Though the title of this article might seem negative, this article is actually meant to help the watch industry become better. Note that the complaints are not about the watch industry, but about the actual luxury watches. More than being my subjective dislikes, the below nuisances are in fact enemies to comfort, practicality, and even common sense. This article takes a look at my top 6 complaints about luxury watches (yes, I have more), why they are bad, and why they need to be eliminated. The watch world will be a better place without them.
Antireflective (AR) coating on the outside of the crystal. Most luxury timepieces come with a sapphire crystal because of its durability and high scratch resistance. However, this is nullified when manufacturers decide to add a thin layer of AR coating on top of it. Granted it helps decrease the glare on the crystal when the AR is applied on both sides, but who wants visible scratches on their AR coating? Why have scratch-resistant crystals and then add a scratch-prone coating over it? Not to mention that AR coatings are normally not repairable and replacement of the entire crystal is required if scratched AR coatings are not your thing.
PVD or DLC coating. Black or colored cases are cool, but what is not cool is being able to see the base material of the case because there are scratches on your watch. It is an obvious eyesore and something anyone with mild OCD would disapprove. The typical PVD coating is too weak to withstand much and even a DLC coating is not strong enough for a product that can potentially be worn daily and will be prone to impact against other objects. All worn watches will eventually get scratched, regardless of how careful you may be. These inferior coatings are cost effective, but they should not be used on luxury timepieces that are meant to be enjoyed for many years. Scratched coatings do not look cool. Manufacturers, if you want to be cool, please use ceramic, carbon fiber, or composite materials instead.
Deployant buckles on straps. Love them or hate them. Deployant buckles were invented to make the activity of putting on and taking off the watch easier. As a byproduct, it also helps preserve the watch strap. Unfortunately, it does not work well on smaller or larger wrists because the deployant buckle will not sit on the center of the wrist. The fix, if at all available by the manufacturer, is to provide straps in different lengths. However, in many cases, it is the design of the deployant buckle that is to blame for the uncomfortable fit (e.g. butterfly deployants with one push buttons on each side that inevitably presses against the underside of your wrist). The wheel does not need to be reinvented when a classic tang buckle can provide the ultimate comfort. If a watch is not comfortable to wear, it will inadvertently become the one worn least.
Bracelets with no micro adjustments or half links. Bracelets are only comfortable if the perfect fit can be achieved. Since these watches are made for a large market, they need to be fully adjustable to fit perfectly on any sized wrist, which is usually only possible if there are several adjustability options built into the bracelet. Adjustability options can come in various forms: half link, bracelet extension (e.g. Rolex’s Easylink), clasp adjustability (e.g. Rolex’s Glidelock), or micro adjustments at the buckle. Without these, the watch will most likely be too loose or too tight. An ill-fitting watch is not only uncomfortable, but it also looks like that shirt that is two sizes too large.
Bracelet links that are attached using something other than one screw. There are many ways in which the links on a bracelet are attached to each other and they are not all created equal. The best option is a single screw, the way Rolex does it. This is the simplest and easiest option for the person out there that wants to remove the links themselves. All you need is one screwdriver. Unfortunately, many manufacturers choose to use less than ideal options, which is most likely due to cost saving reasons. Many use a single pin that needs to be pushed out of a sleeve. This option is not horrible, but a special watch tool to push the pin is needed. Others use a screw and a screw head on the other side, so now two simultaneous screwdrivers are needed. Holding one screwdriver while turning the other is no easy task. There are many more options but none are as straightforward as the single screw option that Rolex and a few other manufacturers have adopted. Manufacturers, please stop making removing links pointlessly complicated. Everyone should be able to size their own watches in the comfort of their own home.
Poor quality control. There is no excuse for poor quality, especially for a luxury watch. As expensive as watches are these days, no one should have to settle for subpar quality. Dust particles under the crystal? Dial imperfection? These issues are nowadays so common that they are almost expected. As a Quality Engineer I certainly understand that no watch can be perfect, but if the imperfection is visible to the naked eye, it should not be there. Poor quality control leaves a bad taste in the mouth, which can sometimes be permanent.
So there you have it, my short wish list for the watch industry that helps put the consumer and common sense first again. What are your top complaints regarding luxury watches?