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Found on many high-end timepieces, sapphire glass is widely regarded as the highest quality crystal to protect your watch face. In comparison to other types of crystal, acrylic and mineral, sapphire glass has many benefits that make it a popular choice. But what exactly is it, and where can you find it? Read on to learn more about the history, manufacture, cost and recommendations for the 5 best sapphire crystal watches of 2023. 

So, what is sapphire crystal glass?

The ‘crystal’ or ‘glass’ of a watch is the circular transparent coating/material that protects the dial. It can also be used as a ‘cyclops lens’ to magnify components of the dial like the date window. 

Firstly, it’s worth mentioning that the name ‘sapphire crystal glass’ is a bit of a deceptive name. In fact, it’s not even glass at all, nor is it usually made of genuine sapphire. Often, synthetic sapphire is used instead. In 1883, chemist Auguste Verneuil developed a method of creating this by heating and liquefying powdered aluminium oxide and crystallising the droplets. The fundamentals of Verneuil’s process are still used today, and for watch glass, impurities are removed before the material is processed into transparent sheets. 

But, if sapphires are blue, won’t my sapphire crystal glass watch have a blue tint?

In short, no. Although sapphires are famed for their beautiful deep blue colour, this is actually caused by the impurities within the sapphire. Different chemical impurities can cause different colours in the crystal, which is why we can find sapphires that are purple, pink and many other hues. The purified sapphire crystal glass on your watch will therefore be perfectly clear. 

Why choose a sapphire crystal watch?

Due to its quality, there are many properties that make sapphire glass the favourable choice above other crystal glasses. Compared to acrylic and mineral glass, sapphire crystal is very scratch-resistant and is the hardest glass of the three, giving it greater longevity. Due to the intensive purification process during its manufacture, sapphire crystal also provides a clearer view of the dial with no unwanted tint or cloudiness. As a result, it can be the most aesthetically pleasing choice too.

 However, beware, the quality of sapphire glass does not negate the fact it is not inherently shock or shatterproof. 

Cost of Sapphire Crystal Glass Watches

As mentioned earlier, sapphire crystal glass is often found on premium timepieces. This is due to the fact that this manufacturing process is costly and lengthy. In order to prep the synthetic sapphire for watches, the transparent sheets need to be expertly cut and polished. The process also requires the use of specialist tools, consequently driving up manufacturing costs. In the case of domed crystals, costs can be even higher, as the process is even more laborious.  Of course, the price can therefore be a significant drawback of sapphire crystal, especially as they cannot easily be fixed and will have to be replaced if broken. However, this does not mean every sapphire crystal watch is completely out of reach for tighter budgets. Here, we have rounded up some contenders friendly for each budget.

5 of the Best Sapphire Crystal Watches 2023

5 Best Sapphire Crystal Watches 2023

Premium but vegan: MeisterSinger Edition Best Friends 250 pieces Brown Vegan Leather Strap ED STBF902

This premium MeisterSinger model comes with a luxury price point, but for a good reason. Sustainably made, the Best Friends model features a vegan faux leather strap made from apple fibres and a solar power reserve of 38 hours. The dial features a unique stratoscope-inspired design, complete with an intricate moon phase display. But this model is more than just superficially stylish. A limited edition partnership with wildlife conservation charity WWF (the World Wildlife Fund), for each model sold, 250 euros is donated to the cause. On the exhibition case back, there is also a stunning engraving of WWF’s iconic panda logo as an extra detail. 

5 Best Sapphire Crystal Watches 2023

Sporty and durable: Coros APEX 2 Premium Multisport Watch Coral CO-782159 WAPX2-COR

Sapphire glass isn’t just for luxury dress watches. Designed for an avid adventurer, the Coros APEX 2 is an incredibly durable model with a Grade 5 Titanium PVD coated bezel, a glove-compatible digital dial and of course an ultra scratch-resistant sapphire crystal. It also boasts excellent water and temperature resistance, withstanding between -20℃ and 50℃. Beyond its robustness, the APEX 2 offers several smart features. These include a next-generation heart rate sensor and free offline navigation applications. It’s also an incredibly powerful model, which has a battery-powered quartz movement with either 17 days of regular use or 45 hours of GPS battery life. If you’re looking for a more subtle colour, the APEX 2 also comes in green, black and grey.

5 Best Sapphire Crystal Watches 2023

Affordable luxury: Rotary Windsor Moonphase Silver Dial Brown Leather Strap GS05425/06

Contrary to popular belief, sapphire crystal watches can suit tighter budgets too. With a stainless steel silver case and dial, the Rotary Windsor is a classy and high-quality design accessorised with a brown leather strap. The wave-textured dial also features a moonphase complication and a beautifully illustrated day/night indicator at 6 o’clock, as well as a calendar consisting of three sub-dials that display the day, date and month. A reasonably priced luxury timepiece, this is a surefire contender for those hunting for both timelessness and affordability.

5 Best Sapphire Crystal Watches 2023

Modern and minimalist: RADO Centrix Automatic Diamond High-Tech Ceramic Stainless Steel R30018742, R30.018.74.2

One of our sleeker options, the RADO Centrix features a stylish black dial and diamond set indices. This model prioritises harmony, with the black and silver stainless steel bracelet and lugs joining effortlessly to the curved case. The sapphire crystal also takes centre stage, by stretching over and seamlessly blending into the case. The Centrix is a quietly confident automatic-mechanical model both on the surface and underneath, with 80+ hours of power reserve. 

Fashionable and funky: Hamilton Jazzmaster Lady Quartz (30mm) Black Satin H32201430

The incredible detail that the Hamilton Jazzmaster is dressed with is bound to land you many compliments. The dial is decorated with flowing, textured line detail reminiscent of sun rays, which reach towards minimalist dotted gold indices. This sapphire crystal also has an anti-reflective glare for optimal readability. Paired with a satin black strap, this model truly is the perfect trendy choice. 

In summary, if you are looking for the highest quality of scratch resistance and a clear view of the dial, then sapphire crystal is definitely the crystal for you. However, for the more budget-conscious wanting something that can better withstand shock without shattering, it may be worth exploring alternative glass options.

Do you have a personal favourite sapphire crystal watch? Help others out in the comments with your suggestions!