Buying a luxury watch can be a very exciting occasion. It can also feel like a very daunting excursion into consumerism when you think about how many different types, brands, styles, and price points there are to buying one.
A watch is considered a utilitarian accessory, but when you step into the luxury realm of purchasing, it’s no longer just about function, it’s also about form. You want it to make a statement as you wear it and have it noticed for the beautiful object it is.
As such, take time to do research into what is important to you when wearing a watch. Is it still about precision mechanics? Perhaps shape or special features are paramount. Is it the fluid styling of the piece going with your wardrobe? Do you want to have the most stylish Rolex in Kansas City?
A few important points to keep in mind when selecting a luxury watch are noted below.
Choose Your Style
A luxury watch could be a serious investment that you want to keep for many years, requires periodic maintenance and watch repairs, and it perhaps will become a family heirloom in the future. Staying with a classic and familiar brand name is smart purchasing. Look for names that appear repeatedly, such as Patek Philippe, Cartier, and Rolex.
However, if you like to stay “on trend” and not follow what others do, and ultimately don’t care about heirloom potential, then a more modern statement piece may be in your future. Maybe the watch comes from an upstart challenger in the watch business, such as Parmigiani Fleurier or Hublot.
Commit to Your Budget
It sounds strange to use the word “budget” when talking about buying luxury or high-end watches. However, it’s very easy getting caught up in the excitement of the shopping, especially when making that first luxury purchase. A watch purchase can be challenging to stay in your level of monetary comfort, given the ease at when salespersons can talk up features and their label in hopes of making a grand impression.
Make sure to set a cap on how much you want to spend. Many established watchmakers have a multitude of styles in their repertoire from the “beginner” to the “seasoned” watch aficionado. For example, a new Rolex can be from $2,000 to $75,000 and beyond.
Choose Your Movement
The internal workings of a watch can vary greatly in luxury watches. The movement, or caliber, is the “brains” of the watch.
There are two main types of movement — quartz and mechanical. Quartz watches are battery controlled whereas mechanical ones are just that — wound by hand. Quartz watches tend to keep time more accurately. If this is a concern for you when purchasing, learn which manufacturers tend to which style and have a better track record of stability over time.
Some excellent quartz movements are being made by Longines, Mondaine, and Tissot.
The mechanical spectrum is wide open and includes time-honored names such as Lange & Sohne, Baume & Mercier, and Girard-Perregaux.
New Versus Vintage
Luxury doesn’t necessarily mean “new.” Many high-end watchmakers have been around since the early 19th century and though constantly producing new makes and models, their notoriety as time-honored pieces comes from craftsmanship and substance. This is another arena where falling into the trap of shiny and new doesn’t necessarily mean sturdy and stalwart.
In modern times, many old things aren’t considered desired, but luckily in the realm of luxury watches, this isn’t the case. As long as the other features of the timepiece are what you are looking for, vintage doesn’t have to mean “grandma shabby chic.”
Buying that vintage Omega watch may be smarter for you than say a brand new Tag Heuer.
Debates are centered on the features of watches. Do you need a watch that is waterproof to 300 feet below water? Do you need one that reports your heart rate? How about one that has lifetime repairs with no charge to the purchaser? The more impressive the features, the more expensive the watch.
But you must consider one important thing — Do I need this/these features? Smartly shopping for the “bells and whistles” can allow you to get a better watch for your money.
Conversely though, not taking time to think ahead to what your lifestyle entails and optioning for those features that may seem trivial now can cause you to lose interest in your watch quickly.