I search for watch based on functionality first, then I seem to buy whatever Amazon
suggests that fails to meet all functionality requirements... causing me to have to buy
another one... and the cycle repeats.
Is it a cop-out to say the harmony of the total package? And then I look at the individual things you mentioned, case design/shape (lack of visible crown guards has been something I find myself favoring recently), dial (the presence and absence of complications and/or blemishes), and then the hands. If I had to pick one above all else, it's the dial.
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