Digital vs. Analog Watches – What’s the Difference?


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Are you looking to buy your first watch? Wondering which type of watch suits your needs better? Check out this article to know more about what makes digital and analog watches different from each other. Each type hosts its own set of unique features and types of movements.

In short, digital watches use an LCD or LED screen to display the time. Whereas, an analog watch features three hands to denote the hour, minutes, and seconds. With the advancement in watch technology and research, both, analog and digital watches have received significant improvements over the years. Especially, in terms of design, endurance, and accompanying features.

Some may also categorize mechanical movements as analog and quartz movements as digital watches. Keep reading to know more about the origin of the digital and analog watches and some highly acclaimed timepieces that charted a new course for other watch brands to aspire towards.

Digital Watches vs Analog Watches

The first analog watch dates back to the 1960s. And the subsequent timekeeping demands of the World Wars led to the increase in people relying on both analog and digital wristwatches. Then we saw the quartz crisis reshaping the world of horology. With this, a majority of watch brands use battery-powered movements, making it far easier and cost-effective to make simple analog or digital watches.

In the 1970s, the first digital watch made its way, introduced first by the Hamilton watch company. Using battery-powered watches to send electricity to turn time, digital watches soon became a household name globally. Unlike traditional watches that require some sort of winding mechanism, a battery-powered watch made it effective in terms of accuracy, performance, reliability, and cost.

Analog vs Digital: Which is better?

In terms of accuracy, yes, a quartz watch fairs better than most mechanical watches. To this extent, quartz watches may gain or lose just a second in a day. Whereas, mechanical watches, on average, can lose or gain up to 20 seconds or more in a day. However, if you are looking at luxury chronometer-certified watches, they gain or lose only up to 4 to 6 seconds in a day. Unless your profession depends on extremely accurate timekeeping, a deviation of a few seconds a day should not be the deciding factor when buying your watch.

Both analog and digital watches can showcase a ton of additional features like a calendar, compass, stopwatch, alarms, or time zones. With digital watches, these functions are easily available with most timepieces as opposed to a mechanical watch. In this sense, mechanical watches required additional gears and bolts to host these features. This automatically adds cost and moving parts that may require regular maintenance to keep it highly functional.

As the industry progressed and technology allowed brands to widely experiment with analog and digital watches, the battle of which is better continues even to date. While analog watches represent the traditional watchmaking process, digital watches symbolize the progressing change in time with new innovations and technology. Yet, both stand at the cusp of the conventional and contemporary essence of watchmaking.

If you are a watch collector, you may seek both types. Or, if you are looking to buy your first ever watch, making a choice between the two may seem like a huge task. To make things simple, below are some top digital and analog watches of all time. These have influenced the world of horology and continue to inspire many watch brands.

Top 3 Analog Watches

The biggest advantage of an analog watch is the wide variety of designs and styles to choose from. Many prefer analog watches, given their association with prestigious brands. Certain analog watches have become a symbol throughout history, increasing their value and customer preference.

This is primarily because, an analog watch requires the assembling of multiple minute moving parts, carefully fit together with a powerful movement. To achieve this level of watchmaking finesse, watch brands bring to life years of watchmaking expertise. However, unlike digital watches, analog watches can be extremely expensive for many to afford. In this list below, we will see talk about luxury, mid-range, and affordable analog watches, along with their functions.

Rolex Datejust

Rolex needs no introduction. For many, Rolex is the dream watch – a symbol of wealth, class, and sophistication. Yet, many cannot afford to own one. Nevertheless, Rolex sets a high bar for other watch brands to touch, constantly reaching for new heights in horological research and innovation.

Be it using in-house metals or in-house movements, Rolex has all bases covered to remain the most premium even in the years to come. For this article, let’s dive into the Rolex Datejust. Designed with a classic style, the Datejust showcases hours, minutes, seconds, and date. With a simple, yet elegantly sophisticated look, the Datejust costs over USD 5000.

Despite the steep price for a watch without other functionalities of a digital watch, many are willing to pay for the brand name. Owning a Rolex means being part of an exclusive group and for this, watch enthusiasts will go a long way to get their hands on one!

Tissot Chrono XL

A Swiss watch brand, Tissot’s ethos stands for innovation by tradition. Founded in 1853, Tissot transforms its years of watchmaking knowledge and know-how into high-quality watches. Despite being a premium brand, Tissot is a mid-range brand within the USD 1000 range. This makes it an attractive option for those looking to buy a mechanical watch to last many generations.

The Tissot Chrono XL, particularly, comes in a 45 mm case and 330 feet of water resistance. Powered by the ETA G10.212 movement, this timepiece features a central 60-seconds chronograph hand, 30-minutes, and 1/10 of second counters. With a black dial, beige marking on the face, with a brown synthetic leather strap, the Chrono XL embodies charm and grandeur.

Seiko Dress Watch

A well-known Japanese brand, Seiko holds its place in the world of watches for its high quality, high functionality, and low cost. Set up in 1881 in Tokyo, the brand personifies Japanese craftsmanship and long-lasting performance.

The Dress watch in reference here comes equipped with a dual chronograph, multiple sub-dials, and a tachymeter. The chronograph can measure up to 60 minutes of elapsed time. Designed with Caliber 8T63, this timepiece displays a grey dial with a triple color racing stripe strap. All these features and more, at less than USD 300.

Given these vast difference price ranges, you may wonder what sets these apart. The answer is simple – are you looking to buy a luxury watch made by a traditional brand with in-house materials and movement, or are you looking to buy an affordable watch, mass-manufactured in factories with many functions?

Top 3 Digital Watches

Digital watches, on the other hand, do not have multiple moving parts. Most of all, new and upcoming brands can easily capitalize on the swifter watchmaking process that does not require traditional watchmaking expertise. Given these circumstances, digital watches are definitely cheaper than luxury or mid-range analog watches. The watches listed below all range within USD 100. Consequently, this makes it a huge win for many customers who are looking to invest in something simple, affordable, and different.

Check out our list of top 21 digital watches of this year here!

Casio A168WG-9VT

Casio is a well-known brand in the world of watches and electronics. This Tokyo-based brand set up in the 60s has come a long way in not only becoming a global name for watches, but also a synonym for reliability and performance.

With an iconic design, the Casio A168WG-9VT digital timepiece is famous across the world! With many international celebrities sporting this watch, the demand for digital watches is on the rise! A simple single screen dial displaying time, day, date, and alarm, this watch is the quintessential design of a vintage digital watch.

Many watch collectors consider this as the revival of digital watches in the age of mechanical watches. Paired with a stopwatch, and battery life of 7 years, one cannot go wrong with this Casio timepiece. At an incredibly affordable price, a Casio is a wonderful gateway into the world of horology.

Timex Ironman Classic

An American brand set up in 1854, Timex rivals Casio for affordable and durable watches. While one caters to the west, the latter is the leading watchmaker in the east! A brand that offers something for everyone, is also a pioneer in digital watch technology.

The Ironman Classic is a symbol of the brand’s mission – we don’t stop – personifying the desire to keep pushing boundaries of innovation at an affordable cost for all. A sporty design with a resin strap, the Ironman Classic hosts a 100-hour chronograph with a 24-hour countdown timer.

Packed in a 38 mm case, this Timex watch is water-resistant up to 330 feet underwater, making it suitable for swimming but not diving activities. Promised with Timex’s quality, the Ironman Classic comes in different iterations using different shades and variations of the functions. Yet, all at a really affordable price.

Suunto Core

A unique watch brand, Suunto makes sports and adventure digital watches. Launched in 1936, this Finnish brand fuels its passion for watchmaking through the explorer spirit and Nordic essence. Over the years, Suunto has garnered many loyal patrons, making it extremely reliable in different conditions.

Most of all, a Suunto on your writs will be a loyal companion no matter which corner of the world you venture to – hilly peaks, snowy mountains, deep dark sea, or the dense jungle. The brand introduce the edition called Core, engineered with many modern technologies. Some of which include a storm alarm, compass, barometer, and altimeter. In addition, the watch hosts AI technology to help predict sunrise and sunset.

To make it undeniably convincing, the face of the watch features dual time zone, and tracks your workouts such as walking, cycling, hiking, and more! Paving the way for harmoniously merging digital watches with smartwatch functions, Suunto is now an inspiration for affordable smartwatch technologies. Promised with the Scandinavian endurance, Suunto offers something new in the world of mass-produced digital watches.

Are Smartwatches Paving the Way for a New Era of Digital Watches?

Digital watches laid the groundwork for smartwatches with the boom in AI technology. Brands like Apple and Samsung developed their own technology to cater to an audience fascinated by ingenuity and innovation. The rise in smartwatches capitalized on the increased buzz of health and fitness tracking right from your wrists.

For instance, the current Apple Watch Series 7 can measure your blood oxygen level, detect unnatural falls and call emergency services. Most impressive of all, you can measure EEG in 15 seconds. Proudly known for saving the lives of many, brands like Apple will continue to unveil new and unheard features. Resultantly, the fight for analog vs digital watches will continue into the years to come!

Click here to read more about some top smartwatches of 2022.

Analog Digital Watches

As the name says, various brands have introduced watches bringing together the best of both worlds. Typically, on the face of the watch, you will see a small screen that displays the time. However, the larger setting of the dial showcases an analog feature.

If you are unable to make up your mind on what best suits you or want a mix of traditional and modern watchmaking essence on your wrist, here is an example of an analog-digital watch.

Casio G-Shock

Another Casio on our list here – we look at the GA100-1A2, an ana-digi watch. The G-Shock range holds high regard with watch aficionados.

The face of the watch showcases both an analog clock and a digital clock. Commonly dubbed as the thrid-eye monster, this timepiece offers an embossed 3D look. Interestingly, the watch also comes equipped with a 1/1000th second stopwatch, 656 feet of water resistance, and incredible magnetic resistance. Powered by the Casio battery, this watch offers an accuracy of +/- 15 seconds a month! You can learn more about G-Shock watches here.

At the end of the day, whether you go analog or digital, it’s a personal preference to make based on your style, needs, functions, and budget.