How to choose a watch crystal?

There are a lot of important parameters that we should take care when we are going to buy a new watch. One of them is the crystal, which (even though it is a relatively fragile part of the whole unit) protects your timepiece against damage to the dial or display, and if we look at it from another point of view, it usually gives a good impression of the watch.

It also has a considerable influence on reading data. Choosing the right crystal is basically no science, and the most important thing is to know the conditions for which we are choosing it. It makes a difference if we want a more elegant or durable watch.

What is the difference between crystal types, what to watch out for and what will be the right choice for you? This article will tell you exactly that.



Plastic crystals

Especially in earlier times, plastic crystal (hesalite) was the most used type of material, and nowadays we can also know these as acrylic or organic. Their advantage is mainly low price, quite good flexibility and great visibility with minimal glare.

But unfortunately they are very prone to scratches and are usually not synonymous with long life. Their optical properties aren't exactly the best either – they tend to become cloudy over time due to UV radiation.

On the other hand, if they already show signs of damage, which are manifested by small hairs, it is possible to save the plastic slides by polishing them. And if one day they break for good, at least they won't shatter in the worst way, but will be larger pieces with less sharp edges.

Compared to other glasses, the plastic ones are a bit more vulnerable, but you can also find a number of positive properties on them. But the truth remains that some of our brands are slowly abandoning plastic glasses and releasing the original models in an upgraded version with sapphire glass, such as Junghans and the popular women's models Max Bill Damen

Interesting fact: Although it might seem that plastic crystals are not ideal for bigger challenges, it should be noted that they looked all the way to the Moon with Neil Armstrong. Even today, they are approved by NASA for space flights and, for example, the Swiss Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional watches are fitted with them until now.


  • Low price
  • Light and relatively flexible material
  • Small defects can be easily polished
  • Larger and safer pieces (especially for the dial) when broken
  • Minimal glare and good refraction properties


  • Shorter lifespan
  • More susceptible to damage
  • Tendency to blur over time


Mineral crystal

Watches are also commonly produced with mineral crystals, which for many people interested in watches can mean a certain compromise. Not only in terms of features, but also the price, which is quite understandably a bit higher than plastic ones, but also much lower than sapphire ones.

Mineral lenses have a solid lifespan, and their advantage is also high abrasion resistance (resistance to daily use), greater flexibility and also resistance to pressure. They also stand out quite well with their optical properties and don't bother you too much with unwanted glare.

But because everything has two sides to a coin, even mineral has its flaw in beauty, namely a greater tendency to scratch. In any case, mineral glasses are especially great for outdoor activities.

It should be mentioned that many manufacturers tend to combine the advantages of individual materials into one, so you can also come across mineral lenses with a sapphire finish. In the world of watches, it is also used, for example:

  • hardened mineral glass with an anti-scratch layer known as Hardlex, which Seiko watches have.
  • Another variety is Sapphlex, i.e. a mineral combined with synthetic sapphire, which is also found in a number of sports models of the same brand.
  • Or, for example, Sapphire Coated Crystal, which in turn is the domain of the Wenger brand.


  • High resistance to breakage
  • Excellent abrasion resistance
  • Greater flexibility and resistance to pressure
  • Great optical properties and minimal glare
  • Good price


  • More likely to scratch


Sapphire crystal

The last material is sapphire. Sapphire crystals are made of synthetic sapphire and are generally among the best-selling and best quality. Sapphire is the best material especially due to its scratch resistance. Only diamond, corundum or concrete can take its shine. This is because the hardness of sapphire lenses is roughly only one degree lower than that of the hardest mineral in the universe, i.e. diamond. Generally speaking - if you treat the sapphire glass sensibly, it will give the impression of novelty even after several years.

Its optical properties are also excellent, but even so, unpleasant reflections can form, which can be effectively solved with an anti-reflective layer, which can even be double-sided – and again the problem with a layer that would be sensitive to scratches is solved.

The downside of sapphire lenses is that they are a bit more fragile. When such an accident occurs, it shatters into several small and spiky fragments, which is not good for you, but not good for the watch face. On the other hand – the sapphire crystal only breaks with a really big impact, so in our experience this does not happen during normal daily use (although yes, anything can happen).


  • Great resistance to abrasion and scratching
  • High hardness of the material
  • Even after years it looks like new
  • 100% optical properties


  • The creation of unwanted reflections
  • More likely to shatter when broken
  • Significantly higher price compared to other slides


Which crystal material to choose?

Leaving aside the fact that a number of crystals can differ from each other in terms of their aesthetics (bulging or, on the contrary, a flatter version), sometimes many of us may wonder what is actually better. And the answer to that is for what purposes you will need the watch (of course, how else, after all, everything always depends on that 🙂). So:

  • If appearance plays the main role for you and you want a dress watch and it is necessary it look almost like new even after years, then sapphire crystal is a great choice.
  • If you need good readability in all circumstances, then it is worth considering choosing plastic or mineral or sapphire with anti-reflective treatment. We always mention this property in the description of the product. Your financial options also affect the choice in this case.
  • And if you rather need a durable outdoor watch for every discomfort, then of course the winner is a mineral glass, alternatively mineral with a sapphire layer.


We are happy to advise you

To make it easier for you to choose a perfect watch, you can ask us at any time. You can ask us anything you are interested in and of course we will be happy to lend you a helping hand in person in our stores.

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