What To Consider When Buying Your First Watch ‘Cos Those Hair Ties Just Aren’t Cutting It Honey


“It’s time to get a watch” isn’t merely a hilarious response to someone asking for the time: it’s also a sign that you’re ready to make a classic and classy statement.

But buying your first proper timepiece can be pretty intimidating, especially when there are so many on the market, and you realise there’s more to it than looks alone when people start spouting off about chronographs and saying words like “calibre” and “quartz”.

Inspired by timepiece legend ALBA’s recent launch in Australia and New Zealand after dominating the game since the 1970s in Asia and the Middle East, here’s what to consider when buying a watch.

1. Mechanical Or Quartz?

Do you know what makes a watch tick? It’s the calibre, a mini-engine that powers things up. There are two types of calibres and it’s kind of a big deal to decide which to go with.

The first is quartz calibres, AKA battery-powered. These timepieces caused quite a stir back when they were introduced in the ’70s — they’re definitely nowhere near as controversial as they once were, but they do lack some of the technical wonders of mechanical watches. On the plus side, they’re incredibly accurate when it comes to actually telling the time, and are cheaper than the alternative mechanicals.

Mechanical watches are old-school, though most no longer require being manually wound. ALBA’s mechanical watches are all automatic, which means they’re built to work off the kinetic energy from your own movements while wearing one – I know that’s a very scientific idea, but the whole thing just seems a little magical to me. They also evoke a long, rich horological history of care and craftsmanship.

You can ‘feel’ the difference too: compared to a quartz’s electronic ticking, mechanicals have a satisfying weight to their movement, a kind of vibration and ‘sweep’ as it works its magic.

Whether you get a quartz or a mechanical is up to you: both are respectable first timepieces.


Here’s a lil taste of ALBA’s gorg Signa collection. 

Signa Collection: AH7Y10X1

2. Know Your History

It’s easy to be swayed by flashy, celebrity-led ads or a giant price tag when buying your first timepiece, but true timepiece enthusiasts know to look beyond and at the history of a brand.

You probably know a few esteemed brands, but we’re not talking about name-value alone — innovation is just as important. Take ALBA, which Seiko Watch Corporation created in Japan back in 1979. It blends together centuries of expertise with fashionable, bright designs. Sometimes that looks like their futuristic, fun Tokyo Neon or Fusion lines, or the more subtle pops of colour in their stainless steel Active timepieces. You can also suss out ALBA’s Fashion collection too, if you’re looking for something that’ll pair exactly with your Winter wardrobe.

The point is, don’t assume that a classic look is more respectable or ideal for a first timepiece. Any true horologist knows that it’s the craft and history that’s important, whether you’re in the market for a sleek, innovative design or something more traditional.

3. Size Matters (But Not How You Think It Does)

As an adult with a brain, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that a timepiece isn’t one-size-fits-all. If you’ve got a large wrist, you’ll probably want something a little above the usual case diameter of 34-44mm, and the waifish among us should probably stick to the smaller side, lest you want your new watch to be worn oversized.

But that’s kind of obvious, right? Where size really matters is the case thickness. If you’re wearing a collared shirt or long-sleeve at work or in life, have a look at the thickness – 10mm will sit more comfortably under a cuff than something heftier. Consider the practicalities of how and when you’ll wear your watch.

How bloody suave.

Signa Collection: AT3H53X1 (left) AT3H51X1 (right)

4. What Do You Want?

Timepieces can come with all matter of flashy features, but what will you actually use and care about?

Say, for example, you want a stopwatch: in terms of ALBA’s timepieces, that means you’re interested in the Signa range, which features smaller chronographs inside the display so you can count seconds and time minutes, too.

Or what about a diving watch, something that will stay safe even 100 metres below the waters? If that’s something you need – or you just like the added heft – then that’d be an Active watch. But if you just want a water-resistant timepiece, it’s probably unnecessary: all of ALBA’s watches, for example, are water-resistant.

While we’re on the topic of personal preference, when it comes to straps it really depends on context and look. If you’re after a dress watch to elevate your style, leather’s the classic: nylon is great for more active use; stainless steel adds a certain ruggedness to wearers, and gold is always a beautiful, bold choice.

Ultimately, your first timepiece should make a statement. However, simply wearing a watch absolutely screams, ‘I’ve got my life together’.

Fake it ’til you make it, baby.