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Watch Crystal Types: Take A Look at The Different Varieties

Watch Crystal Types: Take A Look at The Different Varieties

The protector of a watch, the magnifier of pleasure in reading the time, what are the available watch crystal types? Find out here!
May 22, 2024

The glass seen to protect the dial is called a watch crystal. As for the newcomers, they may find that there are many different types of them out there. The distinction can be seen from the materiality of the varying watch crystal types and indicate to serve what purpose: everyday wear, adventure, or a luxurious timepiece for a romantic dinner.

Each of the watch crystal types has its own signature features with its advantages and drawbacks. Several factors contributing to the quality of this glasslike protector include the value of the material itself and its scale of impact, scratch, and shatter resistance.

Its nature of protecting the dial and ability to magnify the beautiful properties within might entice the curious amateur in horology to learn more about this particular part of a watch, continue reading this article to find out more about this magnificent part of a timepiece: the crystal.

What is a Watch Crystal

Before talking about the intricacies of the types of watch crystals available, first, let’s delve into what precisely is a watch crystal? Well, a watch crystal constitutes the glass generally located atop the dial on any timepiece. This particular part of a watch protects dirt from getting into the face where the hour hands and other ornaments are.

These watch crystals are not truly made from crystals but rather with materials made to imitate glass. An important feature most watch enthusiasts inspect this particular part is its scratch resistance. This can be seen through measurement on the Mohs hardness scale.

3 Common Watch Crystals Types

The most familiar watch crystals for use on timepieces today are mineral, sapphire, and acrylic. These three are made from different materials and equipped with very different timepieces. Consider the explanation below fitted with an example of a watch dressed with the specific watch crystal.

Mineral Watch Crystal

Alternatively known as hardlex, the mineral crystal watch type is popularly known for its affordability and is equipped in many entry-level and affordable watch brands. A mineral watch crystal is made from silica. One notes that the glass is not as distinctive as the usual glass used for windows at home.

This watch crystal type is evidently more resistant to scratches as opposed to acrylic crystals albeit less reflective than its sapphire counterpart. But, this crystal watch type does offer enough impact resistance although limited in quality for the everyday timepiece. This glass ranks a 5 out of 10 on the Mohs hardness scale.

Example of a Watch Equipped with a Mineral Watch Crystal

Most affordable and low-end watches from iconic watch brands such as Seiko, Citizen, Casio, and more will come with a mineral watch crystal. The reason behind this is that the mineral watch crystals are both affordable and offer just enough protection for the dial.

Read also: 4 Alluring Grand Seiko Watches with “Snowflake” Dials

Sapphire Watch Crystal

The most renowned crystal watch type for its quality and hardiness is the sapphire. This particular type is mostly associated with the premium end of timepieces available on the market. 

What is a sapphire watch crystal, exactly? Sapphire watch crystal type is generally made not from the commonly known sapphire but from man-made sapphire. These come in the form of a transparent crystallized Aluminum oxide constructed in laboratories. The result is a hardy and beautiful scratch-resistant finish. 

What’s greater is that this sapphire watch crystal type ranks an incredible 9 out of 10 on the Mohs hardness scale.

Hamilton’s American Classic Intra-Matic Chronograph H White Equipped with a Sapphire Watch Crystal

An example of a timepiece dressed with the magnificent sapphire watch crystal comes from the American brand, Hamilton. The American Classic Intra-Matic Chronograph H in White sports a sapphire crystal to protect and magnify the beauty beholden on its retro sports dial of cream white background accentuated with hues of blue and daring yellow.

Hamilton American Classic Intra-Matic Chronograph H White – Bracelet Ref. H38429110
Hamilton American Classic Intra-Matic Chronograph H White - Bracelet Ref. H38429110

Acrylic Watch Crystal

Third, the acrylic watch crystal type otherwise known as perspex, hesalite, or plexiglass made from a specialized form of plastic known as polymethyl methacrylate. These crystals are built to contour on top of the dial.

The use of acrylic watch crystal type can be tracked in retro-inspired timepieces due to the flexibility in it to be manipulated and to easily form the domed glass offering a unique distortion when viewed from an angle. 

Alternatively, this type is also fitted to low-cost watches contributed by the materials’ inexpensive retail price. Back in the past, many watches used hesalite crystals. No wonder, you can find all vintage watches in this type of watch crystals. 

This flexibility allows the watch to resist impact. But, the soft nature of the material can invite scratches to the surface. All in all, there are two conflicting views of this particular watch crystal type, those who regard the material as both aesthetically attractive and sturdy then there are those who perceive that it comes off as substandard.

Example of a Watch Equipped with an Acrylic Watch Crystal

The Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch is an example of a timepiece sporting the acrylic watch crystal. This particular watch is designed for use in tough terrains hence its use of acrylic to resist impact. 

The materials indeed are not prone to cracks but they are hardy enough to not shatter contributing to maintaining the functionality of the watch in case cracks do occur. 

These differing crystal watch types as explained above certainly have their own purpose and aesthetic values fit for every watch enthusiast new or seasoned. Whatever the sort – the process of taking care of them properly will make certain that the glass on your timepiece stays pristine for longer.

Stay tuned to our Gnomon blog for more wisdom on parts of a timepiece and other intriguing articles on the world of horology.

Read also: The 6 Best Watch Brands for Men: Affordable yet Dependable

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