easily read in dark environments.





Sport watches set more than just a functional standard, they also set trends. With an oversized watch face, many sport watches feature dual calendar apertures and central dials accompanied by three subdials. This gives you the ability to tell the time, date, and use a stopwatch feature - an all in one package.


Find a Watch Style that Speaks to You 

While the list above is not nearly an exhaustive list of all the types of watches out there, it does give you a great place to start when deciding on your next watch. At Shinola, we take it a step further than just watch type, however, we like our timepieces to also speak to your unique style—what makes you feel confident. 


For our quality-centric ladies, quartz watches are for you. If your dress style reflects intentionally understated and distinctive pieces and you put meaningful relationships at the forefront of your priorities, a reliable and durable quartz watch will be your knight in shining armor.


Shinola Recommendations: The Vinton or The Cass Watch Collections



For our purpose-driven men, chronograph and/or sport watches are for you. If you have a style that is more than meets the eye, driven by the details and thoughtfulness behind each style choice, you’ll love the details and functionality of chronograph and sport watches. You live off of the balance between form and function - just like these watches.


Shinola Recommendations: The Runwell Sport Chrono or The Canfield Sport Watch Collections




For our fashion-forward women, classic analog watches combined with color and chic materials are for you. You believe fashion and style should be both fun and deliberate - a constantly evolving form of expression. Just like the rotating hands on timepieces, your watch style evolves with you, making what you like your own.


Shinola Recommendations: The Runwell or The Detrola Watch Collections




For our independent and adventurous men, dive watches are for you. If you never know where your life might take you, your watch needs to be able to handle anything with you. With its extra durability and water resistance features, dive watches provide subtle, effortless style with a “let’s do it” attitude.

Shinola Recommendations: The Duck Watch Collections




Of course, just because a watch is labelled “Men’s” or “Women’s” doesn’t mean it’s for men or women only—feel out your own style, and rock the watch that’s on your wrist with confidence. Style knows no gender.

Still overwhelmed by the many watch types choices? Let us help you. Fill out our personal stylist quiz on our website, and we’ll send you a personalized, shoppable email with recommendations based on your preferences. Or jump right in and shop our men’s and women’s watch collections.

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