Different Watch Crystal Types: All You Need To Know
Are you tired of ruining your watch face every time you buy a new timepiece? A scratch or crack on the glass of your timepiece reduces its aesthetic appeal.
The watch glass takes the brunt of everyday wear and tear. When you know which watch crystals are best for a specific activity, you can choose watches that suit those activities best and last longer.
In this post, we review watch crystal types and which ones are best for specific activities.
What is a Watch Crystal Or Watch Glass
The watch glass is a durable optical glass that protects the watch dial from scratching and damage.
The watch glass also gives the watch its aesthetic looks and therefore enhances the watch design.
This part of the watch plays a major role in keeping moisture out. Once moisture gets into your watch, it can ruin or cause condensation inside the watch.
Here’s an article that can help you deal with a foggy watch face.
The Three Main Types of Watch Crystals
Concerning watch crystals, there exist three types of crystals. These are acrylic, sapphire, and mineral crystals.
These watch crystal types each have their own pros and cons. We’ll get to that later.
Deciding on which watch glass you need when searching for a watch can be a daunting task. We’ve therefore come with a section to help you with your choice.
Acrylic Watch Crystal
Watches with acrylic glass: Junghans Max Bill Chronograph Watch and Casio DW5600E Men’s G-Shock Quartz Watch
This watch glass is essentially a special form of plastic.
Some watchmakers use special names like Hesalite, Perspex, or Plexiglass to refer to this watch glass type.
This glass type is commonly found on cheap watches. But luxury watch brands like Rolex still use this crystal material on their watches because it allows for the clearest watch dial reading.
Established brands like Swatch and Timex often use this glass type for their watches.
One thing worth noting about this glass is that it is flexible and durable as well. Because of its flexibility, it is easy to manipulate. So watchmakers can use it to create elegant designs such as a domed effect.
- The watch glass is cheap to replace.
- It’s very flexible.
- The crystal is durable and light.
- Very easy to polish.
- Acrylic is easy to manipulate to any desired shape.
- Acrylic scratches easily.
- Scratches can reduce visibility
Who’s This For
Watches with acrylic crystals are good for military personnel, construction workers, paramedics, etc. This is because they can survive hard impacts.
It is the best material for children’s watches because it is durable. So a perfect watch for your child should have this watch glass type.
Mineral Crystal Glass
Watches with mineral glass: Seiko SNJ025 Prospex Watch and Bulova 96D144 Multi-Function Watch
This watch glass is made using standard tempered glass produced from silica. It is natural glass that has undergone heating and chemical treatment to make it scratch-resistant and difficult to shatter.
Watch brands like Seiko call their proprietory mineral glass Hardlex.
Mineral crystals are more resistant to scratches than acrylic crystals. It’s the most common type of watch glass today on mid-range watches. This is because it is affordable.
Since it’s glassy, you’d notice it’s difficult to read a watch face that has a mineral material because of reflections. To solve this problem, most brands use anti-reflective (AR) coating to increase its readability in harsh lighting conditions.
As a Pro Tip, if you like mineral glass watches, go for those that have an additional anti-reflective coating on them.
- It is possible to coat the surface to make it more scratch-resistant.
- Mineral glass is cheaper to replace.
- The glass is much more scratch-resistant than acrylic.
- Unlike sapphire, it isn’t brittle.
- Almost as good as sapphire without the steep price tag.
- It scratches easily.
- The glass is hard to polish as opposed to acrylic glass.
- It cannot withstand impacts like acrylic glass.
Who’s This For
This watch glass is best for those who are after fashion timepieces. These crystals make watches attractive and scratch-resistant.
Sapphire Crystal Glass
If you love high-end watches, this is the watch glass you should be looking at. Ranked 9th on 10 on Moh’s scale of mineral hardness, this material offers the highest level of scratch resistance.
Though natural sapphire occurs as gems, watchmakers today use laboratory-made sapphire on their watches, not genuine sapphire.
This type of sapphire also called synthetic sapphire has the same properties as naturally occurring sapphire.
Synthetic Sapphire Glass
Watches with synthetic sapphire crystals: Check out the watches in this post.
Originally made by the French chemist Auguste Verneuil, Synthetic sapphire isn’t made of glass at all. It is produced from crystallizing pure aluminum oxide conditioned under very high temperatures.
Synthetic sapphire crystal cost more because cutting and polishing this extremely hard material is so expensive. As a result, these crystals are commonly found in watches of the highest quality.
Besides the fact that this type of material is very hard and transparent, it is still highly reflective, impacting readability. As such, most brands use anti-reflex coatings to increase their legibility.
Note: Though AR coating is a good idea, I’ve noticed it picks up scratches easily. So an AR coating on the surface of a sapphire glass scratches easily compared to sapphire itself. So I recommend a sapphire glass watch with an inner AR coating instead.
- Sapphire enhances the sharpness of the dial underneath it.
- The best level of scratch resistance.
- The material gives the watch an expensive look.
- It is expensive.
- Sapphire is highly reflective.
- Sapphire shatters under extreme pressure.
- The material is hard to polish.
Who’s This for?
Watches with sapphire crystals are always good value for money. This makes it a good watch glass for watch collectors.
Overall, if you are tight on budget for your next casual watch, I still recommend you go with affordable sapphire watches.
Other Types Of Watch Glass
Sapphire-coated Mineral Crystal
Watches with sapphire-coated mineral crystal: BLACK Automatic WatchandWenger Classic Chronograph Watch.
Though this is a recent innovation on watch crystals, it was expected given the popularity of sapphire crystals.
Essentially, this is a mineral glass that has been coated with sapphire. This makes them superior to mineral glass but still inferior to sapphire crystals.
A famous example of this type of glass is the Sapphlex made by Seiko. Despite its advantages, watch critics warn that sapphire coatings can chip off from mineral glass in severe cases.
How to Tell the Difference Between Watch Crystals
Having read this, you might be curious about which watch glass is on your watch. Here are a few ways to check.
Check your watch information
If you bought the watch from a reliable retail store or the brand’s online store, check out the watch information. The information concerning the type of watch glass is usually displayed alongside other information about the timepiece.
Other Ways to Test
- Tapping on the surface produces a plastic-like sound.
- Unlike mineral and sapphire crystals, acrylic feels warm when you put it on your cheek.
Mineral Glass Vs Sapphire Crystal
It is almost impossible to tell the difference between mineral glass and sapphire crystal just by looking at them. Below are two tricks that watch experts use.
- You can use a drop of water to test. In the case of sapphire, the liquid will flow away in a droplet shape. When it spreads over the glass surface, it is mineral glass. You can watch this video for a better illustration.
- Alternatively, you can use a sound test. If you tap a sapphire crystal, you will hear a low-tone sound. With mineral crystal glass, the sound it produces is high-tone.
How to polish your watch glass
As you now know, acrylic glass and mineral glass are pruned to scratches. Polishing the watch glass can get rid of such scratches. Follow these simple ways to polish your watch glass.
Picking a watch with the right watch glass depends wholly on your daily activity. If you’re looking for a watch to match your outfit, sapphire and mineral crystals are good options.
Acrylic crystal is perfect for active people. For an active lifestyle, opt for models with acrylic crystals if you want something that will hold up to daily wear.