The Watch Crystal: 3 Types You Should Know

Sapphire, Mineral, and Acrylic Explained

Watch with Crystal

The clear glass covering you see on a watch is known as the crystal. It’s designed to protect the watch from the elements and give your watch a polished appearance. Watchmakers around the world use only three types of crystal to cover the face of the watch and some materials are more scratch and chip-resistant than others. Here’s what you need to know:


Natural sapphire crystal is the most expensive type of crystal and usually found in watches imported from Switzerland. It’s the second hardest known element after diamonds which makes it very scratch and chip-resistant.


Even though it’s grown in a lab, synthetic sapphire crystal has the same chemical composition as natural sapphire but isn’t as pricey. It has the same level of scratch-resistance as natural sapphire which makes it a popular choice for crystals.


Boldr Chronograph with Mineral Crystal

Another term for glass, mineral crystals have been used for hundreds of years to make affordable watches. They are less costly to replace than sapphire crystals but can scratch more easily than sapphire


The cheapest type of crystal used to make affordable and mass-produced watches. Unlike sapphire and mineral crystals, acrylic crystal can be molded into different shapes easily and scratches are easy to buff out. However, this is the weakest type of crystal and may be prone to cracking.

How to Choose a Crystal

Szanto Coin Cushion 7003 with Mineral Crystal

If you come across a luxury watch or collector’s watch, there’s a good chance the crystal is either natural sapphire or synthetic sapphire. These watches are designed to be well taken care of so they might not be an ideal everyday watch.

If you’re looking for an everyday watch that could withstand some wear and tear, an acrylic crystal watch may be your best bet because the face is easy to replace.

Mineral crystals are less expensive and more affordable to replace than sapphire crystals but they may be prone to scratches. Determining your budget and what you plan to use the watch for will help you make the best decision.


Watch Maintenance - Quick Guide

Watch Movements - Manual, Quartz, and Automatic

What Are Watch Complications?