The crystal is the transparent cover on the watch face. It is the watch face/dial protector, the clear glass-like material covering and protecting the dial/face and/or the case-back. The tougher the crystal the better as watches are exposed to blows, shocks, scratches and impacts that can cause damage. The crystal protects the watch from these impacts and shocks, and also keeps away dirt and moisture. The type of watch crystal material is important, as it determines the cost of the watch as well as how the watch wears out over time. For example, a Cartier would have top quality materials used, whereas fashion brands like Guess watches would have more modern, but inferior quality crystal used. Here are the three types of watch crystal materials with the pros and cons of each to help you pick the right one given your budget and the watch purpose.
Watches Crystal Types
Not sapphire the gemstone unfortunately, but this one is a scratch resistant synthetic sapphire created in the lab. It is similar in composition to the real sapphire but more affordable. Why sapphire is the best crystal material: In nature, sapphire is the second hardest gemstone after diamond. The synthetic sapphire is the hardest crystal material, second to none. It is the toughest, very hard to scratch, and offers maximum durability. It is also the most expensive and is used in most high end and Swiss watches.
A sapphire crystal can also have anti-reflective properties to reduce glare and enhance visibility. This is a very good feature especially in sports and outdoor watches. Weaknesses of a sapphire crystal: As hard as it is, it is not bulletproof. On heavy impacts, it can break or shatter completely and if the fragments get inside the watch mechanism, they damage the movement, being as hard as they are. A sapphire crystal is very expensive to replace.
This is the second-best crystal material in terms of hardness. Mineral crystal is made of hardened glass. It is strong, durable, and offers medium scratch resistance. It is less expensive than sapphire crystal. While scratches can be hard to smooth out, it is not very expensive to replace the crystal if damaged.
Acrylic is made of plastic and is flexible to work into different shapes. It is the most inexpensive of all three but is prone to scratches and the least durable. If scratched, it is easy to buff out the flaws. It can also shatter on impact. The harder the watch crystal material, the more expensive it is to buy or replace but the more protection it offers. The right watch crystal material depends on the budget and the type of watch one is buying.