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Avoiding Seven Watch Collecting Hassles


Do you love having tons of wristwatches to choose from on any given day. It’s nice to have a watch box filled with the watches that are ready for adventures or office work. But, if you enjoy collecting modestly priced wristwatches, you’ll undoubtedly encounter some hassles buying watches, fitting them properly, and changing their batteries. Here are some of the watch collecting hassles that I’ve encountered and some hints on how to avoid them:

1. Band Length Too Short. Few things are more frustrating than getting a nice watch home only to discover that the band is too short. I’ve found that measuring my wrists with a flexible tape measure and researching the watches on the internet help alot. In full-service retailers, I have had store clerks show me scads of watches and rejected 99% of them because bands were simply too tight. In the absence of data in an online ad, reviewers on Amazon often leave clues about the size of a watch band. In a few cases, I’ve been able to add an additional hole to the watch band and just squeeze in. This is one area where expansion bands like the one on my Armitron Diamond men’s dress watch can save the day. At least expansion bands can be counted on to fit. One day, watch makers will include information with each watch about the length of the band and how to order larger or small bands.

2. Band Difficult to Change or Expand. If a band is too tight, you may have no choice but to add more links or replace the band. In this case, it’s helpful to measure the width (in millimeters) of the watchband where it connects to the watch. A new band can often revive an old watch and bring it back into your regular rotation.

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3. Locked In Box. Another big frustration with buying a new watch is that many retailers have then locked away in their boxes or behind counters. In big box retailers, scads of watches are displayed openly, but you may never get help from a watch counter clerk. Generally, I’ll go through all the watches, find one that has been opened before, take it to an open counter space, and see if it will come out for me. Then I very openly and deliberately try it on and then I carefully place it back into the box and replace it on the shelf. Without making furtive movements and in plain view of security cameras, I’ve never been hassled for this procedure. Of course, I generally buy the same model of watch with the same watch band in a box that hasn’t been opened. It’s a lot easier to try on watches when a jewelry counter clerk is around to facilitate the process.

4. Short Battery Life. I bought a really nice watch for $100 once at Kohl’s. I searched the displays for nearly an hour. I made the clerk drag out ton’s of watches for me to try on. I settled on the perfect watch. I set it and put it on as soon as I got to the car. We drove around for about an hour doing other errands and my brand new watch stopped. The battery was dead. We took the watch back to the store for a free replacement and the clerk scratched the back of the case. I ended up getting a refund and no watch. It was a dissappointing day. That’s why I like watches with a ten year battery life like my Casio men’s analog dress watch or my Casio W-201 men’s digital watch. I also like my Walmart Automatic because it will never need a battery. I also stopped buying watches from deep discount stores and inventory liquidators. They are buying their watches from the excess inventories of other, often defunct, retailers. Consequently, watches of this type seem to go dead quickly after being purchased.

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5. Battery Difficult to Change. My Timex Atlantis 100 took a licking for years. As a recreational sailor, I used that watch to count down to the start of sailboat races. Then, it stopped. When I finally got around to changing the battery, I bent something in the watch and now it seems to be stopped for good. One thing that has made changing watch batteries easier is a tool to remove watch backs. However, I’ve also made the decision to let jewelers handle battery replacements on my more expensive watches. I was totally thrilled when I revived my Lorus dress watch with a simple battery change and I’d love it if watch companies would make the process easier.

6. Difficult to set without instructions. Some digital watches are complicated to set without instructions. For example, my Casio Pathfinder Hunting Timer actually requires you to set your longitude. It’s a cool watch, but without instructions you are totally lost. Fortunately, with a little searching, you can usually find watch instructions on the internet.

7. Can’t Stop Beeping. Finally, I have to confess, in the past, I’ve thrown some cheap digital watches away because I couldn’t get them to stop beeping at odd times or on the hour. When a watch beeps unstoppably, it can drive you crazy. If you can’t find instructions on the internet, it can be difficult to stop a watch from beeping. Fortunately, I’ve never had that problem with my latest crop of digital watches. Fortunately, my current crop of digital watches is fairly straightforward. My Casio W-201 and my Armitron All-Sport digital watch and my Armitron square-faced digital watch are all fairly easy to set.

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While these minor hassles are challenges to watch collectors now, ultimately they should be challenges for mainstream watch manufacturers like TImex, Armitron, and Casio. In an era when many people are leaving wristwatches behind, watch companies need to make watch ownership easier. If a watch company can solve problems with bands, batteries, and beeping, they can take the lead with watch collectors.