Watches are fundamentally different than everything else I have reviewed thus far. Until now it is fair to call everything I review “tools.” In many cases watches are jewelry first and tools second (if at all). So it is hard to adapt the scoring system to a kind of product I have not yet reviewed. As such there are only two carry over categories: design and fit and finish.
As usual, the scale is out of 20 points. A product can earn up to 2 points a category in ten categories for a total of 20 points. A score of 0 in a particular category is for below average performance. A score 1 is for average performance and a score of 2 is for above average performance. In rare instances, a product will have a critical flaw, something that ruins the product regardless of its other features. In that instance, the product will receive a score but a notation of “Not Recommended.” In extremely rare instances, only once so far, a product will have so many problems that it does not work. In that case, I will label it as “Product Failure.”
A score from 10-14 is, while average among products available, probably not worth purchasing. A 15-16 is a good product with some major flaws. A 17-18 is very competent product. 19-20 is reserved for products that are among the best available. A score of 20 with a notation of “Perfect” is reserved for very few products—those items that cannot be improved in any meaningful way. As with all things that rely on technology, the bar is constantly being raised so that something that scores a 20, Perfect now probably won’t score a 20, Perfect ten years from now. Every once in a while I will go back and update scores as is warranted.
Design: Same as defined in other scoring systems—how a product appears on a blue print. Obviously with a watch, part of the design consideration is style—does this watch look good, does it’s look match its intended use?
Fit and Finish: Also the same as defined in other scoring systems—how a product is translated from a blue print to a real world object.
Materials: How a watch looks and what it is made of are important. I am not going to disagree with that part of watch orthodoxy. What I have issues when is when the materials are not in service to the design and style of the watch. A field watch should have simple durable materials because it is supposed to be a simple durable watch.
Accuracy: This, it seems to me, is an overlooked aspect of watches, which is ironic, given that they are a measurement device. Anyone care for a ruler that has inaccurate inches? Right. Here I want as accurate a watch as possible.
Legibility: Again, this seems odd, but very few high end watches place a priority on being easy to read. For me, this is of critical importance.
Comfort: Again I am bucking a trend. I’d much rather have a watch that I can wear for a long time than a dinner plate-sized timepiece that lives on my wrist for minutes at time. The clasp and the strap or bracelet play a big part in comfort, but so does the case.
Complications/Features: Here I am going to evaluate the complications or other things a watch can do (in case of things like the Apple Watch). Its not just a tally of how many, but how they are implemented, how useful they are, and how they fit in with the watch’s overall design.
Setting and Adjustment: With many watches setting and adjusting it happens very rarely, but when you do need to tinker with the timepiece, you want it to be as easy and as intuitive as possible.
Power: Mechanical watches have been around for a long time and eliminated the need for a battery. Solar watches, as goofy as they tend to be, are similarly maintenance free. No watch should need a battery no matter what kind it is, and if it does I’d like to have the best power reserve I can get.
Durability: This is not just can your watch be crushed or dropped into the deepest ocean, but how it stands up to everyday wear and tear.
In the end, the scale skews a bit more towards looks than the knife or flashlight scale does. This scale is more closely related to the pen scale, where, again looks are part of function. A good looking watch is one you enjoy using because it is one that looks nice.
I am also aware that this scale heavily penalizes non-quartz watches. The reality is that for the vast majority of people quartz watches are a better choice. They are more accurate, less finicky, have better power reserves, better performance, and are signficicantly cheaper. That’s hard to beat and it is a difference that is hard to ignore. If you want man jewelry, that’s great, more power to you, but if you want a good tool that measures time, a quartz watch is a better choice. There are some mechanical watches that get close to quartz performance, of course, but they are significantly more expensive. And yes I picked the Apple Watch here because, well, there is nothing more fun than #triggered watch geeks.