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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Legibility is an important aspect when I choose a watch. One factor that affects the legibility of a watch is how it counters the effect of getting a direct hit of a strong light source (glare). I have noted the following design elements that would help to counter glare:

1) domed crystal
2) anti-reflective coating
3) use of reflective materials in indices and hands

feel free to add to the list as this is just based on my own observation. How would you rank the importance of these elements?
To me, it’s 1 -> 3 -> 2. It’s surprising even to me as I feel like AR coating is what people here talk about the most. I also realize that for 1, the crystal doesn’t have to be domed to a large extent. As long as it is not completely flat, the effect on glare is drastic.

I will use some of my watches to illustrate the effectiveness of these elements in countering glare. The photos below were taken using phone camera and edited to try to mimic what I see in real life. Due to the limited dynamic range, what I see is still slightly better than what is being shown here. But I feel they do a good enough job to illustrate the differences.

A. Very slight domed crystal (I had always assumed that this has flat crystal for the longest time until I compared it with another watch that has a truly flat crystal). Reflective hands and indices. No AR.
15836109

note that I can still see the majority of the dial (glare free) because of the slight domed crystal. The reflection of light in the thick hands counter the effect of the glare. In real life I was able to see all of the dial (no spot that’s completelu

B. Flat crystal, reflective indices and hands. No AR
15836110


I angled the watch such that it’s not hit with the brightest spot.The whole dial would have been completely washed out in photo if I had done that. In real life though, I’m able to see the hands and the indices at any angle due to the reflectiveness of those elements.

C. Domed crystal (slightly domed but I can at least tell that it’s domed with naked eyes). No reflective hands or indices. AR coated on both sides of crystal.
15836111

As you can see, even at the spot that was hit with the strongest light, you can still see the dial with some clarity thanks to the AR coating. The domed crystal enables the majority of the dial to be glare free.

D. Flat crystal. Reflective indices and hands. AR on inner surface of the crystal.
15836114
Due to the flat crystal, glare takes up the entire dial just like example B above. AR coating helped to an extent but not as good as example C above. However, the reflectiveness of the hands and indices helped with legibility.
 

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IMO Omega and Damasko are the best at this. My SMPC is supremely legible although I'm not the biggest fan of external AR. The absence of applied markers or shiny finishes on the Damasko, combined with the flat crystal and high contrast black/white dial, mean it's supremely legible even though I ordered it without external AR.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
IMO Omega and Damasko are the best at this. My SMPC is supremely legible although I'm not the biggest fan of external AR. The absence of applied markers or shiny finishes on the Damasko, combined with the flat crystal and high contrast black/white dial, mean it's supremely legible even though I ordered it without external AR.
I have checked out Omega PO in person a few years ago and was truly impressed with how the crystal disappears. It’s pretty amazing. I haven’t seen a Damasko in real life yet. I would make a note to check it out when I have a chance.
 

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Interesting post. For me it's 2-->1-->3. Also, I think the type of AR coating may make a huge difference -- whether it's interior, exterior, or both. Whether the dial itself is glossy vs. matte matters too.

Lange watches have flat crystals. Lange's earlier watches did not have AR-coated crystals. Their later watches did. As a result, I've been able to compare the exact same dials with different crystal types (AR-coated and non-AR-coated), and their AR-coated crystals yield nothing more than a faint bluish reflection of light. The difference is so dramatic that I've had them swap non-AR crystals for AR crystals on multiple occasions. I don't notice the glare at all with their AR-coated crystals.

I compare that with a (modern) Rolex 126660 Deepsea Sea-Dweller and a (vintage) Rolex 1665 Sea-Dweller. Both have domed crystals with no AR coating. The domed crystals definitely cut down tremendously on the glare, as you pointed out, but the difference isn't nearly as dramatic as the AR coating.

By far, the watches with the least glare that I've noticed are Omegas. I have an old X-33 quartz as well as a first-gen Planet Ocean (cal 2500). Both have slightly domed crystals and AR coating. The crystals are basically invisible and glare-free.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Interesting post. For me it's 2-->1-->3. Also, I think the type of AR coating may make a huge difference -- whether it's interior, exterior, or both. Whether the dial itself is glossy vs. matte matters too.

Lange watches have flat crystals. Lange's earlier watches did not have AR-coated crystals. Their later watches did. As a result, I've been able to compare the exact same dials with different crystal types (AR-coated and non-AR-coated), and their AR-coated crystals yield nothing more than a faint bluish reflection of light. The difference is so dramatic that I've had them swap non-AR crystals for AR crystals on multiple occasions. I don't notice the glare at all with their AR-coated crystals.

I compare that with a (modern) Rolex 126660 Deepsea Sea-Dweller and a (vintage) Rolex 1665 Sea-Dweller. Both have domed crystals with no AR coating. The domed crystals definitely cut down tremendously on the glare, as you pointed out, but the difference isn't nearly as dramatic as the AR coating.

By far, the watches with the least glare that I've noticed are Omegas. I have an old X-33 quartz as well as a first-gen Planet Ocean (cal 2500). Both have slightly domed crystals and AR coating. The crystals are basically invisible and glare-free.
Thanks @CFR for an informative post! Do you have any photos that can compare your Lange with and without AR (or at least ones with AR)? That actually might convince me to adjust my preferences. One of the things that trigger my investigation into this is Rolex's start of using AR coating. It's an interesting shift of their design approach and I wonder why and how much improvement they will get with their flat crystal that has infamous glare. I watched a video posted in f23 showcasing the new Explorer with AR, and I still noticed a very bad case of glare even though it has been claimed that their new models have AR coating. Like you said, the quality of AR is important as well. I have seen those Omegas POs in real life and the way they disappear (I thought I was looking at the hands and dial directly) is amazing. I almost got one at the time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I would add choice of crystal material to the list of ways to counter glare.
Thanks @John MS! Would you mind elaborate on it? Are you referring to sapphire crystal vs. mineral crystal, or different grades of sapphire crystal? Which ones have the better anti-glare properties in your experience?
 

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Thanks @John MS! Would you mind elaborate on it? Are you referring to sapphire crystal vs. mineral crystal, or different grades of sapphire crystal? Which ones have the better anti-glare properties in your experience?
Good question. There are really three basic materials to choose from. Because they each offer different characteristics the choice is a matter of reconciling tradeoffs. Sapphire, mineral glass and acrylic are the materials. In my experience acrylic is probably the least glare prone followed by mineral glass and then sapphire.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Good question. There are really three basic materials to choose from. Because they each offer different characteristics the choice is a matter of reconciling tradeoffs. Sapphire, mineral glass and acrylic are the materials. In my experience acrylic is probably the least glare prone followed by mineral glass and then sapphire.
How can I not notice this before?

domed and acrylic for this one.
15837300
 

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Domed is best for me. However, I find that a domed crystal plays games with my eyes if I look at it at any angle than straight on, and it catches some sort of ‘fog’...I’ve found that with my Pam 275 does this quite a bit on sunny days whilst outside. But a domed sapphire AR are less obstructive with fluorescent lights, throwing a sweet n mean blue square as in the IWC pictures above in this thread; less direct reflection due to the dome. Definitely easier to see though.

I have yet to find a watch that doesn’t cast some sort of glare...it’s sort of like needing reading glasses: when I FIRST look down at a watch that’s glaring back at me, I’ll shift my wrist. Similar when I look at type that I cannot see without reading glasses: I’ll shift the print closer to see.
 

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Outside of the technical aspects mentioned in the OP, the color of the dial, is an important factor with darker dials tending to be less reflective. The Transocean below has all of the properties in the OP including double AR. The Colt has the same properties except a darker dial and flat crystal. The Colt, with the flat crytal, is easily the most anti reflective watch I've owned.



Sent from my LG-H932 using Tapatalk
 

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Strong AR coating is a must for me. I feel it makes a huge difference with how much I can enjoy the watch. I haven't seen too many folks share this sentiment, but I find that AR is what sets brands like Breitling and Omega apart

My two pieces are:
  • Grand Seiko - Snowflake: Polished to hell indices, light dial, and some of the strongest undercoating AR I've seen
  • Omega - Aqua terra: Dual coated, clear AR. The crystal disappears and the dial looks like it's a floating 3D sculpture. Simply awesome even if outer AR has its weaknesses
 
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